Atomic Pulse

NTI Co-Hosts Regional Workshop in Indonesia on Strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Since the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) entered into force in 1970, it has galvanized Treaty-designated Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) and Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) to prevent further proliferation, promote cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear technology, and work towards disarmament. Put simply, the NPT has been the cornerstone of international efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons. However, the Treaty is increasingly facing serious challenges. For example, all NWS are in the process of modernizing or building up their nuclear arsenals, exacerbating divisions among NPT States parties about the appropriate pace of disarmament.

In light of these challenges, NTI launched the Global Enterprise to Strengthen Nonproliferation and Disarmament (GE) in 2018 with generous support from the government of Norway. The GE is a multi-year track 1.5 dialogue that has facilitated a sustained, integrated, and creative effort to consolidate support for the NPT and its goals. NTI has worked with regional partner organizations to build on the progress of the GE by holding workshops in Brazil, Ghana, and most recently, Jakarta. These regional workshops have added value to the GE process by building consensus on regional non-proliferation and disarmament concerns and priorities; highlighting potential opportunities for governments to help strengthen the NPT; and generating support for practical steps, new initiatives, and tangible commitments that demonstrate the ability of NPT States parties to work together.

I recently returned from the Jakarta workshop, which NTI hosted with the Asia Pacific Leadership Network (APLN). The workshop convened more than 30 participants from 15 countries across the Asia-Pacific region – including senior officials, next-generation professionals, and experts from governments, regional organizations, and think tanks – for a discussion on how the Asia-Pacific region can promote success at the 10th NPT Review Conference (RevCon), which will take place in August 2022 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

Participants at the Jakarta workshop offered their perspectives on the mounting challenges to the NPT regime. As the summary report from the workshop notes, participants shared concerns that “nuclear arsenals are being expanded and modernized, and new disruptive technologies – including dual-capable weapons systems – are proliferating in an increasingly unregulated international environment” and that the divide between NWS and NNWS over the pace of disarmament mandated by the NPT is growing. Other concerns emerged, including:

  • Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine and its undermining of the international rules-based order
  • China’s nuclear expansion and the impact of U.S.-China tensions on Asia-Pacific and global security
  • North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile programs and the absence of an active negotiating process to address this challenge
  • Implications of the AUKUS agreement for regional and global nonproliferation policy on the exchange of nuclear technologies

Participants also focused on ways to improve the NPT regime by building pathways to reduce nuclear risks, bridging the divide between NWS and NNWS, and advancing a successful 10th NPT RevCon, including:

  • Encouraging working channels between the NPT and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and promoting strategic empathy between supporters of both treaties
  • Encouraging major powers, including the U.S. and China, to demonstrate greater leadership in resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and incentivizing key regional players to cooperate
  • Urging NWS to redouble efforts for nuclear transparency, including publicly declaring nuclear stockpiles, committing not to increase nuclear arsenals, and jointly declaring a moratorium on fissile material production

At the RevCon this month, NTI will host a livestreamed side event where the co-hosts from all three regional workshops will speak about the many lessons learned. We look forward to sharing these regional perspectives, and the wider recommendations from the GE project, to advance efforts to strengthen the NPT regime and build a safer world.

Following the workshop, NTI and APLN commissioned papers from four expert workshop participants to further reflect on the role of the Asia-Pacific region in the NPT process and ways to strengthen the NPT regime.

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