by Adam Proveaux
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York City is underway! Speaking at a side event for “Promoting a Successful Outcome of the 2015 NPT RevCon,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom laid out the following five key challenges to complete disarmament:
Challenge 1: How to address the disconnect between commitments and implementation:
• Nuclear weapons states make many promises to disarm, but that achievement is still far in the future.
Challenge 2: How to address the inertia (or lack thereof) of disarmament initiatives as laid out by the United Nations:
• After more than 20 years, the Conference on Disarmament has achieved relatively little.
• There is widespread skepticism about the effectiveness of disarmament efforts.
Challenge 3: How to take the ‘human security’ perspective into account:
• Greater attention needs to be paid to the harmful effects of the use and testing of nuclear weapons on humans, animals, and plants.
• The democratization of security is a welcome development–we need to “put people first.”
Challenge 4: How to achieve and maintain a world free of nuclear weapons:
• Although FM Wallstrom admits it is unusual for her to quote Ronald Reagan, the key to solving this challenge is to “trust but verify.” Even further, a point that President Obama has repeatedly made in reference to the Iran negotiations, the “trust” aspect can be eliminated from the equation: we do not trust that Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful, and therefore we need strict verification measures to reach that certainty.
Challenge 5: How to address nuclear weapons and the economy:
• The development, production and maintenance of nuclear weapons costs billions of dollars. In fact, the modernization of the U.S.’s arsenal is expected to cost $1 trillion over the next three decades.
• Especially at a time when people (particularly the world’s youth) are hurting from sunken economies, such an expense does not make sense from either an economic, security, or humanitarian standpoint.
While Foreign Minister Wallstrom acknowledged that finding solutions to these difficult challenges is the task of the Parties to the Treaty, she also offered hope:
“Progress is possible. With persistence, courage, patience and hard work, we can achieve results.”
Stay tuned for more as we report from New York on the 2015 NPT review conference!