23 December 2016

Best of the roundtables, 2016

Lucien Crowder

Lucien Crowder

Crowder joined the Bulletin as senior editor in January 2012, primarily taking responsibility for the Development and Disarmament Roundtable series. Before then, he served as associate...

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From its outset, the Development and Disarmament Roundtable series has been dedicated to airing diverse developing-world perspectives on nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, climate change, and economic development. In 2016, the fifth year of the project, the roundtables often staked out new ground by focusing on regional themes of global significance. Authors from China to Cameroon and everywhere in between were keen to analyze these themes from where they sat—and never shy about saying where they stood.

In the nuclear order, what role for China? by Hua Han, Rajesh Rajagopalan, and Gregory Kulacki

Is the role that China plays in the nuclear arena appropriate to its national circumstances? Authors from China, India, and the United States argued that China still lacks the national capacity to lead disarmament efforts; that China must learn to pursue its own interests in concert with the common interest; and that Beijing should seriously consider unilateral nuclear disarmament. A roundtable of wildly differing outlooks.

North Korea's nuclear weapons: What now? by Shen Dingli, Chung-in Moon, and Andrei Lankov

After so many disappointments, what could possibly reinvigorate a diplomatic process toward North Korean denuclearization? Experts from China, South Korea, and Russia were unanimous on one point: Pragmatism must rule.

US no-first-use: The view from Asia by Ta Minh Tuan, Parris H. Chang, and Raymund Jose G. Quilop

How would a US nuclear no-first-use policy affect security in East and Southeast Asia? Authors weighed in from Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines—three nations with a pressing interest in the matter.

Chernobyl, Fukushima, and preparedness for a "next one" by Sonja Schmid, Augustin Simo, Manpreet Sethi, and Steven Starr

The year 2016 marked the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear power disaster and the fifth anniversary of the second-worst. Are nations adequately prepared for an unpredictable "next one?" "No," answered one author, "because the world now emphasizes disaster prevention almost to the exclusion of preparedness." "Yes," said another, "because nuclear energy is a remarkably safe technology and human ingenuity is a powerful thing." "You're asking the wrong question," said a third, "because nuclear power plants produce mass quantities of poison that must be separated from the biosphere for an unimaginably long time." As ever, consensus on nuclear energy proved elusive.