Can a treaty banning nuclear weapons speed their abolition?

By | February 22, 2017

Over the objections of most nuclear-armed nations, a UN committee on disarmament and security resoundingly approved a resolution last October mandating negotiations toward a treaty that outlaws nuclear weapons. Talks are set to begin in March; there could be a ban treaty with dozens of state signatures by the end of 2017.

Outright prohibition of nuclear weapons would contrast starkly with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows five countries to retain nuclear weapons for an unspecified time—as they “pursue negotiations in good faith… on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

What should a ban treaty entail, and could it truly succeed in speeding the disarmament process? Our newest roundtable argues these questions.

Round One:

To abolish nuclear weapons, strip away their handsome mask, by Mustafa Kibaroglu
Assessing the ban treaty from Ukraine, by Polina Sinovets
The ban treaty: An interim step, but politically profound, by Joelien Pretorius

Round Two:
Reality: Humanity can’t indefinitely avoid using nuclear weapons, by Mustafa Kibaroglu
Arms control is realistic; general disarmament probably isn’t, by Polina Sinovets
Succeed or fail, the ban treaty won’t erode the NPT, by Joelien Pretorius

Round Three:

Disarmament while the change remains, by Mustafa Kibaroglu
Better to bear the ills we have, by Polina Sinovets
How I learned to hate the Bomb, by Joelien Pretorius

Arabic translations
Chinese translations
Spanish translations
Russian translations

Further reading:
Does the fight over a nuclear weapons ban threaten global stability? by Heather Williams
The terrifying geography of nuclear and radiological insecurity in South Asia, by Hannah E. Haegeland and Reema Verma
Reconsidering the reversal: South Korea’s nuclear choices, by William Caplan and Kenneth B. Turner
Nuclear Roundup, by Jodi Lieberman. Sign up for a daily compilation of quality nuclear policy news published on the Web, around the world.

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