A September meeting of the leadership group of the Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament (CEND) initiative marked the starting point for executing the programs of work the initiative agreed on in November 2019 in advance of the 2020 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.
“We are now at a critical threshold,” said Christopher Ford, U.S. assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, in his opening remarks at the Sept. 3 virtual meeting. The initiative is moving “from laying the groundwork for the deep thinking and far-ranging inquiry that the disarmament challenge demands to actually setting off down that path of thoughtful exploration,” he said.
Diplomats from 43 countries are involved in the initiative, according to Ford, which includes nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon states and some countries not party to the NPT.
Three working subgroups compose the initiative, with each group focused on one specific issue: the reduction of the perceived incentives for states to acquire or increase their nuclear stockpiles, the function and effectiveness of existing nuclear disarmament mechanisms and institutions, and potential interim measures to reduce risks related to nuclear weapons. Following the November meeting, each subgroup developed its own program of work to be carried out over two years. (See ACT, January/February 2020.)
The leadership group consists of the two countries appointed to lead each subgroup: Morocco and the Netherlands, South Korea and the United States, and Finland and Germany, respectively. Representatives from some nongovernmental organizations also participate.
Sources familiar with the initiative told Arms Control Today that the organizers plan to virtually convene a meeting of the full group in November.—SHANNON BUGOS