With the 10th nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference delayed until August, a U.S. initiative to discuss nuclear disarmament issues will have the opportunity to hold more sessions before the conference. The Trump administration announced the Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament (CEND) initiative in 2018, saying the planned meetings were aimed at addressing the underlying issues that may currently preclude global nuclear disarmament. Initiative participants met mostly virtually on Nov. 24 to exchange updates on the program’s three working subgroups and to discuss further engagement with civil society.
Civil society experts have played an important role in the initiative’s work, serving as facilitators for each subgroup, which focus on reductions in the perceived incentives for states to retain their nuclear arsenals, mechanisms to bolster nonproliferation efforts, and measures to reduce the risks associated with nuclear weapons in the interim. At the November meeting, an open conversation centered on modalities for the CEND initiative to work most effectively and on efforts to engage civil society.
“The CEND initiative has now ‘graduated’ to being something more [than a U.S. initiative]. It is clearly now a much broader initiative that belongs to all of its participants. That is gratifying and very important,” said Christopher Ford, U.S. assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, who leads the effort, in opening remarks to the meeting.
Ford said the United States anticipates hosting two to three in-person CEND meetings each year, and he added that plenary sessions have been scheduled for late autumn 2021 and spring 2023.—JULIA MASTERSON