Reinforcing the Beleaguered Nuclear Nonproliferation & Arms Control System

Date/Time: Dec. 12, 2023, 9:30 am - 11:00 am U.S. Eastern Time
Location: National Press Club (529 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20045)

The global nuclear nonproliferation and arms control system has reduced the nuclear dangers. But for more than a decade, relations among the states with the world's largest nuclear arsenals have deteriorated and progress on disarmament has stalled. We are now on the precipice of a dangerous and costly era of nuclear competition.

The last remaining U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreement, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), will expire in less than 800 days; the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty no longer exists; the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is history. And in recent weeks, Russia has withdrawn its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). 

Complicating matters, states have failed to agree on a final report and action plan at the past two nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conferences, and talks at the Conference on Disarmament on key disarmament proposals have been stalled for many years.

This joint event, co-hosted by the Arms Control Association (ACA) and the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Washington, featured:

  • Introductory remarks from the Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United States, Yerzhan Ashikbayev were offered by deputy chief of mission Rauan Tleulin.
  • Thomas Countryman, chair of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association and former U.S. assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation.
  • Amb. Elayne White Gomez, president of the negotiating conference for the 2017 Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
  • Nomsa Ndongwe, research fellow, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Previously, she served as a diplomat at the Zimbabwe Permanent Mission in Geneva with a focus on disarmament issues. 
  • Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, Arms Control Association, moderated.

The session explored questions including: 

  • What has led to the breakdown in arms control diplomacy between the United States and Russia and what steps can be taken by Washington and Moscow to re-engage in nuclear risk and weapons reduction diplomacy? How can the United States and China productively engage on issues relating to nuclear risk reduction and arms control?
  • What accounts for the tensions evident at the NPT Review Process and what steps can be taken to reinforce global support for compliance and implementation of the treaty and the commitments states have undertaken in connection with the NPT?  
  • How can non-nuclear weapon states and the acknowledged nuclear weapons states work together more cooperatively to bolster the NPT, the CTBT, and the bilateral arms reduction measures in the years ahead? What role can the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons serve to reinforce key norms regarding nuclear weapons?