"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Author, "African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement"
July 1, 2020
Daryl Kimball

Resources on the 10th NPT Review Conference



For Immediate Release: July 29, 2022

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

Hundreds of diplomats representing the states-parties to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), along with representatives from civil society, will convene in at UN headquarters in New York for talks that will shape the future of the international nuclear arms control regime at a time when the risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear competition are growing.

The conference caps a five-year cycle of meetings in which states-parties review compliance with the NPT and seek agreement on steps to advance the treaty’s main goals: preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons and sensitive nuclear technology and halting and reversing the nuclear arms race and advancing nuclear disarmament. 

This review conference comes a quarter-century after state-parties agreed on the indefinite extension of the NPT at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference. As states-parties seek to reach agreement on ways to reaffirm their support for the treaty and its implementation, several issues could prove to be contentious including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the nonproliferation system and the failure of the nuclear-armed states-parties to meet their NPT Article VI disarmament obligations and goals outlined in the action plan adopted at the 2010 Review Conference.

Official Schedule and Documents

The first week of the conference will feature high-level speeches by world leaders before the meeting turns to a review of thematic issues. The conference agenda, working papers from delegations, and plenary session speeches are available on the official UN NPT conference website.

If you are not able to attend in person, you can still follow the conference via UN WebTV. Tune in Friday, Aug. 5 at approximately 3:00 pm Eastern U.S. time for NGO statements.

ACA Updates and Resources and Side Events

As we have done since the first NPT Review Conference in 1975, the Arms Control Association team will be there to monitor and engage in the proceedings. Our research team will provide twice-weekly updates on key developments at the Review Conference. You can follow these updates at ArmsControl.org/blog/2022/updates-10th-NPT-RevCon.

Additional ACA resources on the 10th NPT Review Conference are highlighted below.

Many official and nonofficial side events are scheduled through the course of the month and are listed on the official conference side-events calendar and from our colleagues at Reaching Critical Will. Some events will be in-person only while some will also be webcast.

Events Before and During the Review Conference

  • July 29: ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball will deliver the keynote address for an international symposium organized by the Asahi Shimbun, the Nagasaki city government, and the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace titled: “The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition.” The event will start at 9:00 pm Eastern U.S. time July 29 (July 30 at 10:00 am, Japan Standard time) and will be live streamed in English here: https://youtu.be/k80HSwG8YCg. Kimball’s remarks as prepared for delivery will be available at https://www.armscontrol.org/events
  • Aug. 5: Nongovernmental organizations will address the NPT Review Conference. Among the presentations will be one on “The Necessity of a Meaningful Action Plan on Article VI,” organized by ACA and endorsed by other major nuclear disarmament NGOs. The session can be viewed live via UN WebTV beginning at 3:00 pm ET.
  • Aug. 10: The Deep Cuts in Nuclear Arsenals project will host a side event from 1:15 to 2:30 pm in conference room 5 on “Reducing nuclear risks and nuclear arsenals in times of tension in Europe.” Panelists include ACA’s Daryl Kimball, ACA Board Member Angela Kane, and Andrei Baklitskiy with UNIDIR. More details are online here.
  • Aug. 18: ACA executive director Daryl Kimball will speak at a side event on “Strengthening all three pillars of the NPT,” organized by the Mission of Kazakhstan from 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm at the Kazakh Mission.

News and Analysis


ACA Fact Sheets


Official documents, side-events, and other useful resources related to the 10th nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York, Aug.1-26, 2022

Getting Back on the Path to a World Free of Nuclear Weapons



Keynote Remarks by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, for the "International Symposium for Peace: The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition," sponsored by Asahi Shimbun, Nagasaki city government, and the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace

Nagasaki, Japan
July 30, 2022

The English live streaming can be accessed at https://youtu.be/k80HSwG8YCg at 9:00 pm U.S. Eastern time (July 29) / 10:00 am Japanese Standard Time (July 30). 

Over the long course of the nuclear age, millions of people—from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the United States, Russia, and around the globe—have stood up to demand meaningful action to halt arms racing and nuclear testing, to reduce and number and role of nuclear weapons, and move toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

When working together on shared goals through smart campaigns, networks of citizen activists, nongovernmental organizations, engaged scholars, scientists, diplomats, faith leaders, social and environmental justice organizations, survivors of nuclear war and nuclear testing, along with dedicated local and national decision-makers have changed the course nuclear history for the better. Among other successes, we have:

  • raised awareness of the existential dangers posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear war.
  • pushed U.S. and Russian leaders to halt arms buildups and to negotiate the nuclear arms control and reduction agreements, including New START in 2010 and its extension in 2021.
  • demanded legislation and treaties to prohibit nuclear weapons testing.
  • forced the cancellation of new and destabilizing nuclear weapons programs.
  • spurred the negotiation and entry into force of 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

But there is no room for complacency.

The Growing Risk of Nuclear War and Nuclear Arms Racing

The nuclear weapons threat has not gone away. Nuclear competition is accelerating. The risk that a regional military confrontation could escalate to a nuclear conflict is real and growing.

The danger of an all-out arms race and nuclear weapons use has been exacerbated by President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a full-scale attack Ukraine and his threats of nuclear use against any states who might interfere militarily.

  • The war has significantly increased the risk of fighting between NATO and Russian forces, which could—given both sides’ nuclear weapons use policies—quickly lead to nuclear escalation.
  • Russia’s attack on Ukraine has underscored the fact that nuclear weapons don’t prevent major wars. Rather, they can facilitate aggression by nuclear-armed states and make wars waged by nuclear-armed states far more dangerous—especially when nuclear-armed states become pitted against one another, dangerously increasing the risk of miscalculation and miscommunication.

Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has also derailed the strategic stability and arms control dialogue between Washington and Moscow, made a mockery of the repeated security assurances that nuclear-armed states will not attack non-nuclear states, and created a major challenge for the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime.

Russia’ invasion of Ukraine follows more than a decade of worsening tensions between the world’s nine-nuclear armed states.

Since New START was completed more than a decade ago, the U.S.-Russian dialogue on disarmament and risk reduction has stalled. Treaty compliance disputes have dominated the bilateral U.S.-Russian agenda, and key treaties that have helped keep the post-Cold War peace, such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty, are now gone. The only remaining treaty that verifiably limits the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals—the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START)—will expire in early 2026.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Washington are both spending tens of billions of dollars each year to replace and upgrade their deadly strategic arsenals. Russia is also threatening to deploy exotic new strategic systems, including nuclear-armed torpedoes. President Putin recently suggested he might put nuclear weapons-capable missiles and aircraft in Belarus.

And in recent days, the U.S. Congress voted to overrule President Biden’s recommendation to cancel funding for a new nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile—an expensive and destabilizing weapon proposed by the Trump administration that would, if developed and deployed, prompt China and Russia to develop similar capabilities and accelerate the arms race.

Although China, France, and the U.K. have engaged in discussions on nuclear terms and doctrines through the N-5 Process, they have stubbornly refused to seriously engage in talks on ideas and proposals that would cap or reduce their own deadly arsenals.

Instead, China is responding to a more adversarial relationship with the United States by moving quickly diversify its relatively smaller nuclear stockpile of some 300 nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom announced last year that it would increase the cap on the size of its submarine-based nuclear arsenal.

The only genuinely positive development on nuclear disarmament in recent years has been the so-called Humanitarian Initiative, designed to highlight the existential dangers of nuclear weapons and stigmatize nuclear weapons and the threat of their use, which led to the negotiation of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) by a group of more than 130 states.

The treaty represents a constructive new approach to reinforce the taboos against nuclear weapons, bolster the NPT, and create more pressure for meaningful action by the nuclear possessor states to verifiably cap, reduce, and eventually eliminate their arsenals.

In June, in a welcome move, TPNW states parties, citing “increasingly strident nuclear rhetoric,” issued a consensus political statement declaring that “…any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. We condemn unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.”

Unfortunately, thus far, all nuclear-armed states have refused to engage with the TPNW.

It was also unfortunate that Japan decided not to attend the first meeting of states parties to the TPNW even though Prime Fumio Kishida said in October 2021: “I believe that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a very important treaty for a world without nuclear weapons.”

Going forward it is important that all states recognize that the TPNW is a positive contribution to global security and seriously consider joining the treaty. If Japan wants to be an effective “bridge-builder” between nuclear-armed states and non-nuclear weapon states, it will need to engage in upcoming meetings of the TPNW.

What Can Be Done?

Given the growing risk of nuclear war, we must do all we can to encourage our elected leaders to provide leadership and to take meaningful action.

Our actions will determine if we can succeed – or not – in moving away from dangerous nuclear policies and toward renewed and productive disarmament diplomacy.

An important catalyst for change is increasing societal awareness about the horrific effects of nuclear weapons use and the risks of nuclear war. Here in Japan, the persistent and dedicated efforts of the Hibakusha have been essential in helping the world understand the grave consequences of nuclear weapons. That work must continue in new and creative ways.

Now, some 77 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we must take inspiration from the Hibakusha and share their stories and testimonials even more widely ensure that successive generations understand that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

Just as importantly, we must also do our part to explain why national security strategies that depend on nuclear deterrence are inherently risky and will eventually fail, and that the only cure for nuclear war is the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Progress also will continue to depend on effective and sustained pressure of concerned citizens here in Japan and around the globe on their elected leaders to take meaningful action to reduce dangers and verifiably eliminate all nuclear weapons and to use every opportunity available to put the world on a safer course.

The 10th NPT Review Conference

The next global debate about nuclear weapons and the dangers they pose will take place at the 10th NPT Review Conference at UN headquarters in New York.

The review conference is a critical opportunity for the treaty’s 191 states-parties to reinforce the norms against nuclear weapons, to strongly condemn any threat of nuclear weapons use, and to intensify the pressure for action to fulfill the treaty’s Article VI disarmament provisions.

Just as they did when states-parties gathered for 1995 Review Conference to negotiate the terms for the extension of the treaty, states-parties must produce results.

At that pivotal NPT conference 27 year ago, NPT states parties committed to the “complete elimination of nuclear weapons,” and endorsed specific disarmament actions, including further nuclear reductions, the conclusion of talks on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and more.

Today, the deficit in disarmament diplomacy and the growing nuclear danger means that this is no ordinary NPT review conference.

As always, the conference must review, comprehensively implementation and compliance on all major political commitments and legal obligations that states have undertaken.

But make no mistake: history will judge the success or failure of this pivotal meeting as on whether or not delegations can reach agreement on a meaningful and updated disarmament action plan, and whether governments make good on that plan in the months and years that follow.

All states need to act with a sense of urgency, a spirit of cooperation, and a determination to produce meaningful results that transcend old fault lines.

Even if a consensus final document is not attainable, a supermajority of states should seek to chart the path forward through a joint declaration.

One key issue this conference must address is the potential collapse of the U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control system.

In early 2021, within days the original expiration date of New START, President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin wisely agreed to extend the treaty by another five years, and re-launched a “Strategic Stability Dialogue” in the fall of 2021 with the goal of negotiating a new agreement or agreements to supersede New START and address other issues of mutual concern.

Shortly after Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S.-Russian dialogue on strategic stability and arms control was put on indefinite hold.

Without new arrangements to supersede New START, there would not be any limits on the size or composition of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972. Both sides recognize the danger but have not yet agreed to resume their dialogue.

“Our progress must continue beyond the New START extension,” Biden wrote June 2 in a message to the Arms Control Association. “Even as we rally the world to hold Russia accountable for its brutal and unprovoked war on Ukraine, we must continue to engage Russia on issues of strategic stability,” Biden wrote. “Today—perhaps more than any other time since the Cold War—we must work to reduce the risk of an arms race or nuclear escalation.”

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin said June 30 that “Russia is open to dialogue on ensuring strategic stability, preserving agreements on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and improving the situation in arms control.”

Unfortunately, officials on both sides have equivocated on when the dialogue might resume.Delegations at the NPT Review Conference, including Japan, must be vocal and united in calling upon them to do so.

Some NPT nuclear-armed states and their allies may bemoan the fact that the environment for disarmament progress is “challenging.” We can expect some of these states will continue to claim that many past NPT commitments on disarmament have been overtaken by events. Disarmament progress has never been simple or easy, but such deflections are irresponsible.

Instead, the five nuclear-armed NPT states should acknowledge their past disarmament commitments, work with other states-parties on a pragmatic action plan that sets new benchmarks and deadlines, and pledge to act with the urgency that the grave nuclear weapons threat demands.

Notwithstanding the different views on how to fulfill past NPT commitments and obligations, nuclear-armed and non-nuclear-weapon states should cooperate on a updated disarmament action plan that could include the following elements:

  • A call for the United States and Russia to conclude talks on New START follow-on agreements that achieve further cuts in nuclear warheads and delivery systems no later than 2025 and, pending the conclusion of such arrangements, agree not to exceed the central limits of New START until such time as they enter into force.
  • A pledge by the other NPT nuclear-armed states—China, France, and the U.K.—to engage in bilateral or multilateral nuclear risk reduction talks and to agree to freeze the size of their nuclear arsenals.
  • A call for NPT states to agree to begin disarmament talks in a bilateral or a multilateral format no later than 2025.
  • A call for the five NPT nuclear-armed states to update their 1995 negative security assurances and to jointly or individually affirm that they will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT.
  • A call for the remaining holdout states to initiate their respective processes to ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and, pending the treaty’s entry into force, negotiate and implement new, voluntary confidence-building measures to address concerns about compliance with the treaty’s “zero-yield” prohibition.
  • A call for all states to refrain from developing and deploying nuclear-armed cruise and hypersonic missiles, as other new types of warheads and delivery systems.
  • A recognition that because the use of nuclear weapons would produce catastrophic humanitarian consequences, “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought and no state should, under any circumstances, directly or indirectly threaten the use of nuclear weapons.”

Even if a consensus final document is not attainable due to tensions over the war in Ukraine, a supermajority of states should seek to chart the path forward through a joint declaration.

As Pope Francis cautioned when he visited Hiroshima in 2019: “The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral…. Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act.”

Thank you for listening.


Keynote Remarks by Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, for the "International Symposium for Peace: The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition," sponsored by Asahi Shimbun, Nagasaki city government, and the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace

Country Resources:

Nuclear Threats and the Dangers of Deterrence

Inside the Arms Control Association July 2022 President Vladimir Putin’s threats of the possible use of nuclear weapons against any state that might interfere with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have reawakened the world to the dangers of nuclear war. The possibility of military conflict between Russian and NATO forces has significantly increased the risk of nuclear weapons use. Recent public opinion polling indicates that 80 percent of Americans are concerned that the war will expand and Russia will use nuclear weapons. I was honored to be invited by the Austrian government to speak last month...

A Turning Point on Nuclear Deterrence

July/August 2022
By Daryl G. Kimball

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats of possible use of nuclear weapons against any state that might interfere with Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine have reawakened the world to the dangers of nuclear war. The possibility of military conflict between Russian and NATO forces has significantly increased the risk of nuclear weapons use. Because Russian and U.S.-NATO military strategies reserve the option to use nuclear weapons first against non-nuclear threats, fighting could quickly go nuclear.

Photo Credit: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear WeaponsPutin’s threats violate foundational understandings designed to reduce the dangers of nuclear deterrence, including the 1973 Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, in which the United States and Russia pledged to “refrain from the threat or use of force against the other party, against the allies of the other party and against other countries, in circumstances which may endanger international peace and security.”

As egregious, worrisome, and risky as Putin’s nuclear antics are, the reaction of the international community until recently has been far too mild. The U.S. response to Putin’s nuclear threats, as well as those of Western governments that also embrace nuclear deterrence ideologies and rely on the credible threat of nuclear use, has been particularly underwhelming.

At the outset of the Russian invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden, answering a question about whether U.S. citizens should be concerned with a nuclear war breaking out, said, "No." Then, in a May 31 essay in The New York Times, Biden referred to Russia’s “occasional nuclear rhetoric” as “dangerous and extremely irresponsible,” implying that some nuclear threats are more responsible.

Fortunately, a much needed, more forceful rejection of nuclear weapons and threats of use emerged from the first meeting of states-parties to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) held in Vienna June 21–23. Citing “increasingly strident nuclear rhetoric,” the TPNW states-parties issued the Vienna Declaration, which condemns all threats to use nuclear weapons as violations of international law, including the UN Charter. The declaration demands “that all nuclear-armed states never use or threaten to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances.”

The TPNW states-parties condemned “unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.” Far from preserving peace and security, “nuclear weapons are used to coerce and intimidate; to facilitate aggression and inflame tensions. This highlights the fallacy of nuclear deterrence doctrines, which are based and rely on the threat of the actual use of nuclear weapons and, hence, the risks of the destruction of countless lives, of societies, of nations, and of inflicting global catastrophic consequences,” they added.

The declaration underscores that, for the majority of states, outdated nuclear deterrence policies create unacceptable risks. The only way to eliminate the danger is to reinforce the norms against nuclear use and the threat of use and to accelerate stalled progress toward verifiably eliminating these weapons.

Nevertheless, NATO leaders insist that the alliance must double down on its dangerous nuclear deterrence posture to prevent a Russian attack on NATO member states. In reality, U.S. and NATO nuclear weapons have proven useless in preventing Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. At the same time, Russia’s brazen nuclear threats have failed to deter NATO efforts to supply Ukraine with weapons needed to repel the Russian onslaught.

Instead, Ukraine’s partners have responded with political, economic, and diplomatic means to help Ukraine defend its territory. The conflict has demonstrated that even for a state or alliance possessing a robust nuclear arsenal, such as NATO, conventional military capabilities are the key to deterring military attacks and to ensuring battlefield success.

The more NATO rhetoric emphasizes the value of nuclear deterrence and of possessing nuclear weapons, the more legitimacy it lends to Putin’s nuclear threats and to the mistaken, dangerous belief that nuclear weapons are necessary for self-defense.

The next global gathering concerning nuclear weapons will take place in August at the 10th review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). All states must seek to rise above their differences and work together to reverse today’s dangerous nuclear trends.

Non-nuclear-weapon states can build on the TPNW meeting by encouraging wider support for the norms against nuclear weapons. Rather than simply criticize Russian nuclear threats as “irresponsible,” NPT states-parties should condemn unambiguously all threats of nuclear weapons use. They must unite in demanding that the nuclear-weapon states undertake specific actions to fulfill the NPT’s Article VI disarmament provisions. This should include an explicit call for the United States and Russia to begin negotiations on new disarmament arrangements and for all NPT nuclear-armed states to freeze their nuclear stockpiles and engage in disarmament negotiations before the next NPT review conference, in 2025.

Given the growing risk of nuclear war, the first meeting of TPNW states-parties and the NPT review conference must become a turning point away from dangerous nuclear policies and arms racing that threaten global nuclear catastrophe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats of possible use of nuclear weapons against any state that might interfere with Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine have reawakened the world to the dangers of nuclear war.

States-Parties Meet on Nuclear Arms Ban Treaty

July/August 2022
By Gabriela Rosa Hernández and Daryl G. Kimball

The first meeting of states-parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has produced an ambitious 50-point action plan and several decisions designed to implement the 2017 agreement. It also adopted a political statement that aims, in part, to reinforce norms against nuclear weapons use and threat of use.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres (on screen) speaks during First Meeting of States-Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in Vienna on June 21. The treaty, which bans nuclear weapons, has been ratified by 66 countries. Notable holdouts are the United States and other nuclear-weapon states.  (Photo by Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images)“We will not rest until the last state has joined the treaty, the last warhead has been dismantled and destroyed, and nuclear weapons have been eliminated from this earth,” delegates said in a joint declaration issued at the close of the meeting.

“We stress that any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. We condemn unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances,” the declaration added.

The June 21–23 meeting in Vienna occurred at a moment of unprecedented post-Cold War instability as Russia wages war against Ukraine. To date, 86 states have signed and 66 states have ratified the treaty, which prohibits the possession, development, transfer, testing, use, or threat of use of nuclear weapons. The TPNW entered into force in January 2021.

The condemnation represents the strongest multilateral criticism of such nuclear threats since the UN General Assembly approved a resolution on March 2 condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin’s decision to increase the readiness of his nuclear forces. There have also been exchanges of nuclear threats between the United States and North Korea in 2017 and Pakistan’s reference to the possibility of nuclear war with India in 2019, according to a TPNW conference working paper. Most recently, Russia threatened to use nuclear weapons if NATO members intervene militarily in the war in Ukraine. (See ACT, April 2022.)

In a statement issued June 24 by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, the Russian government rejected the criticism. “There have never been any ‘nuclear threats’ from Russia and never are. The Russian approach to this issue is based solely on the logic of deterrence.”

Calling NATO actions to be “dangerously balancing on the verge of a direct armed conflict with our country,” she argued that “the logic of deterrence remains an effective way to prevent a nuclear collision and large-scale wars.”

Several states-parties at the Vienna meeting expressed deep concerns about the risks posed by the dangerous nuclear deterrence policies espoused by Russia and the eight other nuclear-armed states and their allies. “The logic that nuclear deterrence provides security is a fundamental error because deterrence requires credibility, meaning the readiness to actually use these weapons. This is nothing less than a massive nuclear sword of Damocles hanging over the head of all of us, of all of humanity. We must take and we have taken a different path,” declared Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg at the beginning of the conference.

Many TPNW delegations joined Schallenberg in expressing concern about the risks posed by nuclear deterrence policies of the nine nuclear-armed states and their allies.

Led by conference president Alexander Kmentt, the Austrian director of disarmament, arms control, and nonproliferation, states-parties made several decisions that will shape the treaty’s future. These include implementing treaty obligations to assist people affected by nuclear weapons use and nuclear test explosions and designating a competent international authority to monitor treaty implementation and compliance. In addition, the conference agreed on steps to promote further TPNW ratifications and to establish a scientific advisory group on the technical aspects of the treaty, including the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons and their use.

The conference statement also expressed deep concern with the fact that none of the nuclear-armed states are taking serious steps to reduce dependence on nuclear weapons. “Instead, all nuclear-armed [states] are spending vast sums to modernize, upgrade, or expand their nuclear arsenals and placing a greater emphasis and increasing the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines,” the declaration said.

According to a 2022 report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, nuclear arsenals are expected to grow in the coming decade, despite a marginal decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2021. The two largest nuclear weapons possessors, Russia and the United States, have suspended discussions on a follow-on arms control agreement to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which will expire in 2026.

States-parties also agreed on steps relating to their obligations under treaty articles VI and VII to address the harm from the use and testing of nuclear weapons, including the establishment of an international trust fund for assisting health issues in affected states and for environmental remediation.

They pledged to pursue high-level engagement with states that have not joined the treaty, which was negotiated by more than 120 countries but not the nuclear-armed states.

In 2021, NATO members declared their opposition to the treaty in the Brussels summit communiqué, saying, “We reiterate our opposition to the [TPNW] which is inconsistent with the alliance’s nuclear deterrence policy, is at odds with the existing non-proliferation and disarmament architecture, risks undermining the [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)], and does not take into account the current security environment.”

Yet, NATO member states and close U.S. allies such as Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway attended the first meeting of states-parties as observers.

Germany and Norway delivered statements that reiterated NATO’s declaratory policy regarding the treaty. “As a member to NATO, and as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance, and confronted with an openly aggressive Russia, which has not only invaded Ukraine but is threatening the rules-based international order and peace in Europe, Germany cannot accede to the TPNW, which would collide with our membership in NATO including nuclear deterrence,” Rüdiger Bohn, the German deputy commissioner for arms control and disarmament and head of the German delegation, told the conference.

But he pledged that Germany would seek to engage “in constructive dialogue and exploring opportunities for practical cooperation” with TPNW states.

Jørn Osmundsen, Norwegian special envoy for disarmament affairs, also laid down caveats. “Norway is attending this conference as an observer,” he stressed. “This is not a step towards signing the TPNW, which would be incompatible with our NATO obligations. Norway stands fully behind NATO’s nuclear posture.”

The TPNW conference reaffirmed that the treaty is designed to complement and strengthen the existing nonproliferation and disarmament regime. “In the absence of an enabling legally binding framework and the slow pace of implementation of agreed disarmament commitments, the TPNW’s negotiation and adoption is an effort by nonnuclear-weapon states to make progress towards the full implementation of Article VI of the NPT…[which is] an obligation for all NPT states-parties,” according to a conference working paper developed by Ireland and Thailand in advance of the meeting of states-parties.

States-parties agreed to pursue further discussions about establishing or designating a competent international authority to monitor and verify the disarmament process. They acknowledged the need to elaborate on what procedure and timeline should follow in case a state wishes to disarm and remove nuclear weapons from its territory. (See ACT, May 2021.)

Prior to the TPNW meeting, Austria hosted a fourth conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons with the goal of bringing together different actors from civil society, academia, and survivors to discuss these issues. Similar conferences in Oslo (March 2013); Nayarit, Mexico (February 2014); and Vienna (December 2014) helped propel non-nuclear-weapon states to launch the negotiations that produced the TPNW in 2017.

The TPNW meeting named Juan Ramón de la Fuente, Mexico’s UN ambassador, to serve as president of the second TPNW meeting of states-parties, which will be held in New York on November 27–December 1, 2023.

The first meeting of states-parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons declared, “We will not rest until…the last warhead has been…destroyed.”

Biden Reverts to Obama-Era Landmines Policy

July/August 2022
By Daryl G. Kimball and Magritte Gordaneer

After a months-long policy review, the Biden administration announced on June 21 that it will reverse the Trump administration policy that allowed for wider use of anti-personnel landmines. The decision means the United States is returning to the Obama-era policy that bars the use of the weapons anywhere except in support of its ally South Korea on the Korean peninsula.

Ukrainian deminers collect unexploded material during a demining operation in Horenka village in the Kyiv region in May as Russia pressed its war in Ukraine.  (Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)The policy to limit the use of anti-personnel landmines will “align the United States’ policy and practice with key provisions of the Ottawa Convention for all activities outside the context of the Korean peninsula,” Stan Brown, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said in a briefing on June 21.

As a result of the decision, Brown said, “we’re not going to export or transfer anti-personnel landmines; we’re not going to use them outside the Korean peninsula. We would also undertake to destroy all anti-personnel stockpiles not required for the defense of [South] Korea; and again, we would not assist, encourage, or induce anyone outside the context of the Korean peninsula to engage in any activity that would be prohibited by the convention.”

As a candidate, President Joe Biden pledged to reverse what he characterized as President Donald Trump’s “reckless” stance on landmines.

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, typically referenced as the Ottawa Convention or the Mine Ban Treaty, seeks to end the use of anti-personnel landmines worldwide. It was opened for signature on Dec. 3, 1997, and entered into force on March 1, 1999.

Today, 164 countries are party to the treaty, representing more than 80 percent of the world’s states and all NATO allies except the United States. The Ottawa Convention has won strong global support because anti-personnel landmines are indiscriminate weapons that devastate civilian communities during conflict and for decades after the conflict has ended.

Brown said that the United States “will continue to pursue materiel and operational solutions that would be compliant with and ultimately allow the United States to accede to the Ottawa Convention, while we at the same [time] ensure our ability to meet our alliance commitments.”

Pressed about when the United States could deploy an alternative weapon along the DMZ that would allow it to accede to the Ottawa Convention, Brown said that “it is being worked on, but I would have to defer you to the Department of Defense for the specific acquisition and operational capabilities of future devices.”

Currently, the United States does not maintain any active anti-personnel minefields, not even in South Korea or on the DMZ with North Korea, where the landmines are all owned by South Korea. According to the U.S. State Department, the United States has roughly three million anti-personnel landmines, which are defined as victim-activated. Aside from a single use in Afghanistan in 2002, the United States has not used these weapons since the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

“The administration’s policy stands in a sharp contrast to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, where there’s compelling evidence that Russian forces are using explosive munitions, including landmines, in an irresponsible manner which is causing extensive harm to civilians and damage to vital civilian infrastructure there,” Brown said. Russia is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty but Ukraine is.

The United States recently transferred Claymore mines to Ukraine. They are command-detonated weapons, meaning they tend to be less lethal to civilians. The Ottawa Convention outlaws landmines that are victim activated.

The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines welcomed the policy adjustment, calling it “an important first step toward the ultimate goal of the United States joining the Mine Ban Treaty and banning the use, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines worldwide.”

States-parties to the Ottawa Convention, including Germany, Norway, and Spain, and Switzerland, praised the Biden policy adjustment in statements delivered at Mine Ban Treaty meetings in Geneva in late June, which the United States attended as an observer and used as a venue to announce its new policy.

Norway’s delegation, in a tweet on June 21, said, “Norway warmly welcomes the United States new landmine policy, bringing [it] in closer alignment with the requirements of the Mine Ban Treaty, and an important step toward possible accession.” The German delegation called it an “important step to achieve a mine-free world and universalization of the Ottawa Convention.”

The decision means the United States will bar the use of the weapons, except in support of South Korea on the Korean peninsula.


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