Analysis

Published on September 7th, 2015 | by Susi Snyder

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Escalating tensions: The perfect time to negotiate

PAX’s new policy brief: Escalating tensions: The perfect time to negotiate the outlaw and elimination of nuclear weapons is now available.

There’s been a number of announcements, exercises and (in)direct threats made in the last year illustrating a growing tension between Russia and Western powers (mostly NATO). These escalating measures have not been one sided and are not solely a result of the conflict in Ukraine. Tensions between NATO and Russia have ebbed and flowed continuously since the end of the cold war. Tension is not new, but the current escalations increase risks with potential global humanitarian consequences. The explicit inclusion of nuclear weapons in rhetoric and the exercising of nuclear capabilities are of grave concern as the risk of use increases (by accident or intent).

The increased attention to the role of nuclear weapons in this time of tension has an added benefit of bringing the issue to the forefront. As noted by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs “Even during the Cold War, we kept talking and managed to conclude some key disarmament treaties. Especially in troubling times, we need to keep channels of communication and dialogue open and press onwards with disarmament.”[1] All significant treaties that are currently in force were negotiated during the Cold War, with negotiations inspired by times of crisis and heightened tension. Multilateral negotiations on nuclear weapons have not progressed during decades of reduced great power tension leaving many to wonder if the rising threats now are the incentive needed to galvanize the international community to negotiate the outlaw and elimination of nuclear weapons.

This PAX policy brief provides a brief review of statements and rhetoric; exercises; posturing and nuclear weapons modernisation activities that are leading to a growing perception of escalated threat. It also suggests de-escalation measures, including options for what individual states can do at this time, including NATO members. The paper concludes by debunking some myths that have been recently circulated as an obstacle to progress.

Download the paper here: Escalating Tensions, September 2015

 


[1] Mr. Bert Koenders, 2015. H.E. Mr. Bert Koenders Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands NPT Review Conference General Debate. Available at:http://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/revcon2015/statements/27April_Netherlands.pdf.

 


[1] Mr. Bert Koenders, 2015. H.E. Mr. Bert Koenders Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands NPT Review Conference General Debate. Available at:http://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/revcon2015/statements/27April_Netherlands.pdf.

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About the Author

Susi Snyder is the Nuclear Disarmament Programme Manager for PAX in the Netherlands. Mrs. Snyder has coordinated the research, publication and campaigning activities surrounding the annually updated Don’t Bank on the Bomb report since 2013. She has published numerous reports and articles, including Dealing with a ban (2015); The Rotterdam Blast: The immediate humanitarian consequences of a 12 kiloton nuclear explosion (2014); and Withdrawal Issues: What NATO countries say about the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe (2011). She is an International Steering Group member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and a 2016 Nuclear Free Future Award Laureate. Previously, Mrs. Snyder served as the Secretary General of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom at their Geneva secretariat.



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