Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Improving Nuclear Strategic Stability: A Responsibility-based Approach to Arms Control

October 25, 2019

New York

The Toda Peace Institute and the Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations organised a side-event for diplomats attending the First Committee on 25 October 2019 in New York. The event was attended by 75 participants.

The side-event entitled “Improving Nuclear Strategic Stability: A Responsibility-based Approach to Arms Control” invited Rear Admiral John Gower (UK, retired) to introduce an approach to improve nuclear strategic stability through a global framework for responsible nuclear weapons ownership. This approach may be realistic enough to gain traction while capturing the aspirations for a world free of nuclear dangers. His motivation is to find practical steps to improve the conditions for arms control and nuclear disarmament. He also sees an urgent need to reduce the temperature of current nuclear relations through demonstrable restraint and reciprocal declaratory undertakings. The framework and its associated code of conduct rests on the assumption that there is a common interest in avoiding nuclear war and that therefore, enhanced stability to reduce the risk of such a war can be discussed without linkage to other areas of contention. The code of conduct for nuclear responsibility is consistent with the NPT and the action plans of previous review conferences, and the upcoming NPT Conference could be an appropriate setting for further elaboration and discussion. Toda Peace Institute felt that the approach is a highly topical and significant contribution to the debate on arms control and disarmament in light of its pragmatism, gradualism, systematicity and strict logic. The session was moderated by Sverre Lodgaard, senior research fellow of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, with comments by Sharon Squassoni (George Washington University, USA) and Adlan Margoev (MGIMO, Moscow).

Admiral Gower’s approach brings together several critical elements and key tenets of nuclear weapons policies and postures. These elements provide a more stable platform necessary for agreement on a logical sequence of phases that would help nuclear armed states maintain stable deterrence while pursuing new concepts for arms control and reductions that could re-energize the spirit and the grand bargain of the NPT. Such a drive for stability and progress is urgently required to reverse the current hazardous trajectory.


To read Admiral Gower’s full paper, please click on this link.