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Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament Policy Brief  No.6 - March, 2018

Cooperation or Conflict? Walking the Tightrope of NPT and Ban Treaty Supporters

The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017 changed the paradigm of the NPT and its review process. The two preparatory meetings preceding the 2020 NPT Review Conference will show in stark relief the differences and the convergence between the nuclear allies and the Ban Treaty supporters. The paper looks at the emergence of the frustrations of the non-nuclear weapon states that led to the Ban Treaty and its adoption by almost two-thirds of the United Nations member states. It outlines the arguments against the Ban Treaty put forward by the nuclear allies and the hardening of positions in light of their cavalier dismissal of the Ban Treaty. The paper addresses these criticisms, discusses the positions put forward by the Ban Treaty supporters, and examines the possible repercussions for the debate on nuclear issues and security. The paper argues that the nuclear possessors should accept the Ban Treaty as a reality and focus on the way forward: renewed dialogue and cooperation with the non-nuclear-weapon states. Suggestions for constructive engagement are addressed to both nuclear allies and Ban Treaty supporters, arguing that vision and leadership is needed from both sides in order to avoid a further disintegration of the nuclear architecture.