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Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament Policy Brief  No.9 - March, 2018

Harmonizing the NPT and Ban Treaty in Nuclear Risk Reduction Measures by Possessor States

The international community has sought to address the challenges of nuclear risks that have existed since the beginning of the nuclear age by expressing abhorrence at the thought of nuclear weapons being used again. These efforts have ensured that the nuclear taboo has held and despite conflicts involving nuclear weapon states or their allies, nuclear weapons have not been used. With the return of inter-state strategic competition among major powers, technological developments and the shift of the geopolitical centre of gravity to the Indo–Pacific, the world is witnessing an age of nuclear asymmetry and a shift towards more usable nuclear weapons. Bilateral arms control no longer seems possible and among the multilateral instruments, the NPT has exhausted its normative potential while the NWPT is yet to gain the desired political legitimacy and authority. Today’s challenge is to ensure that both co-exist, without one weakening the other while incremental steps are taken to maintain the nuclear taboo until such time as nuclear threats are indeed eliminated by all possessor states, including those not party to the NPT.