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Midweek Brainstorming Session on the NPT Review Process and Russia-US Relations


MOSCOW, APRIL 25, 2018, PIR PRESS – “In spite of the current global security environment, it is possible for states parties to reach consensus on the disarmament agenda at the 2020 NPT Review Conference. However, it will depend on several variables. Two of them are the way in which Russia and the United States present themselves by 2020 with more, little, or no bridge-building attitude at all; and the role that coalitions and ‘hinge countries’ could play in promoting dialogue and bringing states together on contentious issues”–   PIR Center’s Visiting Research Fellow, Alain Ponce.

On April 17, 2018 PIR Center and the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian MFA held a Midweek Brainstorming Session on the research paper “Pursuing Consensus on Disarmament Agenda at the 2020 NPT Review Conference: Recommendations for Russia and the United States”. It was presented by PIR Center’s Visiting Research Fellow and student of the Dual Degree Program in Nonproliferation Studies, Alain Ponce (Mexico). Experts from the Diplomatic Academy, MGIMO-University, IMEMO RAS, Ural Federal University and representatives of Austrian, Brazilian, Japaneese, Mexican and Swiss embassies participated in the session. Adlan Margoev, PIR Center’s “Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation” Program Director, moderated the discussion.

Alain Ponce presented the main points of his research paper stressing out that, in spite the current global security environment, it is possible to reach consensus on the disarmament agenda at the 2020 NPT Review Conference.

Firstly, he recalled the traditional role played by main groups of states and coalitions such as the New Agenda Coalition (NAC), the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM); as well as how they can contribute to bridge-building positions among states parties. In that regard, he underlined, the role of “hinge countries”, which he defines as those non-nuclear weapon states associated with two or more coalitions that can play a positive role as “horizontal communicating actors”. This function - he pointed out - will become a critical asset as states parties will require to accommodate language or consensus formulas on contentious issues e.g., the humanitarian initiative and the nuclear prohibition treaty.

Secondly, he presented and explained four recommendations for Russia and the United States that -according to his opinion- can send a powerful message to non-nuclear-weapons states and contribute to engage in further dialogue, if implemented. Disarmament and non-proliferation education. – Since 2004, only Russia has presented a national report on the implementation of the United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education. Thus, both countries could show their commitment with the study by contributing with relevant information to the next report of the UN Secretary-General.

Transparency and confidence building measures. – Mr. Ponce mentioned that even if Russia and the United States have shown more openness and transparency in recent times, it would be a positive step to continue with this practice. For this reason –he emphasized- it would be desirable that both countries submit national reports, not only reflecting the recent completion of the New START Treaty and the current numbers of their stockpiles, but also their plans for further nuclear reductions.

Engaging in dialogue with non-nuclear weapon states. – He pointed out that there is an urgent need of dialogue between nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon states, on contentious issues, in order to move forward on the disarmament agenda. In that regard, Alain Ponce suggested formats under which dialogue could be initiated such as formal/informal consultations mechanisms, and taking advantage of the so-called multitrack diplomacy to promote exchange of views between non-governmental experts and diplomats.

Engaging in discussions on new ways to assess success and failure of NPT Review Conferences. – He referred to the proposal made by the retired Russian diplomat, Grigori Berdennikov, at the Moscow Nonproliferation Conference, held on 19-21 October 2017, to consider that in addition or instead of a consensus final document, various decisions could be adopted in “a similar way to the decision on the principles and goals at the 1995 RevCon”. In that regard, Alain Ponce suggested that both Russia and the United states could consider new formulas, such as the one proposed by Amb. Berdennikov. He emphasized that a document of principles and objectives reaffirming the validity of previous agreed steps could give “a sense of continuity and progress” to states parties, even if all efforts fail to adopt a final document.

Finally, as part of his conclusions, Alain Ponce underlined that although these recommendations could be seen as modest steps, in the current convulsive times, even small actions could have a bigger impact. Thus, all efforts of the state’s parties should be focused on the success of the 2020 NPT Review Conference and hopefully they will be able to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty.

The participants of the Midweek Brainstorming session underscored the relevance of the topic given the current state of Russian-US relations; and made relevant comments and recommendations on the paper with the aim to strengthen its content.

For questions related to PIR Center’s “Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation” program, you can contact the Program Director Adlan Margoev by phone +7 (495) 987 19 15 or via email [email protected]