APLN Newsletter (25 September 2020)
APLN Newsletter

APLN Newsletter (25 September 2020)

APLN’s Activities

The APLN Policy Brief No. 69: “Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered: Why the Asia-Pacific Must Stand Up for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty” by John Tilemann

The APLN published John Tilemann’s policy brief on “Hirsohima and Nagasaki Remembered: Why the Asia-Pacific Must Stand Up for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.” Tilemann highlights the 75th anniversary of the atomics bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the 50th anniversary of the NPT to discuss the significance of the Asia-Pacific and nuclear threats. With the pandemic and North Korea’s continued nuclear activities that remain a challenge to securing NPT norms in the region, Tilemann reminds leaders in the Asia-Pacific of their responsibilities to reduce nuclear risks. The delayed convening of the NPT Review Conference should become an opportunity to build greater support for strengthening non-proliferation norms and eliminating nuclear threats. Learn more

The APLN Policy Brief No. 70: “The Nuclear Chain Binding China, India, and Pakistan in a Tight Embrace” by Ramesh Thakur

The APLN published Ramesh Thakur’s policy brief on “The Nuclear Chain Binding China, India, and Pakistan in a Tight Embrace.” The Cold War-era weapons governance structures are no longer fit for purpose in contemporary equations where nuclear dyads have morphed into nuclear chains. In an increasingly polycentric global order, the dyadic nuclear arms control structure can neither regulate nor constrain the choices of other nuclear-armed states. Yet growing risks point to the urgent need to institutionalize a nuclear restraint regime fit for purpose in the Asia–Pacific. In this policy brief, Thakur explores the merits of adapting the Open Skies Treaty and the Incidents at Sea Agreement from the North Atlantic to the Asia–Pacific, and, in the reverse direction, of universalising a no-first-use of nuclear weapons policy from China and India to all nine nuclear-armed states. Learn more

The APLN’s Corner on the Korea Times

Shen Dingli: “Arms Talk Vs. Balanced Security”

On September 16, 2020, Shen Dingli’s article, “Arms Talk Vs. Balanced Security,” was published on APLN’s Corner of the Korea Times. Shen discusses bringing China into U.S.-Russia talks on the future of the New START Treaty, and states that while Beijing may be flattered by the idea of joining the New START Treaty, it is reluctant due to possible destabilization in the Asia-Pacific region. American intentions to mitigate further nuclear developments have become more clear through its annual report of China’s military and security developments. However, Shen explains that China will not come to the table unless the U.S. is willing to maintain an overall balance of national power and military competence between the two countries, not limited to INFs. China will not cut its intermediate-range ballistic missile forces without receiving significant compensation in strategic arms and conventional forces, especially as China becomes apprehensive toward American intentions in the Straits. Learn more

The APLN-Korea Times Essay Contest

The APLN is continuing to accept submissions for its Essay Contest with the Korea Times on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament issues in the Asia-Pacific region! Undergraduate and graduate students are required to write 800-1000 words on various different topics ranging from nuclear governance, strategic nuclear rivalry, the North Korean nuclear problem, emerging technologies, and more. Winners will receive monetary rewards, awards, and an opportunity to participate in the 19th ROK-UN Conference on Disarmament in the fall. The APLN Secretariat asks members and those affiliated to disseminate this information to students you may know or might be interested as it is a great chance for students to engage, publish, and stay connected within the field of nuclear issues. The deadline has been extended to Saturday, October 31, 2020. Learn more

Recent Activities and Updates

Email us about your recent activities! The APLN Secretariat asks members and colleagues to send us your recent activities, references, or changes in post from your respective countries to share with all those involved. Please send us any updates or resources to our email address at apln@apln.network.


Members’ Activities

Marianne Hanson: “Linking U.S.–Russian Arms Control to East Asian Security”

On September 1, 2020, Marianne Hanson published an article “Linking U.S.-Rusian Arms Control to East Asian Security.” The article notes that, when compared with risk management measures taken during the Cold War, there is a lack of arms control treaties and regularised restraints in the Asia-Pacific region despite hosting four nuclear weapon states. In particular, Hanson points to the increasingly volatile relationship between China, India, and Pakistan, further highlighting the crucial role the U.S. and Russia can play in reducing nuclear risk by lowering their nuclear numbers and extending New START. The article proposes involving Australia as a stabilizing power by finding common ground with China. Learn more

Manpreet Sethi: “Complexities of Achieving Strategic Stability in Southern Asia- An Indian Perspective”

In September 2020, Manpreet Sethi published a policy brief for the Toda Peace Institute. Sethi argues that strategic stability is the key to nuclear stability in the Asia-Pacific but admits that there are many obstacles. For strategic stability to work, there must be neither an incentive for any state to resort to nuclear weapons in a crisis nor a race for offensive and defensive capabilities. However, with each state aligning different policies to its nuclear weapons such as the ambiguity tactic, opportunities to exchange views and mutual trust diminish. The author advises strategic dialogue, formalizing low alert levels, and shaking complacency on the risks of a nuclear exchange as steps towards strategic stability in the region. Learn more


APLN’s Selections

Why We Need a Regional Approach for Crisis Management with North Korea

By: Deon Canyon and Sungmin Cho

On July 15, 2020, Deon Canyon and Sungmin Cho published a paper for the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The paper emphasizes the need for Highly Available Disaster Recovery (HADR) for North Korea. Its public services infrastructure is insufficient and corrupt, signaling an aggravated crisis in the face of a pandemic. Since Pyongyang is wary of receiving help from the U.S. or South Korea, promoting external aid through multilateral institutions that North Korea engages in may be the best option for the necessary regional cooperation on HADR issues. This issue is not only a humanitarian one because it has ramifications on security issues as well. North Korean authorities blame sanctions as the root of all internal problems; the more people suffer from health crises and natural disasters, the more the Kim regime is likely to launch another series of outward military provocations. Thus, there is a need for multilateral cooperation for Pyongyang’s HADR engagement as a mechanism for achieving pressure release. Learn more

Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020 Annual Report to Congress

By: U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense

On September 1, 2020, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020 was published by the Office of the Secretary of Defense of the United States. This is a comprehensive report looking back two decades of China’s policies to assess the contours of China’s economic and foreign policies, approach to security and military affairs, and potential changes in its armed forces over the next two decades. The statement reports China and the PLA as continuing to strengthen both its conventional and nuclear military program not only by adding in numbers but by modernizing its arsenals as well. The report states that these are steps for the CCP’s long-term ambitions to achieve the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” with which it aims to cement its bigger presence in the Asia-Pacific region as well as dethrone the United States from its hegemonic status. Learn more

Toward a More Proliferated World? The Geopolitical Forces that Will Shape the Spread of Nuclear Weapons

By: Eric Brewer, Ilan Goldenberg, Joseph Rodgers, Maxwell Simon, and Kaleigh Thomas

On September 2, 2020, the Center for a New American Security and the Center for Strategic and International Studies published “Toward a More Proliferated World?,” exploring the geopolitical forces that will shape the spread of nuclear weapons. Despite the steady establishment of barriers against proliferation over the years, the paper discusses recent trends that are disintegrating this framework, largely resulting from the U.S. ‘s declining influence and withdrawal from global order in addition to the emergence of an increasingly competitive security environment. The article further provides several policy recommendations from pursuing a risk-limiting nuclear deal with North Korea to repairing the growing trust and confidence deficit with allies. Chapter Three presents case studies evaluating three potential proliferators against the trends, notably analyzing South Korea’s possible motivations toward developing a nuclear weapons program in light of the trends presented in the article. Learn more

Nuclear Safety Review 2020

By: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

In September 2020, the International Atomic Energy Agency released its final version of the Nuclear Safety Review 2020, reflecting international trends pertaining to nuclear safety as well as the Agency’s activities in 2019. The report outlines progress made by Member States on multiple fronts, from the strengthening of traditional safety regulatory infrastructure to the development of national strategies on education and training in radiation, transport and waste safety. The IAEA’s priorities for 2020 and beyond include solidifying its safety standards according to lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident, assisting Member States in establishing safety infrastructure for new nuclear power and research reactor programs, and continuing to facilitate the establishment for a global nuclear liability regime. Learn more