Is the Nuclear Testing Norm Eroding?
Weekly Newsletters

Is the Nuclear Testing Norm Eroding?



20 October 2023

This week, in light of the Russian Duma’s approval to de-ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), we reshare APLN’s joint statement with the European Leadership Network and analysis from Robert Floyd, Izumi Nakamitsu and others on the importance of maintaining the nuclear anti-test norm.

This week also marks the anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, history’s most dangerous example of nuclear brinkmanship. We reshare Yu Tiejun‘s analysis of how lessons from the Cold War can be applied to the US-China relationship today and a video of APLN’s panel on the Cuban Missile Crisis at last year’s Jeju Forum.

As always, we highlight the latest activities from our network, including analysis of middle-power agency in the Asia-Pacific, lessons for South Korea from the crisis in the Middle East, India-China security competition, US-Japan extended deterrence, the resurgence of the Global South, and more.

Group Statement: Protecting Nuclear Arms Control Is a Global Imperative

In May, over 250 figures from 50 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, and the Pacific endorsed a joint statement released by the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network (APLN) and the European Leadership Network (ELN). Former prime ministers, defence ministers, foreign ministers, senior military figures, diplomats, and others warn that nuclear arms control must not be allowed to fall victim to geopolitical competition and issue a call for action.

The statement calls on Russia and the United States to pursue a successor framework to the nuclear arms reduction treaty, New START, before its expiration in 2026, and for all states to reaffirm commitments not to test nuclear weapons and make concerted efforts toward the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Read the statement

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty:
A success story ready for completion

In September 2022, on the 25th anniversary of the CTBT opening for signatures, APLN and ELN jointly published a statement that urged the entry into force of the CTBT.

The statement was signed by Robert Floyd, CTBTO Director; Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs; Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu; and the foreign ministers of Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, and Timor Leste.

Read the statement

US-Soviet Top-Down Trust-Building:
Lessons for the US-China Relationship

On the anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, we remember how the world was brought to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.

In this special report from APLN’s Asia Dialogue on China-US Relations series, Professor Yu Tiejun offers a fresh perspective on three examples of top-down trust-building between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He analyzes how these historical cases can guide us in navigating contemporary challenges in today’s China-US relationship and preventing future crises.

Read the special report

Preventing Nuclear War Through Crisis Management:
What We Can Learn From the Cuban Missile Crisis Today


At last year’s Jeju Forum, APLN and Jeju Peace Institute jointly hosted a special session on the theme “Preventing Nuclear War Through Crisis Management: What We Can Learn From the Cuban Missile Crisis Today.” Moderated by Ambassador Sook Kim, panel speakers included APLN Executive Director Shata Shetty, Geun-wook Lee, Jon Wolfsthal, and Alec Chung.

They discussed various aspects of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the reasons for preventing a nuclear war between the U.S. and China, the situation in the Taiwan Strait and on the Korean Peninsula. Additionally, they also discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the context of preventing the use of nuclear weapons today.

Watch on YouTube

The Young Leaders Program, organized by the Pacific Forum, empowers early-career professionals in international policy affairs.

With over 1,000 members from 56 countries, it offers young scholars and professionals a unique opportunity to build their network, observe the foreign policy making process, and voice their generation’s viewpoints within elite circles of policy specialists.

Ideal candidates, aged 25-35, have relevant academic and geopolitical experience, and a passion for diplomacy.

Submit applications by October 31, 11:59PM HST.

Read more

APLN has over 150 members from 22 countries in the Asia-Pacific.
Each week we feature their latest contributions
to global and regional security debates.

See all member activities







Lessons for Korea in the tragedy in Israel

Chung-in Moon, APLN Vice Chair, draws a lesson from the tragedy in Israel for South Korea, emphasising that South Korea must not become overconfident in its intelligence community or the ‘three-axis’ defence system. He argues that the South Korean government should face up to reality and move beyond its insistence on ‘achieving peace through strength’.

India-China Security Competition on Land, at Sea, in Space, and Beyond

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy, and Technology, discussed India’s security challenges and capability gaps with China across various domains, including conventional, maritime, space, nuclear, and cyber, in a podcast hosted by Tanvi Madan.

Active Neutrality: Malaysia in the Middle of U.S.-China Competition

Cheng-Chwee Kuik, Professor of International Relations at the National University of Malaysia (UKM), argues that although hedging is no panacea and comes with its own risks, it is the best option for Malaysia to pursue its interests amid strategic rivalry.

Active Diplomacy Among Leaders in Autumn

Eunjung Lim, Associate Professor at the Division of International Studies at Kongju National University, had a discussion on the upcoming diplomatic events with Professor Kim Jae-cheon of Seogang University in an interview with Arirang News.

How Should Japan Consolidate the Credibility of Extended Deterrence?

Nobumasa Akiyama, APLN Senior Associate Fellow and Professor at Hitotsubashi University, writes on how Japan, along with the US and other partners, should strengthen the credibility of extended deterrence. Designing a deterrence architecture is key for effective and efficient deterrence, but risk management through arms control is indispensable.

Learning from South Asia’s Nuclearization: Lessons for South Korea

Rabia Akhtar, founding Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Policy Research at the University of Lahore, discusses what South Korea can learn from South Asia’s experience of nuclearization. She stresses that nuclear weapons will not have a revolutionary effect on the peninsula or outlaw destabilizing actions with nuclear undertones by the two Koreas.

The Global South: A new North Star

Kishore Mahbubani, former Singaporean Ambassador to the United Nations, writes for The Straits Times on the rise of Global South. He argues that the world should pay more attention to long-term structural shifts, as the resurgence of the Global South is poised to bring about profound changes in the dynamics of our world order. 

Israel, Palestine at a Crossroads

C. Uday Bhaskar, Director of the Society for Policy Studies (SPS), New Delhi, commented on the Hamas attack on Israel for The Tribune India, arguing that ruthless vengeance cannot be a substitute for a pragmatic and ethical long-term policy.

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