Unlocking the Potential of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones
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Unlocking the Potential of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones



25 January 2023

This week, we highlight two reports discussing ways to unlock the potential of nuclear-weapon-free zones and the role a European power has to play in East Asian security.

APLN member, Enkhsaikhan Jargalsaikhan, examines the status of nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ) in international law and how the concept can and should be expanded to include the declaration of more single-state zones such as Mongolia. In addition, Julia Gurol-Haller assesses a recent shift in Germany’s security and defence policies, arguing that Berlin’s more assertive stance offers a window of opportunity for Germany to recalibrate its role in the East Asian security architecture.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Wilton Park, Senior Research Adviser Tanya Ogilvie-White discussed Russia’s strategy of nuclear intimidation in Ukraine and its potential consequences for the NPT. And Policy Fellow Elaine Natalie shared her views with Ploughshares Fund on strengthening diversity in the nuclear policy field. We also highlight members and senior associate fellow activities below.

Time to Draw on the Untapped Potential of NWFZs

Enkhsaikhan Jargalsaikhan, APLN member, former Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations, and Chairman of Blue Banner, argues that nuclear non-proliferation advocates should endeavor to expand and strengthen the definition of nuclear-weapons-free zones (NWFZs). A deeper assessment of NWFZs, he argues, should encourage more states to declare themselves single-state NWFZs as Mongolia has, expanding the currently narrow definition of NWFZs to incorporate a broader array of regions and nations, strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the process.

Read the Policy Brief

Germany’s Role in the East Asian Security Architecture:
Towards More Proactive Diplomatic Engagement?

Julia Gurol-Haller, a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Chair for International Relations, Freiburg University, argues that now is the moment for Germany to play a more active and assertive role in East Asian security. Starting off from the launch of Germany’s 2020 Indo-Pacific strategy, Chancellor Scholz’s controversial visit to China in November 2022, and the new German strategy paper on China, she argues that a more proactive German role is needed and that the shift in Berlin’s security and defence posture offers a window of opportunity for Germany to recalibrate its position in the East Asian security architecture.

Read the Policy Brief

Russia’s Coercive Use of Nuclear Threats

Tanya Ogilvie-White, Senior Research Adviser at APLN, was interviewed by Wilton Park on the war in Ukraine and Russia’s earlier threats to use nuclear weapons in that conflict. She said that Russia’s actions set a dangerous precedent as they mark a step away from traditional deterrence, suggesting nuclear weapons powers may become more willing to use their nuclear arsenals in aggression against non-nuclear weapons states. This risks further proliferation, she warns, as more states may be tempted to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if they perceive a new threat emerging from the nuclear-armed states.

Watch the Interview

Seven Questions with Elaine Natalie

Elaine Natalie, Policy Fellow at APLN, was interviewed by Ploughshares Fund on her work at APLN and her interest in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament policy. Her interview touched on the lack of diversity in the nuclear policy field and efforts at raising the voices of Pacific Island communities impacted by the lingering legacy of nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific.

Read the Interview

Power Play Beyond G20

C. Raja Mohan, Senior Fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute, examines how global power dynamics are shifting with the Russia-Ukraine war and what challenges this poses for India. He argues that India’s G20 leadership will be a success if it can prevent the complete breakdown of the multilateral system and generate major power consensus on a few issues. 

The Problem With Primacy

Van Jackson, APLN Senior Associate Fellow and Professor of International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington, writes for Foreign Affairs on the United States’ Asia policy. He argues that the United States must respond to Asia as it exists rather than treating it as an abstract arena in which it can conduct power politics. 

A Cautious and Conservative US Nuclear Posture Review

Manpreet Sethi, Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi, examines the 2022 US Nuclear Posture Review across three verticals: US threat perceptions, the role of nuclear weapons, and arms control. She also explains the NPR’s likely impact on other nuclear-armed states, especially China and Pakistan, and five worrisome aspects for India. 

Ukraine as a Proxy War: Issues, Parties, Possible Outcomes, and Lessons

Ramesh Thakur, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament at the Australian National University, looks back on the Russo-Ukraine crisis in a longer-term context and offers a broader, more reflective analysis of four intertwined threads in a policy brief for the Toda Peace Institute.

Securitising Climate Policy Will Keep the Indo-Pacific Afloat

Mely Caballero-Anthony, Professor of International Relations at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, argues that regional organisations like ASEAN should be at the forefront of climate security engagement while urging other institutions to integrate climate security in their respective agendas.

Decoding Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy

Kim Won-soo, Chair of the international advisory board of the Taejae Academy, writes for The Korea Times on South Korea’s Indo-Pacific strategy and argues that without the right strategy, a peaceful and nuclear-free peninsula would not be feasible. 

Multi-Layered Security Hurdles

C Uday Bhaskar, Director of the Society for Policy Studies (SPS), New Delhi, writes for The Tribune on how global and regional geopolitical domains are fraught with many developments that augur ill for India’s composite national security in 2023.



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