Since the end of the Cold War, major steps forward have been made towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation: the five nuclear powers have gone down the road leading to nuclear arsenal reduction; moreover, new treaties have been signed (START1, 2 and 3, CTBT) and some have been extended indefinitely. More recently, former Head of States and actual Head of States have been in favour of a nuclear-weapon-free world. It conveyed the opinions of thousands civil society organisations working together through global networks.
However, as far as disarmament is concerned, the five official great powers are pursuing the modernisation of their arsenals and their nuclear simulation programmes in order to guarantee technical credibility and safety, whereas the non-official nuclear States are continuing their capacity development (mainly ballistic and sub-marine). The Conference on Disarmament is struggling with legal wrangling and debates in which negotiation is a synonym for ability to block decisions; the files on non-proliferation have not made any headway, showing no positive outcome for the future. Moreover, the American missile shield in Europe, which is supposed to intercept potential strikes from Iran among others, is creating tensions with Russia, making new reductions in the Russian and American arsenals difficult.
As far as nuclear non-proliferation is concerned, the situation has little improved due to North Korea, which tends to blow hot and cold a bit too often. In addition, the IAEA is putting more and more pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran through its reports; it is indeed suspected of implementing a military nuclear programme. The condemnations – e.g. international sanctions - do not seem to have had a real impact on its actions.
Those are the high stakes issues and challenges that GRIP aims to tackle. A particular attention is paid to:
- Military nuclear treaties : the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) which aims at preventing any State – except the five nuclear powers- from getting the status of nuclear-weapon state; the Comprehensive Test-ban Treaty (CTBT); the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) still in negotiation and the treaties on the creation of new nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ). The monitoring bodies are the International Atomic Energy Agency, which checks if the NPT is applied in the States, the Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Supplier Group, which both control if the nuclear technologies are not exported for military purposes.
- Some States’ programmes, which are suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, chemical or biological (Myanmar, North Korea, India, Iran, Pakistan and Syria among others).
- Numerous countries’ interest in a modern sub-marine force propelled by a nuclear reactor (India, Brasil) or an Air Independent system (Pakistan, Israel…). It seems essential to monitor the proliferation of this kind of weapons carrier that can be used / thought as a nuclear sub-marine component.