Status: Open

Expert seminar on the topic “Russian-US Dialogue on the NPT Review Process and the Role of Youth” by PIR Center and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

August 26, 2022

On August 15, the IV meeting of the Track 2.5 working group on the topic “Russian-US Dialogue on the NPT Review Process and the Role of Youth” was held in New York in the format of an expert seminar. The event took place at the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The seminar was co-organized by PIR Center and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, USA (CNS).

The event was attended by experienced and novice experts on nuclear nonproliferation, strategic stability and arms control. Among them, in particular, are researchers of PIR Center and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, graduates and students of master’s programs in the field of nonproliferation from Russia, the USA, and France. The seminar was also attended by representatives of the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in New York.

Opening the meeting, Dr. Vladimir Orlov, Founder and Director of the PIR Center, President of the Trialogue Club International, MGIMO Professor and adviser to the Russian delegation to the X NPT Review Conference, which takes place from August 1 to 26 in New York, and William Potter, Founder and Director of the CNS, Middlebury Institute of International Studies Professor, member of the Expert Council of the PIR Center, foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), made introductory remarks. They stressed the importance of involving young people in the discussion of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament issues, especially in the context of the NPT review process.

Dr. Potter observed that at a time when the tradition of US-Russian cooperation in the NPT review process was interrupted, it was all the more important for a dialogue on the subject of nonproliferation cooperation to continue in a less formal venue.  He noted the bittersweet quality of the joint meeting—grateful for the opportunity to interact in person with the “next generation,” but sad that current circumstances prevented a more extended discussion of the acute challenges that confront us today.

Ambassador Felix Bauman, Head of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland at the UN Office in Geneva, addressed the participants of the seminar as a special guest. As the Ambassador said, “Switzerland is concerned about the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament, and even developments in the opposite direction in recent years. Rather than welcoming progress in the implementation of the 2010 Action Plan, such as the reduction of global arsenals, we are witnessing quantitative increases in the nuclear arsenals of some nuclear weapon states. We also see significant efforts to modernise nuclear arsenals, including the development of less predictable systems that are more difficult to detect, raising questions with regard to strategic stability”. The full text of Ambassador Felix Bauman’s speech can be found here.

The event was moderated by Elena Karnaukhova, Deputy Director of PIR Center, Director of the Education & Training Program, and Sarah Bidgood, Director of the Nonproliferation Program in Eurasia at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey. As always, Sarah Bidgood appreciated the chance to hear from “next generation” experts on a range of NPT-related topics and challenges. In her view, the meeting presented a valuable opportunity to exchange views on a number of important issues facing the nonproliferation community today.

The seminar included three panel discussions: The X NPT Review Conference and Current Status of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime, Regional Aspects of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime, The Future of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime: What Should Be Done? Among the speakers were mainly students and junior researchers. They shared their observations on the course of the X NPT Review Conference, as well as the results of their research on the role of the nuclear five states in the NPT review process and the dialogue on strategic stability, on the issues of the NWFZ at the Review Conference, on the role of “middle-rank” nuclear powers in discussing nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, on the link between European security and WMD nonproliferation. Also, some speakers raised the issues of the impact of new technologies on strategic stability and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

“The meeting was an excellent chance to facilitate dialogue between young Russian and American nuclear scholars. Though we are aware of what divides our countries, this meeting celebrated what can bring us together: trust, friendship, honest scholarship, and sustained dialogue. In my personal opinion, more than anything colleagues from both countries were happy to be able to share our common concerns, and affirm that we can find common ground even in uncommon times. Cooperation starts with trust, and this meeting was a good chance to highlight how such trust can be won through engaging in the issues surrounding nuclear weapons with honesty and critical thinking”, – noted by Matthew Goldenberg, CNS Graduate Research Assistant and NPTS M.A. Candidate, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, USA.

Within the framework of the event, a brief presentation of the monograph of PIR Center Russia-US Nuclear Nonproliferation Dialogue: Lessons Learned and Road Ahead took place: Vladimir Orlov presented the main conclusions and results of the study on how the interaction of the USSR developed/the Russian Federation and the United States on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and what prospects it has in the future. We remind you that the second Palgrave edition of the monograph will be available at the end of August 2022. You will be able to purchase the monograph by following the link.

Elena Karnaukhova, Deputy Director of PIR Center and Director of Education & Training Program, also spoke at the meeting, who touched upon gender issues in the context of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament and presented the results of a study under the auspices of the PIR Center on The Role of Russian Women in the Field of Nonproliferation, Disarmament and Global Security. Earlier in January, a Securty Index research paper of PIR Center on this issue was published. An English version is being prepared for printing now.

“I am very grateful to PIR Center and CNS for giving novice experts a chance to speak out, for giving us the opportunity to participate in the main event in the field of nuclear nonproliferation – the NPT Review Conference. It is a great honor and a great responsibility”, – Alexandra Zubenko, Junior Researcher at Nuclear Nonproliferation and Russia Program at PIR Center.

The presentations by the Russian speakers can be found here:

  • Elena Karnaukhova “Female Factor in the Fields of Nuclear Nonproliferation, Nuclear Disarmament and Global Security: from the Russian Perspective”.
  • Sofya Shestakova “Assessing the role of nuclear P5 in ensuring strategic stability”.
  • Alexey Yurk “Nuclear Nonproliferation & European Security: Interconnections and Prospects”.
  • Alexandra Zubenko “Assessing the Role of Middle-Level Nuclear Powers in Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament: As Seen from Russia (on the Example of France)”.

It is worth recalling the words of the Russian luminary in the field of nonproliferation and disarmament General Evgeny Maslin who once said, “If the youth on both shores of Bering Strait put their thoughts into how to rectify the Russia-US relations, I am optimistic”.