MOSCOW. 2 MAY 2023. PIR PRESS. «Through the intense and rigorous discussions at VI International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates, it is clear that the AUKUS alliance has sparked deep concerns about its potential impact on the nuclear nonproliferation regime. However, the great mobilization of knowledge and expertise demonstrated by the teams from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, PIR Center & UrFU has shed light on the complexities and nuances of this issue, and potential avenues to consider on the international stage. It is crucial for all stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue and collaborative efforts to ensure the preservation and strengthening of the global nonproliferation regime», – Océane Van Geluwe, 6th cohort student, International Dual Degree M.A. Program Global Security, Nuclear Policy and WMD Nonproliferation (developed jointly by MGIMO University, PIR Center and MIIS).
On April 17, 2023, the first track of the VI International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates took place. This time the Debates was devoted to the question: “Will AUKUS Weaken the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime?”. The event was organized jointly by PIR Center (Russia) and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (USA).
Among the debaters were young specialists from Russia, Japan and India mastering educational programs on nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament and global security.
Affirmative Team was represented by the students of the M.A. Program Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS), USA, namely Sanaa Alvira (India) and Shizuka Kuramitsu (Japan). The team was prepared by mentor Sarah Bidgood, Director of the Eurasia Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
Among the debaters of the Negative Team were Evdokiia Voronkina, currently intern of PIR Center, and Ksenia Mineeva, 2nd-year of the M.A. Program Global and Regional Security and Conflict Management at Ural Federal University (UrFU). The team was mentored by Dr. Ekaterina Mikhaylenko, Associate Professor of UrFU.
The event was held in the format of the Oxford-style debates. After both teams presented their arguments, Q&A session took place. Participants touched upon the precedent of the transfer of nuclear submarines to a nonnuclear weapons state, the impact of AUKUS on the negotiations on the conclusion of the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, the problems of nuclear disarmament, the risks of expanding the trilateral Anglo-Saxon alliance, etc. The Audience of the Debates was represented by interns and researchers of PIR Center, postgraduate students of UrFU, students and graduates of the International Dual Degree M.A. Program Global Security, Nuclear Policy and WMD Nonproliferation (MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center).
The Debates were moderated by a timekeeper Sarah Erickson, graduate of the Dual Degree M.A. Program in Nuclear Nonproliferation (MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center) and currently Research Assistant at UNIDIR. In 2021, Ms. Erickson took part in III International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates as a member of the one of the debating teams.
Both teams successfully implemented the tasks and presented interesting arguments in favor of their positions. Commenting on their performances, Founding Director of James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and PIR Center Advisory Board Member Dr. William Potter noted:
“It was very impressive. The topic of the Debates this time was extremely challenging. Roland Timerbaev would have been impressed as well if he had been with us today. All the debaters were very well-prepared”. From his part, PIR Center Founding Director Dr. Vladimir Orlov stressed that VI International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates were considered mostly as educational and training event due to the ambiguity of their topic. As he pointed out, the Debates also became a good incentive for the participants to better understand the implications of AUKUS on entire nuclear nonproliferation regime.
Indeed, it is extremely difficult to discuss AUKUS issues both from a technological and political point of view. The organizers chose this topic not accidentally: one of the main goals of the International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates as an educational and training project is to call the younger generation of nonproliferation experts on critically approaching the understanding of current challenges and threats in the field of nuclear nonproliferation, on finding all the pros and cons of a particular position, as well as on formulating objective conclusions and on trying to put the shoes of the opposite side.
In order to enhance the educational component of the Debates, members of PIR Center Advisory Board were invited to speak as experts, in particularly, Ambassador Sergio Duarte, President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and Tariq Rauf, Former Head of Verification and Security Policy Coordination, Office reporting to Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Delivering his expert comments, Ambassador Duarte paid much attention to the obligations of nuclear and nonnuclear countries under the NPT, including on nuclear disarmament, and also gave detailed remarks on the similarities and differences in nuclear submarine projects that Brazil is developing and that the AUKUS member countries are planning to implement. Full address of Ambassador Duarte can be found here. After commenting the performances of debaters, he asserted: “The debaters did a very good job. It was an honor and a pleasure as well as a good opportunity to bring some perspectives that are usually not present in debates of this kind. I will be happy to continue working with PIR Center”.
From his part, Tariq Rauf, among other things, drew the attention of the participants to the problems of loopholes in the nuclear nonproliferation regime in the context of the new Anglo-Saxon alliance, as well as to the issue of preserving the universality of the IAEA safeguards system and the risks of its further politicization. As he noted: “Thans you for an excellent discussion to all four debaters. As shown AUKUS remains a controversial matter. SSNs can be hidden in pens and covered dockyards to remove nuclear fuel. Intentions cannot be verified; only nuclear facilities and nuclear materials. Unfortunately both the NPT and the IAEA safeguards agreement for nonnuclear weapon states (CSA) contain a fatal flaw > that of the possibility of exempting nuclear material from safeguards for naval nuclear propulsion (97.3% enriched HEU in the case of AUKUS SSNs). What might have been tolerated in 1968 when the NPT was negotiated, or in 1972 when the CSA was developed, cannot be accepted in today’s world of heightened proliferation dangers. The IAEA has zero experience dealing with nuclear fuel in naval use and consequently in defining the parameters and procedures in this regard”.
Within the framework of the Debates organizers held also the avant-premier of the Anthology of Key Articles prepared by Ambassador Roland Timerbaev under the auspices of PIR Center. As Dr. Vladimir Orlov pointed out, PIR Center Founding Director and Head of the Commission for the Preservation of Ambassador Roland Timerbaev Scientific and Creative Legacy, this Anthology will include articles, publications and excerpts from Roland Timerbaev monographs on a wide range of issues of nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament. Thanks to the life and professional experience of Ambassador Timerbaev, his deep thought and sharp look, the Anthology of his selected works will be highly demanded by the students of specialized educational programs and higher educational institutions both in Russia and abroad. The publication of the collection is scheduled for April-May 2023 in the Russian publishing house Ves Mir.
The event in general was moderated by Elena Karnaukhova, PIR Center Deputy Director and Education & Training Program Director, who also was an Executive Secretary of the
International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates.
PIR Center is pleased to share some comments of the first track of the VI International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates participants.
“VI International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates were an excellent opportunity to dive deeper into the problems of nuclear nonproliferation, improve our critical thinking and argumentation skills. The topic of AUKUS is ambiguous, and it was especially interesting to speak from an unusual position. I would like to express my gratitude to the team and mentor for the thorough study of all aspects, to the opponents for the lively discussion and questions that help to look at the problem from the other side, as well as to the experts for valuable comments. I wish the organizers further success in holding such an important event for young specialists”, – Ksenia Mineeva, student, M.A. Program Global and Regional Security and Conflict Management, UrFU; intern, PIR Center; member of Negative debating team.
“The Debates provided me with an opportunity to delve into the problem of the impact of AUKUS on the nuclear nonproliferation regime. The format of the Debates, which allowed me to get acquainted with the arguments for and against AUKUS, gave me a fairly complete picture of the situation and helped me form my opinion on this topical issue”, – Evdokia Voronkina, intern, PIR Center; member of Negative debating team.
“I was very impressed again this year by the caliber of the arguments prepared by both teams. The resolution they were debating is a very complex one, and I thought they did a great job of addressing the many technical, political, and normative questions it raises”, – Sarah Bidgood, Director, Eurasia Nonproliferation Program, CNS.
“Congratulations to PIR center, MIIS, and UrFU on the VI International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates. The event provided students with a safe academic space to practice debate skills, public speaking and exchange argumentative perspectives. These skills along with international collegial academic partnerships are more important now than ever, if we hope to address the world’s evolving security issues. Both teams and mentors should be proud of their performances and participation”, – Sarah Erickson, graduate of the International Dual Degree M.A. Program Global Security, Nuclear Policy and WMD Nonproliferation (MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center); research assistant, UNIDIR; timekeeper of the VI International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates.
“VI International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates was an excellent platform for discussing the prospects and consequences of the highly controversial AUKUS partnership for the global architecture of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. I was pleasantly surprised how both teams were well-prepared, and their arguments proved once again that the contradictions arising in connection with the transaction can only be resolved through an international transparent dialogue and should become an occasion to strengthen verification standards. Also, I would like to thank organizers for the opportunity to listen to the views of the invited experts”, – Alexandra Aladko, 6th cohort student, International Dual Degree M.A. Program Global security, Nuclear Policy and WMD Nonproliferation (MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center).
“Through the intense and rigorous discussions at VI International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates, it is clear that the AUKUS alliance has sparked deep concerns about its potential impact on the nuclear nonproliferation regime. However, the great mobilization of knowledge and expertise demonstrated by the teams from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, PIR Center & UrFU has shed light on the complexities and nuances of this issue, and potential avenues to consider on the international stage. It is crucial for all stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue and collaborative efforts to ensure the preservation and strengthening of the global nonproliferation regime”, – Océane Van Geluwe, 6th cohort student, International Dual Degree M.A. Program Global Security, Nuclear Policy and WMD Nonproliferation (MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center).
“The Timerbayev debates are an important event for us. It is both a continuation of tradition and the preservation of memory. For young people, for students, it is good practice of analytical abilities. International debates are also important now. We need to keep the dialogue alive“, – Dr. Ekaterina Mikhaylenko, Associate Professor of UrFU.
“As we know in dispute the truth is born. However, many people forget that when emotions are reigning, and the dispute is going out of control, the truth can be lost. VI International Timerbaev Nuclear Debates are a platform whose format allows students to get closer to the truth and not lose sight of it. An excellent tool for raising young specialists, and a useful platform for experienced experts as well as students often bring new, unusual ideas for solving problems of international relations”, – Nikita Degtyarev, graduate of the International Dual Degree M.A. Program Global security, Nuclear Policy and WMD Nonproliferation (MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center); research consultant, Open Nuclear Network.
“The Debates raised a very interesting but challenging topic. Debaters from both teams showed a high level of expertise in preparation, articulation, creativity, and the ability to intelligently parry the arguments of the opposing side”, – Roman Kalinin, intern, PIR Center.
“I would like to note the high level of organization of the Debates and the worthy performance of the participants, who demonstrated their ability to give a convincing argumentation of their thoughts and ideas. The chosen format of the Debates obviously proved itself well and, I hope, will continue to be used in the future”, – Daria Selezneva, graduate of the International Dual Degree M.A. Program Global security, Nuclear Policy and WMD Nonproliferation (MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center); research fellow, Center for International Security, IMEMO RAS.
If you have any questions regarding the International Timerbaev Debates and PIR Center educational projects, please contact PIR Center Education Program team at email@example.com.
Key words: NPT; Education; Nuclear Nonproliferation