On 7 July, 122 participating countries adopted a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. While the treaty is an impressive diplomatic achievement, reflecting the views of a solid majority of UN member states, none of the states that actually possess nuclear weapons participated. This leaves a curious legal situation in which the only state parties to the treaty, at least initially, will be those already prohibited from acquiring nuclear weapons by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Criticism of the treaty by nuclear weapons states should not obscure the treaty's fundamentally radical implication: that a majority of nations believe that nuclear weapons are dangerous and unnecessary and should be quickly eliminated so as to change the status quo of international security. Edward Ifft and Natalie Goldring discussed whether and how this might happen.
This event took place on Friday 4 August, from 10–11am, at the IISS–Americas, located at 2121 K Street NW, Suite 801, Washington DC 20037.
The discussion was chaired by IISS–Americas Executive Director Mark Fitzpatrick. Following opening remarks, there was an opportunity for audience Q&A at the end.
Edward Ifft is an Adjunct Professor at the Center For Security Studies, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. A retired member of the Senior Executive Service, he is a Foreign Affairs Officer at the State Department. He has served on the US delegations to the SALT, TTBT, START and CTBT negotiations, was the Senior State Representative to both the START and CTBT negotiations, and served as Deputy US Negotiator to START. He has served as Deputy Director of the On-Site Inspection Agency and Senior Advisor to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He served for three years as Executive Secretary of the US–USSR Space Cooperation Agreement. He was US Commissioner (Acting) for the ABM Treaty for two years. He has authored numerous journal articles and chapters in two books published by the United Nations. He earned his PhD at Ohio State University in physics.
Natalie J. Goldring is a Senior Fellow in the Center for Security Studies and an Adjunct Full Professor in the Security Studies Program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Her research focuses on a wide range of international security issues, including small arms and light weapons, the international trade in conventional weapons, and nuclear proliferation. She represents the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy on issues related to small arms and light weapons, conventional weapons transfers, and the Arms Trade Treaty. She was previously Executive Director of the Program on Global Security and Disarmament at the University of Maryland, and prior to that she worked for many years with NGOs such as the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), where she served as the organisation's Deputy Director. She earned her PhD in political science from MIT, with a specialisation in defence and arms control.
Mark Fitzpatrick is the Executive Director of the IISS–Americas, as well as head of the IISS Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme. He joined IISS in 2005, after 26 years at the State Department, and moved back to Washington in December 2015. His research focus is on preventing nuclear dangers through non-proliferation, nuclear security, and arms control. Follow Mark Fitzpatrick @FitzpatrickIISS.