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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Non-Proliferation in 2013

On Monday, I attended a lunchtime talk by Ambassador Susan Burk, former Special Representative to the President for Nuclear Non-Proliferation. Her talk, sponsored by the Center for Asian Democracy, was entitled “Reducing Nuclear Dangers: Challenges and Opportunities for the International Non-Proliferation Regime.” It was the second in a recent series of talks on nuclear nonproliferation.

Ambassador Burk did a nice job of presenting the conventional wisdom about the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and regime. She reviewed some of the history, talked about her own experiences attending three review conferences, and briefly overviewed some of the concern about potential proliferants.

However, Burk didn't really talk about Article VI of the NPT or U.S. responsibility to reduce its nuclear weapons. I guess the ideals expressed in President Obama's 2009 Prague address have lost some of their power.

One of my former graduate students asked Burk a question about the potential illegality of nuclear weapons, but I had to attend another event before I could hear the response. Apparently, Burk does not believe nuclear weapons are illegal for the original five nuclear weapons states of the NPT.

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