A Nuclear Restraint Regime for the Asia–Pacific Centred Second Nuclear Age

Lecture by Ramesh Thakur, Australian National University

Ramesh Thakur

Ramesh Thakur

All global nuclear risks and threats are present in the Asia–Pacific, in some cases more acutely so. Asia is the principal site of strategic rivalry in the second nuclear age and the theatre of the least unlikely nuclear war. The nuclear disarmament norm continues to be breached most egregiously in Asia as the only continent where warhead numbers are growing. The most serious violations of the non-proliferation norm have occurred here in the last two decades and it is the sole site of nuclear testing today. There is no architecture in place to promulgate and police regional regulatory norms and standards for the safe operation of nuclear reactors. And Asia also has some of the most acute nuclear security vulnerabilities. Against this sobering backdrop, I advocate the creation of a global nuclear restraint regime suited to the second nuclear age that discards three legacy nuclear postures from the Cold War era: a no-first-use declaration or convention, de-alerting, and elimination of tactical nuclear weapons and land-based ICBMs. Collectively, these measures would strengthen strategic stability, reinforce the normative boundary between nuclear and conventional weapons, deepen the illegitimacy of any first use of nuclear weapons, and devalue the currency of nuclear weapons.

When: March 14, 2017, 3 pm
Where: Peace Research Insitute Frankfurt (PRIF), Baseler Straße 27-31, 60329 Frankfurt am Main


Bio: Ramesh Thakur, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and Professor at the Australian National University, was formerly Senior Vice Rector of the United Nations University (and UN Assistant Secretary-General). Educated in India and Canada, he has held academic appointments in Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Canada and been a consultant/adviser to the Australian, New Zealand and Norwegian governments. He was a Commissioner and a principal author of The Responsibility to Protect and Principal Writer of the Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s second reform report) and currently serves as Co-Convenor of the Asia–Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, an 85-strong nuclear policy advocacy group that includes several former prime ministers, foreign and defence minister, foreign secretaries, military chiefs and United Nations under-secretaries-general from Asia–Pacific (www.a-pln.org). Prof. Thakur is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Governance, and the author/editor of several books, articles and book chapters including Nuclear Politics (4 vols.) (Sage, 2014); Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015 (CNND, 2015), and Nuclear Weapons and International Security: Collected Essays (Routledge, 2015). His most recent book is The United Nations, Peace and Security: From Collective Security to the Responsibility to Protect, 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2017).