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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 15, May 1997

Editor's Introduction

May's Opinion Piece is provided by William Walker, Professor of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews. Professor Walker considers the relative merits of evolutionary and planned approaches to nuclear disarmament. He concludes that "the evolutionary approach will prevail" due to its "inherent managerial and strategic advantages," but adds that "we need to bring greater clarity to this process, making it more explicit in both its objectives and its effects."

May saw the inaugural meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), following the entry-into-force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). In Guest Analysis, Dr. Alexander Kelle, of the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), outlines the progress made at the meeting, warning that "these successes should not lead to overly optimistic expectations or an assumption that only some minor issues need to be resolved."

In Geneva Update, Rebecca Johnson assesses the lack of progress at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva. She concludes that although the CD may "not be greatly harmed by a fallow year", as 1997 now seems set to be, continued stalemate in 1998 could result in it suffering a profound loss of "credibility and authority."

Our latest NPT Focus Paper looks back at the April meeting of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee (PrepCom). Ben Sanders, who served as a consultant to the Secretariat during the PrepCom, provides a valuable insight into the delicate diplomatic balancing act at work: "What the Committee had to face on this occasion was the need to bridge the gap between the wish of participants to make the session as productive as possible...and a hesitation on the part of many to commit themselves too early and too deeply."

Documents and Sources reflects a hectic month, featuring a new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safeguards Protocol, the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act, the election of a Labour Government in Britain, and numerous developments in the search for a landmines ban. News Review includes coverage of the US Senate's ratification of the CWC. It also features a remarkable letter to President Clinton from veteran nuclear physicist Hans Bethe, urging the US to refrain permanently from any research into new nuclear weapons.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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