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The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy

The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy has been working since 1995 to promote effective approaches to international security, disarmament and arms control. Engaging with governments and civil society, Acronym provides reporting, analysis and strategic thinking on a range of issues relevant to peace and security, with special emphasis on treaties and multilateral initiatives.

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NEW PUBLICATION: 'Decline or Transform' Nuclear disarmament and security beyond the NPT review process

The 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference was presented as a success, but it did little to tackle the real world problems of nuclear proliferation, insecurity and modernising arsenals. In advance of the Acronym Institute's forthcoming book on humanitarian approaches to achieve and maintain a world free from nuclear weapons, this publication offers two articles(one by Rebecca Johnson, and another by Tim Caughley & John Borrie) that explore recent developments with particular relevance for the 2015 NPT review cycle. Download the PDF here.

Trident renewal "nonsensical" says new report from Centre Forum think tank

Arguing that "there is no credible nuclear threat to the UK or her allies that will be deterred by a British nuclear weapons programme that is not already deterred by the United States’ nuclear forces", a new report "Dropping The Bomb: A post-Trident Future" by Toby Fenwick of the Centre Forum think tank calls for Trident to be scrapped and the UK to move to nuclear threashold status, for resources to be focused on UK conventional forces and for the UK to build on its exiting verification capability to push for worldwide nuclear disarmament. Read the full report here. Read The Guardian news story here

US and North Korea (DPRK) announce suspension of North Korean nuclear programme, IAEA monitoring, in exchange for food aid

The US State Department and Korean Central News Agency made simultaneous announcements on 29th February 2012 that North Korea had agreed to stop nuclear tests, uranium enrichment and long-range missile launches and to allow nuclear inspectors to visit its Yongbyon nuclear complex, in exchange for US food aid. Watch commentary from Ploughshares here and read LA Times analysis here.

Acronym Institute Director Dr Rebecca Johnson has been at the 2nd South Korean-European SHAPE (Summit of Honor on Atoms for Peace and Environment) conference where she gave a presentation on 'Why States Renounce Nuclear Weapons'.  Dr Johnson commented, "While noting that North Korea has reneged on inspections in the past and that bargaining its nuclear weapons programme for food may be only a short term tactic borne out of desperation, this is a brave and hopeful sign from the new leader, Kim Jong-un. We hope the United States, South Korea and other neighbouring countries will use this opportunity to restart the Six Party Talks with North Korea and move towards a longer term solution to ensure the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and peace, security and human rights for the people of North and South Korea."

Trident & an independent Scotland

Current debates about a referendum on Scottish Independence have implications for the deployment of nuclear weapons at Faslane, as noted by Professor William Walker in an article published in Scotland on Sunday in January. Read the article here and read speeches from the 2009 conference 'Trident and International Law: Scotland's Obligations' (co-organised by the Acronym Institute) here.

Conference on Disarmament: Some misconceptions, by Tim Caughley, November 2011

In this illuminating blog for the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) former Director of the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and Acronym Institute Board member Tim Caughley sheds some light on common misconceptions about the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD). Read the full article posted on the UNDIR blogsite on the 10th anniversary of the UN Study on disarmament and non-proliferation education here.

MoD spends £2billion on UK nuclear weapons ahead of Trident renewal Main Gate decision

On 27 November 2011, Rob Edwards writing in The Guardian revealed that: ‘The Ministry of Defence is spending £2bn on new nuclear weapons plants before a formal decision has been taken over whether to replace Trident warheads, according to ministers. The revelation has prompted fierce attacks on the MoD for making "a complete mockery" of the democratic process by pre-empting a decision and so attempting to force the hands of future governments.’ Read the Guardian article here.

South Korea: destroying the lives of the Haenyo ‘sea women’

A naval base being built on Jeju Island threatens to destroy the livelihoods of the iconic women shellfish divers and raise levels of rape and prostitution in the surrounding villages. On her return from Jeju, Acronym Institute Director Rebecca Johnson, writing in OpenDemocracy, says international action is needed to stop the military construction. Read the November 2011 article here

Finland appointed to host 2012 Middle East WMD Free Zone conference

After over a year of waiting, in October 2011 the US, UK, Russia (co-sponsors of a 1995 resolution on a WMD FZ) and the UN Secretary General announced in a joint statement that Finland would host the 2012 Middle East WMD Free Zone conference with Finnish Undersecretary of State Jaakko Laajava appointed to the role of facilitator. Agreement on the conference was integral to the success of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and the legitimacy and effectiveness of the nonproliferation regime is believed by many to depend on the conference. For Acronym analysis on the issue of a Middle East nuclear weapon free zone, see NPT 2010 & Beyond Briefing 10: Middle East NWFZ

Proliferation in Parliament, Summer 2011

Proliferation in Parliament offers a digest of news, debates and developments in the UK Parliament and Government on issues relating to nuclear weapons, disarmament and proliferation. The Summer 2011 edition, compiled by Kat Barton, looks at parliamentary discussion over the cost and the procurement process for the UK’s renewal of its Trident nuclear weapons system, as well as the government’s consideration of alternatives to Trident and the broader context in which the project is being pursued. This edition also offers an update on the status of the UK’s contributions to nuclear disarmament and its other commitments on the international stage, in particular carrying forward the 2012 conference on a Middle East WMD Free Zone. The review concludes with a short round-up of parliamentary questions and developments in relation to proliferation challenges by other states, specifically Iran.

Read the Summer 2011 edition of Proliferation in Parliament here
A PDF version (without automatic links) is available here
Previous editions are available here

International Nuclear NonProliferation News, Summer 2011

The Summer 2011 edition of International Nuclear Weapons  & Non-Proliferation News includes information on:

1) Arms control & missile defence
2) The existing regime: NPT implementation, CTBT entry into force & fissile materials negotiation
3) UK Trident renewal
4) Proliferation Challenges and Updates
i) Iran
ii) North Korea
iii) Potential New Proliferators: Syria and Myanmar (Burma)
iv) India & Pakistan
5) Other disarmament news

Previous editions are available here

Nuclear Security Briefings

The Acronym Institute has teamed up with other UK-based organisations working on nuclear issues to produce a series of periodic briefings for decision-makers on aspects of nuclear weapons policy. Read the briefings:

Acronym Institute NPT Briefings: 2010 & beyond

In 2010, the Acronym Institute produced a series of key briefings for the 2010 NPT Review Conference and beyond. Drawing on the knowledge and experience of key thinkers, analysts and experts in the field of multilateral arms control and international security, the briefings address some of the core issues relating to the NPT, non-proliferation and disarmament with the aim of enhancing the conference outcome and developing collective strategies to move towards security in a world free of nuclear weapons. The briefings remain a key resource for those working on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation:

Latest on Trident

The 'Initial Gate' decision on whether to proceed with the next stage of procuring a replacement for the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system - originally due to have been taken in September 2009 - was finally announced on 18 May 2011. It gave the green light for the next stages of procurement to be undertaken (up to 15% of the budget) and revealed that when inflation is taken into account the price tag for the new submarine programme is likely to be £25 billion, as opposed to the £11-14 billion announced in 2006. Alongside the Initial Gate announcement came the news that, in line with the Coalition Agreement under which it was agreed that the Liberal Democrats could continue to make the case for alternatives, an 18-month study to review the “costs, feasibility and credibility of alternative systems and postures” would be undertaken.

In its October 2010 Strategic Defence & Security Review (SDSR), the Coalition government announced that it would be delaying the 'Main Gate' decision on Trident by four years to 2016, thereby pushing back the the date that the first new submarine wll come into service to 2028. However despite this delay to the main gate decision, the government is pressing ahead with replacing Trident. Several parts for the new submarines have been ordered and ministers have confirmed that steel for the first boat's hull will be ordered in advance of main gate. This has led Parliamentarians to seek information about costs and contracts, but with vital information being withheld, some like Katy Clark MP have accused the government of presiding over a "culture of secrecy".

Unfinished Business: the Negotiation of the CTBT and the End of Nuclear Testing, by Dr Rebecca Johnson

Cover of Unfinished Business

Published by UNIDIR, Unfinished Business: the Negotiation of the CTBT and the End of Nuclear Testing, by Rebecca Johnson details how the CTBT was fought for, opposed and finally negotiated. It considers how a decade of political and institutional obstacles have prevented the CTBT from entering into full legal effect, including the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests of May 1998, the US failure to ratify the treaty in 1999, and the October 9, 2006 nuclear test by North Korea.

For more on CTBT go to Acronym's CTBT page.

Acronym Institute Director Dr Rebecca Johnson reflects on the lessons of Fukushima

International Women's Day: "The rising of the women means the rising of us all", By Rebecca Johnson

In the 1970s, the women’s liberation movement had a badge that proclaimed: women who seek equality with men lack ambition. We don’t want to participate as equals in the violence, oppression and greed of patriarchal power, says Acronym Institute Director Rebecca Johnson. This article was originally published at Open Democracy

No more 'Little Boy' and 'Fat Man', by Rebecca Johnson, 3 November 2010

As a political instrument of power projection and status, nuclear weapons carry a peculiarly masculine symbolism. In the 1980s, Greenham women were at the forefront of challenging masculine ideologies of defence and security. We need to seize the initiative and again become the agents of security transformation. This article was originally published in OpenDemocracy - read the article here.

Front cover of Rob Green's book Security Without Nuclear Deterrence by Commander Robert Green (Royal Navy Ret'd)

As momentum grows for significant progress towards building more effective security in a world free of nuclear weapons, the role of nuclear weapons in national security policies is changing. In a timely contribution to the debate, retired Royal Navy Commander Robert Green has recently published 'Security Without Nuclear Deterrence', with the introduction to the book being provided by Acronym Institute Director Dr Rebecca Johnson. The book was launched at the UN on 5 May 2010 and in London on 16 June and can be purchased from Amazon.

Discontinuation of Disarmament Diplomacy

In 2010, the Acronym Institute decided to discontinue publication of its popular journal Disarmament Diplomacy. Issue No 91 - the final issue of Disarmament Diplomacy - can be found here.

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