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Britain could have a role to play in reviving the Iran nuclear deal

Britain could have a role to play in reviving the Iran nuclear deal

Peter Bottomley MP and Lord Chiswick

3 min read

The two main threats to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation regime, Iran and North Korea, need to be addressed urgently.

For nearly twenty years there have been briefings and discussion on aspects of nuclear policy, risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction including chemical and biological weapons, prospects for arms control and disarmament, and international peacekeeping.

Air Marshal Lord Garden founded the APPG on Global Security and Non-Proliferation. In September, the well-attended briefing discussed prospects for the extension of the United States and Russia New START agreement beyond February 2021, limiting the numbers of each sides’ strategic weapons. It was the remaining arms control agreement between two powers holding more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

This year has started with positive news: President Biden’s administration and President Putin’s Russia agreed the extension of the New START for another five years. 

Arms Control and Disarmament can consider the reduction of nuclear weapons, given that US and Russian arsenals still exceed purposes of defence and deterrence.

There is scope to draw China into a dialogue about strategic stability and the need to reduce the risks from nuclear weapons, perhaps initially through talks between the United Nations Security Council P5 group of nuclear weapon states.

The two main threats to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation regime, Iran and North Korea, need to be addressed urgently. Reviving the Iran Nuclear Agreement (JCPOA) looks possible now that the Biden administration has indicated its willingness to return to the agreement and Iran has indicated its willingness to reverse its departures from the limits contained in the agreement. Choreography of this revival will not be simple. The three European powers France, Germany and the U.K. could have a role to play.

There is scope to draw China into a dialogue about strategic stability and the need to reduce the risks from nuclear weapons

Last year’s postponed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will be held this year. It will cover the whole range of nuclear issues, including the stalled discussion of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East.

Transgressions in the worldwide ban on chemical weapons by Syria and Russia and the absence of any inspection or enforcement provisions for the ban on biological weapons have underlined the need to strengthen these regimes.

Multilateral peacekeeping remains unrelenting, challenging the capacity of the UN and others, such as the African Union face in sustaining peacekeeping operations and bringing them to successful conclusions. Britain’s role in this field, including the recent deployment to the Sahel, will need review and discussion.

Security risks from climate change are real and rising. This was underlined when the Prime Minister recently chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council on this topic. Each topic is relevant to debate on the government’s review of defence, foreign policy and development. It is due to be published shortly.

All members of both Houses and members of their staff are welcome to participate in the Group’s meetings. Information and links to join are available from rpaul@basicint.org and detail are on the All Party weekly Notices.

 

Sir Peter Bottomley is the Conservative MP for Worthing West. Lord Chiswick is a crossbench member of the House of Lords. They are co-chairs of the APPG on Global Security and Non-Proliferation.

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Foreign affairs