Scientific cooperation to support nuclear arms control and disarmament

16 March 2010

The scientific community has a vital diplomatic role in supporting nuclear arms control and disarmament. The Royal Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) have published a joint briefing ahead of the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) taking place in May 2010. The document sets out various ways in which scientists can help ensure a positive Review Conference.

The document sets out a number of key roles for scientific cooperation:

Helping to catalyse the political conditions necessary for multilateral disarmament by helping to build much needed trust between states. Establishing the scientific requirements of a monitoring and verification system to support future negotiations. Ensuring that new instabilities are not introduced that could undermine nuclear disarmament, including research into: managing the civilian nuclear fuel cycle; improving the physical security of nuclear material and facilities; verifying a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty; and strengthening the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Establishing disarmament laboratories to help facilitate exchange not just between states; but also between government, industry and academia.

The document was launched at a cross-party panel discussion on 16 March 2010 chaired by Royal Society President, Lord Martin Rees, with former defence secretary, Des Browne MP, Special Advisor on Nuclear Proliferation to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Baroness Williams of Crosby, and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Lidington MP.

Update, 20 May 2010:  Scientific steps to nuclear disarmament

On 20 May 2010 Nature published an article by Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, and Senior Policy Advisers Ben Koppelman and Dr Neil Davison, highlighting the vital role for the international scientific community in supporting progress towards nuclear disarmament. Scientific steps to nuclear disarmament calls for the establishment of an international advisory group on nuclear disarmament and a network of international disarmament laboratories to take forward its recommendations.