Make no mistake: neither North Korea’s latest nuclear weapons test nor the recent high-stakes stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program are the root of nuclear insecurity. They are but symptoms of a nuclear disarmament regime in a severe state of disrepair.
While every other category of weapons of mass destruction has been specifically prohibited under international law, nuclear weapons — by far the most destructive of them all — remarkably still have not. What is needed is a global legal ban on nuclear weapons, with specific provisions for the elimination of existing arsenals and a timeline for verified implementation.
A rare opportunity for progress on this front has opened up. A UN-established Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) met in Geneva three times this year with a mandate to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.