Imagine that the international community has just eliminated nuclear weapons. That an auspicious combination of genuine political will, good-faith diplomatic engagement, and effective leadership has resulted in comprehensive and credible multilateral disarmament negotiations that made irreversible nuclear abolition a reality.
If we set to one side the COVID-19 pandemic, the two most formidable existential threats are environmental degradation and the existence of nearly 14,000 nuclear weapons. Both could destroy human civilization and irreparably damage the ecosystem. Both are also the products of human decisions and actions; addressing the threat and containing the damage is now the responsibility of all humanity.
On the second day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin warned the West of “consequences greater than you have faced in history” for any interference. Many observers saw a troubling, if veiled, reference to Russia’s nuclear arsenal. By day four, any lingering ambiguity about Putin’s willingness to invoke nuclear weapons dissipated: he ordered Russian nuclear forces to be placed on high alert and broadcast the decision for the world to see.
The Ukraine crisis has been characterized by many, including Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, as a struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. But such an oversimplification serves no one—not the West, not Russia, not those attempting to de-escalate. The present struggle is fundamentally about the nature and implications of the security arrangements that have dominated the globe since the end of the Cold War.
If you are feeling anxious about the state of global affairs, you are not alone. At Project Ploughshares, we are keenly aware of the multiple, overlapping crises facing the world today. So are millions around the world, increasingly concerned about the complexity of the formidable challenges before us – and about our collective ability as an international community to craft credible and effective responses.
“You can ignore reality,” said Russian-American author Ayn Rand. “But you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” Canada needs to heed this warning. While it continues to support the policies of nuclear-weapon states, the multilateral policy landscape on which nuclear disarmament negotiations occur is being reshaped. And all parties that continue to shelter under a nuclear umbrella will be increasingly isolated.
On April 12, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) announced the cancellation of 29 permits for the export of Canadian-made surveillance and targeting sensors to Turkey. The decision was based on what GAC described as “credible evidence” that the exports in question were being unlawfully diverted by Turkey to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. The same report that announced the cancellation indicated that Turkish drones had also been diverted to support Turkish military operations in Syria.
Donald Trump opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Iran nuclear deal) even before he became President of the United States. Despite his hostility, the deal survived his term in office, although not unscathed. Now new President Joe Biden is cautiously optimistic that it can be salvaged. But steps to preserve the deal must be taken immediately, before the already narrow window of opportunity fully closes.
January 22nd marked a historic milestone for nuclear disarmament as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) came into force, officially becoming part of international law. Adopted by …
The Iran nuclear deal has long been derided by U.S. President Donald Trump, whose actions have already jeopardized some of the concrete security dividends of the hard-won agreement. But his …