From July 31 to August 3, 2023, the IPB had the pleasure of hosting three hybrid side events during the 2023 NPT Preparatory Committee at the United Nations in Vienna, Austria. These events aimed to foster the understanding of the challenges posed by nuclear weapons in the current political climate and the role of civil society in achieving nuclear disarmament. All three events received in person and online participation and were led by engaging Q&A discussions.
“Nuke Free Europe: Nuclear Sharing and Other Threats” took place on July 31st with speakers Alain Rouy (Mouvement de la Paix, France & IPB vice-President), Ludo de Brabander (Vrede, Belgium), Tom Unterrainer (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK), and Marion Küpker (Association of Reconciliation, Germany), moderated by Emily Molinari (IPB, Germany).
The event was attended by 25 participants in person, as well as 10 who joined on Zoom. Ludo de Brabander opened the session with an introduction to NATO policy and nuclear arms, including perspectives from the Netherlands and Belgium. Alain Rouy followed with a discussion on the dangers of France’s strategic orientation towards military capability strengthening and the disregard demonstrated in President Macron’s announcements regarding nuclear disarmament. Marion Küpker then gave an overview of nuclear sharing in Germany and presented the current campaigns to remove US nuclear weapons from the country. Tom Unterrainer concluded by reflecting on the role of the UK and its relationship with the US, in particular he referred to the stationing of US nuclear weapons and nuclear waste at the Lakenheath airbase, and the risks that nuclear development poses on a national, international and regional level.
This event highlighted the panorama of nuclear sharing within Europe, its ramifications on a global scale, and the imperativeness of nuclear abolition.
On August 2nd, the event “The Role of Nuclear Weapons in a Shifting Geopolitical Landscape” had 10 in person participants and 11 online attendees. The event was moderated by Alessandra Fontanella (IPB, Germany) and commenced with opening remarks by Sérgio Duarte (Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs) on the current geopolitical changes, including the war in Ukraine, China-US competition and the rise of the BRICS.
Kate Hudson (General Secretary of CND, UK) followed with a discussion on the potential positive and negative consequences of these changes on nuclear weapons and the action civil society can take to abolish them. Vanessa Lanteigne (Program Officer for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament) then explored the current projects and campaigns in nuclear arms control and the negative impact of the growing military & nuclear spending on climate change. Stephanie Verlaan (Intern at the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs) brought the event to a close by focusing on youth’s pivotal contribution to nuclear disarmament, entwined with its wider implications within the evolving geopolitical landscape.
This event underscored the imperative of understanding the interplay between global shifts and nuclear weaponry by exploring the multifaceted repercussions of contemporary geopolitical changes, fostering a deeper comprehension of the crucial role civil society, ongoing initiatives, and the youth play in shaping the path towards nuclear disarmament within our evolving world order.
Our final event on August 3rd “Technology, Artificial Intelligence, and Nuclear Weapons” sought to draw attention to how newly developed and developing technologies can or already are being used in military strategy and warfare and the dangers they pose to nuclear security.
The event was attended by 15 participants, including representatives from the U.S Department of State and UNODA, and 19 online participants. It was moderated by Alain Rouy (Mouvement de la Paix, France & IPB vice-President). Dr. Michael Klare (Professor Emeritus at Five Colleges and Author) opened with a comprehensive overview on technology, AI and Nuclear weapons. He discussed how the weaponization of AI and other emerging technologies is increasing the risk of nuclear escalation and highlighted the danger of using automated command and control decision making systems with nuclear weapons. Our second speaker Jürgen Altmann (Physicist and Peace researcher at TU Dortmund University, Germany) explored military-technological Revolutions, military research and development, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and potential military applications. Dr. Altmann concluded by emphasizing the need for a reinvigoration of nuclear arms control.
Given the novelty and significance of this discourse, it is crucial to consider the nexus between AI, technology, and nuclear weapons, especially in light of their pivotal relevance in today’s climate.
Visit IPB’s YouTube channel to watch all three side events!
IPB’s Vice President Alain Rouy with Emily Molinari and Alessandra Fontanella