London seminar on progressing the nuclear disarmament agenda

On 10 December 2008 Pugwash organized a seminar as part of the Rotblat Centenary Celebration. The session was focused on “Progressing the Nuclear Disarmament Agenda: Policy, Diplomacy and Science”.

Baroness Williams of Crosby addresses the seminar
Baroness Williams of Crosby addresses the seminar


9:15 – 9:20
Professor Martin Rees, Lord Rees of Ludlow OM Kt PRS
President of the Royal Society and also Master of Trinity College, and Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge

  • These introductory remarks will highlight the purpose of the day: to explore concrete suggestions for creating and developing the political and technical environments conducive to the eventual attainment of a nuclear weapons free world. As achieving this end was the major focus of Professor Joseph Rotblat’s life’s work, this workshop is also a highly appropriate way in which to honour the centenary of his birth.
9:20 – 9:30
Keynote talk
Baroness Williams of Crosby
Advisor on Nuclear Proliferation to Prime Minister Gordon Brown

  • In a June letter in the Times, echoing the earlier letter to the Wall Street Journal by the “four horsemen” Kissinger, Nunn, Perry and Schultz, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Lord Hurd of Westwell, Lord Owen of Plymouth, and Lord Robertson of Port Ellen argued that substantial progress on nuclear disarmament is possible, and given political will and improvements in monitoring, the long-term goal of a nuclear weapons free world is achievable. The President-Elect of the United States, Mr Barack Obama, has indicated his own commitment to that goal.  Yet little progress has been made.  What can be done?”
9.30 – 9.45
Opening presentation
Current HMG thinking on the way ahead on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation
Speaker: Simon Manley
Director, Defence and Strategic Threats, FCO
9.45 – 10.45
Session 1: Creating and maintaining the conditions for a Nuclear Weapons Free World
Chair: Baroness Williams

  • A nuclear weapons free world is not just a technical problem of verification of weapons dismantling and the prevention of further nuclear proliferation. It requires serious political problems to be solved and conditions to be created in which such a world is sustainable. Based on current Pugwash experiences in creating dialogue in areas of tension, including with Iran, Kashmir, and the DPRK, this session will explore the role the scientific community can play when diplomatic or other discussions are stalemated.  It also will explore ways of increasing the likelihood of a successful 2010 NPT Review Conference, and highlight areas in which progress in the UK might create conditions for further movement on an international level.

Presentation 1: Implications of present regional conflicts for nuclear disarmament
Speaker: Professor Paolo Cotta-Ramusino
Secretary-General, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

Presentation 2: Working towards a strengthened NPT in 2010 and beyond
Speaker: Amb. Jayantha Dhanapala
President, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

Former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs and President 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference

11:30 – 13:00
Session 2: Progressing the agenda of a nuclear weapon free world: mechanisms, methodologies and institutions
Chair: Professor John Finney

  • A nuclear-weapons-free future is now on the international political agenda, as a result of the ground-breaking letter of George Schultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger  and Sam Nunn in the Wall Street Journal on 4 January 2007, the speech made by Margaret Beckett to the Carnegie Institute on 25 June 2007, recent speeches made by the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and the previous Defence Secretary, and the letter from Douglas Hurd, Malcolm Rifkind, David Owen and George Robertson in the Times on 30 June 2008. The IISS Adelphi Paper “Abolishing Nuclear Weapons” of September 2008 analysed the challenges that exist to abolishing nuclear weapons, and suggests what can be done now to start overcoming them. This session explores some of the possible ways in which progress on ‘technical’ issues might be taken forward, including the role of governments and the think tanks, development of the disarmament laboratory idea and the role of the weapons labs. Finally, as making progress towards nuclear disarmament will require a major change in public attitudes, ways in which this might be done effectively are discussed. Tackling this latter problem was a major priority of Joseph Rotblat in the last few years of his life.

Presentation 3: Taking the IISS report forward: roles for governments, think tanks and the general public
SpeakerDr James Acton
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Presentation 4: Developing the disarmament laboratory concept
Speaker: Dr Christopher Watson
British Pugwash Executive Committee and Royal Society Standing Committee on Scientific Aspects of International Security

Presentation 5: Changing attitudes and ‘identity’: reaching pivotal constituencies
Speaker: Carol Naughton
Co-ordinator, WMD Awareness Programme

Concluding remarks: possible ways forward

Seminar ends