krupeshmistry

nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)'s
Review Conference - first session

23 January 2023

Olamide Samuel

With the eleventh Review Conference (RevCon) of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) slated for 2026, the first session of its Preparatory Committee will be held this year in Vienna. 

As the NPT cycle has been cut to four years instead of five due to pandemic-related delays, there is limited time for considered reflections on the ‘failure’ of the Tenth NPT RevCon to produce a final consensus document.

Given the prevailing international security environment, the near possibility of a ‘successful’ tenth RevCon was surprising. The Russian delegation’s last-minute decision to block consensus was equally surprising and ultimately led to the conference’s failure. 

Russia’s actions were especially disappointing, considering that numerous delegations were prepared to set aside their misgivings about the final document and join the consensus. With the exception of Russia, the symbolic importance of adopting a ‘middle-ground’ outcome document on the 50th anniversary of the treaty was widely understood to be of paramount importance.

Olamide Samuel

Simulating the Cuban Missile Crisis on the 60th Anniversary

Written by Dr Cameron Hunter
9 November 2022

We gathered to mark the 60th anniversary of a showdown that brought the world to the brink of nuclear catastrophe. In November 2022, University of Leicester students, staff and guest experts gathered to simulate the Cuban Missile Crisis. Borne from the team’s sheer interest, this extra-curricular event had two goals: 1) to gain new perspectives on the historic crisis; and 2) to kindle interest in conflict simulation amongst a new generation.

A simulation cannot hope to replicate every aspect – some variables necessarily loom larger in the design construct than others. For our game, we emphasised the limitations of communications technology in 1962. This meant that players could only talk in person if they arranged meetings, with appropriate delays added for travel or bureaucratic wrangling. Otherwise, players were reliant on telegrams (and telephone calls, but security fears kept teams from using the phone on the day) – readers will recall that the Washington-Moscow hotline was not established until after the crisis.

Beyond communications technology, we structured the game with a full-fledged Cuba team, reflecting recent literature that revealed the heavy influence of Castro’s government in shaping the crisis. For the curious, the result of our simulation was a sort of limited Cuban “victory.” The Cuban team successfully played the superpowers off against each other to finish 1962 with newfound prestige and independence.

In our post-game discussion, however, our participants were convinced that Cuba could not have maintained this fragile “win” for long into 1963 or 1964 because of the irreparable damage to Cuba’s trustworthiness enacted by its double-dealing. Our game managers were especially pleased to see emergent gameplay dynamics. That is, politically credible choices and knock-on effects that were not directly due to the game mechanics, but rather from the interaction of players with one another (within the scenario’s restraints). We saw aspects of nuclear deterrence and risk management in player decisions, who tended to assume the worst-case scenario would be the result of their own provocative responses.

A broader question for anyone in the conflict simulation community is whether nuclear politics can be usefully simulated at all. In reality, players know that in the game the fate of their loved ones, fellow citizens or country is not actually resting in their hands. The weapons themselves can be difficult to manage under a crisis scenario, so the game designers’ decisions on how (or whether) to simulate these aspects powerfully and subtly also shape the game result. Nevertheless, the emotional engagement that a game can provide through immersion did capture a convincing sense of the historical crisis as relayed in the literature.

Regarding our objective of drawing in a new generation of crisis and war gamers, we polled our participants and found that they had a new sense of confidence in creating simulations for themselves. Our academic faculty now has a core group of simulation-savvy students eager for the next step, and those of us at the Third Nuclear Age project will be continuing to do our part to support the next generation of experts and practitioners.

Dr Cameron Hunter
Dr Robert Domaingue, former US State Department, briefs some of the players on how conflict simulation is used by government officials
Third Nuclear Age game managers and student participants pose after the Cuban missile crisis simulation

Nuclear Strategy in the 21st Century: Continuity or Change?

Research Paper #27 by NATO Defense College

16 December 2022
Cameron Hunter

Dr Cameron Hunter has contributed an article, “Bernard Brodie’s strategic theory in the third nuclear age” to NATO Defense College’s 27th research paper entitled, “Nuclear Strategy in the 21st Century: Continuity or Change?

Appearing first from six in the publication, Dr Hunter’s article explores three key points from Brodie’s most important text, “Strategy in the Missile Age”:

  1. The centrality of technology; 
  2. Nuclear strategy, speed, and precision;
  3. Data integration, sensors, and interceptors.

Dr Cameron Hunter

are nukes outdated in today's world?

University of Warwick invite Dr Cameron Hunter

8 December 2022
Cameron Hunter

On 8 December 2022, the Politics, Philosophy and Economics Society at the University of Warwick invited Dr Cameron Hunter, from the University of Leicester, to provide a lecture on whether nuclear weapons are relevant in today’s society. 

Dr Hunter engaged the audience on how different governments view their political relevance, nuclear threat as a deterrent, and how “conventional” militaries have been nuclearised and denuclearised in the past.

The talk was well-received with an extended Q&A due to audience interest. Dr Hunter is currently working on finalising the East Asia case study for the Third Nuclear Age project.

Dr Cameron Hunter

Annual Youth Disarmament Essay Competition

Disarmament, Security and Development Nexus:
Compendium of UNIDIR Annual Youth Disarmament Essay Competition’s Best Essays

UNIDIR (December 2022)
Ludovica Castelli

The first annual UNIDIR Global Youth Disarmament Essay competition was launched in 2022, responding to the calls for giving a voice to young people on the connections between disarmament and development. The Republic of Korea generously supported this essay competition. The theme of the first UNIDIR Global Youth Disarmament Essay competition was the ‘Disarmament, Security and Development Nexus’. Students and young professionals aged between 18 to 29 years old were invited to submit an essay that explored one of the following areas:

• Disarmament, economic growth, and inequalities;
• Disarmament for sustainable cities;
• Innovative disarmament efforts in light of the 21st century’s environmental challenges;
• Gender mainstreaming for sustainable disarmament and development.

Ludovica Castelli