USA, China, Russia, Iran - how much does nuclear power matter today?

5 November 2023

Ludovica Castelli

Ludovica Castelli, nuclear expert at the University of Leicester within the “Third Nuclear Age” project, highlights how the atomic component remains relevant in the policy of today’s main world powers. But also how each of them reduces nuclear policy according to its own objectives.

In the unstable multipolar system that has emerged in recent years (and continues to take shape today), nuclear power remains one of the main aspects of international relations,  with different objectives and purposes depending on the case. In these times, we are witnessing Russia’s withdrawal from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, following a direction opposite to that of the People’s Republic of China, which instead could open a dialogue with the United States precisely on the control of nuclear arms. How much (and how) does nuclear power still weigh on world powers? talked with Ludovica Castelli from the “Third Nuclear Age” project at the University of Leicester, UK.

Note: original article appears in Italian.

Ludovica Castelli

The Fragile Balance Between Israel’s Domestic Crisis & Its Nuclear Status

The Stimson Center (4 May 2023)

Ludovica Castelli

Amid domestic strife and an erosion of democratic values, Israel’s nuclear politics may also face a reckoning.

In a recent interview with the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Ze’ev Snir, the former head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Committee, repeatedly emphasized that the “survival” of his country is extremely dependent on its close relationship with the United States.

In his conversation with journalist Nadav Eyal, Snir didn’t dwell much on the substantial military, economic, or security assistance the U.S. has historically given to Israel. His emphasis and deep anxiety centered on U.S. backing for Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal.

Ludovica Castelli

Rightness, prestige, and a grain of securitisation: Saudi Arabia’s nuclear politics

The Stimson Center (3 March 2023)

Ludovica Castelli

Why does Saudi Arabia want to acquire the nuclear fuel cycle?

In January 2023, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman announced that, given a recent discovery of indigenous uranium reserves, the Kingdom intends to advance its plans to develop a front-end nuclear fuel-cycle infrastructure, with both a domestic and an international dimension. The Saudi minister specified that this might involve joint ventures with willing partners and that Saudi Arabia would comply with international standards of transparency.

His comments were not particularly surprising. At a meeting in 2022, bin Salman had stated that the Kingdom planned to exploit its vast uranium resources “in the most transparent way.” That did not prevent international concern from growing over Saudi intentions amid a regional context in which Iran is reported to be enriching uranium at ever-higher levels. 
Ludovica Castelli

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

Toward perpetual division

European leaders still use the tropes of barbarism and a chaotic global "jungle" while training young diplomats.

Inkstick (4 November 2022)
Ludovica Castelli

On Oct. 13, 2022, Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, gave a speech at the inauguration of the European Diplomatic Academy, a pilot program designed to train the next generation of European diplomats. Unity, firmness, and determination, he argued, are more necessary than ever in supporting today’s Ukrainian resistance against what is a collective threat and in shaping tomorrow’s new security order. In essence, Borrell’s speech was a call for the reinvigoration of the Kantian Europe, “a perpetually peaceful and cosmopolitan construction.” Indeed, in total Kantian fashion, Borrell argued, “Europe is a garden…and the rest of the world is not exactly a garden. The rest of the world…is a jungle.”

Ludovica Castelli

Italy and the Nuclear Ban Treaty: A Hesitant Opening?

Ludovica Castelli

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is the first legally binding international treaty whose aim is to ban nuclear weapons comprehensively. Substantially, it hinges on the lethal humanitarian and environmental impact of nuclear weapons and is thereby aimed at further stigmatising their use, including in the domain of nuclear deterrence.

Cambridge Center for Existential Risk workshop : War Gaming and the Third Nuclear Age

1st March 2022

March 1 2022, Prof. Futter presented a talk titled ‘War Gaming and The Third Nuclear Age’ at the Cambridge Center for Existential Risk. 

You can download the presentation here:

Professor Andrew Futter

TNA Project Runs procurement politics simulation

12th January 2022

The Third Nuclear Age Project Team ran a simulation of the politics of technological procurement.  The players were briefed on their starting positions and then were left free to choose whatever technologies they felt their team required to maintain national security over the long-term. This closed game was part of a process of developing and refining scenarios for future events with stakeholders.

Held at the imaginary “ERSATZ” classification level, the players took on the roles of senior defence procurement bureaucrats in the fictional region of “Archipelagia.” Each turn simulated 3 years of in-game time, allowing players to see the consequences of their procurement decisions and respond to their regional rivals. Competition was intense, and the players’ decisions resulted in a deteriorating security environment. At its conclusion, the game designers extrapolated how a military crisis in the region would play out in light of the new weapons capabilities that the players had selected.

Feedback from the players was incredibly positive, highlighting requirements and implications for the methodology of future games.

The finale session gave players an overview of actions taken by the game designers and their opponents – actions that were otherwise secret while the game was in progress.

The briefing was delivered by the fictional superpower’s military featured in the game.