Accommodating Nutopia: The nuclear ban treaty and the developmental interests of Global South countries

18 August 2023

Review of International Studies

This publication by Andrew Futter and Olamide Samuel argues that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) would not have been possible without protecting the inalienable rights of states to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. While some Western states and NGOs have pushed to ban all applications of nuclear technology, this was unacceptable to a large number of disarmament-supporting states from the Global South and the Non-Aligned Movement. Without support from states across the Global South, the TPNW would not have achieved the required number of signatories to be adopted. 

Thus, we argue that to properly understand the TPNW, an appreciation of states’ interests and motivations beyond their more widely discussed frustrations with the pace of nuclear disarmament is essential. We also argue that nuclear weapons scholarship must pay more attention to perspectives from the Global South and the concept of Nutopia – a belief in both the dystopian potential of nuclear weapons and the utopian possibilities of nuclear energy – in its understanding of nuclear politics, past and present. Global South perspectives are often overlooked, and as such, current regimes of nuclear arms control and disarmament remain only partially understood in Western literature.

Dr Olamide Samuel

We’ll never have a model of an AI major-general: Artificial Intelligence, command decisions, and kitsch visions of war

7 August 2023

Cameron Hunter & Bleddyn Bowen


Military AI optimists predict future AI assisting or making command decisions. We instead argue that, at a fundamental level, these predictions are dangerously wrong. The nature of war demands decisions based on abductive logic, whilst machine learning (or ‘narrow AI’) relies on inductive logic. The two forms of logic are not interchangeable, and therefore AI’s limited utility in command – both tactical and strategic – is not something that can be solved by more data or more computing power. Many defence and government leaders are therefore proceeding with a false view of the nature of AI and of war itself.

Cameron Hunter

The NPT: the cornerstone or headstone of the global non-proliferation regime?

25 July 2023

Olamide Samuel

Without a doubt, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has cemented its place as the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime. Referring to the NPT as the cornerstone is one of the few things that NATO and ICAN agree on, albeit for different reasons. 

The Former UN Secretary-General, the late Kofi Annan, even went further to hail the NPT as a “true cornerstone of global security”, as has every UN Secretary-General after him. It is obvious that the NPT is of great significance to global security, but the notion of a ‘cornerstone’ is a rather specific characterisation that the NPT enjoys. This specificity begs the question: what really is a cornerstone?

Photo of Olamide Samuel
Olamide Samuel

Five Nuclear Reflections on the Ukraine War

European Leadership Network (19 June 2023)

Andrew Futter

On 24th February 2022, Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. While the phenomenon of a stronger nuclear-armed state going to war with a less powerful non-nuclear armed state is far from unprecedented – even in the 21st century – the overt nuclear dimension to this conflict feels different to those in Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Libya, and Syria, and even to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. 

This is because nuclear threats, nuclear signalling, nuclear coercion, and nuclear deterrence have played a central role in how the conflict is playing out. None of the previous conflicts of the 21st century have included thinly veiled threats of nuclear use on this scale, and none of these conflicts involved such close interaction between nuclear-armed protagonists (Russia and, indirectly, NATO).  

Dr Andrew Futter

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

Will Africa have a Nuclear Powered Future?

BBC World Service - 21 April 2023

Olamide Samuel

Africa is facing a power dilemma – it needs to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, but renewable energy sources currently produce very little power on the continent. This is why some governments are looking seriously at nuclear power as an alternative. There is currently only one commercial nuclear power station on the continent, but there could soon be more. Questions of cost and safety will have to be addressed, and there are strict international regulations that take years to fulfil.

Africa Daily looks at what it takes to become a nuclear powered state, and which countries in Africa are considering it. Alan Kasujja speaks to Dr Stephen Yamoah, Executive Director of Nuclear Power Ghana, nuclear scientist Senamile Masango and nuclear policy analyst Dr Olamide Samuel.

Photo of Olamide Samuel
Olamide Samuel

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

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.

Photo of Olamide Samuel
Olamide Samuel

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

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