Listen Text

Executive Summary

Introductory Remarks: Dr. Naeem Salik, Executive Director SVI


  1. Shen Dingli, Professor at Fudan University, China
  2. Mariana Budjeryn, Senior Research Associate Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School, USA
  3. Dmitry Stefanovich, Research Fellow, IMEMO, Russia

Introductory Remarks by Dr. Naeem Salik:

  • The Ukraine crisis is a recent phenomenon, which spurred changes in the Global Nuclear Order; however, the order has been evolving for quite a while now.
  • Some experts have been arguing that the world has entered into the third nuclear age with its own distinct and more complicated dynamics.
  • In the new era, the regional nuclear triangles in South Asia, East Asia, and Europe interact with the global nuclear triangle consisting of the USA, Russia, and China, which creates unprecedented complications.
  • The breakdown of the JCPOA and the near collapse of US-Russia arms control augur badly for nuclear nonproliferation and arms control respectively at the international level.
  • Though the Western media’s coverage of the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia is overblown, the conflict in Ukraine has raised concerns about a possible breach of nuclear taboo.
  • The conflict in Ukraine prompted a debate about nuclear options in Japan and South Korea. Though thanks to the reiteration of the USA’s extended deterrence commitments, the debate has died down, the possibility of the countries with nuclear prowess exploring nuclear weapons options cannot be completely ruled out.

Working Plenary

Dr. Shen Dingli, Professor Fudan University, China

  • The leaders of P-5 countries reiterated in January 2022 that nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought. The pledge was renewed during the G-20 summit, which is a good news.
  • There are some discussions about the possible use of non-conventional [nuclear] weapons in Ukraine, which are tantamount to threats of nuclear use – a case of worrisome signaling.
  • The root cause of tensions in Ukraine – NATO expansion – must be addressed. The NATO expansion makes Russia more worried.
  • Today Ukraine might be regretting giving up the Soviet nuclear weapons in 1994, which is a setback to disarmament efforts and will have long-term consequences.
  • To settle international disputes, the use of force is unacceptable. Today Ukraine is closer to NATO than it was ever before.
  • We should find ways for Russia to walk with grace from the conflict in Ukraine.
  • The role of nuclear weapons in international politics should be de-emphasized.

Dr. Mariana Budjeryn, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom at Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School

  • I find the framework of the global nuclear order given by William Walker of the University of St. Andrews to be more appealing.
  • The framework divides the global nuclear order into two sub-systems:
  1. System of Deterrence, which consists of different nuclear dyads among nuclear-armed states.
  2. System of Restraint, which rests primarily on the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
  • While the systems are in tension with each other on certain points, they also complement each other, such as the provision of extended deterrence by the USA to its allies, which also acts as a non-proliferation tool.
  • Ukraine conflict proves that deterrence works as both sides have been warily cautious to avoid nuclear escalation.
  • NATO, as the nuclear alliance, has strengthened. With the inclusion of Sweden and Finland the nuclear umbrella of NATO has expanded.
  • The system of restraint i.e. nuclear non-proliferation regime took a blow due to Ukraine’s history of disarmament.
  • Arms control has very grim prospects because the USA and Russia are not even on speaking terms with each other.
  • The Ukraine conflict has re-emphasized the role of nuclear weapons in international politics.

Mr. Dmitry Stefanovich, Research Fellow, IMEMO, Russia

  • The Ukraine crisis has proven nuclear deterrence works, but it is not a silver bullet to solve all the security problems.
  • The transfer of Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus has a lot to do with the security concerns of the government of Belarus.
  • The war in Ukraine is the result of a security dilemma, which Russia has developed because of certain actions of the West.
  • There are a lot of things that NATO shouldn’t have done or should have done differently.
  • To return to arms control talks, many other associated issues must be sorted out between Moscow and Brussels and Moscow and Washington.
  • Reagan-Gorbachev’s statement reiterated by the P-5 is the official Russian position on nuclear weapons.