The Ban on Nuclear Weapons, Negative Security Assurances, and NATO States

by Heinz Gärtner

At a United Nations Conference on 7 July, 2017, 122 state parties voted in

favor of a treaty that that would prohibit nuclear weapons. None of the nuclear-

armed states, or their allies, participated in the vote (with the exception of the

Netherlands, which voted against the treaty). The treaty expresses concern about

the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, and

calls for their complete elimination. The Treaty calls for the full implementation of

the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), including the disarmament obligations of the

nuclear-armed states. The treaty should close the gap between nuclear and non-

nuclear-armed states. It is very unlikely that the nuclear states will give up their

nuclear weapons anytime soon. This paper looks for alternative proposals by the

nuclear-armed states which could satisfy the non-nuclear weapon states, at least

for the time being. If nuclear-armed states are unwilling or unable to sign the ban

treaty, they could offer non-nuclear-armed states Negative Security Assurances

(NSAs). This is a commitment not to attack or threaten to attack those states with

nuclear weapons. These NSAs must be based on international law, however. This

means that they have to sign and ratify the existing and future NWFZs. A nuclear

weapon free belt could be created from Mongolia to Africa (for the time being,

excluding Israel). NSAs would have to be extended to states that are in a military

alliance with another, nuclear-armed state. Extended deterrence should be amended

via extended NSAs.

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