Nuclear non-proliferation policy in Northeast Asia, then and now: From the 1950s to President Trump

In Northeast Asia, four nuclear-armed states joust for position. Three other regional actors also once tried to join the nuclear club: Japan during World War II and South Korea and Taiwan under authoritarian governments in the 1970s and 1980s. The fact that they didn’t is a non-proliferation success story. Washington forced the latter two to stand down and ensured that Japan saw no need for indigenous nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, nuclear weapons continue to overshadow relationships and policies in Northeast Asia. North Korea withdrew from the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 and the Six-Party Talks served as an inadequate confidence-building measure, and have been stalled since 2009. More recently, Donald Trump has suggested a different view about proliferation: that it might be fine for US allies to acquire nuclear weapons, and has called into question the relevance of NPT-based restraint, and non-proliferation and deterrence arrangements. Meanwhile, civil society has become energised by humanitarian disarmament initiatives, taking their governments by surprise. In 2016 the UN General Assembly voted to start negotiations in 2017 on a controversial new international treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons for everyone.

Date: 6 April 2017, 6.00pm
Venue: Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13 – 14 Cornwall Terrace, London NW1 4QP. Nearest tube: Baker Street
Tel: 020 7486 4348
Organiser: The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

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