IST at the 2022 NPT Review Conference

August 31, 2022 — During the long-delayed Review Conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT RevCon) in New York this past month, the Institute for Security and Technology (IST) contributed to international efforts to reduce the risk of nuclear conflict. For the first time, IST was accredited as a civil society organization, allowing members of the team to participate in sessions, engage with governmental organizations, and offer the CATALINK system as one constructive way for governments to control nuclear crises. CEO Philip Reiner led the IST delegation, joined by Leah Walker (IST Senior Defense Associate), Sahil Shah (CATALINK Policy Advisor), and Sylvia Mishra (IST Senior Nuclear Policy Associate). IST also marked the opening of the RevCon by announcing Germany’s political and financial sponsorship of the CATALINK project, adding to Switzerland’s ongoing national-level support.

One of the core debates from the outset of the RevCon proceedings was the role of strategic and nuclear risk reduction. Non-nuclear weapons states repeatedly expressed that risk reduction is a distraction from the ultimate goal of disarmament. Despite the differences in opinion, several skeptical states eventually acknowledged the need for nuclear risk reduction efforts. Some even made specific references to the Swiss-led working paper submitted on behalf of a number of Stockholm Initiative countries. Delegates noted that it remained unclear which risk reduction measures would be of interest to different countries, and how national doctrine would affect the adoption or rejection of those measures.

IST was also involved in RevCon side events. On 8 August, the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), BASIC, and IST held a side event at the NPT RevCon sponsored by Switzerland and the Netherlands. The event was titled “Taking Forward Nuclear Risk Reduction.” Leah Walker spoke on the panel and discussed how crisis communications can serve as a tangible risk reduction action. She mentioned the need for a resilient, multilateral hotline that follows the principles of the CATALINK project in her remarks. 

Sylvia Mishra spoke at the RevCon on a panel hosted by Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS) on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament and diverse representation in national security. She underscored the importance of nonproliferation and disarmament education to a variety of stakeholders, including policymakers and technologists. 

The NPT RevCon ended without a consensus final document, underscoring the importance of identifying countries’ preferred risk reduction measures. IST, through CATALINK and other efforts in additive nuclear crisis control, can provide tangible options and technical expertise to keep pace with the changing nature of nuclear risks.