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Risks and Fragmentation: Challenges and Strategies for Nuclear Policy Advocacy

Elizabeth Turpen
January 2017

Insights from the Stanley Foundation’s Policy Lab on Nuclear Security


The threat of nuclear weapons has evolved and intensified over recent years. For the nuclear policy community, what opportunities for advocacy does this difficult strategic environment present? How should the community adapt to seize them?

To explore these questions, the Stanley Foundation commissioned an interview-based external assessment and convened a diverse group of experts for a two-day Policy Lab on Nuclear Security in September 2016. This report details the critical nuclear risks identified and provides an overview for the policy community of potential strategies, opportunities, and places for collaboration.

Nuclear weapons risks are manifold and can be seen through mounting pressure on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the deterioration of US-Russia relations, the fragility of the Iran nuclear agreement, brinkmanship in South Asia, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, complacency in global nuclear security governance, and challenges posed by emerging technologies.

As this Insights Summary highlights, this difficult environment increases the need for the nuclear policy community to identify strategies and adapt to address these complicated risks. Yet common problems within the community often make collaboration and seizing opportunities difficult. The field tends to be siloed, hindered by competing priorities, and lacks a broad base of public understanding and support. This makes unifying strategies and coordinated action elusive for stakeholders in the nuclear policy community.

A concerted, collaborative effort among key partners—including industry, nongovernmental organizations, national governments, and international institutions—will be essential to realize impactful strategies. This report aims to advance this effort by promoting shared perspectives of the strategic environment and the opportunities for action.
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