Rising Nuclear Risk, Disarmament and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty  

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Lord Howell, chair of the House of Lords International Relations Committee, will present the report of the Committees latest inquiry into nuclear disarmament and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

In its report the Committee calls on the Government to address grave concerns about the deteriorating state of nuclear diplomacy. For nearly 25 years since the end of the Cold War, the risks posed by nuclear weapons ceased to be a priority amongst the international community. Today, irresponsible rhetoric, lack of communication and transparency between nuclear weapons states and increases in inter-state competition and weapons capabilities pose a serious threat of nuclear use.


Based on a detailed inquiry that drew on evidence from experts across the globe, the report addresses serious questions about the future of the global nuclear order. How can the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – which will mark the 50th anniversary of its entry into force at the next Review Conference in 2020 – uphold its three pillars of non-proliferation, the peaceful use of nuclear technology and disarmament? What will the UK’s role be in engaging with disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation? And how can it make a contribution that reduces nuclear risks?

Lord Howell of Guildford, Chair of the Committee, will present the findings outlined in the report, while other panellists will consider the evidence provided to the inquiry, the state of the UK’s disarmament diplomacy, and the government’s position on these findings


Lord Howell of Guildford

Lord Howell has served as Chairman to the International Relations Committee since the Committee’s establishment in 2016. In the House of Lords, he has previously served as Chairman to the Soft Power Committee (2013-14). Before being appointed to the House of Lords in 1997, Lord Howell was the Member of Parliament for Guildford from 1966 to 1997 and served as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (1986-1997). Lord Howell has served in Government most notably as Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Energy Policy (2010- 2012), Secretary of State for Transport (1981-1983) and Secretary of State for Energy (1979-1981). Lord Howell also serves as President of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Dr Heather Williams

Dr Heather Williams is a Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department and Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) of KCL. She is an Associate Fellow at RUSI and served as a Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords International Relations Committee inquiry into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Disarmament. Additionally, she is an adjunct Research Staff Member in the Strategy, Forces, and Resources Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria, Virginia. Until January 2015, she was a Research Fellow on Nuclear Weapons Policy at Chatham House and led research on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons Initiative.

Cristina Varriale

Cristina Varriale is a Research Fellow in RUSI’s Proliferation and Nuclear Policy programme, where she focuses on disarmament diplomacy in the NPT, North Korea’s WMD programmes, and US extended deterrence in East Asia. Additionally, she has worked in nuclear policy and research with the International Centre for Security Analysis (ICSA), with the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and was a part of the 2018 Nuclear Scholars Initiative at the Center for Strategic Studies in Washington DC. She has also been a contributor at IHS Jane’s and regularly contributes to prominent media outlets such as BBC World News and Sky News. Cristina will attend this year’s NPT Preparatory Committee.

Sarah Price

Sarah Price is Head of the Counter-Proliferation & Arms Control Centre (CPACC), which brings together teams from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence, Department for International Trade and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Before being appointed to CPACC in 2018, Sarah was HM Ambassador to Helsinki from 2014 to 2017. Sarah has held many positions within the Foreign Office as Head of the Arabian Peninsula & Iraq Department and Project Manager in the Strategic Finance Directorate.


Chair, Tom Plant

Tom Plant is the Director of RUSI’s Proliferation and Nuclear Policy programme. He is also Director of the UK Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI), a cross-generational initiative which encourages young scholars and professionals to engage with established experts on contemporary nuclear issues. Before joining RUSI he was a Principal Specialist at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), and prior to that he held various posts at the Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is a Senior Visiting Fellow with The Policy Institute at King’s College London (KCL) and a Visiting Fellow at École de guerre.

Please note that a refreshments service will begin at 9:00 with the event running from 9:30 – 11:00.

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