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Great Expectations: The P5 Process and the Non-Proliferation Treaty

Malcolm Chalmers and Andrea Berger
Whitehall Reports, 30 August 2013
Proliferation and Nuclear Policy, UK Project on Nuclear Issues, Proliferation and Nuclear Policy
If it can be properly harnessed, and the risks managed, the P5 Process could help build confidence between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states

In 2009 the British Government established an unprecedented process of regular and sustained collaboration between the Permanent Five – also the nuclear weapon states – on nuclear disarmament and arms-control issues.

The ‘P5 process’, as it is known, has expanded its activities since its creation. It has voluntarily become the vehicle for nuclear-weapon states to work towards their disarmament commitments enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty – pledges that their non-nuclear counterparts charge have gone largely unfulfilled. Because of this significance, all eyes are now on the P5 process. The loud and frequent demands that it demonstrate concrete outputs and significant progress by 2014 are difficult to ignore.

This paper draws upon extensive interviews with officials and experts to shed light on the largely opaque P5 process. It considers the risks in the P5’s current trajectory, as well as opportunities for the nuclear-weapon states to build upon their modest but important base of work after the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

About the Authors

Andrea Berger is RUSI’s research fellow in Nuclear Analysis and deputy director for the UK Project on Nuclear Issues. 

Professor Malcolm Chalmers is research director and director of UK Defence Policy at RUSI.

Malcolm Chalmers
Deputy Director-General

Professor Malcolm Chalmers is Deputy Director-General of RUSI and directs its growing portfolio of research into contemporary... read more

Andrea Berger
Associate Fellow

Andrea Berger is a Senior Analyst in the Canadian Privy Council Office, which serves the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Prior to... read more

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