Steps to De-Escalate
In June 2017, Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group (NCG), a team of seasoned diplomats, military leaders and national security experts from nuclear-armed and allied countries, released a set of urgent recommendations to avoid the use of nuclear weapons and call on national leaders to act now to reduce the unacceptably high risk of nuclear conflict.
Co-chaired by Ambassador Richard Burt, General (ret.) James E. Cartwright and Ambassador Thomas Pickering, the NCG met in Vienna, Austria in Spring 2017 to review the security and political situation in four nuclear flashpoints: the Korean Peninsula, US/Russia/NATO, South Asia and US-China. In all four areas, the group unanimously expressed its alarm about the risk of conflict and escalation – intentional or otherwise – to the nuclear level and endorsed immediate steps that can prevent conflicts from escalating to nuclear weapons use.
The NCG urgently calls for the United States and North Korea to establish direct discussions to reduce the risks of a nuclear exchange. All NCG members support resumption of broader talks to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, but understand that process will take time and cannot be allowed to delay urgent nuclear risk reduction discussions between Washington and Pyongyang.
Other recommendations include urgent resumption of US-Russia strategic stability talks and avoidance of using nuclear threats and assets as part of military exercises; agreement by Indian and Pakistani leaders to non-deployment of battlefield or land-mobile nuclear weapons and commitment to avoid the use of nuclear weapons; and full implementation by the United States and China of existing accident-avoidance agreements to avoid steps that could lead to military incidents, including medium-altitude reconnaissance flights and militarization of newly-formed islands in the South China sea, and expansion of military-to-military and diplomatic talks to include nuclear doctrine and transparency.