Apart from debates over North Korea and Iran, nuclear weapons have largely fallen to the sidelines in today's security considerations. Unlike nearly all other weapon types in contemporary military arsenals, nuclear weapons seem unusable. Indeed, most nuclear weapons states (NWS) declare that they have no intention of putting these weapons to battlefield use; that they are possessed solely for reasons of deterrence. It was for this very reason that general disarmament was included as a chief aim of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Despite this state of affairs, leading NWS continue to upgrade their arsenals at very high cost. In this security context, a paradox results: seemingly low utility, but high investment.

At this seminar, we explore the hidden role of nuclear weapons in today's security environment by asking:

Are nuclear weapons still needed, and if so, by whom, and what for?

What are the implications for a sustainable nuclear disarmament policy?

Answering these questions can help us better understand how to deal with the risks posed by nuclear weapons.

The seminar will be chaired by Gregory Reichberg (PRIO), with comments from Nobumasa Akiyama (Hitotsubashi University), Sverre Lodgaard (NUPI) and Pavel Baev (PRIO). This public event is in collaboration with the Research School on Peace and Conflict, as part of the doctoral course Nuclear Weapons: Political, Legal and Ethical Dimensions.