3. Gli studi sulla non-proliferazione e le relazioni internazionali contemporanee

Gli studi sul disarmo e la non-proliferazione sono stati largamente trascurati in Italia. Il panel vuole contribuire a colmare questa lacuna, raccogliendo contributi di studiosi italiani interessati a proporre riflessioni teoriche e analisi empiriche sui principali attori, processi edissues che minacciano o  contribuiscono a rafforzare il regime di non-proliferazione globale post-bipolare. La “seconda era nucleare” ha confermato la perdurante rilevanza delle armi di distruzione di massa, in primis nucleari, anche nel contesto strategico attuale. Sebbene il regime di non-proliferazione abbia registrato significativi successi nel corso dei due decenni successivi alla fine della Guerra fredda, la sua tenuta è messa alla prova, tra continuità e discontinuità, da vecchie e nuove sfide, in uno scenario internazionale globalizzato, fluido e altamente imprevedibile.

Nel tentativo di affrontare tali questioni, il panel mira a raccogliere contributi di taglio teorico e/o empirico, il cui oggetto d’analisi rientri tra i seguenti temi:

  • I processi di globalizzazione e le nuove minacce al regime di non-proliferazione
  • Nuovi strumenti e strategie di lotta contro la proliferazione delle armi di distruzione di massa
  • L’aggiornamento delle teorie e dei concetti della Guerra fredda al nuovo contesto post-bipolare
  • La proliferazione delle armi di distruzione di massa e gli attori non-statali
  • Tra politica, sicurezza e diritto: liceità/(il)legalità delle armi nucleari nel diritto internazionale
  • Tecnologia e non-proliferazione
  • Le nuove aree di crisi: il Grande Medio Oriente e il Sud-est asiatico
  • a dimensione politica della proliferazione: prestigio, status e nazionalismo nucleare

Chair: Corrado Stefanachi (University of Milan)
Discussant: Mirco Elena (University of Trento)



1. Stefano Borgiani - The role of the international community in addressing the threat of WMD in war-torn societies: the Syrian case

The nature of conflicts is changing dramatically in the last decades. While inter-State wars became a rare event, civil wars are more frequent and deemed to create destabilizing effects not only in the countries in which they are taking place but also at regional and even international level.
The advent of the Arab Spring jeopardized the viability of the old regimes and the political instability raised concerns about the security of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which some countries are alleged to possess in their national arsenals.
It is widely believed that Syria possesses one of the largest chemical weapons arsenal in the region. The ongoing uprising could have severe consequences on the security of this category of WMD: the potential for use and transfer of non-conventional weapons during the course of the civil war is not an implausible hypothesis. Therefore the issue should be addressed with some urgency. The role played by the international community in this regards is pivotal but some cooperation with the future government authorities is nevertheless required. The paper goes through the existing international mechanisms designed to cope with the threat of WMD in war-torn societies highlighting strengths and weaknesses with particular attention to the Syrian case.


2. Enrico Fiorentini - Nuclear Security in the XXI Century: The Role of UNSCR 1540 and its Shortcomings

The beginning of the XXI century has seen the rapid development of a web of conventions, agreements and institutions, aimed at countering nuclear security threats. Such evolution has unfolded in a fragmented way, reacting to, rather than anticipating, events and crises. The resulting system is barely adequate to cope with the dynamic threats posed by non-state actors. This piecemeal approach has led to critical gaps in nuclear security, thus reflecting a number of inconsistencies (lack of a univocal set of definitions) and overlaps (duplication of efforts).

A case in point is represented by UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540. The resolution, which was adopted in 2004 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, establishes binding obligations on all states to implement a series of wide-ranging measures to ward off access by non-state actors to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery systems. As a means to oversee efforts by states in their nonproliferation obligations, the 1540 Committee was established.

This paper examines the application of the resolution by inquiring whether radioactive, non-nuclear, materials are included in its scope. Surveying the relevant international law instruments pertaining to nuclear security (the declaratory level) and the functions of key organizations (the operative level) will help identify to what extent these materials are addressed. Given the nature of the threats and their potential consequences, the level of analysis is focused on the international measures that have been taken so far.

The research shows a conflict between the absence of any reference to radiological materials in the text of an important international law instrument as exemplified by UNSCR 1540 and the specific coverage of these materials at the operative level. Moreover, overlaps in theory and praxis between nuclear and radiological materials justify their inclusion in future 1540 work. The need to consider radiological materials (the “R”) and making them part of a coherent nuclear security equation is evident. Recent crises and events, such as the 2011 Fukushima accident and the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, show the need of addressing the safety and security of high-risk radiological materials in a global and binding way. Even though there seems to be a move from the narrow focus on nuclear materials to embrace the whole range of asymmetric security threats, explicit engagement and outreach by the 1540 Committee should be encouraged. As a result, putting the “R” in 1540 would help clarify the scope of nuclear security, better manage radiological threats globally, and lay the groundwork for a coherent nuclear security governance.


3. Paolo Foradori (University of Trento) - Reluctant disarmer: Italy`s ambiguous attitude towards NATO`s nuclear weapons policy 

Of the five NATO European countries of US nuclear forward-deployment, Italy is the least known and studied case, even though the country hosts the largest number of US tactical nuclear weapons and still has two bases of deployment. The paper aims at filling this gap by analyzing Italy’s current view on the presence, value and future of tactical nuclear weapons hosted on its territory. The analysis begins with the examination of the process of profound devaluation that has minimised, starting from the end of the Cold War, Italy’s original interest in this category of weapons. It then examines the reasons why Rome continues to pursue conservative nuclear weapons policies and distances itself significantly from the progressive camp of NATO members, particularly Germany, that explicitly call for the withdrawal of US tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. Through the study of the Italian domestic politics and security culture, the article explains Italy’s opposition to any radical change in the NATO nuclear status quo and its reluctance to pursue policies that are consistent with the process of nuclear devaluation that the country has experienced over the past two decades.


4. Giorgio Franceschini (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt) - Three roads to Nuclear Zero. Perspectives for nuclear disarmament in the 21st century

In the grand theoretical debate on why states acquire (or renounce) nuclear weapons, three narratives dominate. The security narrative posits that insecure states are driven towards the bomb, while states without major security preoccupations can live without nuclear weapons, and – if they happen to be nuclear armed – even relinquish their atomic armoury. The domestic policy narrative points to the cost-benefit calculations of influential societal group as the key variable to focus upon, when assessing the odds of nuclear weapon acquisition or renunciation. Recent studies suggest that world market integration, as a rule, strengthens those domestic players favouring a non-nuclear course, whereas isolationist policies often play in favour of advocates of nuclear weapons. Finally, a normative narrative steers the attention to the ethical and humanitarian discourse surrounding nuclear weapons and predicts that these weapons can (only) be abolished once a “critical mass” of stakeholders have openly rejected them as morally inacceptable.

These observations point to three ways to achieve a world without nuclear weapons in the 21st century: first, improve the security perception of insecure states and resolve critical geopolitical crises (e.g. in East Asia, in South Asia and the Middle East); secondly, favour the integration into the world market and into the institutions of global governance of all countries; and thirdly, delegitimize nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence as an acceptable policy of the 21st century. The paper argues that, while all three roads discussed above, lead theoretically to a world without nuclear weapons, only the third way – the delegitimisation of nuclear weapons – bears the potential to abolish these weapons in an irreversible way.


5. Amb. Carlo Trezza (Missile Technology Control Regime - Rome) - The use and threat of use of nuclear weapons: humanitarian implications

The humanitarian factor was the original motive that prompted the international community to engage in the field of disarmament and non proliferation. The attention at the time was mainly concentrated on conventional weapons. The casualties and sufferings caused by chemical weapons during World War I opened the chapter of humanitarian disarmament with regard to weapons of mass destruction. The introduction, after World War II, of  nuclear arms into the strategic equation changed the nature and the objectives of disarmament and arms control.  The prohibition of use, prompted by humanitarian reasons, was inadequate to maintain the strategic balance: prohibitions had to be extended to production and possession and to include  destruction of stocks and verification. Negotiations on nuclear weapons have so far taken place for strategic reasons rather than on humanitarian grounds.

However the international community addressed the humanitarian issue notably on the occasion of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 1996 on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. The International Committee of the Red Cross has consistently stigmatized the use of weapons of mass destruction in general  and recently the focus was mainly on nuclear weapons. The NPT  Review Conference of 2010  expressed, for the first time,  deep concern “at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons”. In March 2013 a Conference on the Humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was convened in Oslo. Analysis of the outcome. The issue was also raised at the  2012  NPT Prepcom in Vienna and is being presently discussed at the NPT Prepcom in Geneva. Recent developments seen in the perspective of NPT Review Conference of 2015 and further possible outcomes