Analysis & Opinions - International Affairs Blog

Nuclear Policy at the G7: Six Key Questions

  • Alicia Sanders-Zakre
  • James Wirtz
  • Sidra Hamidi
  • Carolina Panico
  • Anne Sisson Runyan
| May 17, 2023


This year's G7 summit in Hiroshima sees nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation sitting high on the agenda, amid rising tensions between the nuclear states and an increasingly divided international order. In this blogpost we bring together researchers and practitioners working on nuclear weapons to discuss the key challenges facing disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. From the difficulties great power competition presents for nuclear non-proliferation and the concrete steps states can take towards disarmament, to the ongoing violent impacts of nuclear waste storage, the contributors to this symposium confront some of the central questions facing policy-makers working on nuclear issues.

The Belfer Center's Mayumi Fukushima is one of the contributors: Read her analysis below.

How can the G7 address eroding confidence in contemporary nuclear institutions?


Mayumi Fukushima: The global nuclear order is under enormous strain as the return of great power politics has weakened the international institutions that are foundational to its stability. States face few consequences for seriously violating the legal provisions and norms of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. With Russia's sabre-rattling and suspension of the new START treaty, China's efforts to massively expand its nuclear arsenal, North Korea's repeated missile launches, and Iran's further advances toward nuclear weaponization, geopolitical competition repeatedly plays a central role. For Russia and China, their interests in undermining America's influence in their respective regions are far more important than curbing nuclear proliferation, especially in states such as North Korea and Iran that are supportive of their mission.

Allowing Russia and China to act with impunity would encourage further violations and would increasingly erode confidence in relevant institutions, including the UN Security Council, on which nuclear institutions like the IAEA depend for law enforcement. Given current great power politics creates enormous challenges for these institutions, the G7 leaders should do more than just condemn violations or call for stronger adherence to existing treaties and sanctions regimes. They could suggest ways to rebuild trust not just in nuclear institutions but also in broader security organizations, including major reforms at the United Nations and more constructive diplomatic engagement with Russia (once the war in Ukraine has come to a close) and China.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Sanders-Zakre, Alicia , Mayumi Fukushima, James J. Wirtz, Sidra Hamidi, Carolina Panico and Anne Sisson Runyan."Nuclear Policy at the G7: Six Key Questions." Medium, May 17, 2023.

The Authors

Mayumi Fukushima