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Diplomats Candidly Discuss Nuclear Nonproliferation at Closed-Door Academy Meeting


Press Release

NEW YORK, NY – Every five years, representatives of the 189 nations that are signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) gather at the United Nations to review progress on the three pillars of the treaty: nonproliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Historically, the Review Conference has been marked by deep divisions between nuclear have and have-not nations. This year, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has played an important behind-the-scenes role in bridging that divide. By convening senior officials from aspiring nuclear nations, the Academy’s Global Nuclear Future Initiative has provided a neutral forum for key players to candidly exchange ideas and approaches, free of the posturing that often dominates discussion in the public spotlight.

Last week, the presiding President of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan of the Philippines, joined leaders of the Academy’s Global Nuclear Future Initiative at an Academy-sponsored meeting here. Also participating were three former review conference presidents: Ambassadors Sergio Duarte of Brazil (currently the UN’s High Representative for Disarmament); Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka; and Mohamed Shaker of Egypt.

Ambassador-level delegates from more than a dozen countries attended, along with the leaders of the Academy initiative, Steven Miller (Harvard University) and Scott Sagan (Stanford University), Robert Rosner (University of Chicago), and senior project advisor Stephen Goldberg (Argonne National Laboratory).

By taking a distinct and pragmatic approach to nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation issues, the Academy’s initiative has yielded important, real-world results since it began in 2008. This work has had a direct impact on both domestic and international policy.

Working behind the scenes, the Academy has taken advantage of its convening power and wide range of expertise to bring diverse world-wide players to the table. These include representatives from nuclear industry and international organizations, as well as from those states now embarking on nuclear power programs whose views and concerns are often overlooked by the international community.

The Global Nuclear Future Initiative has led to a new network of policymakers and scholars dedicated to the security of nuclear energy. The findings and recommendations drawn from this work have been sought out and cited by senior officials in the White House and the Departments of Energy and State, and directly informed the work of the recent Global Nuclear Security Summit, hosted by President Obama in April. The Global Nuclear Future Initiative is principally supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which hosted the New York meeting, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Kavli Foundation.

The Academy has held a series of meetings on various aspects of the nuclear future, including an international meeting in Abu Dhabi in December 2009 which focused on the spread of nuclear power in the Middle East. Another international meeting will take place in Singapore in November 2010. A widely-cited special double-issue of the Academy’s journal Daedalus and a series of papers dealing with the global nuclear future have also been published. More information about the Global Nuclear Future Initiative is available on the Academy’s website at

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on science and technology policy; global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education. With headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy’s work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business and public affairs from around the world. (


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