Category: Key issues in a nutshell

In this section, you can find one-page introductions to a range of issues pertaining to the nuclear disarmament debate. More in-depth analysis of the different issues can be found in the related downloads, external links and background documents. On some of the issues, we have also published separate ILPI policy papers that can be downloaded, printed or shared.

The Chemical Weapons Convention

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the law enforcement exception


The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) opened for signature in 1993 after more than a decade of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). It entered into force in 1997 and has, as of January 2016, 190 States Parties.

The history of chemical weapons

The history and properties of chemical weapons


Chemical weapons are chemicals formulated to inflict harm on humans. Modern chemical weapons are usually delivered by means of missiles, shells, or gravity bombs. By their very nature, chemical weapons are highly indiscriminate and cause superfluous injury. Due to their capacity to cause death and suffering on a wide scale, they are commonly labelled ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

The Biological Weapons Convention

The scope, strengths, and weaknesses of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)


Biological weapons are subject to the strongest ban among weapons of mass destruction under international law. The main legal instrument addressing biological weapons, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), essentially bans the weaponization of biology. 

NATO and a treaty banning nuclear weapons

Implications for NATO of a ban on nuclear weapons 


As a matter of international law, there is no barrier to NATO member states’ adherence to a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Concerns about the political implications of such a treaty for NATO ignore historical variations in member state military policy and underestimate the value of a ban on nuclear weapons for promoting NATO’s ultimate aim: the security of its member states.

The United Kingdom’s nuclear renewal

Reasons for and against the United Kingdom’s nuclear renewal

By Paul Beaumont

The UK membership in the nuclear club is up for renewal, and – not for the first time – finding a convincing raison d’étre and the money to pay for it is proving difficult.

Iran’s nuclear programme

Overview of Iran’s nuclear programme


A brief introduction to the controversy surrounding Iran’s uranium enrichment programme and alleged nuclear weapons ambitions.

The Nuclear Security Summit

Overview of the four Security Summits


Four Nuclear Security Summits have been convened since 2010. This article offers a brief overview of the background and outcomes of the summits of 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Overview of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty


Regarded by most as the cornerstone of the international legal framework regulating nuclear technology. This fact sheet provides a brief introduction.