The abolition of nuclear weapons is back on the agenda. After years of standstill nuclear disarmament is taking place, but not at a pace acceptable to the non-nuclear nations. At the 2010 Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty concrete progress is wanted on issues such as the nuclear test ban and the production of fissile material. The most critical issue at the conference will be the proposal for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Is progress possible? The U.S. and Egypt will have the answer.

Nuclear weapons have lost much of their military meaning. This report analyses the role of nuclear weapons in security. There is an ongoing refocus from the deterrence of nuclear attacks to the importance of nuclear weapons as an insurance policy against an unpredictable future and as a means to power, both globally and regionally. Pride in the mastery of advanced technology is a further dimension. A new kind of security environment is needed before the elimination of nuclear weapons becomes possible. Also the link between nuclear weapons and global power has to be broken.