Every five years since 1970 diplomats and arms control experts have gathered to review progress – or lack of it – in the disarmament process enshrined in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The latest review conference, which was scheduled for May 2020, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This postponement is a silver lining behind a very dark cloud made up of the pandemic and several looming nuclear crises. It has bought time and with that time a new administration in Washington, one that is likely to be more open to multilateral efforts, pragmatic compromise and cooperative solutions.
The delay has also meant that the United States and Russia have more time to address – and perhaps even fix – the wider breakdown in the arms control treaty structure that is now at a tipping point.