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About Rebecca Cousins

Rebecca Cousins is Program Director for BASIC in Washington D.C., before which she was a career diplomat with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  She was recently awarded an MBE for her role in the UK's consular in-country response to the 2011 Japan earthquake and subsequent Fukushima nuclear incident.

Rebecca's column on openSecurity explores perspectives on nuclear weapons policy and disarmament.


Articles by Rebecca Cousins

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The Scottish referendum: a chance to challenge our nuclear assumptions?

The removal of nuclear weapons from Scottish soil may be a “red-line” issue for the SNP today, but as the complexity of other defining issues - currency, European Union membership, national debt - begins to surface, this “red-line” may well evolve into a bargaining chip.

Resisting our cold war instincts

Recent events in Ukraine have led some to question if it might have benefited from a nuclear deterrent. Rather than rethinking the country's disarmament, we must question why we continue to invest in nuclear deterrence strategies. 

Nuclear disarmament: the case for engagement, not division

While understanding the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are key to acheiving disarmament, efforts for a new convention outside the nuclear non-proliferation treaty will only fragment the nuclear debate further.

Rethinking nuclear catastrophe

The increasing discussion of the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons may be able to move disarmament talks beyond the political disparities between the weapons haves and have-nots – and shift our understanding of the consequences beyond simply national interest. 

Iran: making the deal work

Only strengthened diplomatic efforts, treating all partners as equal, can defuse the deep mistrust threatening the interim nuclear deal and enable a long-term agreement. 

Nuclear disarmament ambitions in 2014

It's easy not to recognise the real, if slow, progress that has been made on nuclear disarmement. There will be big challenges in 2014 to maintain it.

More sanctions could undermine the Iran deal

US congressional efforts to introduce new sanctions legislation threatens the fragile ground gained through diplomatic efforts to secure an interim nuclear deal with Iran. 

Making progress with Iran

Given the tumultuous history between the negotiating countries, the interim deal signed over Iran’s nuclear programme is a real achievement. Provided all sides deliver on their commitments, this deal is an opportunity to build confidence and potentially break through the historic trust deficit.

Gambling with our security?

How much risk are we willing to accept? The dangers of maintaining nuclear weapons remain the same but the issue has fallen out of public awareness, and a mistake could be disastrous.

Repairing and refocusing a fractured nuclear discussion

Treating the issues of non-proliferation and disarmament under a single umbrella can address disparities in the existing international nuclear weapons discourse. 

Why diversity matters to the nuclear debate

Nuclear weapons policy reaches far into our daily global economic, trade and foreign relations, yet for the most part is inaccessible to public scrutiny. This week the EU will discuss the presence of America's B61s in Europe: an opportunity to open up the debate.

Working towards a WMD-free Middle East

Despite notes of caution and a lack of concrete offers, Presidents Obama and Rouhani set the stage for increased engagement at the UN last week. With calls for a WMD-free zone in the Middle East reaffirmed, Israel's game plan will be central.

Syria: lessons for the nuclear debate

The use of chemical weapons in Damascus should, at the very least, give us pause to reflect on the principles guiding our nuclear weapons policies.

Raising our sights in Syria

Neither ending the bloodshed nor preventing the further use of weapons of mass destruction in Syria is served by military intervention.  Amidst speculation over the US-UK special relationship, the Iranian reaction points a way forward.

Looking beyond the US-Russia stalemate

The cancellation of Obama's September meeting with Putin has led some observers to predict doom for the arms control agenda. But beyond this bilateral sticking point, inter-state agendas are on the move.

Fighting a prevailing Cold War mentality

Next week is the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Climbing down the nuclear ladder is an undeniably complex task, but one the world’s politicians must continue to rise to.

The British Trident debate: an opportunity for progress?

The nuclear weapons debate in the UK has been steadily diversifying and maturing, but thus far has remained an elite, rather than truly electoral, issue. Tomorrow's publication of the Trident Alternatives Review is significant as austerity hits and defence budgets come under scrutiny.

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