UK PONI Annual Conference 2023

UK PONI Annual Conference 2023

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This year’s conference offers a next-generation perspective on the state of nuclear issues and how they might evolve amidst an increasingly uncertain security environment.


The Annual Conference is a hallmark of the UK Project on Nuclear Issues, having established itself as the premier UK forum for showcasing the expertise of a new generation working on nuclear issues.

Rose Gottemoeller

We are delighted to announce that our confirmed keynote speaker is Rose Gottemoellerthe Steven C. Házy Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation.

Before joining Stanford, Gottemoeller was the Deputy Secretary General of NATO from 2016 to 2019, where she helped to drive forward NATO’s adaptation to new security challenges in Europe and in the fight against terrorism. Prior to NATO, she served for nearly five years as the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. Department of State, advising the Secretary of State on arms control, non-proliferation and political-military affairs. While Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance in 2009 and 2010, she was the chief U.S. negotiator of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with the Russian Federation.

By bringing together emerging and established experts from across the nuclear field, the conference promotes a diverse, informed dialogue on pressing nuclear topics.

It provides attendees a chance to discuss and debate fresh perspectives by engaging with other nuclear specialists from academia, government, industry, and the military.

This year, the conference seeks to address the current state-of-play and possible future trends in the nuclear field through panel presentations from rising experts on topics like:

  • The AUKUS Partnership in the New Nuclear Age
  • Continuity and Change in the UK’s Approach to Deterrence
  • Nuclear security and Non-proliferation in a New Era for Nuclear Energy
  • Deciphering Chinese Nuclear Thinking

The conference also features high-profile speakers and opportunities for attendees to make new connections through a lunch and a drinks reception.

UK PONI is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment, and we encourage attendance by women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities.


08:45 – 09:20 Registration 
Attendees are requested to arrive several minutes before the conclusion of registration to guarantee they are seated for the start of the conference. 

09:20 – 09:30 Introductory Remarks
Professor Malcolm Chalmers, Deputy Director-General, RUSI

09:30 – 10:15 Panel One: The AUKUS Strategic Partnership in the New Nuclear Age

Dr Sarah Tzinieris, Research Fellow, King’s College London
Implications of Advanced Capabilities within the AUKUS Pact for Deterrence

Aaron Simpson, Graduate Physicist, Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)
How AUKUS Can be Good for Non-Proliferation

Natasha Karner, PhD Candidate, RMIT University
How to pronounce emu? Reading the Fine Print of AUKUS

Chair: Professor Steve Fetter, Senior Associate Fellow, RUSI; Visiting Professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College London; Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

10:15 – 10:45 Panel One Q&A

10:45 – 11:15 Break
Coffee and tea will be available for conference attendees.

11:15 – 12:00 Panel Two: Continuity and Change in the UK’s Approach to Deterrence, Arms Control and Disarmament

Louis Reitmann, Research Associate, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
Preparing for Progress: The UK’s Potential in Nuclear Risk Reduction and Disarmament

Eva-Nour Repussard, Policy Fellow, BASIC
Cyber-Nuclear Nexus: How Uncertainty Threatens Deterrence

Thomas Layhe, Graduate, Consultancy
Technological Developments Affecting the Royal Navy’s Continuous At-Sea Deterrent: Assessing the Implications for Global Nuclear Stability

Chair: Dr Matthew Harries, Director of Proliferation and Nuclear Policy, RUSI; UK PONI Director

12:00 – 12:30 Panel Two Q&A 

12:30– 13:30 Lunch Break
Lunch will be provided for conference attendees. 

13:30 – 14:30 In conversation with Rose Gottemoeller
Rose Gottemoeller, Steven C. Házy Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation; Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution – in conversation withDr Matthew Harries, Director of Proliferation and Nuclear Policy, RUSI; UK PONI Director

14:30 – 15:15 Panel Three: Nuclear security and Non-proliferation in a New Era for Nuclear Energy

Seddon Atkinson, Reactor Physicist, National Nuclear Laboratory
Steven Proud, Senior Security Consultant, National Nuclear Laboratory
The UK’s plutonium options

Dominic Brennan, Doctoral Student, University of Cambridge
Prospecting Through a Straw: How the Global Drive for Cost-savings Competes with Non-proliferation Safeguarding

Ruth Smith, Deputy Director, NNSA’s Office of International Nuclear Safeguards, U.S. Department of Energy
A View from the United States – Radical Collaboration is Needed for New Nuclear Expansion

Chair: Fiona Barton, Capability Manager – Infinity Park Development, Rolls-Royce Submarines

15:15 – 15:45 Panel Three Q&A

15:45 – 16:15 Break
Coffee and tea will be available for conference attendees.

16:15 – 16:45 Panel Four: Deciphering Chinese Nuclear Thinking

Duanyi Yi, PhD Candidate, University of Glasgow
Why Did China’s Nuclear Arsenal Expand in 2021?

Cameron Brown, Graduate Scientist, Atomic Weapons Establishment
China’s Civil Nuclear Strategy and the risk it poses for enabling nuclear proliferation in rapidly growing African nations

Chair: Professor Andrew Futter, Professor of International Politics, University of Leicester

16:45 – 17:00 Panel Four Q&A 

17:00 – 17:10 Closing Remarks
Dr Matthew Harries, Director of Proliferation and Nuclear Policy, RUSI; UK PONI Director

17:15 – 18:15 Drinks reception for all attendees

Gold Sponsors

AWE logo

Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)

For almost 70 years, AWE has supported the UK government’s nuclear defence strategy and the Continuous At Sea Deterrent by researching, designing, manufacturing and assuring the nation’s nuclear warheads. AWE also uses its nuclear know-how and technical expertise to provide innovative solutions that support the UK’s counter terrorism and nuclear threat reduction activities. AWE’s mission is unique and so are its people. AWE works to attract, motivate, develop and retain the best talent and equip its people with the right skills for the future. AWE is a team of more than 5,000 people – proud to be part of such an important mission and proud of their responsibilities to their customer, the Ministry of Defence, and their shareholders. AWE aims to build enduring relationships with their government customers, international partners, suppliers and communities in the locations where they operate. AWE was named as one of the top Best Big Companies to work for at the Sunday Times Best Companies Awards in 2019. 

National Nuclear Laboratory logo

National Nuclear Laboratory

As the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission, NNL is harnessing nuclear science to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. We channel our work into four strategic areas: Clean Energy, Health and Nuclear Medicine, Environmental Restoration and Security and Non-Proliferation. These four Focus Areas are the cornerstones of our ambition, shaping what we deliver to our customers and for UK society, and how we invest in our future. We are custodians of a unique set of facilities and capabilities that enable ground-breaking nuclear research and development – including four world-leading laboratories in the North West of England. At a time when society is waking up to acting on the environmental crisis our planet faces, it is impossible to overestimate the scale of the challenge ahead for the UK in reaching net zero by 2050. Without nuclear, the UK will not meet this target on time. And without NNL’s work, the UK nuclear sector cannot deliver what is required.

Silver Sponsors



Ministry of Defence


Event registration closed.

Date And Time

12-09-23 @ 08:45 to
12-09-23 @ 18:15

Registration End Date




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