Turning the dream of a nuclear-free world into reality

in Program
By Max Kampelman and Barry Blechman
Two years ago, President Obama spoke out for universal nuclear disarmament in Prague, saying that America would seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons “clearly and with conviction.” Similar statements came from Russian President Medvedev and other world leaders, culminating in September 2009 in an unprecedented UN Security Council meeting attended by the 15 members’ heads-of-state that resolved to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.

There has been some progress since this meeting; however, gains do not measure up to the goals set by the world’s leaders. There is the dream … and then there is the reality.  

Russia and the US each retain thousands of nuclear warheads – more than 20,000 overall.  

Then there are the smaller nuclear weapon states: China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the UK – all of whom, with the exception of the Europeans, appear to be increasing their nuclear forces. And then there are the nuclear wannabees: Iran first in line, Syria next, perhaps Burma third, all being helped by North Korea.

While we can argue whether the world has moved forward or backward since the Prague declaration, it clearly remains a long way from realizing the dream. What should we do?

It is past time to ditch the piecemeal, open-ended arms control approach that the nuclear weapon states have pursued for decades. Here’s a straight-forward proposal to get things moving.  

Click here to read the full version of this article.

Ambassador Kampelman negotiated the Helsinki Accords on Security and Cooperation in Europe and served as President Reagan’s negotiator on nuclear and space issues. Dr. Blechman was assistant director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Carter and is currently a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center.

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