Commentary :: Military

Cold Warriors Shift Ground on Nuclear Weapons

The truth that if we are to have a human future the US must lead the way in abolishing nuclear weapons has been frequently ridiculed and violently opposed. This truth may now be entering the stage of being self-evident.
Excerpt from an article in the Wall Street Journal:
What should be done? Can the promise of the NPT and the possibilities envisioned at Reykjavik be brought to fruition? We believe that a major effort should be launched by the United States to produce a positive answer through concrete stages.

First and foremost is intensive work with leaders of the countries in possession of nuclear weapons to turn the goal of a world without nuclear weapons into a joint enterprise. Such a joint enterprise, by involving changes in the disposition of the states possessing nuclear weapons, would lend additional weight to efforts already under way to avoid the emergence of a nuclear-armed North Korea and Iran.

The program on which agreements should be sought would constitute a series of agreed and urgent steps that would lay the groundwork for a world free of the nuclear threat. Steps would include:
· Changing the Cold War posture of deployed nuclear weapons to increase warning time and thereby reduce the danger of an accidental or unauthorized use of a nuclear weapon.
· Continuing to reduce substantially the size of nuclear forces in all states that possess them.
· Eliminating short-range nuclear weapons designed to be forward-deployed.
· Initiating a bipartisan process with the Senate, including understandings to increase confidence and provide for periodic review, to achieve ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, taking advantage of recent technical advances, and working to secure ratification by other key states.
· Providing the highest possible standards of security for all stocks of weapons, weapons-usable plutonium, and highly enriched uranium everywhere in the world.
· Getting control of the uranium enrichment process, combined with the guarantee that uranium for nuclear power reactors could be obtained at a reasonable price, first from the Nuclear Suppliers Group and then from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or other controlled international reserves. It will also be necessary to deal with proliferation issues presented by spent fuel from reactors producing electricity.
· Halting the production of fissile material for weapons globally; phasing out the use of highly enriched uranium in civil commerce and removing weapons-usable uranium from research facilities around the world and rendering the materials safe.
· Redoubling our efforts to resolve regional confrontations and conflicts that give rise to new nuclear powers.
Achieving the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons will also require effective measures to impede or counter any nuclear-related conduct that is potentially threatening to the security of any state or peoples.

Reassertion of the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and practical measures toward achieving that goal would be, and would be perceived as, a bold initiative consistent with America's moral heritage. The effort could have a profoundly positive impact on the security of future generations. Without the bold vision, the actions will not be perceived as fair or urgent. Without the actions, the vision will not be perceived as realistic or possible.

We endorse setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and working energetically on the actions required to achieve that goal, beginning with the measures outlined above. (...)

Auszug aus: "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons"
By George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger and Sam Nunn; in: Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2007

Cold Warriors Shift Ground on Nuclear Weapons
By David Krieger *

An amazing and important commentary appeared in the January 4, 2007 issue of the Wall Street Journal, co- authored by four high-level architects of the Cold War: George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn. The article, entitled "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons," was amazing not so much for what it proposed, but for who was making the proposal. The four prominent former US officials reviewed current nuclear dangers and called for US leadership to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons. Their argument was as follows:
1. Reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.
2. Terrorist groups are outside the bounds of deterrence strategy.
3. We are entering a new nuclear era that will be more precarious, disorienting and costly than was Cold War deterrence.
4. New nuclear weapons states lack the safeguarding and control
5. experiences learned by the US and USSR during the Cold War.
6. The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty envisioned the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
7. Non-nuclear weapons states have grown increasingly skeptical of the sincerity of the nuclear weapons states to fulfill their Non- Proliferation Treaty obligations to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
8. There exists an historic opportunity to eliminate nuclear weapons in the world.
9. To realize this opportunity, bold vision and action are needed.
10. The US must take the lead and must convince the leaders of the other nuclear weapons states to turn the goal of nuclear weapons abolition into a joint effort.
11. A number of steps need to be taken to lay the groundwork for a world free of nuclear threat, including de-alerting nuclear arsenals; reducing the size of nuclear arsenals; eliminating tactical nuclear weapons; achieving Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and encouraging other key states to also do so; securing nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials everywhere in the world; and halting production of fissile materials for weapons, ceasing to use enriched uranium in civil commerce and removing weapons-usable uranium from research reactors.
For many of us committed to the global effort to abolish nuclear weapons, there is nothing new in their arguments. They are arguments that many civil society groups have been making since the end of the Cold War. Other former officials, such as Robert McNamara and General George Lee Butler, former head of the US Strategic Command, have also made such arguments. What is new is that these former Cold Warriors have joined together in a bipartisan spirit to publicly make these arguments to the American people. This means that the perspectives of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, the Global Security Institute, the Nuclear Policy Research Institute and other dedicated civil society groups are finally being embraced by key former officials who once presided over Cold War nuclear strategy.

The bipartisan advice of Shultz, Perry, Kissinger and Nunn to abolish nuclear weapons will require a full reversal of the current Bush administration nuclear policies. The Bush administration has thumbed its nose at the other parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, behaving as though the US had no obligations to fulfill its commitments for nuclear disarmament under the treaty. The administration has largely opposed the 13 Practical Steps for Nuclear Disarmament agreed to by consensus at the 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

If the administration wants to demonstrate leadership toward nuclear weapons abolition, it could immediately submit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate for ratification; call for negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty; reach an agreement with Russia to begin implementing deeper cuts in the nuclear arsenals of the two countries, which Russia supports; and call for a summit of leaders of all nuclear weapons states to negotiate a new treaty for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

If the United States becomes serious about leading the way to a world free of nuclear weapons, as called for by the former US officials, it can assume a high moral and legal ground, while improving its own security and global security. Each day that goes by without US leadership for achieving a nuclear weapons-free world undermines the prospects for the future of humanity. There is no issue on which US leadership is more needed, and there is no issue on which the US has more to gain by asserting such leadership.

The 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." The truth that if we are to have a human future the US must lead the way in abolishing nuclear weapons has been frequently ridiculed and violently opposed. The commentary by Shultz, Perry, Kissinger and Nunn suggests that this truth may now be entering the stage of being self- evident.

* David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He has lectured and written widely on the need to abolish nuclear weapons.

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