We need to change our nuclear policy and our posture, which is still focused on deterring the Soviet Union – a country that doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan and North Korea have joined the club of nuclear-armed nations, and Iran is knocking on the door. More nuclear weapons and more nuclear-armed nations mean more danger to us all.
Here’s what I’ll say as President: America seeks a world in which there are no nuclear weapons.
We will not pursue unilateral disarmament. As long as nuclear weapons exist, we’ll retain a strong nuclear deterrent. But we’ll keep our commitment under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty on the long road towards eliminating nuclear weapons. We’ll work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert, and to dramatically reduce the stockpiles of our nuclear weapons and material. We’ll start by seeking a global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons. And we’ll set a goal to expand the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles so that the agreement is global.
As we do this, we’ll be in a better position to lead the world in enforcing the rules of the road if we firmly abide by those rules. It’s time to stop giving countries like Iran and North Korea an excuse. It’s time for America to lead. When I’m President, we’ll strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that nations that don’t comply will automatically face strong international sanctions. [complete article]
See also, A world free of nuclear weapons (George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, Sam Nunn, Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2007).
Editor’s Comment — To say, “America seeks a world in which there are no nuclear weapons,” is a fine thing. Reagan said the same thing, but what he left behind was missile defense — the fanciest boondoggle the military-industrial complex ever dreamed up.
If Obama is actually serious — in other words, if he isn’t merely trying to conjure up a narrative of light contrasting with the era of Bush-Cheney darkness — then he needs to add some substance to his declaration.
A plan is a dream with a deadline.* Kennedy didn’t just say that America would send a man to the moon as soon as it would be feasible. He said that it would happen before the end of the decade. Likewise the dream of a nuclear weapon-free world is no use if it’s off on a horizon that we never reach. Obama’s “long road” sounds like one that goes on forever.
And if Obama really wants to give his declaration some punch, he must do better than this: “It’s time to stop giving countries like Iran and North Korea an excuse. It’s time for America to lead.”
Instead, how about acknowledging that in a world of nuclear-haves and nuclear-have-nots, there is not a single nation that can claim a right to nuclear arms and that it is this inequity more than anything else that is the driving force behind nuclear proliferation.
Nuclear power confers political power and everyone wants it.
This isn’t about good boys protecting the world from bad boys. A path towards nuclear disarmament requires that the members of the nuclear club be willing to disavow a form of power that they have hitherto regarded as their entitlement.
(*Since I never knowingly plagiarize, I must give credit where it’s due. That line comes from a fortune cookie.)