Should the United States aim to achieve a world free of all nuclear weapons? In one sense, the question is trivial – nuclear disarmament has been a stated aim of the United States since the dawn of the nuclear age. And the United States also committed to working toward this end when it signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968.
But in another sense, the question is fundamental. Although successive administrations (at least until the current one) have mouthed the words affirming this objective, few have actually made this commitment an organizing principle of their nuclear weapons policies. That may be about to change. Earlier this week, Senator Barack Obama pledged that as president he would say: “America seeks a world in which there are no nuclear weapons.” Former senator John Edwards has also pledged to lead an international effort to eliminate nuclear weapons, as has New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.
And it isn’t just presidential candidates who are talking about a nuclear-free world. So are former statesmen like Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Bill Perry, and Sam Nunn. Writing in The Wall Street Journal last January, they urged that the United States set the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, and proposed specific actions to that end. [complete article]