President Barack Obama has called for a major change in world policy on nuclear weapons, leading to eventual elimination. His initiative is supported by a powerful group of conservative and military allies led by former Republican Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz and Democrats former Secretary of Defense William Perry and Sam Nunn longtime Chair of Senate Armed Services Committee.
These leaders recognize that nuclear weapons are the most inhumane and dangerous ever conceived, that kill and maim without discrimination, the only weapons ever invented that could destroy all life on planet Earth. That must not happen. Disarmament is the only answer: If any country has nuclear weapons, others will want them. Then, some day they will be used by accident, mistake, or design – the ultimate catastrophe.
In The Wall Street Journal and other venues, these conservative leaders argue for their dramatic reforms:
1. No first use of nuclear weapons
2. Immediate reduction of all nuclear arsenals
3. Immediate elimination of short-range nukes
4. Eventual elimination of long-range nukes
5. Guarding nukes and nuclear materials
6. Phasing out production of highly enriched uranium
7. Enhanced verification and enforcement procedures
8. Bringing into force the universal Comprehensive Test-ban Treaty to monitor and discourage cheating
Additional points about nuclear weapons:
a. The US does not need to test nukes to maintain its current arsenal
b. The US and Russia own 95% of the world’s nukes and are cooperating in guarding inventories
c. The US and Russia have reduced their ICBM nukes to 2000 and are now negotiating further reductions to about 1600.
d. The US has not tested nukes since September 23, 1992, when Bush senior was president
e. For the CTBT treaty to go into effect, 44 specified countries with nuclear capacity must ratify. Of those countries, the following have not ratified: China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and USA.
During President Clinton’s administration, the CTBT was sent to the US Senate for approval. It failed to reach the 67 votes necessary for ratification, but did attain a majority, 51- 49. In 2010, there will be another attempt to reach 67, hopefully by persuading seven Republicans to join 60 Democrats. Henry Kissinger et al should be helpful in this effort.
Some conservatives and military leaders believe that a worldwide policy of no nukes would be the most advantageous policy for the US, enhancing and protecting its status as the only military superpower with the capability to deploy overwhelming non-nuclear forces anywhere on earth in a matter of hours. It would legitimize US action against alleged rogue states and tighten control over the nuclear black market. It would support present US hegemony by eliminating the so-called suicide defense prepared by North Korea and Iran. Giving up nuclear weapons and accepting US hegemony may be the price that humanity must pay to avert the threat of total annihilation.
Several countries including Libya, Ukraine, Belarus, have given up their nukes as not worth the high cost of development and maintenance. Others have found the prestige of having nukes to be over-rated. And others have found themselves under an informal US nuclear umbrella: Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Israel, and others. And finally, nations that find US hegemony onerous and oppressive, with or without nuclear weapons, could ally themselves for resistance.