For true nuclear security, disarmament is essential


As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama vowed to pursue "a world in which there are no nuclear weapons." He also pledged that during his first year in office he would "lead a global effort to secure all loose nuclear materials."

This spring his administration is building on those promises with its Nuclear Posture Review, the New START treaty to cut U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, and now this week's nuclear security summit. The process will continue next month as the United States participates in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

As it advocates smaller weapons stockpiles and narrows the criteria for U.S. use of nuclear weapons, the Nuclear Posture Review also highlights the need to secure vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide.

Addressing the summit, President Obama highlighted "a cruel irony of history - the risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up" and now "is one of the greatest threats to global security."

In its final statement, the summit called on nations to cooperate for nuclear security, including keeping "non-state actors" from being able to use nuclear materials "for malicious purposes," and barring illicit nuclear trafficking.

International cooperation in "nuclear detection, forensics, law enforcement and the development of new technologies," strengthening "physical protection" and "material accountancy" - all are indeed vital in today's world.

But no matter how successful such cooperation becomes, true nuclear security also depends on fulfilling the president's other objectives: preventing more countries from acquiring nuclear weapons, ensuring "strategic stability" among current nuclear powers, and reducing and ultimately eliminating all stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

Much rests on what is sure to be a centerpiece of next month's review of progress under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - the obligation of all signers under its Article VI "to pursue negotiations in good faith" to achieve complete nuclear disarmament and to conclude a treaty for general and complete disarmament.

Only when this great goal is won will it be possible to truly end the threat of catastrophe from the "malicious" use of nuclear materials, whether by nations, by "non-state actors" or by accident.

Photo: A 2007 Palm Sunday peace march in Melbourne, Australia.


Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


  • The editorial board shows in this article support for President Obama's policies on nuclear abolition but not critical support. Such a posture is unworthy of the PW.

    It appears from this article that there is nothing to criticize about the Administration's Nuclear Posture Review or the new START treaty.

    The NPR continues to support a first nuclear strike on North Korea and Iran - and other countries at the discretion of the Administration - ignores and hence covers up Israel's nuclear arsenal and the resulting incentive for other Middle East states to obtain nuclear weapons, puts billions of dollars into upgrading the U.S. arsenal and more actions that are reprehensible.

    The new START includes calling a B-52 with many warheads only one weapon, thus hiding the large number of weapons the U.S. actually retains, does not take the nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert, thus keeping civilization mortally endangered, among other issues.

    By uncritically hiding these real problems with the NPR and START and uncritically accepting Obama's rhetoric and "objectives", the editorial supports the Administration and in effect supports the continuing imperial policies of the U.S. to retain nuclear weapons beyond "our lifetime" and to threaten the whole world.

    What the editorial does is to disarm the peoples' movements into believing that we can rely on Obama to get rid of nuclear weapons. We cannot and must not. Whatever the editors think of Obama's motivation, rhetoric or apparent objectives, imperialism is still in charge. Rather than our being "the wind at his back," and a strong wind at that the editorial leaves us in the doldrums.

    Without a dedicated, active, loud movement to abolish nuclear weapons "in our lifetime," it won't happen, no matter Obama's rhetoric or intention. And the editorial policy should never shy away from saying so.

    Posted by Chester Steorra, 04/27/2010 10:42am (6 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments