Nuclear weapons are again at the forefront of U.S.-Russian relations. The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) agreement has been signed, but its ratification still faces opposition in both Russia and the United States.
High-level officials from nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states should consult one another directly on disarmament initiatives and to seek agreement on corresponding nonproliferation measures.
President Obama should assess whether any other leaders of major countries are seriously prepared to pursue a nuclear-weapon-free world. If some are, he should invite them to join him in detailing a ten-year action plan to minimize the dangers posed by fissile materials and maximize the potential of peaceful nuclear energy.
World government need not be invoked in considerations of abolishing nuclear weapons. Instead, nuclear abolition can be a realistic organizing principle of states seeking to balance and order their relations in ways that remove the threats of mass destruction.
More than ever, preventing nuclear weapons proliferation requires cooperation among the United States, Russia, and China, plus emerging powers. To achieve this cooperation, measures must be crafted to uphold the bargain between disarmament and nonproliferation.
While Russian leaders support the idea of a world free of nuclear weapons in theory, the Russian security community is still committed to the principle of nuclear deterrence.
Opponents of the START follow-on agreement are employing scare tactics to impede Senate ratification of the treaty at the long-term risk of imperiling national security.
Recent arguments against a withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany are based on anachronistic perceptions regarding NATO’s nuclear weapons capacity, but bring up important points concerning broader implications for nuclear disarmament.
A treaty to replace the expired START agreement is an essential step not only toward global nuclear disarmament, but also toward managing the risks associated with Russia's nuclear arsenal, which still poses the single greatest existential threat to the United States.
The International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament recommends practical policymaking options designed to galvanize action by governments to achieve progress on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, including positive outcomes at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.