President Obama's vision of a world without nuclear weapons will require step-by-step progress on disarmament by nuclear-armed states, reciprocated by step-by-step progress toward strengthening the nonproliferation regime by non-nuclear-weapon states.
The consideration of nuclear abolition is highly speculative, but keeping the long-term goal in mind while addressing near-term security challenges can achieve more good than harm.
The Obama administration's Nuclear Posture Review gives much-needed momentum to the nuclear agenda President Obama set out in Prague last year.
The new START agreement that President Obama and President Medvedev will sign in Prague on April 8 provides concrete and tangible progress in bilateral relations and addresses the biggest existential threat the United States faces—Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
When President Medvedev and President Obama sign the new START agreement in Prague on April 8, they should emphasize their common interest in nuclear disarmament and make the ratification process another step in the positive resetting of relations.
A year after President Obama outlined an agenda of nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and counterterrorism in his speech in Prague, the administration has moved forward with its release of a new Nuclear Posture Review and agreed to a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
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.