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.
The goal of nuclear superiority is unattainable. Instead, the United States can enhance its security by giving nuclear-armed adversaries strong incentives for restraint in a crisis.
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.