A world without nuclear weapons: The international dimension

BASIC joined with The US Institute of Peace (USIP), and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to co-sponsor a March 6 debrief on the recent meeting of the Hoover Group in Oslo. Ambassador Max Kampelman, Ambassador James Goodby, and Dr George Perkovich, all participants in the Oslo meeting, discussed the means of revitalizing the international disarmament movement. Judging from their comments about the Oslo meeting, the question of how to translate the moral imperative of nuclear disarmament into the practical steps necessary to achieving this vision remains open to debate.

Ambassador Kampelman forcefully urged the next administration to introduce a resolution into the General Assembly that would commit the United States to a leadership role on this vital issue. He remains skeptical that incremental negotiations can accomplish much, at least absent a strong commitment to disarmament by the nuclear powers – chiefly the United States and Russia.

In contrast, Ambassador Goodby emphasized that the zero nukes movement today is vastly different from the 80s peace movement. Holding up a picture of street demonstrators from that period, he contrasted them with today’s Getting to Zero movement, which includes virtually all living former US Secretaries of State and Defense and National Security Advisors. Putting aside his visual aid, he focused on the practical steps designed to realize the vision of getting to zero nuclear weapons, highlighting the importance of nuclear weapons de-alerting, eliminating forward deployed tactical nuclear weapons, and reducing the number of operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons.

Dr Perkovich linked the non-proliferation regime, generally seen as desirable but in danger of failing, to the international perception, evidently expressed at Oslo, that the nuclear weapons states were not serious about their disarmament commitments. Unilateral disarmament, Perkovich argued, was neither desirable nor feasible. Instead, he reported that the Oslo participants were looking for a way to achieve a negotiated, reciprocal and verifiable agreement to dismantle nuclear weapons.

Dr Richard Solomon, President of USIP, moderated the event. USIP has posted an audio file and full summary of the event on its website.

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