A World Without Nuclear Weapons?


"The Weapons of War must be abolished before they abolish us."

Address to the United Nations General Assenbly by President John F. Kennedy. 25 September 1961.

"Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century.  And as nuclear power –- as a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it.
So today, I state clearly and with conviction America`s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.  I`m not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly –- perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, "Yes, we can.""

President Barack Obama on 9 April 2009 in Prague.

Efforts to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons are back on the agenda of American foreign policy. During the month of April, at least five news items must be mentioned.

The first one is the publication of the latest United States Nuclear Posture Review attached to this News Item. The strategy outlined in this report differs significantly from the 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States, reprinted as Document 1.6.11 and referred to on page 114 of my Western Cooperation, Origins and History.

The second one - in implementation of the new strategy - is the Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington D.C. on 13 April focussed on the prevention of nuclear terrorism and the (further) proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The third one - immediately following the Nuclear Security Summit - is the two day conference: "Nuclear Energy for All/Nuclear Weapons for None" held in Tehran, calling for a total ban on nuclear weapons and blaming certain nuclear powers for double standards and discriminatory approaches to the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The fourth one - as part of the effort to ensure strategic stability with the existing nuclear powers" - is the signing on 8 April of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) by the United States and Russia.

The fifth one is the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers on 22 April in Tallinn, Estonia on the issue of removing the remaining American tactical nuclear weapons from the territory of the European allies. No agreement could be reached as both U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen did not wanty their removal, at least not unless Russia would agree to cut its much greater arsenal of such weapons.

Nuclear disarmament is back on the international agenda. "A world without nuclear weapons" is likely to be a very long time aim at best and an illusion at worst. Ever since the first use of atomic weapons by the United States against Japan in August 1945 proved effective, their proliferation was bound to follow. In a world of sovereign states nuclear weapons afford political status. Nuclear powers argue that they need to keep some weapons for purposes of deterrence. As long as they do, proliferation is bound to continue. 

Sources: The White House, Communiqué of the Washington Security Summit. April 13, 2010. New START Treaty, Protocol and Briefing Book.

Tehran Times,Tehran Conference calls for greater effort for disarmament.

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Frans A.M. Alting von Geusau


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