Beginning in 2006, George Shultz, Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn authored five essays in The Wall Street Journal, detailing the dangers related to nuclear weapons and outlining practical steps to reduce risks. The former Cold Warriors made three key points:
• We are in a new and dangerous nuclear era with outdated nuclear policies and an increasing risk of nuclear use.
• In this new era of nine nuclear-armed nations, reliance on nuclear weapons for security is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.
• U.S. leadership and new approaches are required to protect our security. We need to take practical steps with other nations now to reduce nuclear risks and to build the essential foundation to ultimately end nuclear weapons as a threat to the world.
This policy framework was initially adopted by both the Republican and Democratic candidates for president in 2008. In a speech in Prague in 2009, President Obama declared America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Later that year, the UN Security Council unanimously made the same call to action.
In his Carnegie speech, Senator Nunn gave a mixed report card on what has been accomplished over the past decade and outlined his thoughts on next steps in nuclear threat reduction.
In the lead up to the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, President Obama wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post on how we can make our vision of a world without nuclear weapons a reality.
For another view of President Obama’s nuclear legacy, see Joe Cirincione’s article, “Is That All There Is? Obama’s Disappointing Nuclear Legacy,” Defense One.