Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Nuclear Disarmament a "Long Road," Gates Says
U.S. President Barack Obama's dream of a world without nuclear weapons is a worthy goal but not one likely to be reached in the near term, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday (see GSN, May 1).
"I think this is an important goal for everyone to have in the world, but I think that it's a long road to get there," he told CNN. "President Obama is the fourth president that I have worked for who has said publicly he would like to see an end to nuclear weapons and (have) a nuclear weapons-free world. I think that's a laudable objective," Gates said.
However, Gates added that "it's a goal that you have to move toward step by step," Agence France-Presse reported.
He noted that a number of nations, including Libya and South Africa, have voluntarily given up nuclear-weapon pursuits. "So total pessimism with respect to nonproliferation, I think is unwarranted."
The global proliferation of nuclear expertise, though, means the threat is not likely to be permanently eliminated, Gates said.
"How do you deal with the reality of that technology being available to almost any country that seeks to pursue it?" he said. "And what conditions do you put in place, what U.N. verification measures or IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) verification measures do you put in place, to prevent others from getting that?"
Nonetheless, it is appropriate for Washington to look toward ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (see GSN, April 22) and to further drawdowns of the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, Gates said (see GSN, April 28).
"These are all important steps in that direction. But my guess is, it's a long march," he said (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com, May 3).
A U.S. panel of experts has backed further reductions of the nuclear stockpiles held by the former Cold War rivals, the Washington Post reported Saturday. In a report to be issued this week, the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States is expected to urge Washington to publicly state that it would reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons, but also keep "an appropriately effective nuclear deterrent force."
The commission, much like a Council on Foreign Relations panel that considered the nuclear issue, argued that the United States must maintain some weapons in order to provide a "nuclear umbrella" for allied nations and prevent them from seeking their own deterrent.
Commission members were divided on CTBT ratification by the U.S. Senate, saying that lawmakers should consider the "benefits, costs and risks" of such a move.
Missile defenses are needed to counter regional threats and longer-range systems that might be developed by nations such as Iran and North Korea, according to the congressional group (Walter Pincus, Washington Post, May 2).
Feb. 14, 2013
A new brochure describes the origins and the work of the Nuclear Security Project.
Feb. 14, 2013
George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn laid out their vision of a world without nuclear weapons and the urgent, practical steps to get there in a groundbreaking series of co-authored Wall Street Journal op-eds.