Statement by Former Senator Sam Nunn on President Obama’s speech in Berlin, Germany

“President Obama set a clear direction for America's nuclear policy today in Berlin and reinvigorated the U.S. administration's efforts to work with other nations to reduce nuclear dangers.  I strongly support the President's commitment to host a Nuclear Security Summit in 2016, following the Summit in the Netherlands in 2014, and his continued leadership and focus on securing nuclear materials globally, which is the most significant step we can take to prevent catastrophic nuclear terrorism.  Working to reduce Russian and U.S. strategic and tactical nuclear weapons in a stabilizing way and stopping nuclear proliferation are also goals that I endorse.
“Many of the specific steps in the President's speech today are long-overdue.  A Cold War mindset and Cold War nuclear weapons strategies are not effective in dealing with the threats of today and in the future.  When a large and growing number of nuclear-armed adversaries confront multiple perceived threats, the risk that deterrence will fail and that nuclear weapons will be used increases dramatically.  It is also very difficult to reduce nuclear risks globally, and set an example encouraging non-proliferation, when Washington, Moscow, and Europe are postured for mutually assured destruction on a planet-ending scale.
“Increasingly these steps must be embraced beyond the United States and Russia and include other states with the capability to produce nuclear weapons and materials.  These objectives cannot be achieved by focusing only on the number of weapons.  Regional mistrust, fears, and misunderstandings, which give rise to nations seeking and retaining nuclear weapons, must be addressed.    
“There is growing global support in key regions for action.  Next week in Singapore, former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and I, along with more than 30 global leaders and experts from 18 countries on five continents, will gather to address these urgent global nuclear threats and recommend key steps to reduce nuclear dangers around the world.
“Achieving the goals set by the President today will require a new strategy for building mutual security covering a broad range of security issues -- beginning in the Euro-Atlantic region, an area that includes four of the nine nuclear armed states, nine of the 15 states with nuclear weapons on their territory, and more than 95 percent of global nuclear inventories.  A strategy for building mutual security in the Euro-Atlantic area and ending Cold War force postures is necessary to achieve further reductions in strategic and tactical nuclear weapons and will require leadership from Russia, Europe and the United States.  Progress here can also strengthen the ability of countries in this region to provide leadership on these issues globally.
“The President made a strong case in Berlin today for why it is in America's and the world's vital interest to change the nuclear status quo, and he laid the foundation for important steps.  Progress will require the same level of focus as a foreign policy crisis, but the focus must be maintained to turn these words into accomplishments.  As my colleague George Shultz has said, ‘We need to jack up our resolve, use our best brains and creativity, and get moving on this problem now.’”
June 19, 2013

Former Senator Sam Nunn responds to President Obama’s speech in Berlin, Germany on June 19, 2013

Sam Nunn
Sam Nunn

Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, NTI