Statement from NTI Co-Chairs Ernest J. Moniz, Sam Nunn, and Ted Turner on the Passing of Mikhail Gorbachev

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mikhail Gorbachev, a champion for reducing nuclear dangers whose remarkable leadership and dedication to international peace and security made the world a safer place.

“In crucial moments in world history, President Gorbachev had the courage, the integrity, and the moral commitment to put world peace ahead of ideology and to put humanity ahead of political power,” said NTI Co-Founder and Co-Chair Sam Nunn. “The world owes him a deep and lasting debt of gratitude.”

A leader ahead of his time, Gorbachev forged critical arms-reduction agreements with the United States and—working closely with other world leaders, including Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Helmut Kohl—helped bring about the fall of the iron curtain that had divided Europe, and the end of the Cold War.  His strength and resolve were crucial in ending an era of great peril with great promise.

“Secretary Gorbachev’s 1985 joint statement with President Reagan that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’ marked a pivot point in U.S.-Soviet relations,” said NTI Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz. “The statement, reiterated by leaders this past January, remains deeply relevant today, amid significant challenges in the U.S.-Russia relationship.”

Gorbachev remained a powerful advocate for change long after his government service ended. In 2007, after George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn called for a world without nuclear weapons in the first in a series of Wall Street Journal op-eds, Gorbachev endorsed their call with an op-ed of his own: “We must put the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons back on the agenda, not in a distant future but as soon as possible. It links the moral imperative—the rejection of such weapons from an ethical standpoint—with the imperative of assuring security. It is becoming clearer that nuclear weapons are no longer a means of achieving security; in fact, with every passing year they make our security more precarious.”

Gorbachev also supported the Goodwill Games, an international sports competition created by Ted Turner in 1986 following U.S. and Soviet boycotts of the Olympics.

“President Gorbachev was a transformative leader and powerful advocate for nuclear disarmament,” said Turner, co-founder and co-chair of NTI.  “I was honored to partner with him during the Goodwill Games and proud to call him my friend for the last 40 years. NTI will continue to build on his legacy.”

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