Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear sub collision reinforces need for nuclear weapons free world

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The New York Times had a great editorial today on the collision of two nuclear missile submarines earlier in February:

Two nuclear missile submarines — one British, one French — armed with a likely total of well more than 100 thermonuclear warheads collided under the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month. It’s a terrifying reminder of how many of these hugely destructive weapons are still routinely deployed and how little thought is given to keeping them as safe and secure as possible.

Two decades after the end of the cold war, all of the nuclear powers have been inexcusably negligent about rethinking nuclear strategies, sharply reducing arsenals and eliminating needlessly risky practices, including some that contributed to this month’s collision.

The warheads on the two submarines that collided could, if ever launched, kill millions of people. And Britain and France together have far fewer than 1,000 nuclear warheads in their arsenals. The United States and Russia still have more than 20,000.

The editorial goes on to call on President Obama to work with Russia on stockpile reductions. At the 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy in early February, Vice President Biden’s remarks illustrated the White House’s commitment to this crucial step.

We can and should cooperate to secure loose nuclear weapons and materials to prevent their spread, to renew the verification procedures in the START Treaty, and then go beyond existing treaties to negotiate deeper cuts in both our arsenals. The United States and Russia have a special obligation to lead the international effort to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world.

President Obama’s support for a new direction for nuclear weapons policy is also clearly stated on the White House website, where the need for global nuclear disarmament and steps toward it are laid out. Here’s an excerpt:

Move Toward a Nuclear Free World: Obama and Biden will set a goal of a
world without nuclear weapons, and pursue it. Obama and Biden will
always maintain a strong deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist.
But they will take several steps down the long road toward eliminating
nuclear weapons. They will stop the development of new nuclear weapons;
work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair
trigger alert; seek dramatic reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles
of nuclear weapons and material; and set a goal to expand the
U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles so that the agreement
is global.

Many of these steps forward will require the support of Congress. With your help, we’ll continue to work to show Congress that the public supports a world without nuclear weapons and wants to see the our leaders take steps toward it.

Photo from the British
Ministry of Defence of the HMS Vanguard (AFP Photo)
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Categories: Nuclear Weapons