This week in Paris hundreds of world leaders and prominent global figures are attending the Global Zero summit to push for the elimination of nuclear weapons within the next 20 years. Conservatives frequently describe Obama’s vision of eliminating nuclear weapons as impractical and a byproduct of some absurd liberal utopianism. The Global Zero Summit has shown this defeatist narrative not just to be false but dangerous as well.
Queen Noor, a leading figure in the global zero effort, spoke with ThinkProgress about the summit. She noted that Global Zero “was launched in response to the growing threats of nuclear terrorism” and that “our commission has developed a 20 year end-to-end plan to eliminate nuclear weapons and to show how it could be done in 20 years.” Global Zero has put out a detailed plan (pdf) that lays out a step-by-step approach that includes “phased and verified reductions beginning with de-alerting (taking weapons off high alert) and making deep cuts to U.S. and Russian arsenals.” The plan also calls for a robust and universal verification and enforcement regime to prevent countries from cheating and to give countries confidence that other are upholding their end of the bargain.
Her Majesty notes that achieving this ambitious goal has become possible in recent years, due to “the fact that there seems to be an expanding consensus of public opinion and expert opinion around the world that zero is the only safe sustainable path and secure path for the future for our children and our children’s children.” Indeed, the summit has demonstrated that there is real and tangible support across the global political spectrum for the elimination nuclear weapons. For instance, Global Zero signatories include stalwart Republican national security officials from both the Reagan and Bush administration’s, including Reagan’s former Secretaries of State and Defense, George Schultz and Frank Carlucci and his National Security Adviser, Robert MacFarlane. These officials are certainly no wild-eyed idealists.
In response to what she would say to U.S. Senators that are contemplating opposing the President’s efforts to ratify a new START treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Queen Noor warned that such an approach would put the world on a dangerous path.
NOOR: We feel we are reaching a nuclear tipping point a point, beyond which the proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials can fall in to the hands of terrorists can not be reigned back in. I would say that you’re choosing between building together with the other nuclear states an environment of trust and confidence for a secure world without nuclear weapons or you are heading down the path of increased proliferation and the exponentionally increasing danger that nuclear materials will end up in the hands of non-state actors and terrorists, as well as the increasing danger of accidents taking place or miscalculations of which there have been many in the past.
Listen to it: