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Breakfast with Bill Perry and Brent Scowcroft

Posted by Jill Marie Parillo on May 28, 2009

I just went to a fantastic talk with former US Secretary of Defense, Bill Perry and Former U.S. National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft at the Council on Foreign Relations. You have to give Charles Ferguson (at Council on Foreign Relations) credit for getting these two national treasures together to write a report on U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy.  Unlike the Nuclear Posture Commission, commissioned by Congress, the Perry-Scowcroft task force supports ratification of a comprehensive test ban treaty, and gives us all hope by stating:

"Many competing interests demand President Obama's attention, but the impending expiration of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in December 2009, the upcoming congressionally mandated nuclear posture review, and the preparation for the 2010 Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference offer the new administration an opportunity to begin to review existing treaties, revive negotiations, strengthen the global nonproliferation system, and promote best nuclear security efforts."

The talk today had a few great highlights. It's not often that you can be around two men that say things like, "well when I was Secretary of Defense…" 

Both gentlemen support policies that will decrease the chance of nuclear weapons ever being used by terrorist. Policies to secure fissile material and prevent the trafficking of nuclear weapons and nuclear material were on the top of their list of priorities.  However, they do not agree over the use of a world free of nuclear weapons as an end goal.

Scowcroft said he is "a skeptic" on the notion that a nuclear weapon free world will make us safer, asking the audience if WWI and II felt like peace and security. Scowcroft also expressed fear that nuclear weapons will be of greater security value to cheaters in a world without nuclear weapons, since "we can't dis-invent nuclear weapons." 

Bill Perry on the other hand shared PSR's vision that a world free of nuclear weapons should be the goal, and steps should be taken to get us there. Bill Perry said that "expressing a goal of zero and moving seriously towards it, not only facilitates our nonproliferation goals, but helps us achieve them."    It helps us deal with tough situations like North Korea he said. "Expressing a goal of zero and moving seriously towards it," said Perry is the way to prevent nuclear terrorism, what both former officials agreed is the world's greatest nuclear threat today.


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