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Moscow Summit: Reestablishing U.S. Leadership on Nuclear Nonproliferation

Posted by Jill Marie Parillo on July 6, 2009

Nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear terrorism pose a grave threat to the United States and the world. At the Moscow Summit today Russian President Medvedev and President Barack Obama committed to a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I (START) to be concluded by December, 2009. This new treaty will reduce U.S and Russian nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles, and will require verification of these reductions.

From the 1,700 strategic warheads on high alert delivery vehicles that each nation has, this treaty will cut approximately 200. While the cut in nuclear warheads is not huge this agreement re-establishes U.S. leadership and engagement on nuclear nonproliferation policy. It also sets the stage for deeper cuts in U.S.- Russian arsenals (totaling 95% of nuclear weapons worldwide) in the coming year. As Secretary of State Clinton told Congress in January, once we agree to a START follow-on treaty, the United States "will seek deep, verifiable reductions in all U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons—whether deployed or nondeployed, strategic or nonstrategic." 

Bi-partisan statesmen, including President Obama, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Arizona Senator John McCain have expressed support for the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. Today's summit announcement is a step towards realizing that vision.

Last year, six nuclear armed cruise missiles were unintentionally flown across the United States and a U.S nuclear submarine collided with a British nuclear submarine in the Atlantic Ocean. "When it comes to our national security and public health, maintaining huge nuclear arsenals is a liability, not an asset. It is of the utmost urgency that we get to substantially lower numbers of nuclear weapons throughout the world," noted Dr. Peter Wilk, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "Whether by accident or intention, the detonation of a nuclear weapon by anyone, anywhere in the world, would have a catastrophic impact on all our lives."

Physicians for Social Responsibility strongly urges Congress to support this new treaty when it comes up for ratification in the fall.


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