Friday, 29 February 2008

A very distinguished group of Peers and MPs, and a few lucky onlookers, had an opportunity yesterday to hear George Shultz (US Secretary of State under President Reagan) and Senator Sam Nunn (Democrat Senator from Georgia 1972-96, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee - His legislative achievements have included the important Department of Defense Reorganization Act 1986, (where he was a key player in the Senate's adoption of this legislation often referred to as the Goldwater-Nichols Act) , and the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which provides assistance to Russia and the former Soviet republics for securing and destroying their excess nuclear, biological and chemical weapons) address the issue of moving "Towards a Nuclear-Free World"

The point was made that " The accelerating spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how and nuclear material has brought us to a nuclear tipping point. We face a very real possibility that the deadliest weapons ever invented could fall into dangerous hands.

The steps we are taking now to address these threats are not adequate to the danger. With nuclear weapons more widely available, deterrence is decreasingly effective and increasingly hazardous

Senator Nunn set out eight necessary steps, which he stressed were not necessarly sequential

1 Increase the warning time needed before a nuclear strike could be ordered (he pointed out that currently the Russian President has only 5 minutes to react if advised of reports of an 'attack' reach him)

2 Ensure that the numbers of nuclear weapons are diminished over time

3 Missile Defence - must be coordinated with Russia

4 There needs to be transparency about the holding of tactical nuclear weapons, with moves towards their ultimate elimination

5 The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty must be ratified

6 There must be multi-lateral work done on the use of nuclear energy - focusing on the control of enriched material

7 Regional issues which fuel conflicts and mutual suspicion must be dealt with

8 There must be verification - and also enforcement.

Further information can be found on the website of the Nuclear Threat Initiative http://www.nti.org/