Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on Nuclear arms

In an Aljazeera column, Mikhail Gorbachev went over what he felt were necessary steps toward the goal of nuclear disarmament.

“Barring pre-emptive war (which has proven counterproductive) or effective sanctions (which have thus far proven insufficient),” he wrote, “Only sincere steps toward nuclear disarmament can furnish the mutual security needed to forge tough compromises on arms control and non-proliferation matters.”

In other words, nuclear disarmament needs to be a mutual agreement, and a mutual understanding.

“What seem to be lacking today are leaders with the boldness and vision to build the trust needed to reintroduce nuclear disarmament as the centerpiece of a peaceful global order.”

A centerpiece of nuclear disarmament is the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which has been signed by almost every country in the UN, but not yet ratified by China, Iran, Israel and the U.S. (India, Pakistan and North Korea haven’t signed). Barack Obama has spoken repeatedly on the importance of this treaty, but has been reluctant to go through with putting it in place. It’s expected that if he does, countries like Iran and North Korea will likely follow.

Another argument he held is that the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl encouraged more action on the issue in his time, as Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi should today.

But this is all fairly idealistic. Nuclear disarmament would likely take decades, with multiple levels of interconnected treaties and agreements between countries with deeply-rooted rivalries and, in some cases, hatred (Pakistan/India, Iran/Israel, U.S./China, U.S./North Korea). More importantly than all that is the need for trust: Trust that each country will hold to an agreement, trust in the UN by countries on the Eastern Hemisphere, and trust that the agreement is mutually beneficial.

 

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