International Leaders Urge Presidents Obama & Medvedev to Lead Effort To Eliminate All Nuclear Weapons

March 30, 2009

Leaders Agree That First Meeting of the Two Presidents – Occurring Just Before the G-20 – Is an Historic Opportunity To Set World’s Course to Zero Nuclear Weapons

Global Zero Commission To Launch Soon After G-20 Summit

PARIS, March 30 /PRNewswire/ — With nuclear weapons high on the agenda for the historic first Obama-Medvedev meeting, more than 100 international leaders on the forefront of the Global Zero initiative are urging the U.S. and Russian presidents to work toward dramatic reductions of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and then to lead a longer-term effort to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide. These leaders said that because American and Russian stockpiles account for 96 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, the U.S. and Russia should begin with deep reductions to their arsenals, while beginning a dialogue with the other nuclear weapons states. The group believes that a commitment by nuclear powers to begin serious negotiations for global zero would strengthen the case against any non-nuclear nation which strives to acquire nuclear weapons and would set the stage for the first ever multilateral negotiation on nuclear reductions.

The group is comprised of distinguished American and Russian leaders, including former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel; Ambassador Richard Burt, former U.S. Chief Negotiator in Strategic Arms Reduction Talks; Gen. (Ret.) Jack Sheehan, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command; former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger; former U.S. Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci; former U.S. National Security Advisor, Dr. Anthony Lake; former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Tom Pickering; former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov; former Soviet Union Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh; Col. Gen. (Ret.) Yevgeny Maslin, former Chief of the Main Directorate, Russian Ministry of Defense; Dr. Evgeny Velikhov, President, Kurchatov Institute; and Mr. Igor Yurgens, Chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Development (of which Russian President Medvedev is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees), in addition to leaders from other key countries.

The Obama-Medvedev meeting will occur in London on April 1, just before the kickoff of the G-20 meeting there.

Former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel said this week, “We are urging the two presidents to seize this historic opportunity to confront the most urgent security threat to our world: the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the related risk of nuclear terrorism. The two leaders can move beyond traditional arms control and, in a bold move, set the world on a course toward the total elimination of all nuclear weapons — global zero. This will not happen quickly, easily nor unilaterally. Getting to global zero will require the reduction of all nations’ nuclear arsenals over many years. It is important to begin now, and set the world on a new course.”

Former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said, “A far-reaching joint initiative by Presidents Medvedev and Obama in favor of nuclear weapons non-proliferation and nuclear arms limitations brings the problem to the top of the contemporary international policy agenda. It would set the stage for multiplying efforts in the nuclear disarmament and arms limitations area at the bilateral, regional and global levels, for strengthening the nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime, and for a constructive outcome of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Constructive and long-term cooperation between Russia and the U.S., who possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, is crucial for nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear weapons reductions. However, that process should not be limited to Russian-American efforts. The other nuclear states should contribute to that as well. That kind of interaction predetermines success of international efforts for building up the international security of the 21 Century and moving toward the world free of nuclear weapons.”

Global Zero is a new worldwide, nonpartisan initiative spearheaded by more than 100 international leaders working for a binding, verifiable agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons. The group includes nine former heads of state; eight former foreign ministers from the United States, Russia, Britain and India; three former defense ministers from the United States and Britain; six former national security advisors from the United States, India and Pakistan; and nineteen former top military commanders from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, India and Pakistan. Global Zero is forming an international commission of prominent political and military leaders and policy experts from key countries that will be unveiled in the coming weeks. With a clear, realistic and pragmatic appreciation of the challenges of achieving the goal, this distinguished commission will develop a detailed step-by-step action plan for getting to zero nuclear weapons.

In early March, Sen. Hagel and Amb. Burt met with President Medvedev in Moscow, where eliminating nuclear weapons was discussed. Sen. Hagel and Amb. Burt have given letters to Presidents Obama and Medvedev, co-signed by more than 90 Global Zero leaders, urging bold action toward eliminating nuclear weapons.

Last July, then-candidate Barack Obama said, “It is time to … stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.” This month, President Medvedev declared that his country “… is fully committed to reaching the goal of a world free from these most deadly weapons.”

SOURCE Global Zero

Source: newswire

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