The threat posed by the spread of nuclear materials and technologies remains.
The United States continues to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. President Barack Obama laid out his vision for achieving this goal four years ago in Prague, and reaffirmed this goal this year in Berlin.
Today, the likelihood of a large-scale nuclear exchange has diminished through decades of cooperative disarmament work between Moscow and Washington. Nevertheless, said Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, nuclear dangers have not disappeared. Indeed, the threat posed by the spread of nuclear materials and technologies remains. The possibility that terrorists or other non-state actors could acquire a nuclear weapon means that the nuclear “Sword of Damocles” still hangs over the world.
“While our nuclear arsenals, have little direct relevance in deterring these threats,” said Ms. Gottemoeller, “concerted action by the United States and Russia, and indeed from nuclear states, to reduce their weapon stockpile and fissile material will strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime. A strong nonproliferation regime makes nuclear theft, unauthorized use and proliferation harder.”
The road to a world without nuclear weapons will be long and achieving success will require a step by step process in which nuclear stability is maintained while responsible reductions are pursued. This includes measures such as the New START Treaty signed in 2010. “Implementation is going smoothly behind the scenes,” said Ms. Gottemoeller, “providing for mutual predictability and stability on the nuclear front.”
Another accomplishment is the work that Russia and the United States have done to eliminate fissile material from warheads.
Over the past 20 years, the two countries have worked to together to eliminate the highly enriched uranium from approximately 20,000 warheads.
But that is not enough. The United States and Russia still possess over 90 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world. In Berlin, President Obama announced the next steps in the Prague Agenda in order to achieve additional nuclear reductions.
When New START is fully implemented in 2018, the U.S. and Russia will be at the lowest levels of deployed strategic nuclear warheads since the 1950s. While that is quite a feat, there is more to do, said Under Secretary Gottemoeller. The future safety and security of the world depends on it.