Global Zero

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Following my recent thoughts on nuclear energy expansion and disarmament, I was heartened to run across Global Zero. In December 2008, one hundred global leaders met in Paris and launched an effort to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide. The idea is to phase out the world’s 27,000 or so weapons over the next 25 years (96% of them are in Russia and the United States). It will be easier said than done, of course, and there will be major game theoretic issues to sort out, like how to respond to a violator with a secret cache in a world in which all other countries have eliminated their weapons. Still, I admire the simplicity, clarity and moral resolve of the initiative.

Signatories include the likes of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Yoriko Kawaguchi, Robert McNamara, Desmond Tutu, and Muhammad Yunus; Canada’s Lloyd Axworthy is also among them. Building on this high profile support, events are planned for 2009 culminating in a World Summit in early 2010.

Will this initiative open space for Obama to advance a disarmament agenda, notwithstanding how much else he will have on his plate? In July 2008, he said “as long as nuclear weapons exist we will retain a strong deterrent.” But he also said, intriguingly, “We will make the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons a central element in our nuclear policy.”

If you want to sign the declaration, as I have done, you can do so here.

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