Disarmament group to call for nuclear club talks

AP, Washington

Mon, Oct 10, 2011 - Page 5

Former US secretary of state George Shultz said on Saturday he thinks the world has a second shot at global nuclear disarmament, 25 years after he stood by at a summit where the US and the former Soviet Union came close to an agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Shultz is one of about 100 prominent political, military and civic leaders who plan to call on the world’s nuclear armed states to start negotiations leading to total disarmament over the next two decades.

The latest call for disarmament is expected at an event starting tomorrow to mark the 25th anniversary of the historic 1986 summit between former US president Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland.

“I think that the objective of getting control of nuclear weapons is really important and I think that it’s important to keep the momentum going,” Shultz said on Saturday in a telephone interview from his home in San Francisco.

He said skeptics who say that global disarmament is impossible “are wrong.”

Officials with the arms control group Global Zero, which has organized the effort, said that talks probably wouldn’t begin until after presidential elections next year in Russia, France and the US.

The US and Russia earlier this year implemented the landmark New START Treaty, capping their strategic nuclear arsenals at their lowest levels since the early 1960s. However, arms control advocates hoping for quick progress toward deeper US-Russia cuts and a nuclear-free world say they are disappointed.

The administration of US President Barack Obama has said progress is being made on arms control along several fronts.

“Even as the US and Russia move to reduce our nuclear arsenals, we are pursuing a balanced approach to multilateral arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation,” said Jamie Mannina, a US Department of State spokesman.

However, Global Zero’s organizers said movement toward disarmament has slowed in recent months.

“The progress and the momentum have really stalled since the New START Treaty was ratified,” said Matthew Brown, co--coordinator of Global Zero. “We’re not seeing the urgency from heads of government that we need to move this issue forward.”

Global Zero has called for Washington and Moscow to agree to cuts leaving each with just 1,000 warheads, to be followed by the multilateral disarmament talks. The plan calls for cuts in stages, leading up to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons in 2030.