Mikhail Gorbachev called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and theratification of the New START treaty at the 11th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates held in Hiroshima, Japan, from November 12-14, 2010. The theme of the summit, “The Legacy of Hiroshima: A World Without Nuclear Weapons,” is one that personally resonates with Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Premier of the Soviet Union. Mr. Gorbachev spoke spoke to the assembled Nobel Prize winners and challenged them to call for the world-wide abolition of nuclear weapons in the most stringent terms. He argued that Nobel Laureates have a moral responsibility to condemn nuclear weapons and that their abolition would bring closer the safer, more just world that they all seek.
Mr. Gorbachev lamented that the disarmament process has largely stagnated in the years after the end of the Cold War, but that the danger posed by the almost 20,000 existing nuclear weapons has not. He is encouraged that both current Russian and American presidents are determined to re-energize the disarmament process. However, President Gorbachev expressed worry that New START, the nuclear weapons reduction treaty signed by both presidents, is in danger of not being realized:
“If the nuclear weapons lobby succeeds in derailing ratification, it will deal a heavy blow to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, whose obligations, as we have constantly insisted, are mutual and concern both non-nuclear states, which pledge to renounce nuclear weapons, and the nuclear weapon powers, which commit themselves to nuclear disarmament.”
Mr. Gorbachev insisted that morals and politics do not need to be mutually exclusive and hoped that practical steps can be taken to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the short term, and eventually, to zero.
Dr. Paul Walker, director of the Global Green USA Security and Sustainability Program in Washington, D.C., supported Mr. Gorbachev’s remarks: “The strong and international nuclear abolition statement of the Nobel Peace Laureates, chaired by President Gorbachev, this past week in Hiroshima is most welcome. From his commitment at the at the US-Soviet meeting in Reykjavik in 1986, just 24 years ago, to the present, Green Cross Founder Mikhail Gorbachev has been steadfast in his determination to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. This is most timely with ratification of the New START agreement by the U.S. Senate and Russian Duma hanging in the balance.