Good to hear President Obama last night, in his State of the Union speech in Congress, advocate further reductions in nuclear weapons. Critics pointed to the new North Korean underground test – which preceded the speech by less than a day – and the need for a strong nuclear deterrent. But it's good to see the President and his arms control negotiators clearly recognize that thousands of Cold War nuclear weapons serve very little purpose today for national defense. The New START agreement with Russia, ratified by the U.S. Senate in December 2010, reduces deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550, but there are still thousands of additional warheads in reserve and storage. It will be a major step forward for global security and sustainability, not to mention military spending, when both the U.S. and Russia commit to further reductions towards Obama's goal stated in his famous 2009 Prague speech for "the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons."
Combined with U.S. Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and a new initiative to lock down fissile material globally, including a Fissile Material Control Treaty (FMCT), such arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation efforts by the U.S. will indeed begin to delegitimize nuclear arsenals as global symbols of power and prestige. Perhaps the other seven nuclear powers, as well as Iran, may even learn a lesson or two here.