News Release

UN and Disarmament: Will Obama Get Real?

On Thursday, President Obama is chairing the United Nations Security Council meeting on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

New York director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Slater said: “On nuclear proliferation, Obama singles out North Korea and Iran, but he doesn’t acknowledge that under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the U.S. is not just to move toward disarmament, but to actually disarm. The U.S. has been the only country in the world to vote against negotiating for a treaty banning weapons in space; hopefully this will be changing with the Obama administration. This issue is significant because some, like Henry Kissinger and former Sen. Sam Nunn, are proposing that the U.S. abandon its nuclear weapons arsenal — only to achieve global military dominance through space weaponry and other means.”

Communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini said today: “The General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency last week passed a resolution urging Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as her neighbors all have. But Obama has refused to even acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons. He was asked about this at his first presidential news conference by Helen Thomas — if he knew of any country in the Mideast that had nuclear weapons, an obvious reference to Israel. Obama responded that he didn’t want to ‘speculate.’ This is not credible. Obama can do the causes of Mideast peace and of disarmament — as well as his own credibility — a service by acknowledging Israel’s nuclear weapons capacity at the meeting Thursday.”

Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, has been meeting with UN missions of Security Council members and has reviewed drafts of the resolution to be put forward Thursday. The group just released a statement: “Security Council Summit on Nuclear Weapons: What the Resolution Does Say and Does Not Say.”

Cabasso is executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, which monitors nuclear weapons policy. She said today: “The draft resolution on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament submitted by the United States to the [Thursday] UN Security Council Summit chaired by President Obama, like last week’s announcement that the White House has canceled plans to deploy a long-range missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, appears to signal a welcome change of course in U.S. nuclear weapons and foreign policy. However, both cases merit a closer look at the reality behind the rhetoric. While the scrapping of the missile defense project was a positive development, reflecting the will of the majority of Czech and Polish people, it was accompanied by the unveiling of a very troubling replacement plan for strengthening missile defenses in Europe using ‘proven’ land and sea-based technologies. These theater missile defenses — part of the U.S. ‘strategic triad’ of nuclear and conventional offensive weapons, missile defenses, and research and development capabilities — are intended to work in conjunction with the offensive weapons systems, like swords and shields, to protect U.S. troops and bases and other ‘strategic assets’ around the world.

“Turning to the Security Council Resolution, while it recycles a list of disarmament measures previously agreed to by the nuclear weapon states — notably the 40-year-old commitment in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ‘to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear arms reduction and disarmament’ — there is not one new or concrete disarmament measure called for. On the other hand, the nuclear non-proliferation and anti-terrorism clauses are far-ranging and specific, invoking the Security Council’s authority. Given that the five permanent members of the Security Council also happen to be the nuclear weapon states parties to the NPT, it looks to me like they are perpetuating their business as usual nuclear double standard. In the long run, this does not bode well for the nuclear non-proliferation regime. I want to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, but if he’s serious about leading the way to a world without nuclear weapons, as he pledged in his now-famous April 5 speech in Prague, he’s going to have to get real.”

The recipient of the International Peace Bureau’s 2008 Sean McBride Peace Award, Cabasso is co-author of “Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security: U.S. Weapons of Terror, the Global Proliferation Crisis and Paths to Peace” and author of the briefing paper [PDF] “Rhetoric vs. Reality: Elite Disarmament Proposals and Real Disarmament Prospects” (May 2009).

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167