News Release

Nonproliferation Realities: * McNamara * Ellsberg


With the review conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) continuing at the United Nations, commentators available for interviews include:

Former Secretary of Defense McNamara said today: “The NPT was signed by a president. It was submitted to the Senate; it was ratified by the Senate. It is today the law of the land. The U.S. government is not adhering to Article VI of the NPT and we show no signs of planning to adhere to its requirements to move forward with the elimination — not reduction, but elimination — of nuclear weapons. That was the agreement, these other countries would not develop nuclear weapons and the nuclear powers would move to elimination. We are violating that.” McNamara wrote the article “Apocalypse Soon” in the current edition of Foreign Policy.
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Currently in New York City participating in events related to the NPT talks, Ellsberg is author of the book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. He said today: “No one has ever characterized current U.S. nuclear policy so well, succinctly, as Robert McNamara in the current issue of Foreign Policy: ‘Immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous.’ That description has been valid for half a century. And not in one year since the NPT went into effect 35 years ago has any American administration acted effectively to escape those characteristics, nor ever honestly intended even to attempt to fulfill the Article VI ‘commitment’ in that treaty to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.”

Ellsberg added: “No nuclear weapons state could now, or ever, persuasively justify in public possessing even as many nuclear warheads as Israel has — some 200 in 1986, perhaps 400 now — let alone the 2,000 the U.S. still deploys, inexcusably, on hair-trigger alert, still less the 4,000 to 8,000 additional weapons in our stockpile. The same applies to Russia, which maintains comparable numbers on alert and in its arsenal and, like the U.S., refuses to commit itself not to initiate nuclear war at its own discretion. De-alerting, commitment to no-first-use, a ratified comprehensive test ban, and cut-off of production of weapons-usable materials are rightly defined by a vast majority of nations in the world as legal obligations pursuant to Article VI of the NPT and as measures urgently owed by all nuclear weapons states to the survival of civilization. Along with these, immediate massive reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles are in order, far below the START II and SORT targets which project indefinitely numbers far above the thousand warheads that each deployed when the treaty was signed in 1968.

“But even huge reductions are not a substitute for the Article VI goal of elimination of nuclear weapons. The measures above must be implemented soon as concrete steps on a definite timetable toward the global, verified nuclear abolition. For at least 40 years it has been clear to thoughtful scientists and officials that in the long run nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation were inextricably linked. That long run will shortly be behind us. It will soon be all or none. Either ALL nations — in particular our own — forego the right to possess and threaten the use of nuclear weapons or EVERY nation will claim that right, and many more nations will act on it, sharply increasing the chance of regional nuclear wars and leakage of nuclear materials and weapons to terrorist groups.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167