By Li Hong, People's Daily Online
Presidents Obama and Medvedev, both fresh and on good terms to leave behind the "suspicion and rivalry of the past", have committed to a year-end pact to reduce their strategic nuclear warheads by about one third, which, if promptly written on paper, will mark a new watershed in global disarmament. And, the deal could help bring the relations between the two powers back to normal from a time of "drift".
Obama has hailed the new arms agreement between the two countries as an example for the world as he pursued a broader agenda aimed at countering, and eventually eliminating, the spread of nuclear weapons, a goal he hopes to make a defining legacy of his presidency. For sure, the United States and Russia could take a lead in this sphere, since the United States and Russia together have 95 percent.
In less than six months, the 1991 START I treaty will expire. Now, negotiators from both countries are instructed to finish the wording of the deal on time, extending the streak of nuclear arms reduction initiated by former US President George Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The corresponding rules of verification would give the two the confidence that less nuclear bombs are in their stores, safer the two countries and the world will be.
At a time when some countries are making clandestine efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, the renewed momentum by the United States and Russia to slash the killing arsenal gives weight to the rationale that nuclear arms, if not controlled, will sink the planet. It is hoped that the world community, to be led by the United Nations Security Council, shall work towards the ultimate goal – elimination of all nuclear weaponry on earth for the good of the mankind.
Now the two major nuclear powers placing less value on A-bombs may help persuade the aspiring states to give up.
The new limit for keeping strategic nuclear warheads is said to be in a range of 1,500 to 1,675 for each country. By then, the danger of nuclear war will have been lowered but not eliminated. According to incomplete statistics, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States and Russia together still have more than 20,000 so-called strategic and tactical nuclear weapons in their stockpiles.
During the 2008 campaign, Obama promised to deal with one of the world's great scourges, thousands of nuclear weapons still in the American and Russian stockpiles. Now we are elated to see that he made good on his promise, and the whole world is looking forward to even deeper cuts in the pursuit of an eventual nuclear-free world. Yes, we are obliged to deliver a peaceful future for our children.
The world's major powers need to seriously reconsider their nuclear deterrence policy. Mutual destruction by using N-tombs is against the lord. For the first step, all the nuclear countries in the world should denounce first-use of the bomb. And, they should state clearly they won't test or acquire new such weapons, and keep as few as possible and as safely as possible to prevent theft.
In the meantime, the world community must work unwaveringly towards non-proliferation. Heavy penalties including economic sanctions must be utilized to stop more countries from owning the bombs.
The disclosure how close our planet came to nuclear catastrophe during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis is a reminder to all of us. Human miscalculation and misjudgment could once again lead us to D-day.
The article represents the author's view only. It does not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.