A plan to achieve a world without nuclear weapons must be built upon a roadmap or outline of what needs to be accomplished. The principal concerns in moving to zero are that all nuclear weapons are accounted for, that the weapons are verifiably and irreversibly dismantled, that all states have confidence in the system, and that there is an effective way to stop potential cheaters. The roadmap will need a proposed timeframe, but one that is sufficiently flexible to allow for necessary verification and confidence building in the system. The roadmap will thus have to be built on a phased and transparent approach as well as one that is verifiable and irreversible.
President Obama stated during his campaign for the presidency, “A world without nuclear weapons is profoundly in America’s interest and the world’s interest. It is our responsibility to make the commitment, and to do the hard work to make this vision a reality.” (1) He then went further in his Prague speech in April 2009, committing America “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” and setting forth a number of steps to move the world in this direction. (2)
President Obama and others have suggested that the path to a world free of nuclear weapons could be a long one, beyond his own life. This is possible, but it could also happen much more rapidly with strong political will and leadership from the United States. The Roadmap proposed below suggests that the goal could be achieved within a timeframe of 10 to 17 years, that is, between 2019 and 2026. This is a goal that the United States cannot achieve alone, but that cannot be achieved without the United States. President Obama has provided a vision and the political will to begin the process in a serious way. He has made possible what has seemed impossible.
The steps outlined by President Obama form the basis for Phase 1 of a Roadmap to Abolition. The three additional phases can take us to a world without nuclear weapons. If we take the year 2009 as the opening of Phase I, we can outline a world without nuclear weapons in four phases as follows:
Phase 1 (1 to 2 years)
US commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons. (Prague speech) (3)
US and Russia begin bilateral negotiations on the reduction and elimination of their nuclear arsenals. (Joint Statement) (4)
US and Russia complete negotiations on new START agreement, reducing the number of nuclear weapons in their respective arsenals to under 1,000 weapons, deployed and in reserve. The agreement must contain effective measures of verification, including challenge inspections. (In Prague speech, agreed to complete negotiations within 2009, but provided no details on numbers)
US and Russia launch global effort to gain control of all loose nuclear weapons and materials. (Joint Statement)
US host Global Summit on Nuclear Security and other measures to prevent nuclear terrorism. (Prague speech) Initiate negotiations at this Global Summit for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, banning research, development, manufacture, possession, threat or use of nuclear weapons. (5)
Negotiate new global treaty to cut off production of nuclear weapons and weapons-grade materials. (Prague speech)
Seek universal adherence to International Atomic Energy comprehensive safeguards, including the Additional Protocol. (Joint Statement)
Provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with adequate resources to do provide comprehensive safeguards. (Prague speech)
US and Russia convene arms reduction negotiations with the other three nuclear weapons states recognized in the NPT (UK, France and China).
US ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (Prague speech)
Strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (Joint Statement)
Limitations on missile defense installations reinstituted.
Phase 2 (3 to 5 years)
The five NPT recognized nuclear weapons states agree to provide accurate and verifiable accounting of their nuclear arsenals and weapons-grade materials.
US and Russia agree to reduce their nuclear arsenals to under 300 weapons each, deployed and reserve.
UK, France and China agree to freeze production of nuclear materials and weapons and cut their arsenals in half, not to exceed 100 nuclear weapons each.
The four non-NPT nuclear weapons states (Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea) and all nuclear capable states agree to provide accurate and verifiable accounting of their nuclear arsenals and material.
The four non-NPT nuclear weapons states agree to freeze production of nuclear materials and weapons and cut their arsenals to under 25 nuclear weapons each.
The nine nuclear weapons states continue negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention banning the research, development, manufacture, possession, threat or use of nuclear weapons and prepare a draft treaty.
Complete the required ratifications of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty so that it enters into force.
Achieve universal adherence to IAEA comprehensive safeguards.
Complete process for gaining control of all loose nuclear weapons and weapons-grade materials.
Implement strict international controls on all weapons-grade nuclear materials and the technologies to create such materials.
New treaty to cut off production of weapons-grade fissile materials enters into force.
US-Russian agreement to ban intermediate-range missiles extended to become global ban on intermediate-range and long-range missiles.
Phase 3 (3 to 5 years)
Global conference held to complete and sign Nuclear Weapons Convention.
Nuclear Weapons Convention ratified by all nuclear capable states and enters into force.
US and Russia reduce their arsenals to under 100 weapons each, deployed and reserve.
UK, France and China reduce their arsenals to under 25 weapons each.
Non-NPT nuclear weapons states reduce their nuclear weapons to under 10 weapons each.
Phase 4 (3 to 5 years)
The end game: final steps are taken in accord with the Nuclear Weapons Convention to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the planet with sufficient safeguards and punishments for violators to assure that they will not be recreated.
(1) “2008 Presidential Candidate Quotes,” Web site of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation: https://www.wagingpeace.org/menu/resources/surveys/2008_pres_cand/cand_quotes_page.php.
(2) “Speech on Nuclear Issues delivered in Prague,” April 5, 2009, Web site of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation: https://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2009/04/05_obama_prague_speech.php.
(4) All references to “Joint Statement,” refer to “Joint Statement by President Dmitriy Medvedev of the Russian Federation and President Barack Obama of the United States of America,” Web site of The Associated Press, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iVZVQZKurqCWMUl_tMQk8_IatXKAD979LOBG4.
(5) The Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy/International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation created a Model Nuclear weapons Convention in 1997 and updated it in 2007. The Model Nuclear Weapons Convention has been submitted to the United Nations by the Republic of Costa Rica and Malaysia. See the Web site of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy: http://lcnp.org/mnwc/.
David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.