This article was originally published in Italian by Corriere della Serra

Dear Editor, an article published in the Wall Street Journal entitled “A
world without nuclear weapons”, signed by George Schultz and Henry
Kissinger, former Secretaries of State under Republican Presidents
Reagan and Nixon, and by Bill Perry and Sam Nunn, the former Defence
Secretary under President Clinton and the Democratic chairman of the
Senate Defence Committee, in January 2007 opened up an extremely
important debate for the future of humanity. In that article, the four
American statesmen proposed the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
Their argument, taken up again in a second article in January 2008, is
that, unless the nuclear-weapon States – and there are now 8 of them –
and especially the two main ones, United States and Russia, take the
lead   in launching a process aimed at their total elimination, it will
become increasingly difficult to prevent other countries from acquiring
them, with the risk that sooner or later these weapons may be used, and
that would have catastrophic consequences for the world.

The importance of their article lies in the fact that, for the first
time, the issue of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons was being
addressed, in the United States, by politicians who represent the
mainstream of American stategic policy, from both parties, stressing the
fact that this is an objective to be pursued in the interests of both
the nation and the world. Several very important statements followed
their Op-ed. The two US presidential candidates have substantially
agreed with this aim, as have the majority of those who, in the past,
held positions of major responsibility in the USA in this field. In
Russia, there was a positive reaction by Gorbachev and a more cautious,
but not negative, reaction by the Government. In Britain, Gordon Brown
spoke out favourably; the Defence Minister proposed hosting experts from
United States, Russia, England, France and China in the English nuclear
labs, in order to establish the methodologies of verification for the
elimination of nuclear weapons; recently, the Times carried an article
by another bipartisan quartet, including three former Foreign Ministers
and a former Secretary General of Nato, expressing agreement.  In
France, the Defence White Paper indicates that the objective to be
pursued is the elimination of nuclear weapons. In Australia, the
Government has established a new international Commission of Experts,
whose task is to chart the road towards the elimination of all nuclear
weapons. There have been innumerable positive reactions among
non-governmental groups.

We think it is important that Italy, too, should give indications that
go in that same direction. Our joint signatures, like those on the
Op-eds in other countries, are evidence of the fact that in both main
political camps, and in the scientific community, there is a shared
common opinion on the importance of this issue and this aim. We wish to
suggest the main steps along this road. The first is the entry into
force of the Treaty banning all forms of nuclear testing, including
underground tests, thus enshrining into a treaty the current moratorium.
The second is to set in motion the stalled negotiations, within the
Disarmament Conference in Geneva, on the FMCT, which prohibits the
production of highly enriched uranium and of plutonium with the isotope
composition necessary for the production of nuclear weapons. Here, too,
there is a de facto moratorium, but without any formal agreement and
without verification measures. The entry into force of these two
Treaties would be appreciated by non-nuclear-weapon States and would
prepare a more favourable ground for the periodical Conference of the
Non-Proliferation Treaty planned for 2010, strengthening the world’s
non-proliferation regime, including the monitoring of the actual
observance of the commitments – in both letter and spirit – envisaged by
the NPT.

We are fully aware that the road that will lead us to the elimination of
nuclear weapons is long. It will call for certain political conditions.
The first is an actual improvement in the relations between the nuclear
superpowers, United States and Russia, who still maintain – despite
recent reductions – over nine tenths of all nuclear weapons in the
world. This would help the other nuclear weapon States recognized by the
NPT – Britain, France and China – to do their part. It is also
necessary to reduce the tensions in those parts of the world where the
risk of nuclear weapons actually being used is highest, perhaps even by
terrorist groups. We refer here to South-east Asia (India and Pakistan)
and to the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab problem in the Middle East. In both
these contexts, moves by the nuclear weapons States indicating that they
are progressing towards a nuclear weapons free world would undoubtedly
have a positive effect. Italy and Europe can and must do what they can
to promote the path towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons. It
is clear that this final result will be achieved only with the
commitment of the major protagonists, United States and Russia, and of
the other nuclear weapon States. But the spread of a new way of thinking
– of a new “shared wisdom” – is a fundamental step along this path, and
Italy too must contribute. It is necessary that on these fundamental
issues for the very survival of humanity, despite our legitimate –
indeed necessary – political differences, we join together in
recognizing a superior, common interest.