Let’s be clear, the very existence of these weapons aggravates three global nuclear threats – from existing arsenals (accidents, miscalculations, unauthorized use, or willful use), from their proliferation to additional states, and from their acquisition by terrorists.
But now a new global consensus is emerging that these weapons are militarily irrelevant in dealing with emerging threats, impossible to use without violating international humanitarian law, a source of proliferation and terrorist threats, and a waste of money and scientific talent.
We believe that this momentum is absolutely vital to international peace and security, and there are many ways to reinforce it. Achieving global nuclear disarmament will surely require new legal obligations for all states, nuclear and non-nuclear. To be blunt, the rule of law must be brought to disarmament. Commitments in this sensitive field must be made irreversible and subject to strict verification.
One of the most important and overdue developments in this area is the entry into force of the CTBT, which will outlaw all nuclear explosions, regardless of their size, location, or declared purpose.
The CTBT is needed because of the role of nuclear tests in the development and improvement of nuclear weapons. Such tests are also political symbols that have no place in a world determined to eliminate these abhorrent weapons of mass destruction. On an issue as important as this, voluntary promises not to test are simply not enough.
Together, these steps will take us far down the road to a nuclear-weapon-free world – not as an act of faith, but as a prudent investment in the peace and security of all peoples. This would be perhaps the greatest legacy we could leave for future generations.
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