10/26/2007 - 07:00

Disarmament, not new nuclear weapons

Last month, I visited Hiroshima, where a Hibakusha (a survivor of the atomic bomb) gave a
heart-wrenching presentation; after that, I spent hours walking through the peace museum and park.
As I walked past the Atomic Dome, a building that still stands to make visible the Bomb's
destruction, I struggled to understand how we could continue to build our nuclear arsenal. Now that
I'm home, the Bomb's destructive force remains beyond my comprehension. It's time we replaced
nuclear security with human security.

In a speech given on September 27, 2007, in Copenhagen, Nuclear Peace Age Foundation President
David Krieger praised an article written by leaders from across the political spectrum who believe
we must move away from nuclear weapons. Before that, the
Wall Street Journal published an article on January 4, 2007, written by four U.S.
bipartisan leaders (former Defense Secretary William Perry, former Sen. Sam Nunn, and former
secretaries of state George Shultz and Henry Kissinger). In "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons," they
persuasively reasoned that while nuclear weapons had an important deterrent effect during the Cold
War, mutual assured destruction is "obsolete" today.

At this time, the United States continues to pursue the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW)
Program. Clearly, the world knows we remain serious about nuclear weaponry as part of our defense
program. And for the sake of their national security, they will have no choice but to follow in our
footsteps. This approach can only lead to nuclear escalation--the antithesis of what needs to
happen.

We need to move beyond nuclear security and replace it with a sophisticated focus on human
security, led by the United States. We must not only stop those who want to attack us, but we must
also create the conditions where state and non-state actors do not have the support, ability, or
will to attack in the first place.

As currently written, the proposed legislation to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace
requires certain agencies such as the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), to fall within
the Peace Department's purview. A Peace Department will enable us to effectively assess our nuclear
arsenal and recommend strategies for how the United States could disarm while maintaining national
security. ACDA must play a key role in either working to convince the Senate to ratify the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or providing the platform to advocate for a multi-track diplomatic
international summit of nuclear weapon states to negotiate a fresh agreement to eliminate nuclear
weapons.

The world community does not want nuclear weapons or war. The cost is too high and the results
could mean the end of humanity. The United States can play a critical role in the disarmament of
nuclear weapons, as well as the amelioration of warfare, if we take the next step of demanding our
government make the right investment. RRW will cost $150 billion; the Peace Department initiative
asks for $8 billion. It's time to establish a Peace Department to provide the human security we
need to create a world that works for everyone.