Letter to the Editor.
At last, a President of the United States of America has committed himself to “a world without nuclear weapons.” In a speech in Prague on the 5th of April 2009, Barack Obama openly acknowledged that as the only country in the world that has used nuclear weapons, the US “has a moral responsibility to act.”
President Obama has called for concrete steps to be taken in the quest for a nuclear weapons free world. These include reducing the role of nuclear weapons in US nuclear security strategy and persuading other nuclear weapons states to do the same; reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the US arsenal; working for US ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; seeking a new treaty to end production of fissile materials for weapons; strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty; and hosting a Global Summit on Nuclear Security within the year.
Even before the proposed Global Summit, Obama should perhaps convene a meeting of the eight nuclear weapons states — the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, India and Pakistan— and obtain their endorsement of a nuclear weapons free world and the type of measures that should be adopted immediately in the quest for this goal.
Equally important, American public opinion should be mobilized to ensure that the US President has a solid mandate from his people as he seeks to translate vision into reality. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in the US, one of the most consistent and principled voices against nuclear weapons, has already begun to urge the American people to stand with their President.
The rest of the world should also persuade their governments to champion the cause of a nuclear weapons free world. A number of middle level states in the Global South and the Global North have spoken out against nuclear weapons for a long while. Malaysia is one of them. In the light of Obama’s unambiguous commitment to a nuclear weapons free world, Malaysia should get its ASEAN partners to re-dedicate themselves to the same goal. It would add moral weight to one of the noblest struggles for peace today.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
10 April 2009.