"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Let the Talks Begin - No Fooling


This is a historic day; President Obama and Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev met, talked and agreed to move forward on negotiations aimed at reducing the numbers of both nations' nuclear weapons. NO JOKE! You can read the Joint Statement (below) posted today at The White House Website. And NO, President Obama didn't claim to be able to see into Medvedev's soul (unlike his predecessor, who claimed to see into Vladimir Putin's soul; I'm sorry, but that was just way too creepy).

Soul searching aside, they did find common ground. And though this is just a beginning, today's meeting and Joint Statement is a major step in reversing the return-to-the-Cold-War relationship that the previous administration brewed up by abrogating treaties, stirring up ex-soviet bloc nations, and vigorously pursuing European missile defense (and that's just a partial list). Can't you already feel the tension easing? Of course, the European missile defense piece will likey be a key item on the agenda as the U.S. and Russia go forward in these negotiations. And sooner or later (whether in these or future negotiations) the subject of weapons in space will have to come up.

Today's joint statement is a significant milestone, and an extremely hopeful sign that the two leaders will take their leadership roles regarding nuclear weapons seriously enough to assign the highest level negotiators, and take a personal role. It will be up to us to keep the pressure on these leaders to negotiate a treaty that will be truly binding and will demonstrate to the rest of the world our nations' pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons.

If you are not already engaged with this issue, please consider it. We need every one's voice raised in the pursuit of a nuclear weapons-free world. Morally, it has always been the right thing. And now, with the world economy in a downward spiral, it is even more critical that we stop throwing money down the drain in preparation for the ultimate genocide, or what some have referred to as omnicide. We simply can't afford it.

Be sure to get involved with at least one of the organizations listed in the Hot Links section of my blog; from Abolition 2000 to Zero Nukes, there is sure to be an organization for you! At many of them you can sign up to receive action alerts and stay engaged in a positive way to build a nuclear weapons-free world. Check them out today!

Towards a nuclear weapons-free world (and Peace),

Joint Statement by
Dmitriy A. Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, and
Barack Obama, President of the United States of America,
Regarding Negotiations on Further Reductions in Strategic Offensive Arms

The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, and the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitriy A. Medvedev, noted that the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START Treaty), which expires in December 2009, has completely fulfilled its intended purpose and that the maximum levels for strategic offensive arms recorded in the Treaty were reached long ago. They have therefore decided to move further along the path of reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms in accordance with U.S. and Russian obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The Presidents decided to begin bilateral intergovernmental negotiations to work out a new, comprehensive, legally binding agreement on reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms to replace the START Treaty. The United States and the Russian Federation intend to conclude this agreement before the Treaty expires in December. In this connection, they instructed their delegations at the negotiations to proceed on basis of the following:

- The subject of the new agreement will be the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms;

- In the future agreement the Parties will seek to record levels of reductions in strategic offensive arms that will be lower than those in the 2002 Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions, which is currently in effect;

- The new agreement will mutually enhance the security of the Parties and predictability and stability in strategic offensive forces, and will include effective verification measures drawn from the experience of the Parties in implementing the START Treaty.

They directed their negotiators to report on progress achieved in working out the new agreement by July 2009.

Photo Credit: Presidents Obama and Medvedev on April 1, 2009, by AFP/Saul Loeb

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