In just one month (on May 3rd) the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will convene. Over a grueling 28 days representatives of nations that are parties to the NPT will try to strengthen the NPT and come to agreement on language to clarify and tighten up the treaty's rather loose provisions (such as having no time frames or deadlines for disarmament).
With the Cold War a distant memory and potential new cold wars and proliferation looming it is absolutely critical that this NPT Review Conference not end with the lackluster results of previous conferences. However, there is a momentum building towards this year's meeting.
In just one year since President Obama gave his now famous Prague speech (April 5, 2009) endorsing disarmament - "I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." - his administration has negotiated a new arms treaty with Russia, and is preparing to return to Prague later this week to sign the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
The new START Treaty is not what many of us were hoping for (Hey, we're idealists!) but it is a beginning, and a show of good faith between the U.S. and Russia. As Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists puts it, "the New START Treaty is not so much a nuclear reductions treaty as it is a verification and confidence building treaty."
After the President signs the START Treaty on April 8, it must be approved (ratified) by both the U.S. Senate and Russian Duma. I don't know about the Duma, but I do know that it will require at least 67 senators to approve this treaty. The Senate will need to consider the treaty and begin debate immediately, and ratify the treaty before the NPT Review Conference begins on May 3, 2010! Now is the time for the people to speak for ratification.
Please urge your senators to ratify the new START Treaty. It would be tragic to undo the months of hard work done by the U.S. and Russian negotiators on a treaty of vital importance to the continuing focus (and progress) on disarmament. Click here to send a message (courtesy of Women's Action for New Directions) to your senator. Then tell your family and friends to do the same. Tell them their grandchildren will thank them someday.
Onward to New York and disarmament!
Read an analysis of the START Treaty at the Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security Blog
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