When we asked Leonard Schlichting to design a cover illustrating “nuclear spring,” he wanted to add a question mark. The stories didn’t sound like “spring” to him. But it’s all relative. Compared to the last 15 years, this spring has seen considerable progress toward disarmament.
Actually, it began in September of 2009 in Prague, where Obama outlined his goals: eventual abolition, starting with reductions in the role of nuclear weapons and the size of the US arsenal. He promised a new START treaty with Russia; ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; a fissile material cutoff treaty; strengthening of the NPT (with greater authority to monitor compliance and impose consequences for violations or leaving the treaty); and an international fuel bank for peaceful access to nuclear power (a condition promised by the NPT itself). Obama promised a new effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material in the world within four years.
And he has been keeping many of these pledges. Last September he chaired a meeting of the Security Council, which adopted a resolution to abolish weapons (but not today!).A US nuclear policy review expressed the intention of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in American strategies. This spring the START treaty was signed; Obama held a conference for 47 nations to work on “locking down” nuclear material; and the NPT review conference agreed to confer about promoting a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. (Any NWFZ would preclude nukes in Israel, Iran, and beyond.) This is not yet a nuclear summer, but it is springtime!
This issue of the magazine is more “meaty” than usual, reflecting the many ongoing events and issues. Besides our interview with Pugwash’s leader, Jayantha Dhanapala, we have René Wadlow’s account of the NPT Review Conference and a piece by Rajan Phillips on Iran’s nuclear wheeling-and-dealing. Alan Whitehorn tells us about the stages of genocide (it takes time to perpetrate one). Steacy Henry speculates on the impact of the G8/G20 meetings. Joan Montgomerie and Alon Ben-Meir offer suggestions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate. And there are fully four book reviews. (If book publishers are in trouble, you can’t tell that from their fine new peace lists.)