Sam Nunn at Carnegie Non-Proliferation Conference


The Carnegie Non-Proliferation Conference, a big deal for proliferation wonks, started this morning in Washington, D.C., with a panel entitled, A World Free of Nuclear Weapons. On the panel, former Senator Sam Nunn, now head of the Nuclear Threat Institute, gave a pessimistic view of our future. He posits that we have to be diligent, effective, and lucky in regard to curbing nuclear proliferation. He says that we were lucky during the Cold War, but, in the future, it will be a much more difficult–with the prospect of many new nuclear powers and even more nuclear enrichers and the increased need for nuclear energy that battling climate change will create. Nunn suggests that a multilateral approach is absolutely necessary. Given domestic and international political realities, “there are not many unilateral actions we can take.” However, the U.S. must also take a “unilateral leadership position on a multilateral response.” To Nunn this begins with two immediate actions.

First, ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Second, ask ourselves, why is it necessary, 15 years after the end of the Cold War, for the U.S. and Russia to continue to have thousands of nuclear weapons on a hair trigger? Nunn suggests that we need to look at what we’re doing to make that necessary.

Stay tuned for a report on “The Security Council’s Iran Challenge.” I will be at the Conference and sending back posts today and tomorrow.