02 May 2015

Iran is standing down—will the U.S. and Russia?

Iran has recently agreed, after intense negotiations, to take steps to ensure it cannot produce a nuclear weapon. It claimed it had no intention of doing so anyway, but has now bowed to bullying by the nuclear powers for assurances in black and white. Iran is in effect guaranteeing that it will abide by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to which it is a signatory, which precludes non-nuclear nations from obtaining the bomb.

Now the question arises—after pressuring Iran into offering guarantees, will the United States and Russia offer some themselves. Both nations are also signatories of the treaty, and as nuclear nations are obligated to disarm themselves of nuclear weapons, something neither of them are doing. Now an organization named Global Zero is calling on them to put their money where their mouths are. Its high-level commission of military experts—led by former U.S. commander of nuclear forces General James Cartwright—is urgently requesting both countries to stand down their nuclear weapons.

As I write this blog, hundreds of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons are poised to launch at a moment’s notice. Only a short series of computer signals stands between us and nuclear Armageddon. Global Zero is calling on the two nations to immediately end their “launch-on-warning” policies, which could unleash hundreds of nuclear missiles in response to a false alarm. Secondly, they want them to agree to taking their massive arsenals off high alert. Thirdly, they recommend locking in international commitments that would prevent all nuclear weapons from being placed on hair-trigger alert anywhere, thus stopping the trend from spreading to other nuclear countries.

Global Zero is a "non-partisan international community of influential political, military, business, civic and faith leaders—matched by a powerful global grass-roots movement" with the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons by 2030. You can support the movement here. (It's an interesting site.)

The response of the U.S. and Russia to their challenge will indicate whether or not the nuclear powers truly want a nuclear-free world or just want to keep nukes to themselves. We shall see.


  1. As much as I agree that the US/Russia should move far back from their current nuclear positioning, saying Iran is "standing down" isn't really true. They literally just seized a cargo ship and are fighting a proxy war in Yemen with Saudi Arabia, not to mention massive influence from gaza to lebanon to syria. They are stirring the pot across the middle east and south asia, and even the nuclear deal isn't a sure thing and there are questions about its teeth (particularly after 13 years).

  2. My standing down referred strictly to nukes. Iran will continue to pursue its other interests as will the U.S. As to which is the biggest pot-stirrer in the Middle East ... well, you could get a good argument it ain't Iran.