A 53-nation nuclear summit opens today in Seoul, South Korea. On the agenda are efforts to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and to prevent Iran from acquiring them, further reductions in the US and Russian stockpiles, and preventing terrorist group from getting radiological materials.
In a speech at Seoul’s Hankuk University before the summit, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to a world without nuclear weapons:
"American leadership has been essential to progress in a second area — taking concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons. As a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, this is our obligation, and it’s one that I take very seriously. But I believe the United States has a unique responsibility to act — indeed, we have a moral obligation. I say this as President of the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons. I say it as a Commander-in-Chief who knows that our nuclear codes are never far from my side. Most of all, I say it as a father, who wants my two young daughters to grow up in a world where everything they know and love can’t be instantly wiped out."
Both aspects are crucial — preventing additional nations from having nuclear weapons and eliminating them from those who currently have them. It is unrealistic to separate non-proliferation from disarmament, they must progress hand-in-hand.
Duane Shank is Senior Policy Advisor for Sojourners.