Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Time for Control

By Taina Susiluoto | Go to book overview

STATEMENT BY FORMER PRESIDENT MIKHAIL GORBACHEV 1

Dear friends,

I am sorry I could not join you today for this important gathering to discuss the 10th anniversary of the reciprocal unilateral commitments announced by former President George Bush and myself in October 1991. Together these commitments amount to one of the deepest and most comprehensive programmes of nuclear weapons reduction the world has ever seen. I congratulate the organizers of this important event and welcome the delegates, including representatives of many nations.

You are meeting soon after the horrific tragedy of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States. My first reaction to it was to send a cable to President Bush, expressing my profound condolences and feelings of solidarity with the American people. The terrible crime was committed not only against America but against all humankind, which is now facing an unprecedented challenge. It is only by common efforts that we will be able to find a response to it.

We need a thoughtful analysis of problems like the root causes of violence, fanaticism and terrorism, and a strategy for dealing with them. This strategy must be responsible, wise and effective.

The tragedy of September 11 was a heart-breaking reminder of the fragility of life and civilisation. Like Chernobyl, it should make us think hard about the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction.

The detonation of just one nuclear warhead equals the impact of 100 Chernobyl explosions. During this time of crisis and uncertainty, we must

____________________
1
Letter from President Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the Soviet Union, to the participants to the UNIDIR workshop “Time to Control Tactical Nuclear Weapons”, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA, on 24 September 2001, to mark the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the issuing of the 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives.

-ix-

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