Magazine article Arms Control Today

Statement on the Reduction of Nuclear Arsenals by Gens. Butler and Goodpaster

Magazine article Arms Control Today

Statement on the Reduction of Nuclear Arsenals by Gens. Butler and Goodpaster

Article excerpt

As senior military officers, we have given close attention over many years to the role of nuclear weapons as well as the risks they involve. With the end of the Cold War, these weapons are of sharply reduced utility, and there is much now to be gained by substantially reducing their numbers and lowering their alert status, meanwhile exploring the feasibility of their ultimate complete elimination.

The roles of nuclear weapons for purposes of security have been sharply narrowed in terms of the security of the United States. Now and in the future they basically provide an option to respond in kind to a nuclear threat or nuclear attack by others. In the world environment now foreseen, they are not needed against non-nuclear opponents. Conventional capabilities can provide a sufficient deterrent and defense against conventional forces and in combination with defensive measures, against the threat of chemical or biological weapons. As symbols of prestige and international standing, nuclear weapons are of markedly reduced importance.

At the same time, the dangers inherent in nuclear weapons have continued and in some ways increased. They include the risks of accidents and unauthorized launches-risks which, while small, nevertheless still exist. Seizures or thefts of weapons or weapons materials and threats or actual use by terrorists or domestic rebels, are of additional concern. Moreover, despite the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nuclear weapons could spread to additional nations, with risk of their use in crisis or war. And if they should spread, the risks of accidents and of unauthorized, inadvertent, or deliberate use will spread as well.

We believe the nations that possess these weapons should take the necessary steps to align their nuclear weapons policies and programs to match the diminished role and utility of these weapons, and the continuing risks they involve, joining in reducing their nuclear arsenals step by step to the lowest verifiable levels consistent with stable security, as rapidly as world conditions permit. …

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