50 years after Cuban missile crisis: 5 ways US must promote nuclear nonproliferation

Fifty years after the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust, the threats posed by the bomb still hang over us all. The next US president must pursue a nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament “stimulus plan.” It should include the following elements.

5. Secure nuclear material

Today, dozens of countries possess nuclear material that must be safeguarded from terrorists. Pakistan’s nuclear assets are especially vulnerable. Recent nuclear security summits have prompted significant action, but nuclear states must maintain and improve their performance.

Consistent funding and US leadership on a long-term, global framework for action are critical. New efforts to end the production of fissile material, particularly by India and Pakistan, are also essential. To help achieve a global cut-off treaty, the five original nuclear powers (China, France, Russia, Britain, and the US) could formalize their de facto production-halt and engage Islamabad and New Delhi in direct talks to curtail their fissile production.

As President Kennedy once suggested, we must work faster and harder to abolish nuclear weapons, before they abolish us. In the months ahead, US policy makers must overcome petty partisan politics to help address today’s grave nuclear challenges. 

Daryl G. Kimball is executive director of the independent Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C. An earlier version of this piece appears in the October 2012 issue of the association’s journal Arms Control Today.

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Dear Reader,

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