Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has said he hopes that contacts between Russia and the U.S. on nuclear disarmament would lead to positive changes.
“Unfortunately, no radical achievements have been made in the nuclear disarmament area over the past two decades, although there have recently been signs indicating that the leading nuclear powers understand that the current situation is intolerable,” Gorbachev told Interfax on Thursday.
In particular, “the Russian and U.S. presidents reaffirmed their commitment to Article 6 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and their joint statement envisions a number of steps to decrease the nuclear danger, including the U.S. ratification of the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. They have also agreed to conclude a treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive weapons envisioning verification measures by the end of the year,” he said.
“The first Russian-American consultations on strategic offensive weapons will take place in Rome on April 24. Certainly, great hopes are pinned to a summit between the Russian and U.S. presidents to take place in Moscow in July. All these steps are positive and inspiring, but nevertheless it is necessary to admit openly: there are still more problems and dangers than achievements, and the path toward a nuclear-free world is hindered by numerous obstacles,” Gorbachev said.
“The main reason for this is incorrect perception of the events following the end of the Cold War: the U.S. and some other countries interpreted them as the West’s victory and as the green light for the policy of unilateral steps,” Gorbachev said.
“The use of force or the threat of using it are again viewed as a normal way to resolve problems, and official documents rationalize the doctrines of preemptive strikes and the need for the U.S. to enjoy military supremacy,” Gorbachev said.
“Therefore, the prospect of a new arms race seems realistic now,” he said.
As regards the problem of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, Gorbachev said “its essence is above all in the nuclear club members’ failure to comply with the commitment to move toward elimination of nuclear weapons, which they undertook in Article 6 of the non-proliferation treaty.”
“As long as this situation remains in place, the danger of the emergence of new nuclear powers will also remain in place. Dozens of countries have such technical capabilities now. In the final analysis, the nuclear danger can be eliminated only through the elimination of nuclear weapons,” he said.
Gorbachev speculated on “whether it could be considered realistic that ultimately one country might remain with an amount of conventional weapons nearly surpassing the arsenals of all other countries together, that is, that this country might have absolute military dominance in the world.”
“I would like to be sincere: Such a situation would be an insurmountable obstacle to ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Therefore, if we do not bring up the issue of demilitarization of global politics, the reduction of nuclear budgets, the termination of the development of new types of weapons, and the prevention of the militarization of outer space, all the talk about a nuclear-free world will remain empty,” he said.
Judging by U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent statements, “the possibility that the U.S. could ratify the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty looks realistic, and this would be an important step ahead, especially in combination with the new agreement on strategic weapons between the U.S. and Russia,” he said.
“I believe the other nuclear powers, both the official members of the club and the others, will have at least to declare the freezing of their nuclear arsenals and the willingness to begin negotiations on their limitation and reduction. If the possessors of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons take the path of their real reduction, the others will find it impossible to stand aside and conceal their arsenals from international control. This issue needs to be brought up now, for otherwise there will be no trust, without which our common security is unthinkable,” Gorbachev said.