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On the Russia-US nuclear agreement

Public statement on the Russia-United States nuclear agreement

07 July 2009

by WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia

Geneva, 7 July 2009

It is heartening that the leaders of the United States and Russia have now made a preliminary agreement and public commitment to achieve specific cuts in each country's stockpiles of strategic nuclear weapons. Their proposed cut is an encouraging initiative and a step forward on the difficult but essential journey that the world must take to free itself from the spectre of self-destruction. The World Council of Churches has called for the abolition of nuclear arms since shortly after their inception. As possessors of most of the world's nuclear weapons, it is necessary that these two powers lead nuclear disarmament by concrete example.  In accepting the principle for a framework agreement which is aimed to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the leaders of the US and Russia are preparing to reduce their nuclear weapons.  

We recognize the commitment of both the US and Russian leaders' joint responsibility for nuclear arms control. We urge them to stand side by side in that shared responsibility and make urgent and unambiguous progress together. In fact, we believe that by doing so they will gradually gain the moral authority needed to encourage other states in eliminating these weapons of mass destruction. Making the world safe from nuclear weapons will require levels of cooperation and trust that are also indispensable in tackling the most global problems of our day.

Agreement by the two major powers to cooperate in limiting nuclear arms, which will enhance and improve international relations in the 21st Century, would be widely welcomed among member churches of the World Council of Churches. Most live in countries that have long-since committed themselves to a world free of nuclear weapons and have already waited decades for nuclear-weapon states to do the same. Our common prayer is for security that is shared by all.