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US-Russia nuclear arms reduction treaty

The Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit's comment on the signing of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) by Presidents Medvedev and Obama in Prague, 8 April 2010.

08 April 2010

The new US-Russia nuclear arms reduction treaty signed today in Prague is news that the World Council of Churches has awaited for a long time: the achievement of a nuclear weapons agreement between the two most heavily armed nations in the world. We see this as a sign of the leadership needed for establishing a sustainable and just peace in the world. The two governments have negotiated rather modest cuts in the number of their most destructive weapons that they deploy. But the most promising element of their success is in also agreeing to be more open about their respective nuclear arsenals. If the world’s most powerful states practice new levels of nuclear transparency and verification, as we hope they will, they will be able to bring new leadership and hope to bear on a range of nuclear arms problems. New confidence between them can also pave the way for more and deeper cuts in their still-prodigious nuclear arsenals.

Signs of new openness are especially welcome now because another opportunity for success is near. Virtually all governments are coming to the United Nations next month to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the most important disarmament agreement of all. As the WCC governing body noted last September, "transparency is feasible, indispensable and long overdue" and much more of it is needed. We pray for governments to have the courage and the will to follow-up this important development.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches