Gorbachev Calls for the Elimination of All Nuclear Weapons

| Dec. 05, 2007

As he introduced President Mikhail Gorbachev prior to Gorbachev's 2007 Albert H. Gordon Lecture in the JFK Jr Forum Tuesday night, Belfer Center Director Graham Allison noted that Gorbachev, along with U.S. President Reagan, "ended the Cold War with a whimper instead of a nuclear armageddon that could have killed us all." In December 1987, the two leaders signed the historic Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) eliminating the two countries' intermediate range missiles and effectively ending the arms race.

Gorbachev is at the Kennedy School this week as part of a group of 45 arms control experts and scholars, 15 each from Russia, the United States, and other countries. They are taking part in a conference — "Overcoming Nuclear Danger" — organized by the School's Belfer Center and the World Political Forum, founded by Gorbachev. The agenda includes discussion of the future of the INF treaty.

"As we watch the world today, we see profound civilizational changes," Gorbachev said. "We... are already living in a global world. We have found international politics not yet ready for this global world." We don't know yet, he added, "whether dialogue or conflict will prevail in interactions between civilizations."

In the mid-1980s, the world was facing a historic crossroads with the arms race and nuclear weapons buildup. Gorbachev and Reagan agreed then that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, and committed themselves to working toward a nuclear-free world. "The ultimate goal was to eliminate nuclear weapons," Gorbachev said.

Now, Gorbachev said, attitudes have changed. "In nuclear policy, we are seeing a re-militarization of thinking. Today, nuclear states are basing policies on the continuance of nuclear weapons. You can't get rid of nuclear weapons overnight, but we should be working in that direction. We should persuade policy makers that this is the way to go."

Gorbachev concluded his lecture by saying that Russia and the U.S. must take the lead in this effort. He called on the participants in the Kennedy School "Overcoming Nuclear Danger" conference to begin the process by developing specific proposals for U.S. and Russia leadership.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Wilke, Sharon. “Gorbachev Calls for the Elimination of All Nuclear Weapons.” , December 5, 2007.

The Author