Leading the Way Toward a Nuclear Weapon Free World

There are times when a party is more than just a party. When you have important speakers mingling with policymakers and DC influentials, a party can be a terrific way to encourage decisionmakers to pay attention to an issue that hasn't been getting enough attention. And if you're lucky, a party can often be the right way to move the needle forward. 

That's just what happened Monday night at our DC Gala. Emceed by our board member Michael Douglas and hosted at the stunning U.S. Institute for Peace, the event attracted Secretary of State John F. Kerry as the keynote speaker, joined by nuclear non-proliferation champion former Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

It's not every day that a sitting Secretary of State talks about nuclear weapons policy. And it didn't disappoint. As described by society blog DC Fishbowl, Kerry's "poignant and impassioned speech" made a compelling case for more bipartisan cooperation toward a world free of the threat of nuclear weapons. Said Kerry, 

"New START is a hallmark of the practical, commonsense approach that is needed to address the nuclear weapons threat. It’s not ideological. It’s not radical. And that’s why the satisfaction that Dick Lugar and I shared at its passage was tempered by the fact that the treaty passed the United States Senate with only four votes to spare. Now I don’t know about you, but I know that I do not want to accept as the new normal a standard of just 71 votes to be able to ratify the kind of treaty that used to pass the United States Senate near unanimously, a treaty that is so absolutely on its face prima facie without any doubt whatsoever in our common interests as inhabitants of this Earth. And none of you should be satisfied either.

There is nothing the slightest bit partisan about our shared survival. And even at the height of gridlock, we ought to all be able to agree on the goal of eliminating the risk of annihilation."

Happily, the event was also a strong showing of bipartisan support for the goals that Ploughshares Fund shares with the majority of Americans: reducing global nuclear arsenals; achieving a diplomatic solution that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon; securing vulnerable nuclear materials around the world; and committing to pursuing multilateral agreements that will ultimately lead to a world free of the danger of nuclear weapons. Seventeen members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, put their official stamp of approval on the event, joining our Honorary Congressional Host Committee. 

But more still needs to be done. As Michael Douglas said in his opening remarks: 

“It is time to get back on the offense. It’s time to make truly significant cuts in all nuclear arsenals. It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on obsolete weapons from the last century. And 50 years after President John Kennedy called for it, it is time to sit down without politics and talk seriously about why it is in our national security interest to ban the testing of nuclear weapons, everywhere, for all time.”

Check out Kerry's full remarks and video of his speech. View pictures of the event on our Facebook album

Photo by Kaveh Sadari