Maybe the messy Ukrainian war will go on for months more, even years. But there is nothing to stop the two biggest nuclear powers from initiating some bold steps towards the elimination of nuclear weapons right now.

By Jonathan Power, In Depth News

In the year 2000 President Vladimir Putin made his own contribution to solving the nuclear weapons imbroglio. Moscow, he said in a speech, was prepared to drastically reduce its stockpile of nuclear missiles. Putin’s call was not just for further cuts than the U.S. suggested ceiling of 2,500 for each side but for reductions far below Moscow’s previous target of 1,500. (At present Russia has around 6,000 warheads, and the U.S. has 5,400.)

People hold a banner at a defuse nuclear war protest

Indeed, from the way Putin put it and terms and phrases he used, commentators at the time suggested that Putin may well have had in mind the same kind of deal that Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan hatched at their summit in Reykjavik back in 1986—a stockpile approaching zero.

That momentous unconsummated plan at Reykjavik was Reagan’s—he foresaw a world with perfect missile defences (the so-called Star Wars concept), side by side with the abolition of nuclear weapons by the superpowers. But the moment Reagan’s advisors got wind of what he was spontaneously hatching with Gorbachev, they moved to squelch it, arguing its lack of feasibility and rubbishing its practicality, as they did—and still do—regularly with any creative proposal that has wound its way through the labyrinth of inter-agency review.

Read More