Andreas Persbo discusses nuclear disarmament in Prague

On Friday 6 September the VERTIC executive director, Andreas Persbo, delivered a presentation at the Czech foreign ministry in Prague at a conference on 'Global Zero and Beyond: Theory, Politics and Regional Perspectives'.
 
The two-day event (running from 5-6 September) is being co-organised by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Center for Security Studies at Prague's Metropolitan University, the Institute of International Relations Prague and the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Charles University Prague. The aim of the meeting is to discuss nuclear disarmament—in a city now almost synonymous with that goal.
 
Mr Persbo's address, 'Prague and Berlin: Two Speeches, Same Vision', can be accessed online in full here. In it, he discusses the so-called Prague agenda (to work toward a world without nuclear weapons) set in motion by President Obama in Prague in 2009 and reaffirmed by him in Berlin earlier this year.
 
'I would say that Mr Obama's vision is intact—and that he remains committed to an abolitionist vision,' Mr Persbo said. 'But I would also say that while the Prague speech was characteristic of the president's first term—enthusiastic and full of ambition—the Berlin speech was coloured by five years experience in international affairs. Some things are easy to achieve, others more difficult. All things come at a price.'
 
In his address, Mr Persbo highlighted a number of accomplishments since the Prague speech four years ago. For one, the nuclear security summit process is now established, with much greater effort invested worldwide into securing radioactive materials and with nuclear security 'here to stay' even after the expected end of the process in 2016. For another, the 'New START agreement was reached between the US and Russia: a verifiable arms reduction treaty, the achievement of which 'cannot be understated' Mr Persbo noted.
 
This optimism, though, was tempered by the many hard realities that continue to dog the Prague vision. In particular, negotiations for a Fissile Material Treaty remain unrealised, caught in diplomatic gridlock, and the US has still to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
 
Looking ahead, Mr Persbo noted that he sees some 'room for manoeuvre' around the issue of tactical nuclear weapon reduction. He noted that he also expects the overall number of US and Russian nuclear weapons to continue to decline through a 'natural pressure' that may slow and stabilise over time but not before warhead numbers have reached an optimal level.
 

Last changed: Sep 06 2013 at 12:07 PM

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