Global Zero

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One group that seems to have become far more motivated by the prospect of someone halfway sane in the White House are nuclear nonproliferation advocates. There have been various op-eds and conferences moving towards the idea that the US and the world should be looking at nuclear reduction with a view towrads actual elimination of late, but now there's an international group with heavyweight backing which appears set to be a major pressure for change after so many years of Bush bellicosity.

Former world leaders and arms-control negotiators joined entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and the queen of Jordan Tuesday to launch a project aimed at eliminating the world's nuclear weapons over the next 25 years.

The group wants to reach the impossible-sounding goal by reviving nuclear disarmament efforts that have lagged since the end of the Cold War. It is proposing deep cuts in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, a worldwide verification and enforcement system and phased reduction leading to elimination of all stockpiles.

"We have to set an example," Branson said.

The group, called Global Zero, wants to start with U.S.-Russian negotiations to cut back nuclear stockpiles. Then a second phase would bring in countries such as China, Britain and France. Finally, it hopes to attract other countries such as Iran — which the West fears is seeking nuclear arms. Tehran insists its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity.

Delegations from the group will go to Moscow for talks with Russian officials Wednesday and to Washington on Thursday.

Global Zero's website is here.

The list of signatories is impressive. For British political heavyweights it includes both a former Conservative Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, and a Defense Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, as well as former Labour Foreign Secretarys Margaret Beckett and David Owen. In the US, figures such as William F. Burns, Joseph Cirincione, Chuck Hagel, Robert McFarlane, Gen. Anthony Zinni and Zbigniew Brzezinkski have signed on. Michael Gorbachev, former UN Envoy to Iraq and Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi, former Russian FM Igor Ivanov and Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Policy head Sergei Karaganov, Japanese former FM Yoriko Kawaguchi and former Pakistani FM Shaharyar Khan are among the leaders from the rest of the world involved.

With Branson's money behind such an impressive list, this group offers a very bright hope for nuclear disarmament. I've already added my name to the list of supporters.

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