While it got scant notice in the U.S. press, the joint statement after the Geneva, Switzerland meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin was significant:
We, President of the United States of America Joseph R. Biden and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, note the United States and Russia have demonstrated that, even in periods of tension, they are able to make progress on our shared goals of ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war.
The recent extension of the New START Treaty exemplifies our commitment to nuclear arms control. Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
Consistent with these goals, the United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.The White House, June 16, 2021.
The joint statement echoed what President Ronald Reagan and Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev said 36 years earlier in Geneva, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
“The complete abolition of nuclear weapons is the only way to be safe from their threat, president of Physicians for Social Responsibility of Los Angeles Robert Dodge, M.D. wrote in Common Dreams.
The United States and Russia possess far more nuclear weapons than the rest of the nuclear states combined, enough to destroy life as we know it on Earth many times over. The two states working toward strategic stability is essential to compliance with Article VI of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. During the previous U.S. administration, future compliance with the NPT came into doubt. President Biden is getting the U.S. back on the right track.
That’s not to say it will be easy. As Dodge points out, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons went into force January 22 this year. Currently it has been signed by 86 nations and been ratified by 54. Neither Russia nor the U.S. have joined the treaty and the prospects of them doing so near term are dim.
All nine nuclear states must take a step back from the brink of nuclear annihilation. The Geneva statement on strategic stability suggests it is possible to do so.
To learn more about the U.S. grassroots organizing effort to produce the safer, healthier and more just world that is possible without nuclear weapons, visit the Back from the Brink website.