Drell on Reducing the Nuclear Threat

July 21, 2010
David Wright
Former contributor

Sidney Drell – a physicist, former director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator, and co-founder of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford – has a long history of thinking about nuclear weapons and advising the government on these issues.

In this month’s issue of the journal Physics Today, Drell has an article titled “Working Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons.” While the article does talk about why he thinks the vision of zero is important, much of it talks about the near-term steps that are important for beginning to move the world in the right direction.

Not surprisingly, these steps overlap and complement the measures we lay out in the report we wrote with FAS and NRDC, Toward True Security. Our steps also include:

-Declare that the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter and, if necessary, respond to the use of nuclear weapons by another country.

-Reject rapid-launch options by changing U.S. deployment practices to allow the launch of nuclear forces in days rather than minutes.

-Eliminate preset targeting plans, and replace them with the capability to promptly develop a response tailored to the situation if nuclear weapons are used against the United States, its armed forces, or its allies.

-Promptly and unilaterally reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal to no more than 1,000 warheads, including deployed and reserve warheads. Announce a U.S. commitment to reducing its number of nuclear weapons further, on a negotiated and verified bilateral or multilateral basis.

-Halt further deployment of ballistic missile defense systems that would pose an obstacle to deep nuclear cuts.