Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 22:40 | SYDNEY
Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 22:40 | SYDNEY

G20: Arms control progress on the sidelines


Rory Medcalf


2 April 2009 16:31

The G20 meeting is already delivering gains for global security, if only because key world leaders are finding it the perfect venue for talking to each other on the sidelines. The talks yesterday between Obama and Medvedev and their joint statement on reducing nuclear arsenals are an especially welcome step.

Of course, the hard work lies ahead. As our friends at Arms Control Wonk point out, US and Russian leaders have simply committed to negotiations, with vague and flexible parameters, not to a specific outcome. But I’d agree that it is something of a breakthrough that the American and Russian presidents have explicitly endorsed the goal of abolition of nuclear weapons.

Assuming some new, binding and verifiable US-Russia strategic arms reduction agreement is achieved by the end of 2009 – a feasible goal if both powers are serious – then the responsibility for next steps in nuclear disarmament will really begin to be shared with other powers.

With the UK and France already reducing their arsenals, a burden of global expectation will start to fall on China, India, Pakistan and Israel. What better time to kick-start negotiations of a multilateral treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons? What better time for China to announce that it is no longer in the game of making the stuff?

Photo (of an American ICBM missile silo control panel, from the 1983 movie 'Wargames' ) by Flickr user Telstar Logistics, used under a Creative Commons license.