Generation Prague: Working Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

Posted by Blake Narendra
June 8, 2012
President Obama Delivers a Speech on the Hradcany Square in Prague

Last Monday, I joined students and young professionals at a day-long conference at the Department of State to discuss the security challenges we all face in the 21st Century.

The 3rd Annual Generation Prague Conference highlighted the agenda and accomplishments that have followed President Obama's 2009 Prague speech where he outlined the United States' commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have been with us for more than sixty-five years. Getting to "zero" will not occur overnight. Moving the Prague Agenda forward will only be possible if a new generation of leaders embraces this nuclear security challenge as an opportunity.

Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Rose Gottemoeller, participated in a panel with Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman, and Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro. The three principals discussed how they serve to make the United States and its allies safer and more secure. It will be up to future leaders in our generation to continue the ultimate pursuit and eventual success incrementally through treaty and non-treaty frameworks. Our parents grew up during the height of the Cold War where nuclear fall-out shelters were commonplace in their schools and basements. Conversely, those attending the conference, like me, were infants during Cold War. Even so, our generation will bear the legacy costs stemming from the decades-long nuclear arms race.

Aiding us in the pursuit of further nuclear arms reductions are innovations of the information age. For example, iPads could be used to aid the verification and implementation of arms control. Much like a smart system installed in a home, inspections could be undertaken without an inspector having to travel to a nuclear site under safeguards. I'm excited to see how the next generation will develop new mechanisms and mediums to advance arms control and international security policy. By applying 21st century statecraft tools and open source technology to advance arms control by potentially verifying state compliance with treaty obligations, our generation is well-positioned to overcome the obstacles that have effectively stood in the way of "a world free of nuclear weapons.”

The Generation Prague Conference was just one piece to a larger effort that calls on the abilities of people all around the world to build a security environment that makes disarmament possible. As someone who was just beginning his professional career when President Obama spoke in Prague, I'm excited to have an chance to work on policy this summer that will get us just a little closer to what Sam Nunn coined, “the mountaintop: a world free of nuclear weapons.”



Ashim C.
June 11, 2012

Ashim in India writes:

There are many facets of nuclear proliferation. All of them have to be acknowledged and addressed for solution. Existence of nuclear arms with nuclear states is itself an issue. Cost of R&D, cost of producing and maintening them and finally disposing them off in safe and secure manner are all critical.

Then there are states who are driven by their threat perceptions to have their own nuclear arms programme as an adjunct to their nuclear power generation programme, which necessarily generates fissile material and therefore it makes sense that they use it for arms production so long as - importantly - there are not alternate security umbrella to give them cover from their threat perceptions, which may or may not be real.

In this situation it would be both prudent and practical to have an arrangement in which nuclear power states get together and offer nuclear arms security services to non nuclear power states, who seek it by deplying adequate deterrant capabilities in later's territory under joint command of supplier and beneficiary states under a well thought out system of checks and balances.

Needless to say, beneficiary have to either pay for getting such protection in cash or kind or some other form of consideration. The arrangement must provide for unconditional right of beneficiary to ask supplier to leave it's territory and terminate the arrangement.

This proposal would add some additional value to arms stockpile and it would also give a whole new meaning to the efforts for non-proliferation as a campaign, which can be easily be interpreted as attempts by nuclear haves to retain their advantages as nuclear arms power over nuclear have nots.

The proposal would create better environment for realisation of non proliferation goals ultimately and can be sold in as much as it creates a win win situation for both haves and have nots. But haves have to take the lead and have to show as much resilience in their approach as possible as they go about selling the idea. One would like to believe that Asia - more specifically - South Asian nations can benefit immensely from it or similar alternate ideas. Later others nations else where can follow.

Artin A.
New York, USA
June 11, 2012

Artin in New York City writes:

A very well-written article. It really is up to the coming generation of leaders to further nuclear arms control.

It would be great if a major paper like the New York Times or WSJ covered this.

Ashim C.
June 11, 2012

Ashim in India writes:

If ipads can be used for detecting nuclear arms, i am sure similar smart gadgets are available for detecting all kinds explosives and they should be shared with countries across the world. Why is not that shared without commercial or minimal commercial interest?

District Of Columbia, USA
June 11, 2012

Robert in Washington, D.C writes:

A great post from a great American.

June 12, 2012

W.W. writes:

Yes to military intervention on Syria and Iran

Un securicy cuncil failure has caused more than 1200 children death - if a child who should be free from any corruption of any kind from religion to finance does not justify an international military intervention for the sake of corrupted interest than we got a world wide problem

Un has lost any sort of legitimacy and what it is happening in syria may occurr in any part of the globe

shame on america shame on russia shame on china shame on uk shame france


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