NEW YORK (Pressenza IPA) There are more than 26,000 nuclear weapons on our planet–25,000 in the US and Russia–with thousands on hair trigger alert. The UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea maintain arsenals numbering in the hundreds or less. To progress on nuclear disarmament, Obama must reverse the Bush agenda for a new weapons complex and the manufacture of so called “reliable replacement warheads”, currently supported by Defense Secretary Gates. Obama must also reject the nuclear policies of the Clinton-Bush years including: rejection of Russian offers for nuclear disarmament; US plans to dominate and control the military use of space; the expansion of NATO and the installation of missile and radar bases in the Czech Republic and Poland which Russia views as a threat to its national security. Further, the US must overcome the manipulation of public opinion promoting so-called “peaceful” nuclear technology. Nuclear energy results in deadly bomb-making material metastasizing in reactors worldwide, and creates new targets for preemptive war. Nuclear disarmament requires a global phase out of nuclear power and support for clean, safe, sustainable energy.

There are promising harbingers of change. Obama will meet with President Medvedyev on a proposal to cut the U.S. and Russian arsenals down to 1,000 warheads each. That would open the possibility of enrolling the remaining nuclear weapons states in negotiations to ban the bomb! Secretary Clinton announced US plans to delay the establishment of US bases in Poland and the Czech Republic and Russia has withdrawn its threats to place missiles in Kaliningrad in retaliation for the proposed US bases. A new International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was launched in Bonn, joined by 76 nations, to promote safe, clean, sustainable energy without reliance on nuclear or fossil fuel, helping us to avoid catastrophic climate change and nuclear proliferation. And in the US, tens of thousands of citizens successfully petitioned their government to remove a $1 billion giveaway to the nuclear weapons labs and a $50 billion slush fund for nuclear and coal powered plants from the new economic stimulus package.

Alice Slater is the NY Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.