General Butler's Speech to the National Press Club
Middle Powers Initiative
Nearly a decade after the end of the Cold War, more than 30,000 nuclear weapons remain ready to be used. The U.S. and Russia maintain over 5,000 nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert status, placing mutual annihilation within a half hour of a perceived adversary's launch. The explosive devastation of less than 100 of today's warheads could end civilization.
If nuclear weapons are relied upon by large and powerful states for deterrence and security, less secure countries, such as India and Pakistan, who have equal or greater perceived threats to security, will continue to be driven to acquire them also. We are poised in a moment of choice: either move toward an enforceable global ban on all nuclear weapons, or nuclear weapons will continue to spread.
The U.S. alone has spent over $5.8 trillion on its nuclear arsenal; it is time to change course. Yet, the Nuclear Weapon States show no sign of grasping this opportunity or this urgent necessity. We can succeed in changing this dangerous apathetic march toward suffering on an unimaginable scale.
The nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in June were a "wake up call". In the last two years, a succession of groups of top military and civilian world leaders have called for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Numerous resolutions at the United Nations echo this call. The World Court has declared it to be the law. Conscience and reason require nothing less of us.
The Middle Powers Initiative (MPI), chaired by Canadian Ambassador Douglas Roche, is a carefully focused and coordinated campaign by a group of prestigious international non-governmental organizations (NGO's) working with an organized coalition of key powerful States designed to move rapidly to eliminate the threat of nuclear annihilation. "Middle Powers" describes a group of influential States that have the ability but refuse to develop nuclear weapons, have strong track records on arms control, have access to the Nuclear Weapons States, have credibility in other security spheres, and have leaders who can work together.
Launched in March 1998, MPI plans to ensure the success of the most recent and politically viable appeal. The eight-nation New Agenda Coalition, consisting of Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Mexico, Egypt, Brazil, Slovenia, and Sweden, on June 9, 1998, courageously called for the Nuclear Weapon States and the three nuclear-capable states to start work immediately on practical steps and negotiations required for getting rid of their nuclear arsenals.
MPI will continue to organize top level delegations and work with leaders of states requesting assistance in eliminating nuclear weapons. Believing that an essential task is to generate political will, MPI will rally civil society and key governments to support this agenda. MPI will continue to develop and execute a coordinated media and political strategy, utilizing, among other things, sophisticated briefing materials, public personalities, UN resolutions, and high level briefings.
MPI is uniquely positioned. There is currently no other grouping of international organizations capable of reaching the highest levels of governments as well as civil society. The assistance of the entertainment and communications industry in raising public awareness is invaluable. We refuse to accept that the unworthy peace posed by living under the nuclear threat is either permanent or inevitable and we pledge to pass on a world free of such hazard to our children.