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Key Issues Ethics Issues Statement on Nuclear Weapons by Intl General and Admirals

Statement on Nuclear Weapons by International Generals and Admirals

(Signed by 60 retired generals and admirals from 17 countries)
December 5, 1996

We, military professionals, who have devoted our lives to the national security of our countries

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and our peoples, are convinced that the continuing existence of nuclear weapons in the armories of nuclear powers, and the ever present threat of acquisition of these weapons by others, constitute a peril to global peace and security and to the safety and survival of the people we are dedicated to protect.

Through our variety of responsibilities and experiences with weapons and wars in the armed forces of many nations, we have acquired an intimate and perhaps unique knowledge of the present security and insecurity of our countries and peoples.

We know that nuclear weapons, though never used since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, represent a clear and present danger to the very existence of humanity. There was an immense risk of a superpower holocaust during the Cold War. At least once, civilization was on the very brink of catastrophic tragedy. That threat has now receded, but not forever -- unless nuclear weapons are eliminated.

The end of the Cold War created conditions favorable to nuclear disarmament. Termination of military confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States made it possible to reduce strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, and to eliminate intermediate range missiles. It was a significant milestone on the path to nuclear disarmament when Belarus, Kazakhastan and Ukraine relinquished their nuclear weapons.

Indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995 and approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by the UN General Assembly in 1996 are also important steps towards a nuclear-free world. We commend the work that has been done to achieve these results.

Unfortunately, in spite of these positive steps, true nuclear disarmament has not been achieved. Treaties provide that only delivery systems, not nuclear warheads, will be destroyed. This permits the United States and Russia to keep their warheads in reserve storage, thus creating a "reversible nuclear potential." However, in the post-Cold War security environment, the most commonly postulated nuclear threats are not susceptible to deterrence or are simply not credible. We believe, therefore, that business as usual is not an acceptable way for the world to proceed in nuclear matters.

It is our deep conviction that the following is urgently needed and must be undertaken now:

First, present and planned stockpiles of nuclear weapons are exceedingly large and should now be greatly cut back;

Second, remaining nuclear weapons should be gradually and transparently taken off alert, and their readiness substantially reduced both in nuclear weapons states and in de facto nuclear weapons states;

Third, long-term international nuclear policy must be based on the declared principle of continuous, complete and irrevocable elimination of nuclear weapons.

The United States and Russia should -- without any reduction in their military security -- carry forward the reduction process already launched by START - they should cut down to 1000 to 1500 warheads each and possibly lower. The other three nuclear states and the three threshold states should be drawn into the reduction process as still deeper reductions are negotiated down to the level of hundreds. There is nothing incompatible between defense by individual countries of their territorial integrity and progress toward nuclear abolition.

The exact circumstances and conditions that will make it possible to proceed, finally, to abolition cannot now be foreseen or prescribed. One obvious prerequisite would be a worldwide program or surveillance and inspection, including measures to account for and and control inventories of nuclear weapons materials. This will ensure that no rogues or terrorists could undertake a surreptitious effort to acquire nuclear capacities without detection at an early stage. An agreed procedure for forcible international intervention and interruption of covert efforts in a certain and timely fashion is essential.

The creation of nuclear-free zones in different parts of the world, confidence-building and transparency measures in the general field of defense, strict implementation of all treaties in the area of disarmament and arms control, and mutual assistance in the process of disarmament are also important in helping to bring about a nuclear-free world. The development of regional systems of collective security, including practical measures for cooperation, partnership, interaction and communication are essential for local stability and security.

The extent to which the existence of nuclear weapons and fear of their use may have deterred war -- in a world that in this year alone has seen 30 military conflicts raging -- cannot be determined. It is clear, however, that nations now possessing nuclear weapons will not relinquish them until they are convinced that more reliable and less dangerous means of providing for their security are in place. It is also clear, as a consequence, that the nuclear powers will not now agree to a fixed timetable for the achievement of abolition.

It is similarly clear that, among the nations not now possessing nuclear weapons, there are some that will not forever forswear their acquisition and deployment unless they, too, are provided means of security. Nor will they forego acquisition it the present nuclear powers seek to retain everlastingly their nuclear monopoly.

Movement toward abolition must be a responsibility shared primarily by the declared nuclear weapons states -- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, by the de facto nuclear states, India, Israel and Pakistan; and by major non-nuclear powers such as Germany and Japan. All nations should move in concert toward the same goal.

We have been presented with a challenge of the highest possible historic importance: the creation of a nuclear-weapons-free world. The end of the Cold War makes it possible.

The dangers of proliferation, terrorism, and new nuclear arms race render it necessary. We must not fail to seize our opportunity. There is no alternative.

Signed,

Canada
Johnson, Major General V., (Ret.) Commandant, National Defense College

Denmark
Kristensen, Lt. General Gunnar (Ret.) former Chief of Defense Staff

France
Sanguinetti, Admiral Antoine (Ret.) former Chief of Staff, French Fleet

Ghana
Erskine, General Emmanuel (Ret.) former Commander in Chief and former Chief of Staff, UNTSO (Middle East), Commander UMFI (Lebanon)

Greece
Capellos, Lt. General Richard (Ret.) former Corps Commander
Konstantinides, Major General Kostas (Ret.) former Chief of Staff, Army Signals

India
Rikhye, Major General Indar Jit (Ret.) former military advisor to UN Secretary General Dag Hammerskjold and U Thant
Surt, Air Marshal N. C. (Ret.)

Japan
Sakoijo, Vice Admiral Naotoshi (Ret.) Sr. Advisor, Research Institute for Peace and Security
Shikata, Lt. General Toshiyuki (Ret.) Sr. Advisor, Research Institute for Peace and Security

Jordan
Ajelilat, Major General Sahfiq (Ret.) Vice President Military Affairs, Muta University
Shiyyab, Major General Mohammed K. (Ret.) former Deputy Commander, Royal Jordanian Air Force

Netherlands
van der Graaf, Henry J. (Ret.) Director Centre Arms Control & Verification, Member, United National Advisory Board for Disarmament Matters

Norway
Breivik, Roy, Vice Admiral Roy (Ret.) former Representative to NATO, Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic

Pakistan
Malik, Major General Ihusun ul Haq (Ret.) Commandant Joint Services Committee

Portugal
Gomes, Marshal Francisco da Costa (Ret.) former Commander in Chief, Army; former Pesident of Portugal

Russia
Belous, General Vladimir (Ret.) Department Chief, Dzerzhinsky Military Academy
Garecy, Army General Makhmut (Ret.) former Deputy Chief, USSR Armed Forces General Staff
Gromov, General Boris, (Ret.) Vice Chair, Duma International Affairs Committee, former Commander of 40th Soviet Army in Afghanistan, former Deputy Minister, Foreign Ministry, Russia
Koltounov, Major General Victor (Ret.) former Deputy Chief, Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces
Larinov, Major General Valentin (Ret.) Professor, General Staff Academy
Lebed, Major Alexander (Ret.) former Secretary of the Security Council
Lebedev, Major General Youri V. (Ret.) former Deputy Chief Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces
Makarevsky, Major General Vadim (Ret.) Deputy Chief, Komibyshev Engineering Academy
Medvodov, Lt. General Vladimir (Ret.) Chief, Center of Nuclear Threat Reduction
Mikhailov, Colonel General Gregory (Ret.) former Deputy Chief, Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces
Nozhin, Major General Eugeny (Ret.) former Deputy Chief, Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces
Rokhilin, Lt. General Lev, (Ret.) Chair, Duma Defense Committee, former Commander Russian 4th Army Corps
Sleport, Lt. General Ivan (Ret.) former Chief, Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces
Simonyan, Major General Rair (Ret.) Head of Chair, General Staff Academy
Surikov, General Boris T. (Ret.) former Chief Specialist, Defense Ministry
Teherov, Colonel General Nikolay (Ret.) former Chief, Department of General Staff, USSR Armed Forces
Vinogadov, Lt. General Michael S. (Ret.) former Deputy Chief, Operational Strategic Center, USSR General Staff
Zoubkov, Rear Admiral Radiy (Ret.) Chief, Navigation, USSR Navy

Sri Lanka
Karumaratne, Major General Upali A. (Ret.)
Silva, Major General C.A.M.M. (Ret.) USF, U.S.A.

Tanzania
Lupogo, Major General H.C. (Ret.) former Chief Inspector General, Tanzania Armed Forces

United Kingdom
Beach, General Sir Hugh (Ret.) Member U.K. Security Commission
Carver, Field Marshal Lord Michael (Ret.) Commander in Chief of East British Army (1967-1969), Chief of General Staff (1971-1973), Chief of Defense Staff (1973-1976)
Harbottle, Brigadier Michael (Ret.) former Chief of Staff, UN Peacekeeping Force, Cyprus
Mackie, Air Commodore Alistair (Ret.) former Director, Air Staff Briefing

United States
Becton, Lt. General Julius (USA) (Ret.)
Burns, Maj. General William F. (USA) (Ret.) JCS Representative, INF Negotiations (1981-88) Special Envoy to Russia for Nuclear Dismantlement (1992-93)
Carroll, Jr., Rear Admiral Eugene J. (USN) (Ret.) Deputy Director, Center for Defense Information
Cushman, Lt. General John H. (USA) (Ret.) Commander, I Corps (ROK/US) Group (Korea) (1976-78)
Galvin, General John R., Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (1987-1992)
Gayler, Admiral Noel (USN) (Ret.) former Commander, Pacific
Horner, General Charles A. (USAF) (Ret.) Commander, Coalition Air Forces, Desert Storm (1991) former Commander, U.S. Space Command
James, Rear Admiral Robert G. (USNR) (Ret.)
Odom, General William E. (USA) (Ret.) Director, National Security Studies, Hudson Institute Deputy Assistant and Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (1981-1985), Director, National Security Agency (1985-1988) O'Meara, General Andrew (USA) (Ret.), former Commander U.S. Army Europe
Pursley, Lt. General Robert E. USAF (Ret.)
Read, Vice Admiral William L. (USN) (Ret.) former Commander, U.S. Navy Surface Force, Atlantic Command
Rogers, General Bernard W. (USA) (Ret.) former Chief of Staff, U.S. Army; former NATO Supreme Allied Commander (1979-1987)
Seignious, II, Lt. Gneral George M. (USA) (Ret.) fomer Director Army Control and Disarmament Agency
Shanahan, Vice Admiral John J. (USN) (Ret.) Director, Center for Defense Information
Smith, General William Y. (USAF) (Ret.) former Deputy Commander, U.S. Command, Europe
Wilson, Vice Admiral James B. (USN) (Ret.) former Polaris Submarine Captain