WASHINGTON– Following last month’s Senate ratification of a new arms control treaty, US and Russian scientists and national defense leaders met Wednesday to reignite the push for a reduction of global nuclear arms.

The US Senate in December easily mustered the two thirds vote needed to approve the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the most comprehensive U.S.- Russian-arms accord in several decades. The Russian vote is set to occur in less than one week.

“If we had failed to get New START ratified, the United States would have certainly forfeited its right to provide new leadership in the move to nuclear disarmament,” said William Perry, the former US Secretary of Defense. “Hopefully the Russian Duma will follow suit.”

The National Academy of Sciences and the US Institute of Peace hosted a symposium entitled from Reykjavik to New START, referring to the evolution of US-Soviet/Russia non-nuclear proliferation discussions over the past 25 years.

“New START promotes nuclear security by reducing US and Russian Strategic forces,” said Rose Gottemoeller, US Assistant Secretary of State and chief negotiator New START with the Russian Federation.

Attendees recognized the importance of scientific diplomacy.
“Science technology is an instrument for national defense.” said Dr. William Colglaizer, executive officer of the National Academy of Sciences. “Science is a global enterprise. Scientists have a common language and a common bond that transcends political differences.”

Experts from the former nuclear rivals addressed three key topics: lessons learned from former US-Soviet/Russia relations, the need for monitoring and verifying treaty compliance in the future, and the heightened role of the scientist in enhancing international communications.

“I am highly confident that the US would invite Russian scientists to Nevada if we could get an agreement of reciprocity,” said panel-member Thomas Cochran, senior scientist at the Natural Resource Defense Council.

Speakers at the eight-hour symposium reflected on the nuclear past and their hopes for a non-nuclear future.

“I believe that time is not on our side,” Perry said. “Having built the nuclear arsenal, I have a responsibility to dismantle it.”