Saturday, April 23, 2005

Gorbachev criticizes U.S. on nuclear arsenal, hypocrisy

Heads of nation-states navigate blindly as they ponder the capabilities of nuclear weapon programs or the number of nuclear weapons of other nation-states. Intelligence reports are flawed, so a best guess is all one has to predict nuclear armament. Mikhail Gorbachev, recently interviewed, speaks on these issues and shares his interpretation of U.S. nuclear practices.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev speaks at the United Nations in New York.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warned the United States on Wednesday "to cure itself" of hypocrisy over nuclear arms and be prepared to cut its atomic arsenal and take it off "hair-trigger" alert.

Addressing a news conference with Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, Gorbachev said the United States should not suggest other nations disarm and make no move to do so itself.

"I think the United States is sick. It suffers from the sickness, the disease of being the victor and it needs to cure itself from this disease," Gorbachev said.

"I think Russia is ready to cooperate. Now the question is, is the United States -- which is the only remaining superpower -- is the United States ready to do this? I think not," he added.

There are an estimated 34,000 nuclear warheads in silos in Russia and the United States. About 5,000 are on hair-trigger alert, in which they could be fired on 15 minutes' notice.

The United Nations in May is holding a five-year review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of atomic disarmament, which came into force in 1977. So far, a preparatory committee has failed to agree on an agenda because of divisions between the nuclear powers and those without atomic weapons.

"They (United States) say other people don't need (nuclear weapons), but what kind of law is this that they are advocating?" Gorbachev asked. "It's the law of the jungle."

"We don't need to kiss each other, we don't need to flirt with each other," he said. "We need leadership through partnership, not by dominating and being a policeman."

Gorbachev, credited with helping end the Cold War, led the Soviet Union for six years until its 1991 collapse.

He was at the United Nations to present Turner the Alan Cranston peace award, named after the late U.S. senator who advocated nuclear disarmament. The award was sponsored by the Global Security Institute, a San Francisco-based group that focuses on disarmament.

Turner said the United States had not lived up to its obligations to reduce its arsenal substantially.

"It is easy to understand why other countries felt that if the United States, Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan, India and France could have nuclear weapons, then why couldn't they?" Turned said.


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