Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2009

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

William J. Perry, Brent Scowcroft, Charles D. Ferguson

April 2009

Council on Foreign Relations


In his April 5 Prague speech, President Obama called for the United States to lead international efforts toward a world free of nuclear weapons. A new Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force report, co-chaired by former secretary of defense William J. Perry and former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, says that while "the geopolitical conditions that would permit the global elimination of nuclear weapons do not currently exist," steps can be taken now to diminish the danger of nuclear proliferation and nuclear use.

The Task Force report, titled U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy, focuses on near-term policies to reduce nuclear weapons to the lowest possible level consistent with maintaining a credible deterrent, while also ensuring that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is safe, secure, and reliable for as long as it is needed. "The imperative before the Obama administration," the report says, "is to use all available tools to prevent the use and further acquisition of nuclear weapons." The Task Force is comprised of eminent leaders of the national security community and is directed by CFR Senior Fellow Charles D. Ferguson.