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Cold war warriors warn of nuke nightmare -

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Cold war warriors warn of nuke nightmare

Eleanor Hall reported this story on Thursday, February 25, 2010 12:26:00

ELEANOR HALL: Al Gore tried it for climate change with his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Now
four ex-cold warriors are taking the same approach to ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Senator Sam Nunn were all once fierce advocates
of nuclear deterrence.

But they say they've changed their views because in a world of non-state actors like terrorists
deterrence doesn't work.

Now they've launched a documentary called Nuclear Tipping Point to try to build support for ridding
the world of the threat of nuclear annihilation:

(Excerpt from Nuclear Tipping Point):

VOICEOVER: More states are acquiring nuclear weapons or developing the technology to build them and
as we have seen a terrorist organisation would need no more than one or two of those weapons or the
material to make them to throw our planet into chaos.

The danger is very, very real. We are at a nuclear tipping point and the actions being taken are
not adequate to the threat.

(End of excerpt)

ELEANOR HALL: That's just an extract from the film 'Nuclear Tipping Point.

George Shultz was the US secretary of state during the Reagan administration and he was there at
the Reykjavik summit when presidents Reagan and Gorbachev almost agreed to eliminate their nuclear

Now aged 89 George Shultz is using his clout to put nuclear disarmament back on the global agenda.

He spoke to me earlier this morning from Stanford University in California.

Mr Shultz are you as pessimistic as one of your partners in this venture, Henry Kissinger who says
that if nothing changes there will be a nuclear attack of some sort within the decade?

GEORGE SHULTZ: Well our theme of that film is nuclear tipping point. We are at a point where things
could really get out of hand.

And the more people you have that have a nuclear weapon, particularly people who may very well have
contacts with those who want to get one to use it - not to deter attack but to use it - the more
likely it is that you're going to have an attack.

So we feel that it's urgent to get busy on this. Now you have countries scattered around the world
and if you find somebody who is suicidal in nature and gets their hands on a nuclear weapon then
they're not deterable.

ELEANOR HALL: Well you and your fellow tipping point stars, if I can call you that, are calling on
the US President to act. And it seems you're saying the US should act unilaterally if necessary.
What do you want him to do?

GEORGE SHULTZ: It's not possible for the US to solve this problem by acting unilaterally. There is
a lot of work being done and progress being made for instance in the creation of a nuclear fuel
bank that countries can draw from so they don't need enrich their own uranium and so on.

But it's obvious that since the United States and Russia have the vast bulk of nuclear weapons that
we would expect those two countries to go through a negotiation and get those numbers down.

And then you would like to see other countries that have nuclear weapons join in further

ELEANOR HALL: So do you think it's possible for the United States to disarm itself in terms of
nuclear weapons and still have adequate security?

GEORGE SHULTZ: Yes. But you do that in such a way that so does everybody else disarm themselves of
nuclear weapons.

ELEANOR HALL: Now documents recently released from the Reykjavik summit suggest that presidents
Reagan and Gorbachev almost reached a deal to completely abolish nuclear weapons. You were at that
summit. How close was the deal?

GEORGE SHULTZ: Well it was agreed by both that this was a goal that they agreed on. But we weren't
able to close the deal because of a disagreement about the importance of learning how to defend
ourselves against ballistic missiles.

ELEANOR HALL: So looking back at that meeting with the benefit of hindsight how much of a missed
opportunity was it?

GEORGE SHULTZ: I don't think it was a missed opportunity. I think it was a gigantic step forward in
the sense that so much was put on the table. So it was historic. And once things get on the table
they don't come off. And so after Reykjavik a lot was accomplished.

ELEANOR HALL: And yet you had two wary but willing leaders wanting to completely eradicate nuclear
weapons and you didn't achieve that. Do you really have a great deal of optimism that you can
achieve a deal to remove the world's nuclear weapons now?

GEORGE SHULTZ: When we came back from Reykjavik I was virtually summoned to the British
ambassador's residence.

And Margaret Thatcher was there and she said to me, "George how could you sit there and allow the
president to agree to get rid of nuclear weapons?"

I said, "Margaret, I agreed with him."

But her reaction was the reaction very generally that this was a terrible idea and thank goodness
the thing didn't gel. So it was an idea that was before it's time.

But now there seems to be a much more positive attitude.

ELEANOR HALL: Your film talks about forging a worldwide consensus but how realistic is that if
you're dealing with non-state players and political leaders like say Kim Jong-il in North Korea?

GEORGE SHULTZ: Certainly the uranium nuclear ambitions in the North Korean program have to be on
the front burner. We've got to do something about them.

ELEANOR HALL: Well let's look at the example of Iran. The Government says it's developing a nuclear
power industry but do you believe that Iran's Government has or wants to have nuclear weapons?


ELEANOR HALL: So sanctions haven't worked there. If the regime wants nuclear weapons how are you
going to convince it otherwise?

GEORGE SHULTZ: There is a need for a very active and I think what I would call hard-ball diplomacy.
That has not happened with Iran. There has to be a serious stranglehold put on them.

ELEANOR HALL: Well the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is at the moment trying to get another
round of sanctions. But will they work?

GEORGE SHULTZ: If they are comprehensive enough and strong enough.

Personally I don't take off the table military actions. We can't just stand around and let Iran get
away with stuff.

They have little boats that buzz around our ships. So if it were me I would authorise the captains
of the ship to say, if you come to close we're going to blast you out of the water. And if they
come too close blast them out of the water.

ELEANOR HALL: You don't sound like someone who's trying to broker a worldwide consensus against
nuclear aggression.

GEORGE SHULTZ: No I'm just saying that successful diplomacy takes place in collaboration with

ELEANOR HALL: Now you've also written that non-nuclear powers have grown increasingly sceptical of
the sincerity of nuclear powers.

I mean how much blame should nuclear countries like the US, Britain, France, bear for the declining
faith in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?

GEORGE SHULTZ: I think in the Cold War period no-one questioned the importance of the ability of
the United States to deter Soviet aggression and the nuclear weapons.

Now the Cold War is over and I think that at the next review conference coming up we have to show
that both sides of the equation are being honoured.

The problem is urgent and so President Obama is having a meeting in April as I understand it to try
to move this process along.

ELEANOR HALL: Are you afraid that there will be a nuclear weapons attack at some time in the near

GEORGE SHULTZ: I don't want to have one take place. I think it is too devastating and that's one
reason we have been pushing so hard and made that film.

But if it does happen people will say well now we'd better do something. And what I say is, and the
four of us have said is if that's what you would say after one has been detonated, why don't we say
it before that happens and get going and prevent it from happening.

Henry Kissinger who you quoted earlier said, "We have stolen fire from the Gods. Let us hope we can
contain it before it consumes us.". That's what we're trying to do.

ELEANOR HALL: George Shultz thanks very much for joining us.

GEORGE SHULTZ: Okay. Thank you.

ELEANOR HALL: And George Shultz was the US secretary of state during the Reagan administration.
He's now one of the stars of the film Nuclear Tipping Point. And you can hear a longer version of
that interview on our website.