President Biden and Putin: Re-Imagine and Secure Humanity’s Future

We join the world in the hope that the June 16 Geneva summit meeting between Presidents Biden and Putin will be successful. Given that human survival lies in the balance of U.S.-Russian relations and tensions, we need more than an exchange of views and cautious steps to improve strategic stability. For humanity’s sake, we urge the U.S. and Russian leaders to re-imagine and take bold diplomatic steps to secure humanity’s future.

The summit comes at a critical time when US -Russian relations are at a generational low as they have engaged in strategic competitions on many levels. The two powers are spending vast fortunes to upgrade their potentially omnicidal nuclear arsenals. Militaries are engaging in dangerously provocative military exercises on both sides of Russia’s borders, the Baltic and Black Seas, and in around the Arctic Ocean. And the threat remains of an escalating war over Ukraine. An accident or miscalculation could trigger an escalating conflict beyond control.

In 1982, at the height of a spiraling U.S.-Soviet Cold War arms race, with the participation of leading Russians and Americans, the Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues released its “Common Security.” report. Its lessons then, which greatly contributed to the negotiation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the end of the Cold War, are as relevant today as they were then:

“In the modern age, security cannot be obtained unilaterally. Economically, politically, culturally and – most important – militarily – we live in an increasingly interdependent world. The security of one nation cannot be bought at the expense of others.”

In addition to the threat of nuclear annihilation, humanity faces the additional existential threats of the climate emergency and the current and future pandemics. These can  be contained and reversed only through collaborative efforts on a global scale. Wasting scientific, economic, and political resources in a new Cold War poses unacceptable obstacles to creating environmental and health security.

Recalling that an earlier period of existential threat to human survival led Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein to urge that we remember our humanity and forget the rest, we call on Presidents Biden and Putin to:

  • Declare that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
  • Commit to adopting no first use nuclear doctrine and near-term negotiation of verifiable agreements to eliminate the danger of first strike nuclear war fighting.
  • Restore the INF Treaty limitations and prohibit deployment of “more usable” battlefield nuclear weapons.
  • Renew their commitments to Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and publish a timeline for the fulfillment of commitments made during previous NPT Review Conferences. Furthermore, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal must come to power again. We call for the international support for the TPNW.
  • Halt provocative military U.S., NATO, and Russian military exercises in the Baltic and Black Seas and the Artic Ocean and along the NATO/Russian border.
  • Halt shipment of arms supplies to the warring parties in Ukraine and renew their commitments to fulfilling the Minsk agreements.
  • Announce the commencement of negotiations to eliminate the danger of cyber hacking of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and their infrastructures essential for human security.
  • Commit to jointly provide vaccines and necessary materials for more than a billion Covid-19 shots via COVAX, and to future joint research for pandemic prevention.
  • Commit to joint initiatives to reverse climate change.

Three decades ago, in the course of their summit meeting in Malta, U.S. and Soviet leaders declared an end to the Cold War and the beginning of a new era of peace and security. Humanity urgently needs no less as we enter the third decade of the 21st century. IPB is calling for a new social contract.

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