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The Beginning of the End of Nuclear Weapons

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It was my privilege to witness the United Nations Security Council Summit yesterday unanimously adopt a resolution calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. It was the first Security Council Summit ever dedicated to nuclear proliferation and disarmament and the first chaired by a U.S. President.

In addressing the Security Council members, President Obama declared: "The historic resolution we just adopted enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons."

Building on the extraordinary leadership of Presidents Obama and Medvedev, who in April committed to work together to eliminate all nuclear weapons, this resolution is a significant step toward an international consensus on this goal and a stirring moment for so many who have worked on this issue for so long. World leaders are recognizing that whatever stability nuclear arsenals may have provided during the Cold War is now outweighed by the growing risks of proliferation and nuclear terrorism, and the only way to eliminate the nuclear threat is to eliminate all nuclear weapons. They have resolved to work together in the interests of our common security to achieve this goal.

As a leader of Global Zero -- an international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, as a citizen of one of the most dangerous regions in the world, and as a deeply concerned parent, I believe that yesterday's action by the Security Council comes at a critical moment as the world approaches a nuclear tipping point when nuclear weapons spread beyond the capacity of any effort to rein them in. This resolution helps to set the course toward the only responsible path -- the path to global zero.

To help turn this vision into a practical goal, Global Zero has developed a step-by-step four-phased plan for the elimination of nuclear weapons over 20 years. Since the Cold War ended 20 years ago, the total number of nuclear weapons worldwide has been reduced by nearly 40,000 -- from approximately 60,000 to the 23,000 in existence today. Could we not aim over the next 20 years to eliminate the remaining 23,000 warheads and leave to our children and grandchildren a world without nuclear weapons?

What happened yesterday at the Security Council was an historic step -- but we still have a long way to go. Governments must take action, beginning with deep bilateral reductions in U.S. and Russian arsenals -- following the current negotiations on the START replacement accord -- as well as serious multilateral discussions about the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons, the establishment of a comprehensive verification and enforcement system, and strengthened safeguards on the civilian nuclear fuel cycle.

And the message to every country must be clear: the international community is resolved to join together in the interests of our common security to eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide, and all nations must join in this pursuit with no exception.

Eliminating all nuclear weapons will require people from around the world to get involved. In fact, last night college students launched "Global Zero" chapters on dozens of campuses- a trend I hope we will see develop in every nuclear state. To join me and the citizens from every country around the world who are already part of this movement, go to globalzero.org and sign the declaration.

If yesterday's resolution is not followed up by action in the months and years ahead, it will fade into the history books as words on a piece of paper and nothing more. If, on the other hand, leaders and citizens seize this historic moment and act with determination and resolve, perhaps our children and grandchildren will look back on yesterday as the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.

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