Nuclear Darkness

A Roadmap for Peace

On September 20, 1961, in the city of Belgrade, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the McCloy-Zorin Accords. This remarkable agreement, which calls for “War No Longer”, set guidelines for not only nuclear disarmament, but complete and general disarmament of all nations of the world. Should the political will be found to achieve it, the ideas contained in these Accords can still be used to reach this goal.

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, gave a speech to the United Nations five days after the McCloy-Zorin Accords were signed. During his speech, he made these statements:

Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.

Men no longer debate whether armaments are a symptom or a cause of tension. The mere existence of modern weapons--ten million times more powerful than any that the world has ever seen, and only minutes away from any target on earth--is a source of horror, and discord and distrust. Men no longer maintain that disarmament must await the settlement of all disputes--for disarmament must be a part of any permanent settlement. And men may no longer pretend that the quest for disarmament is a sign of weakness--for in a spiraling arms race, a nation's security may well be shrinking even as its arms increase.

For fifteen years this organization [the United Nations] has sought the reduction and destruction of arms. Now that goal is no longer a dream--it is a practical matter of life or death. The risks inherent in disarmament pale in comparison to the risks inherent in an unlimited arms race.

It is in this spirit that the recent Belgrade Conference--recognizing that this is no longer a Soviet problem or an American problem, but a human problem--endorsed a program of "general, complete and strictly an internationally controlled disarmament." [the McCloy-Zorin Accords] It is in this same spirit that we in the United States have labored this year, with a new urgency, and with a new, now statutory agency fully endorsed by the Congress, to find an approach to disarmament which would be so far-reaching, yet realistic, so mutually balanced and beneficial, that it could be accepted by every nation. And it is in this spirit that we have presented with the agreement of the Soviet Union--under the label both nations now accept of "general and complete disarmament"--a new statement of newly-agreed principles for negotiation.

But we are well aware that all issues of principle are not settled, and that principles alone are not enough. It is therefore our intention to challenge the Soviet Union, not to an arms race, but to a peace race- -to advance together step by step, stage by stage, until general and complete disarmament has been achieved. We invite them now to go beyond agreement in principle to reach agreement on actual plans.

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