Yesterday President Obama made nuclear disarmament a central theme of his speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Today he chairs a Security Council meeting on the issue. For a look at what the president needs to say and do to convince the world that he means business, we turn to two men who are experts in the realms of diplomacy, foreign policy and nuclear proliferation. Hans Blix served as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1981 to 1997 before he was tapped to lead the U.N. committee charged with searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We also speak to Joe Cirincione, president of the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund. He also wrote the book "Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons."
"On the Iranian issue, I think the focus in the Western world has been, perhaps, too much on the sanctions. All on the whips, and not so much on the carrots. If you want to get a country to act in a particular direction, the carrots are just as important. It's instructive to compare the attitude taken towards North Korea on the one hand and Iran on the other. North Korea, they [have been] offered diplomatic relations with both the U.S. and Japan if they scrap their nuclear program. They're also offered security guarantees. None of these elements have, so far, been raised publicly for Iran."
"Every president since Truman has called for the elimination of these weapons, including Ronald Reagan, who wanted to make them 'impotent and obsolete.' What's different is that Obama is calling for this vision and coupling it with a concrete program on how to get started, step-by-step. He's not doing it unilaterally; he's doing it with the Russians. He says, 'We have to start. The United States and Russia own 96% of all the weapons in the world. The U.S. has about 10,000, Russia has about 12,000 -- we have to take the first steps.' He's right about that, and he's acting on it."
--Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund
Here are highlights of President Obama's address to the United Nations yesterday: