U.S. President — and Nobel Peace Prize-winner — Barack Obama wants to achieve a nuclear weapons-free world. That’s a nice goal, but how achievable is it? Will the United States, Russia and China ever trust each other enough to give up all their nuclear weapons? I seriously doubt it. The expression “when hell freezes over” comes to mind.

Imagine, though, that hell did freeze over, and the U.S., Russia and China — plus France, Britain, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea and, perhaps, Iran — agreed to give up their nukes. Don’t you think some of those countries might put aside at least a few nukes “just in case”? I would definitely bet on it.

Imagine Obama announcing, “The U.S. now has no nuclear weapons!” Would Russia and China follow his example? What if they didn’t? What would prevent either from launching an immediate attack on the U.S., or Japan? I’m not so sure that world opinion, international good will or Obama’s offer of a beer at the White House would serve as an effective deterrent.

So, if nuclear weapons cannot be un-invented, what’s the best we can hope for? First, we should improve security to keep nukes out of the hands of terrorists; second, do what is necessary to stop dictatorships, especially the suicidal and fanatical kind, from developing or acquiring their own nuclear arms; and, third, reduce existing nuclear stockpiles. These are realistic, achievable goals, and whoever achieves them will be truly deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.

joseph marriott