Saperstein: “It represents a major constructive step forward in the goals of advancing U.S. security and moving toward ridding the world of the threat of nuclear weapons.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 26, 2010 – In response to President Obama’s announcement today of the negotiation of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Today, we welcome the agreement of new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the United States and Russia. It represents a major constructive step forward in the goals of advancing U.S. security and moving toward ridding the world of the threat of nuclear weapons.
President Obama has made curbing nuclear proliferation a signature issue, and we commend the Administration for taking the lead on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to be held this May, with the aim of strengthening that treaty to meet future challenges. For the U.S. and Russia to take such a dramatic step creates political momentum for a global response that follows their lead.
We are encouraged by the prioritization of obtaining Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits nations from conducting explosive nuclear tests and helps prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to countries that do not yet have technology to develop them. The greatest nuclear threat is the potential of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists or nations that seek to use them to impose their will on others.
In particular, we remain alarmed by Iran’s belligerence and unwillingness to engage openly with the international community on nuclear issues. The danger posed by a nuclear Iran is amplified by the possibility of its providing such capabilities to unstable states and terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran’s nuclear program threatens Israel’s security, United States and Canadian interests, and the stability of the Middle East. When the superpowers lead the way in reducing reliance on nuclear weapons as the primary source of political and military power, it strengthens their efforts to press other nations to follow their example and to work together toward effective non-proliferation.
Our concern about nuclear proliferation is rooted in Jewish rules of just warfare, which eschew weapons that would kill indiscriminately or create long-term damage to the environment. These ethics have inspired decades of Reform Movement activism against nuclear weapons proliferation. We look with hope to a strengthened START agreement and a global future free from nuclear weapons, asserting that nuclear non-proliferation will continue to be a major priority for the Reform Jewish Movement.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.