Trump - Putin summit: Time for dialogue, detente and disarmament

President Trump and President Putin to meet in Helsinki on July 16.

Nuclear arms control will likely be on the agenda for the meeting.

President Donald Trump and President Vladamir Putin will meet on July 16 in what will be the first formal summit of the two leaders.

The summit is both important and significant, coming at a time of heightened tensions, mutual suspicions and conflicts between the two countries.

The choice of Helsinki for the summit is both appropriate and propitious – being the place where the Helsinki accords were adopted by the United States, Soviet Union and 33 European states in 1975.

These accords affirmed the intent, and set in motion a process, to improve relations between the East and West, prevent a nuclear holocaust, and build common security, including through the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is now called the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

'Parliamentarians and arms control advocates are calling on the two presidents to use this opportunity to advance dialogue, détente and disarmament in the spirit of the Helsinki accords,' says Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which meets one week before the Trump-Putin Summit, has already called on the USA and Russia to reduce the risks of a nuclear war by taking nuclear weapons off high-alert and adopting no-first-use policies.

Women legislators statement

Last month, 50 leading women parliamentarians from 23 countries (including many from Europe) released an appeal to leaders of nuclear-armed states supporting the above calls from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and also urging governments to phase out their reliance on nuclear deterrence with reliance on common security.

'The United Nations was established with an array of mechanisms through which nations can resolve conflicts, negotiate disarmament and achieve security through diplomacy not war. These have been supplemented by additional common security mechanisms such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.'

'We urge governments to make better use of these common security mechanisms, and especially to replace reliance on nuclear deterrence with reliance on common security.'

And last year, German parliamentarians Roderich Kiesewetter (CDU), Ute Finckh-Krämer (SPD) and Agnieszka Brugger (Greens) initiated a European parliamentarians’ joint letter to NATO and OSCE to reduce nuclear threats and support disarmament.

Other calls on the Trump-Putin Summit

The U.S. Arms Control Association (ACA) expects that the summit will include discussion of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which will expire in 2021, and the compliance dispute over the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. ACA is calling on the USA and Russia to extend the New START Treaty and to undertake further cuts in nuclear weapons, especially in tactical nuclear weapons. (See The Trump-Putin Summit: What You Need to Know).

Initiatives pour le Désarmement Nucléaires (IDN), a French international relations think-tank, has issued an appeal for NATO States meeting at the NATO Summit (July 11-12), to call on President Trump and President Putin to eliminate tactical nuclear weapons from the European theatre. This would involve the US removing its nuclear weapons stationed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey. And it would involve Russia agreeing to verified decommissioning of their tactical nuclear weapons.

According to other policy analysts, such incremental disarmament measures are urgently required, but are insufficient to end the threat of a nuclear exchange by accident, miscalculation or intent.  

John Hallam, Co-Chair of the Abolition 2000 Working Group on Nuclear-Risk Reduction, calls for more. ‘Trump and Putin should also consider lowering the alert status of US and Russian weapons that are maintained in a state of immediate readiness to launch, 'No-First-Use' commitments, better military-to-military communications (re-establishing and upgrading hotlines instead of scrapping them), and an end to provocative and potentially dangerous military exercises close to each other’s borders.‘

'In addition, the leaders should reaffirm the joint statement of Gorbachev and Reagan made in 1986 that “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

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