For 40 years, nothing has expressed American exceptionalism more loudly than its massive nuclear weapons arsenal, which includes nearly 10,000 nuclear warheads. And nothing has done more to fuel resentment against the United States and the other members of the nuclear club, unifying countries like Brazil that have foregone nuclear weapons programs and those like Iran, which are purportedly pursuing them.
Here’s what leaders of the developing world had to say Monday about the failure of the declared nuclear weapons states to disarm their nuclear arsenals four decades after committing to do so in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:
"The Non-Proliferation Treaty is an intrinsically unfair treaty which divides the world between haves and haves not," said Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. "It is the product of an era in which military might, especially nuclear weapons, were the main if not the sole source of prestige and political power."
"The world should realize that the doctrines of nuclear deterrence neither bring about peace nor international security," said Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty M. Natalegawa, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. "As long as some states continue to possess nuclear weapons, there will always be a tendency for others to also possess those catastrophic weapons."
"The first atomic weapons were produced and used by the United States. This seemed, apparently, to provide the United States and its allies with the upper hand in World War II." said Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Regrettably, the government of the United States has not only used nuclear weapons, but also continues to threaten to use such weapons against other countries, including Iran."
"There are resentments between nuclear haves and have nots," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "I urge nuclear weapons states to reaffirm the ‘unequivocal undertaking’ to eliminate nuclear weapons. Failure to do so would be a step backward."
"As long as states appear to covet their nuclear weapons and to be reluctant to relinquish them, others will covet them too and will strive to acquire them," said Ireland’s Foreign Minister Micheál Martin.
"President Obama and I know that there are many different perspectives and historical experiences represented in this room," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton. "We know that there are doubts among some about whether nuclear-weapons states, including my country, are prepared to help lead this effort. I am here to tell you as clearly as I can: the United States will do its part. I represent a president and a country committed to a vision of a world without nuclear weapons and to taking the concrete steps that will help us get there."