On this date, 75 years ago, the nuclear age arrived, when the United States became the first, and so far only, country to use a nuclear weapon in war. The scenes of death and destruction, first from Hiroshima and then Nagasaki, still horrify us, three-quarters of a century later. They reach through history to remind us of the hideous damage nuclear weapons can inflict, and our collective responsibility to ensure that such weapons are never again used.
For decades, American leaders of both parties have understood that the United States has a national security imperative and a moral responsibility to reduce nuclear threats, including by negotiating treaties and agreements to control and eventually eliminate these weapons. It was this essential diplomacy that provided strategic stability during the dangerous Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union and that galvanized the international community to limit the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries. It’s why the Obama-Biden administration led the diplomatic effort that put Iran’s nuclear ambitions under lock and key, negotiated the New START Treaty with Russia to verifiably reduce both countries’ nuclear arsenals to their lowest level in six decades, and reduced the dangers of nuclear terrorism through the work of four Nuclear Security Summits.
These efforts made America, and her allies and partners, safer. But, as with so much else, Donald Trump has squandered this inheritance. The Trump administration has systematically eroded or abandoned multiple international agreements, with no regard for the consequences and no plan for anything to replace them. He has lessened our leadership and weakened our security for nothing. Trump’s showmanship with North Korea has not constrained its growing nuclear arsenal. His withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has only put Iran back on the path toward a nuclear weapon and cost us the confidence of our allies and partners in the process. His administration has even considered recklessly returning to nuclear testing. These repeated failures of leadership and judgement have yielded a more dangerous world.
Today, on this solemn anniversary, we must all recommit to our ultimate goal — a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons. That work begins with the United States and Russia agreeing to extend the New START Treaty, an act of statesmanship that would be welcomed by nations around the world. But it must not end there. As President, I will restore American leadership on arms control and nonproliferation as a central pillar of U.S. global leadership. I will strengthen our alliances to keep the American people safe from nuclear and other global threats. And I will work to bring us closer to a world without nuclear weapons, so that the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are never repeated.