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Our Legacy to a New Generation: A World Free of Nuclear Weapons

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. WOOLSEY. Madam Speaker, there was good news on the national security front last week. North Korea, one of the most dangerous rogue nations on the Earth, far more dangerous than Iraq was when we invaded 9 years ago, has agreed to suspend nuclear weapons activity. Through careful diplomacy, the Obama administration has secured this concession by offering badly needed nutritional assistance to North Koreans.

The North Korean regime has also consented to stop uranium enrichment, impose an important moratorium on long-range missile testing, and allow international weapons inspectors into the country for the first time in 3 years.

Of course, we must remain cautious, and we must remain vigilant in our dealings with North Korea. But it's clear that peaceful negotiations and diplomacy, as opposed to saber rattling that we've seen much too often in the recent past, is advancing our national security interests and moving us closer to a future of peace and security.

The President and Secretary Clinton deserve credit for this breakthrough. They have made nonproliferation and the securing of loose nuclear material top priorities. The New START Treaty represented a critical step in finally putting the Cold War behind us and increasing security cooperation between Russia and the United States.

It's my hope now that we will be bolder and more ambitious because it's time for the United States to exercise global leadership and true statesmanship, and move toward complete dismantling of our nuclear arsenal. That's exactly the long-term goal we committed to as a Nation when we signed the NPT 40 years ago.

To that end, Madam Speaker, I've introduced a resolution called NO NUKES, which stands for Nonproliferation Options for Nuclear Understanding to Keep Everyone Safe. NO NUKES. NO NUKES moves us aggressively in that direction.

It makes no sense at all that we have thousands of nuclear warheads when just one of them has the power to end life on Earth as we know it.

And if that's not good enough, eliminating nuclear weapons isn't just a matter of human rights and moral urgency, it's also a big budget item at a time when we must be exercising fiscal restraint.

We currently spend over $50 billion a year on maintenance of our existing nuclear arsenal. How about we invest that money on programs that save lives instead of weapons designed to destroy life? For nearly a decade now, we've defended our country and its interests by sending thousands of troops to die in a foreign war that isn't making America safer but is costing Americans billions of dollars every month.

Madam Speaker, there has to be a different way. My SMART Security Platform advances the idea that we make the world safer, not through acts of war and arms escalation, but through cooperation and conflict resolution.

For nearly my entire life, the world has lived under a shadow of nuclear confrontation. My oldest child turned 50 over the weekend. He was an infant in my arms during the terrifying days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We can't make another generation go through that.

Actually, my 7-year-old grandson, Jake Eddie, is joining me in Washington this week, and I believe it is our responsibility to make a promise to him and to his classmates and his peers. Our legacy to them must be a world free of nuclear weapons. Our legacy to them must be a peaceful future. And one step in the right direction, in the memory of DONALD PAYNE, is to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.

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