The film is a project coordinated by the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-profit agency co-chaired by former Georgia senator Sam Nunn and CNN founder Ted Turner.
“Nuclear Tipping Point” is, in fact, the video version of an argument that a bipartisan quartet – Nunn, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, and William Perry – have made in a series of op-ed pieces for the Wall Street Journal.
Nuclear weaponry is an outdated feature of the Cold War, the era’s former architects argue. Here’s the trailer:
Hoffman’s piece is worth reading in its entirety, but it includes this:
In the film, Nunn returns to a topic that has concerned him for years — the danger of accidental launch or miscalculation. At the peak of the Cold War, a president would have only minutes to decide on a course of action after receiving a warning of a nuclear attack.
In the 1980s, Nunn and John Warner, the outgoing Virginia Republican senator, proposed creating risk-reduction centers in the United States and Soviet Union to share information in a crisis. In 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union signed an agreement establishing Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in Washington and Moscow.
Nunn and Warner had also suggested a more ambitious effort, but it was not adopted.
In his recently-published Nuclear Posture Review, setting down nuclear weapons policy for the next five to 10 years, Obama decided not to take intercontinental ballistic missiles off alert.
But in the film, Nunn makes a strong appeal for doing so, giving a president more time to make a decision and avoid a mistake. The land-based missiles are generally on four-minute alert and submarines 12 minutes.
“Now, people would assume that cannot be, the Cold War is over,” Nunn says in the film. “Are we still in that posture? The answer is, we are. The number of weapons on quick launch on both sides is something to me that is absolutely ridiculous, bordering on insanity…
“And if we have, let’s say, four, five minutes’ warning now, we ought to double it, and once we get to 10 minutes, we ought to go to 20, and then to 40, and then to 60, and then to hours, and then days, and nuclear weapons become less relevant.”
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