It is heartening that 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the United States has ratified a verifiable new treaty to reduce nuclear arsenals. Such a decision is especially meaningful in what is for Christians the season of peace. With member churches around the world we thank God for this small but significant demonstration of progress on a problem that continues to deny the hopes of people everywhere.

We also welcome cross-party support in one nation for a decision that concerns all nations. The US and other nuclear powers do not possess weapons of mass destruction in isolation. They do so against the best interests of humanity.

The New START treaty not only sets practical goals to reduce warheads and launchers. It also sends a signal that governments can do more than block international progress year after year for narrow national interests. Progress is long overdue on another step that President Obama and many other leaders link to the vision of a world without nuclear weapons – a treaty to stop production of fuel for nuclear bombs. It has been stalled at the Conference on Disarmament here in Geneva for years. In nuclear disarmament as in climate change, when powerful countries provide leadership with accountability their example helps others to do likewise.

The ratification by Russia of the New START treaty would be a welcome start to 2011. We pray that the New Year will see more such news that is good news for all.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches