Obama to screen nuclear weapons documentary at White House

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post staff writer
Tuesday, April 6, 2010; 3:17 PM

President Obama will host a screening at the White House on Tuesday night of a documentary on the dangers of nuclear weapons, inviting a high-level, bipartisan group of foreign policy graybeards who are featured in the film.

Former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former defense secretary William Perry and former senator Sam Nunn will attend the exclusive showing of Nuclear Tipping Point, a film in which the four express their concerns about the dangers of the nuclear threats.

Former secretary of state Colin Powell and actor-filmmaker Michael Douglas, who narrates the film, will also attend, according to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. Douglas is on the board of directors of the Ploughshares Fund, which makes grants to organizations involved in reducing nuclear proliferation.

The screening comes as the administration is moving aggressively to implement the president's nuclear agenda.

On Tuesday, Obama unveiled a sweeping nuclear-weapons policy that puts new constraints on when the arms could be used. Obama travels to Prague on Wednesday to sign a new arms reduction treaty with Russia. And next week, he hosts leaders from 47 nations to discuss the dangers of the spread of nuclear material around the globe.

In the movie, the former officials describe their motivations in writing opinion articles expressing a desire to move away from a reliance on nuclear weapons -- positions that dovetail with the president's agenda.

Obama said in a major speech in Prague last year that the world should be on a trajectory toward the elimination of all nuclear weapons. In a statement issued Tuesday, Nunn endorsed that vision.

"If we want other nations to join us in a tough approach to nuclear terrorism and the spread of nuclear materials and weapons, I believe that we must commit to the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and lead the world in taking concrete steps to reduce nuclear dangers," said Nunn, a Democrat.

Kissinger, a Republican, added in the statement: "Once nuclear weapons are used, we will be driven to take global measures to prevent it. Why don't we do it now."

In pursuing his vision of a world without nuclear weapons, Obama is confronted with a difficult balancing act. Critics have accused the administration of risking the country's security as he reduces the reliance on nuclear deterrence.

Officials have stressed that the new START agreement and the Nuclear Posture Review released Tuesday maintain the country's strategic defense against threats, and say it provides greater flexibility in a changing world. Briefing reporters, Gibbs reiterated Obama's belief that the world will not reach his ultimate goal in the president's lifetime.

But he said the administration is seeking a policy trajectory that heads in that direction. Gibbs said the president and his guests will screen the film Tuesday evening. There will be no news coverage of the event.

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