- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Cable TV billionaire Ted Turner, calling the risk of nuclear annihilation "more complex and dangerous" than during the Cold War, announced yesterday the creation of a Nuclear Threat Initiative to decrease the danger.

"I am absolutely certain that the general American public, at least, is wildly underinformed about what these dangers are," Mr. Turner told a news conference at the National Press Club. He called nuclear proliferation "the greatest threat that humanity faces in the short term."

Former Sen. Sam Nunn, Georgia Democrat, will be co-chairman of the effort, to which Mr. Turner yesterday promised $250 million in funding over the next five years.

"Contrary to what many people believe, the threat posed by these weapons to our security and to the world's security remains very high," Mr. Nunn said, explaining that conditions in the former Soviet Union have increased the risk of nuclear accidents or terrorist use of such weapons.

"What we face today, 10 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is a situation that, despite our efforts, may be, in fact, more dangerous than during the Cold War … not in the sense of a global war, but in the sense of the use of these horrible weapons," said Mr. Nunn, former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Turner, founder of CNN and a vice chairman of Time-Warner, said the nuclear threat "is even more urgent now, since it seems to have fallen off most people's radar screens during the last 10 years since the Cold War ended."

He said a recent CNN special about nuclear strategy, "Rehearsing Doomsday," had "brought home to all of us who were involved a key fact, that we have lived virtually our entire lives under the threat of nuclear war."

Mr. Turner said: "If there had ever been a logical reason for this state of affairs, it no longer exists. We have, therefore, decided to do what we can to work towards decreasing this threat. There is no greater legacy that we can leave our children and grandchildren than a peaceful and safer world."

Mr. Turner, a major donor to environmental and population-control organizations, has also pledged $1 billion to support the United Nations.

He has assembled a high-profile board of directors for the Nuclear Threat Initiative. In addition to Mr. Nunn, the board includes Sen. Pete V. Domenici, New Mexico Republican, former Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, retired Air Force Gen. Eugene Habiger and Andrei Kokoshin, a member of the Russian parliament.

Speaking at yesterday's news conference, Mr. Nunn emphasized the dangers posed by nuclear technology in the former Soviet Union, the spread of chemical and biological weapons, and the recent tests of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan.

The only mention of communist China which has expanded its nuclear weapons capability in recent years was when Mr. Turner spoke of "the fact that we are no longer enemies with the Soviet Union or the People's Republic of China."

Mr. Turner stressed that, while his new initiative does not aim at complete nuclear disarmament, that remains his own personal goal.

"I personally advocate the complete elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, as quickly as possible," he said. "If fewer is better, then, in my opinion, zero is best."

• This story is based in part on wire service reports.


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