Dr Kate Hudson
CND General Secretary
Kate Hudson has been General Secretary of CND since September 2010. Prior to this she served as the organisation's Chair from 2003. She is a leading anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner nationally and internationally.

It’s a year since President Obama made his famous Prague speech, committing to a nuclear weapons-free world. As President Medvedev of Russia added his voice to the call, hopes were high that real progress would be made towards that goal. Those were truly inspiring moments, and although there have been times since then that I felt hope was receding, finally words have been turned into actions. Now a new Treaty is to be signed, which will make significant reductions to US and Russian deployed nuclear weapons. It’s not everything we want, but it is a step in the right direction.

But at times over the past few months it has seemed as if the whole process could be derailed. So what was going wrong? After all, countless world leaders and dignitaries have also spoken up. Thousands will gather at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York in May, to urge states to agree steps for a disarmament process. So why did the momentum slow? After all, President Obama even received the Nobel Peace Prize because of his intentions on nuclear disarmament. And the main obstacle to agreement – Bush’s planned ‘missile defence’ system in the Czech Republic and Poland – appeared to be abandoned.

As I have observed before, ‘missile defence’ reappeared in the autumn as a spanner in the works. The US administration has plans for a new version of the system in eastern Europe, this time in Romania, and perhaps Bulgaria. It is this new version that was proving to be an obstacle to the new START Treaty. The Americans refused to include it and the Russians refused to leave it out. For the time being, a compromise has been reached. The system has been included in the preamble to the Treaty, and either side can cease reductions if they feel that ‘defensive’ systems are putting them at risk. But is this enough to ensure ratification of the Treaty by the Russian parliament? And is it too much to ensure ratification by the US Senate? Yesterday’s suggestion by Anders Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO, that Russia should be included in a NATO ‘missile defence shield’ adds an interesting new dimension to the controversy. Watch this space…