The presidents of the United States and Russia have proclaimed that they will work for a world without nuclear weapons. Vice President Joe Biden reaffirmed that goal in a recent major policy speech. But the speech was more than that: Biden affirmed that a world without nuclear weapons would also be a compass by which the administration would steer current policy. He did so by announcing the administration's strong support for increased funding for the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories. This was the same message that four champions of a world without nuclear weapons—George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Bill Perry, and Sam Nunn—delivered last January in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.
The essential point in these statements is that America's real nuclear deterrent resides in the skills of its scientists and engineers, more than in the numbers and types of weapons that have been manufactured at any given time. That will remain true even if all of the world's nuclear weapons have been eliminated.