One of the last surviving scientists who built the first Soviet atomic bomb said on Tuesday that he supported US President Barack Obama's effort to work toward global nuclear disarmament.
"I fully support Obama's proposal to cut nuclear weapons. This needs to be done because it reduces the risk of nuclear war," Arkady Brish, 92, said when asked if he backed Obama's call for a world free of atomic weapons.
"We hope humanity will reach the moment when there is no need for nuclear weapons, when there is peace and calm in the world," he told reporters at a Moscow atomic research institute in a rare public appearance.
Foreign journalists were given an opportunity to speak with Brish during a Kremlin-organised tour of two nuclear-related sites ahead of the signing Thursday of a new US-Russia nuclear disarmament treaty.
Brish, who joined the Soviet atomic bomb project in 1947, said he and his fellow scientists had always perceived nuclear arms as "weapons of peace" intended to prevent war through deterrence.
"Nuclear war is unacceptable. It would lead to bloody losses, and once it begins it would wipe away humanity," said the elderly Russian scientist, who was wearing a black suit bedecked with rows and rows of medals.
Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev are set to sign the new disarmament treaty in Prague on Thursday, the first such pact in nearly a decade, after months of difficult negotiations.
Last year Obama committed the United States to the goal of seeking a world free of atomic weapons, though he admitted that was unlikely to happen within his lifetime.
Earlier Tuesday, the Obama administration released a long-awaited policy document on its nuclear strategy that sharply limited the scenarios in which the United States would use atomic weapons.
The Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb, the RDS-1, on August 29, 1949, in the Semipalatinsk test zone in northern Kazakhstan, four years after the United States detonated the first atomic bomb in history.