Last week, John Edwards visited the Council on Foreign Relations–the citadel of the foreign policy establishment–to deliver a speech laying out his national security policy. There wasn’t anything remarkable about the speech, “A Strong Military for a New Century.” What was remarkable, however, was Edwards’ answer to a question posed by Cora Weiss –President of the Hague Appeal for Peace and long-time human rights, anti-nuclear and peace activist (and Nation reader).

In the subsequent (on the record) Q&A session, Edwards joined those who have called for the elimination of nuclear weapons. In doing so, he signed on to views expressed in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on January 4, signed by Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn, whch called for a world free of nuclear weapons. (Their newfound wisdom came nearly a decade after The Nation published Jonathan Schell’s The Gift of Time–a special issue calling for nuclear abolition.)

Here’s the Q&A:

Cora Weiss: — in keeping with your expression used today that there should be no excuse to abandon international law, and in keeping with the international court’s unanimous opinion that all countries should eliminate their nuclear weapons, and in keeping with Mr. Kissinger, Sam Nunn and Schultz’ op-ed in The Wall Street Journal calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons, when you are president, what will you do about nuclear weapons given that Mr. Bush has just announced the complex 2030 plan to redesign and develop a new generation of nuclear weapons?

John Edwards: Well, let me say first, I think I would want to associate myself with the concepts that are conveyed by Kissinger, Sam Nunn and others in the op-ed piece. I thought it was very thoughtful. And I think essentially what they said if I remember — I don’t remember the precise language — was that we should aspire to a nuclear-free world. I agree with that. Now, there are a lot of steps that have to go between here and there. Some of them are pretty obvious, which is America should not be building new nuclear weapons. And then I think America should be doing things like leading an international effort to close the holes in the NPT. There are clearly serious flaws in the NPT. And I think America, leading an international effort to reduce the supplies nuclear sense in the world — all aimed at the general goal that’s described in that piece that you just spoke about.

Now that Edwards has broken the resounding silence (among the leading Presidential candidates) on the nuclear threat which engulfs us all, and spoken openly of his support for a nuclear-free world, isn’t it time to challenge the other candidates to answer the same question?

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