An important and inspiring new group, Global Zero, launched in Paris this week with a goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons in 20 to 25 years.

More than 100 prominent military, political, faith, and business leaders met in Paris and delegations then visited both Washington and Moscow to push Global Zero’s program. The group sees this as a watershed moment — with President-elect Barack Obama declaring his support for a nuclear-free world and polling in 21 countries indicating 76% favorability for a timetable leading to the elimination of nukes. Through diplomacy and a global public education campaign, Global Zero will work toward a binding verifiable agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons. The US and Russia still possess 96% of the world’s nukes so the organization sees reductions there as a key first step towards achieving its goal and bringing other nations on board.

There are many prominent figures involved with the group. Some of the signatories include: Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Lawrence Bender, Sandy Berger, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Joe Cirincione, Michael Douglas, Lawrence Eagleburger, Chuck Hagel, Lee Hamilton, Frank Von Hippel, Anthony Lake, Robert McNamara, David Owen, Thomas Pickering, Mary Robinson, Jonathan Schell (see below), Nation contributor Martin Sherwin, Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Yunnus, Anthony Zinni, Ehsan Ul-Haq, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Pakistan, and Brajesh Mishra, former Indian National Security Advisor.

It has been remarkable to witness how an idea once considered radical — nuclear abolition — has now entered the mainstream. Eleven years ago, The Nation‘s peace and disarmament correspondent, Jonathan Schell, wrote forand edited our special issue calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. At that moment such a position was considered unrealistic and was marginalized and derided by the mainstream media. Now we see the elimination of nukes being called for by the likes of former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former Senator Sam Nunn. We’re proud that The Nation — then and now — asks questions when others won’t, and expands the debate where others seek to limit it. We refuse to accept the downsized politics of excluded alternatives and now many of those alternatives are at the new political center.

The nuclear abolition movement is gaining momentum. You can get involved right now by signing on with Global Zero.