New Nuclear Weapons Strategy Announced
President Obama unveiled a new policy on Tuesday, restricting U.S. use of nuclear weapons, but sent a stern message to nuclear-defiant Iran and North Korea that they remain potential targets.
Marilynn K. Yee | The New York Times |
An anti-nuclear peace march in New York in 1982. No previous American president has set out a step-by-step agenda for the elimination of nuclear arms. President Barack Obama is starting relatively small, using a visit to Russia that starts Monday to advance an intense negotiation, with a deadline of the year's end, to reduce the arsenals of the nuclear superpowers to about 1,500 weapons each. It would be the first step, Obama and his aides insist, toward further reductions that would give the Un
President Barack Obama released a revised Nuclear Posture Review Tuesday, which makes significant changes to the position of the U.S. government regarding nuclear weapons, shifting the emphasis to preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.
Tuesday’s announcement comes just two days before the President is scheduled to sign a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague, and less than a week before a multi-nation nuclear security summit in Washington, DC. Obama plans to urge President Medvedev to return to the bargaining table following Senate ratification of the new START arms reduction treaty.
In an interview with The New York Times on Monday, Obama said that he wanted to clear the ambiguities and contradictions that exist in U.S. law on nuclear weapons and reduce the cases in authorizing the use of atomic arsenal even in self-defense.
“I'm going to preserve all the tools that are necessary in order to make sure that the people are safe and secure,” Obama told the Times.
Obama told The Times that in the future, the United States would commit to refrain from use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-armed nations in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attack the U.S. with biological or chemical weapons, or wage a cyber attack. The exceptions to this policy will be “outliers like Iran and North Korea,” Obama said.
“In making this strengthened assurance, the United States affirms that any state eligible for the assurance that uses chemical or biological weapons against the United States or its allies and partners would face the prospect of a devastating conventional military response - and that any individuals responsible for the attack, whether national leaders or military commanders, would be held fully accountable,” the President said.
Under the new strategy, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and their use by terrorists becomes the top priority of the U.S. nuclear agenda. And the U.S. will make “substantial investments” in managing its current weapons rather than build new ones, said the senior administration official, who did not want to go on record ahead of Tuesday's announcement.
“It will also extend the life of warheads currently in the nuclear arsenal,” the official told CNN. “This is an alternative to developing new nuclear weapons, which we reject.”
In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the international accord limiting the spread of nuclear weapons. The North is among the nonmembers of the treaty that has openly tested nuclear devices and claimed possession of nuclear weapons.
In the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review, published during the George W. Bush administration, the U.S. reserved the right to use nuclear weapons for “immediate, potential or unexpected” contingencies and dubbed North Korea a “chronic military concern” that could be involved in such contingencies. North Korea, at the time, claimed that the U.S. was preparing to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike at it. It has since conducted two nuclear tests.
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Whether dithering while men struggled on the battlefield, bullying sovereign nations, corrupting alliances or rushing headlong into dubious GITMO actions, this administration is in denial of the risky workings of the world. The Obama plan will be to implement an old progressive dream – unilateral nuclear disarmament in a perilous age. This administration is not only naïve about dealing with dictators; it is dangerous in its blundering. President Obama wants to change the world. But he is enfeebled by conceit and an obsession with a destructive ideology that enchains men to bureaucracy. His latest naiveté is represented by a sound bite “. . . a world without nuclear weapons.” The idea is so idealistic that it stands bold face as pandering hyperbole. It is like a wish for world peace – something everyone prays for. But because of the unrelenting bad guy, the barbarian, the bully under arms, it can never be. The left wants the evil “imperialist” America to back off and be nice. But do we really think dictators will lay down their arms and put away their designs on world hegemony? History demonstrates that peace is possible only by carrying a big stick and foreclosing foreign intrigue.
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