Obama Administration to Push for Deeper Nuclear Reductions
In an upcoming decision, the Obama administration is poised to pare down the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This move, which the president is likely to discuss in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, has the support of many experts who note it’s about time the U.S. moved away from Cold War weapons and invested in a 21st century security strategy that will make us more secure.
“The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the cold war. […] What is it we’re really trying to deter? Our current arsenal does not address the threats of the 21st century,” said former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James E. Cartwright.
“Senior Obama administration officials have agreed that the number of nuclear warheads the U.S. military deploys could be cut by at least a third without harming national security,” reports Jeffrey Smith of the Center for Public Integrity, a Ploughshares Fund grantee who broke the story on Friday, followed by stories in the New York Times, The Guardian, and other media outlets.
This assessment comes as part of a new Presidential Policy Directive that would set targeting strategy for the U.S. force and determine the number of nuclear weapons needed to meet today’s threats. The policy is likely to conclude that 1,000-1,100 deployed nuclear warheads would meet U.S. deterrence goals. It “makes clear that an even smaller nuclear force can still meet all defense requirements,” deter attack, and protect American interests by “targeting fewer, but more important, military or political sites in Russia, China, and several other countries.” The President’s top foreign policy and military advisers agree with this assessment, and the President is “fully on board.”
The nuclear reductions proposed by the new directive also have the added benefit of “substantial” financial savings. With shrinking defense budgets and tough fiscal choices, money saved on nuclear weapons is money that can be spent on capabilities used to counter 21st century threats.
Administration officials interviewed by Smith emphasized that the proposed reductions will not take place immediately. Rather, “the administration’s ambition is to negotiate an addendum of sorts to its 2010 New Start treaty with Russia, in the form of a legally-binding agreement or an informal understanding.”
Nuclear reductions, like those proposed in the directive, have the support of President Obama’s new national security team. Moreover, they also reflect the advice of national security leaders on both sides of the aisle - including Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam Nunn, William Perry and many others.
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