Nuclear Disarmament

In a speech in Berlin today, President Obama called for another nuclear-arms reduction. This follows the 2010 New START treaty in which the U.S. and Russia agreed to cut strategic nuclear arms to 1,550 warheads by February 5, 2018. Obama’s new proposal called to cut that number by a third, to between 1,000 and 1,000 warheads.

A potential hurdle to further nuclear arms reduction is U.S. missile defense systems and precision conventional weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced concern that U.S. plans for anti-missile defenses could undermine the proposal. They would cause Russia to need more missiles in order to maintain deterrence capabilities.

Not mentioned was the possibility of a nuclear arms treaty with China. China currently has an estimated 250 warheads and is actively expanding its capability. While the U.S. and Russia already have mutual site inspections through the New START treaty, no such agreement exists with China.

Obama said during the speech, “So long as nuclear weapons exist we are not truly safe.” This reflects his commitment to the Global Zero plan to completely eliminate nuclear weapons. However, recent IAEA reports from Iran indicate that the world may actually be moving farther away from such a goal. The IAEA chief Yukiya Amano recently reported that Iran is making “steady progress” toward expanding its nuclear program. When asked about the effect of other international efforts to make Iran curb its progress, he said “I don’t see any impact.”

Additional Resources

The Wall Street Journal, Obama Calls for Nuclear-Arms Reduction: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323893504578555123840682206.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

The Washington Post, Obama to Call for Nuclear Warhead Reduction in U.S., Russia: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-to-call-for-nuclear-warhead-reduction-in-us-russia/2013/06/19/23b8e7aa-d8ac-11e2-a9f2-42ee3912ae0e_story.html?hpid=z2

Reuters, Obama Challenges Russia to agree to Deeper Nuclear Weapons Cuts: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/03/nuclear-states-developing-new-weapons-report

Reuters, Iran Nuclear Program Advances despite Sanctions: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/17/us-iran-nuclear-iaea-idUSBRE95G0VQ20130617

The Guardian, Nuclear States Developing New Weapons in Defiance of Treaty, Report Claims: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/03/nuclear-states-developing-new-weapons-report

 

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