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Obama Presses for Nuclear Weapons Reductions

(Apr. 6) -U.S. President Barack Obama waves yesterday as he leaves Prague, where he touted a plan for promoting global nuclear disarmament (Michal Cizek/Getty Images). (Apr. 6) -U.S. President Barack Obama waves yesterday as he leaves Prague, where he touted a plan for promoting global nuclear disarmament (Michal Cizek/Getty Images).

U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday said the United States would lead a renewed effort to cut the number of nuclear weapons around the world, the New York Times reported (see GSN, March 27).

“In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up,” Obama said in Prague, in the wake of North Korea's latest rocket launch (see related GSN story, today). “Black market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound. The technology to build a bomb has spread.”

Terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda are "determined to buy, build or steal" a nuclear weapon, but there have not been sufficient efforts to prevent that from occurring, Obama said.

Washington intends to "reduce the role of nuclear weapons" in its national security planning and will promote similar moves in other nations, Obama said. The president noted that he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last week signed an agreement to begin immediate talks on further nuclear arsenal reductions under a replacement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires in December (see GSN, April 1).

U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty will also be a priority, Obama said (see GSN, March 30; Cooper/Sanger, New York Times, April 6).

The United States plans to organize a meeting in the coming year on the reduction and potential elimination of the global arsenal of nuclear weapons, the Associated Press reported. Obama further promoted additional activities to secure nuclear material stored around the world.

Also on the agenda are establishment of a treaty ending production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty through additional resources and strong penalties against violators, AP reported.

"Some argue that the spread of these weapons cannot be checked -- that we are destined to live in a world where more nations and more people possess the ultimate tools of destruction," he said. "This fatalism is a deadly adversary. For if we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable" (Mark Smith, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, April 5).

Washington hopes that cutting the number of U.S. nuclear warheads and related efforts will encourage other nations to make changes to nuclear pacts and to penalize the Iran and North Korea for their ongoing nuclear activities, the Times reported (Cooper/Sanger, New York Times).

Moscow and Washington expect to begin nuclear reduction talks this month, Agence France-Presse reported.

"We should be starting the consultations before the end of April," according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

The two nations are expected to seek arsenal cuts well beyond the limit set by the 2002 Moscow Treaty, which allows them each to possess between 1,700 and 2,200 operationally deployed nuclear warheads (Agence France-Presse/NASDAQ.com, April 4).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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