Wednesday, April 07, 2010

U.S. keeps first-strike nuke strategy, but reviews policy

Not long ago, President Obama reached an agreement with the Russian Federation's Dimitri Medvedev to begin reducing the number of nuclear weapons that the U.S. and Russia hold. The cuts were modest, but they were an important first step. Both sides will reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons by around 30%. This treaty needs a two-thirds vote in the Senate to be ratified.

The U.S. is also reviewing its policy on the use of nuclear weapons. Previously, the U.S. stated that it was willing to use nuclear weapons on non-nuclear opponents, especially if faced with an overwhelming conventional attack. In fact, the Bush administration sought to widen the permissible uses of nuclear weapons, using them against hardened targets with substantially less provocation. Now, the President seeks to declare that the U.S. will not use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear state that is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The eventual goal must be a world with zero offensive nuclear weapons. However, President Obama has taken some important first steps and I urge the Senate to follow through. Critics of these reductions are off-base: both the U.S. and Russia have more than sufficient nuclear weapons to destroy each other. Should Iran or North Korea foolishly decide to start a nuclear war with the U.S., there are sufficient weapons to annihilate each country several times over.

Articles are linked from the Washington Post, Voice of America and the Wall Street Journal.

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