January 15, 2016—Back in 2009, President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize due to his efforts to speed up the global nuclear disarmament process. Now, Obama is in charge of one of the boldest plans to develop and deploy the most powerful nuclear weapons in history.
To Andy Weber, the former assistant secretary of defense who was in charge of helping oversee the nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs in the United States between 2009 and 2014, the country’s military is strong. To Weber, advanced nuclear programs won’t make much of a difference.
“What we’re talking about today, and what [former Defense] Secretary [William J.] Perry and I have come out against, is a new nuclear armed cruise missile that’s launched from our bombers,” Weber told PRI.
Among many concerns, Weber says that the program is “unaffordable and unnecessary.”
“The Pentagon is currently planning to buy 1,000 to 1,100 of these new nuclear armed cruise missiles, which we think are very destabilizing.”
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signed a deal committing both nations to “reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification.” To many, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty helped to put an end to the Cold War.
In 2010, Russia and America also signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as “New START.” The 10-year agreement limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads. But to Obama, both treaties appear to be just one small detail. Keeping them and their importance in the past serves him well.
To William J. Perry, the US secretary of defense from 1994 to 1997, and Weber, Obama’s decision to embrace a more powerful nuclear program is Cold War thinking, “and it’s dangerous.”
According to an article penned by both Weber and Perry, the “‘tactical’ use of nuclear weapons would be a grave mistake.”
“As Bush told the nation in 1991 when he announced his path-breaking Presidential Nuclear Initiative: ‘We can enhance stability and actually reduce the risk of nuclear war. Now is the time to seize the opportunity.'”
Instead of watching Obama put America in the path of another Cold War, the two men are urging the administration to cancel the enhanced nuclear program. To them, being smart about our nuclear capacities would force other nations to scale back:
“Such strong U.S. leadership, coupled with a challenge to the other major nuclear powers to eliminate or, in the cases of China and India, forgo deployment of this extremely destabilizing class of weapons, would reduce the risk of nuclear weapons use and be a historic practical step in the direction of a world without nuclear weapons.”
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