"Nuclear stockpile numbers are closely guarded secrets in most states that possess them, but private nuclear policy experts say no countries other than the U.S. and Russia are thought to have more than 300. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that France has about 300, China about 240, Britain about 225, and Israel, India and Pakistan roughly 100 each." - Robert Burns, AP
We've been talking about the efforts of the Obama administration to unilaterally disarm our nuclear arsenal on back channel for awhile now.
First, military blogger Neptunus Lex writes that this can't be possibily be true:
I mean, it’s one thing to baseline the overall Pentagon budget based on budget-driven numbers whose fiscal rigor begins with “less for defense is always better” rather than on a analytic review of national security requirements – not a good thing, mind – but it’s something else entirely when a
community organizersitting president tells the country’s strategic defense apparatus to build down our nuclear stockpile based on nothing but round numbers even as proliferation grows elsewhere...
In other words, rather than taking any kind of cue from the Pentagon, the Obama Administration is telling the DoD how to set their level of nuclear capability - strike, counter-strike, and deterrent.
The AP's Robert Burns wrote this piece about the reduction issue:
....Even small proposed cuts are likely to draw heavy criticism from Republicans who have argued that a smaller nuclear force would weaken the U.S. at a time when Russia, China and others are strengthening their nuclear capabilities. They also argue that shrinking the American arsenal would undermine the credibility of the nuclear "umbrella" that the United States provides for allies such as Japan, South Korea and Turkey, who might otherwise build their own nuclear forces.
The administration last year began considering a range of possible future reductions below the levels agreed in the New START treaty with Russia that took effect one year ago.
The U.S. already is on track to reduce to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads by 2018, as required by New START. As of last Sept. 1, the United States had 1,790 warheads and Russia had 1,566, according to treaty-mandated reports by each.
Those who favor additional cuts argue that nuclear weapons have no role in major security threats of the 21st century, such as terrorism. A 2010 nuclear policy review by the Pentagon said the U.S. nuclear arsenal also is "poorly suited" to deal with challenges posed by "unfriendly regimes seeking nuclear weapons" -- an apparent reference to Iran.
It's unclear what calculus went into each of the three options now under consideration at the White House...
President Obama said this in 2009.
In April, President Obama told a crowd of 20,000 in Prague that the U.S. had a "moral responsibility" to take the lead in ridding the world of nuclear weapons. He also noted in that speech, "Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. 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."
By giving up our own defenses, we are securing the world against nuclear proliferation?! How exactly does that work? The Iranians will suddenly stop trying to produce a bomb? And what about South Korea and Japan? Are they expected to not seek nuclear weapons for defense now that the US cannot defend them?! Saudi Arabia wants nukes. As well as a host of other players.
Unilateral disarmament does not seem wise in the face of build ups by ALL of our adversaries. All. Of. Our. Adversaries.
And as for China, very recently, we thought they had only a few dozen nuclear weapons...until a recent earthquake exposed many many more. They have far more than 240.
I agree reduction of the arsenal is fine as long as other measures are put into place...but right now the writing on the wall shows that is NOT THE CASE with a reduction of the Army, reduction and refocus of the Marine Corps, a gutting of the Navy, and reduction of the USAF. So exactly how exactly are you going to provide the same or better capabilities to deter or defend the United States of America?
The short answer: You can't.
Longer Answer: The problem is that the only country that can be disarmed by President Obama is ours. Period.
So why would any President/Commander-in-Chief do this?
Well here's one reason - an announcement from early 2009 (nominations were finalized 12 days after Obama took office):
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
It's like he's trying to earn that award that was already given. But the reality is that Barack Obama has always been for eliminating nuclear weapons. If you don't believe that, all you have to do is check this excellent piece in the NY Times from 2009 comparing a young Barack Obama's vision of a nuke free world (his papers when an undergrad at Columbia) and his vision as President...not much has changed:
....In January, in the journal Foreign Affairs, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, the lone holdover from the Bush cabinet, called for financing a new generation of longer-lasting and more dependable nuclear arms.
He was immediately overruled. Mr. Obama’s first budget declared that “development work on the Reliable Replacement Warhead will cease.”
Another focus of activity early this year was the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
Critics argue that the North Koreas of the world will simply defy the ban — and that the international community will fail to punish offenders.
Even more ambitious, Mr. Obama wants a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, which would bar all nations that sign it from making fuel for their atom bombs. But when asked how Mr. Obama would sell the idea to America’s allies — primarily Pakistan, India and Israel — administration officials grow silent.
All this is supposed to culminate, next year, in an American effort to rewrite crucial provisions of the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Mr. Obama wants to strengthen inspection provisions and close the loophole that makes it easy for countries to drop out, as North Korea did in 2003.
Each of those steps would require building a global consensus. It would also mean persuading countries to give up the coveted freedom to make fuel for reactors — and instead, probably, buy it from an international fuel bank.
Most of all, Mr. Obama and like-minded leaders will have to establish a new global order that will truly restrain rogue states and terrorist groups from moving ahead with nuclear projects...
A "new global order"...