Thursday, January 22, 2009

'As long as nuclear weapons exist'

The president is proposing tougher NPT rules, suggesting this might help rein in nuclear programmes in Iran and North Korea. But like his predecessors, his policy statements have so far made no mention of Israel's nuclear arsenal, which remains beyond all international scrutiny.

Obama appears to have rowed back on a campaign pledge to make ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty an administration priority. The treaty, which the US currently abides by but has not formally joined, is not mentioned in this week's White House foreign policy agenda statement.

Likewise, a promise "to stop the development of new nuclear weapons" is not as definitive as it looks. Obama and his advisers have yet to rule out future development of the energy department's "reliable replacement warhead" programme. The RRW is said to be needed to keep the ageing US nuclear arsenal at peak readiness. Technically, such replacement warheads would not be "new".

In overall terms, Obama has repeatedly stated that he does not believe the US should disarm unilaterally and that he will maintain "a strong deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist".
-- from The nuclear-free dream fades by Simon Tisdall

Image (added 23 Jan): Earliest weapons-grade plutonium found in US dump

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