Since the United States and Russia might soon sign a new treaty that limits their strategic nuclear weapons, it’s natural to wonder about Washington and Moscow’s tactical nuclear weapons, which the treaty won’t cover. The hope is that the momentum for a nuclear-weapon-free world, the renewed U.S.-Russian negotiations, and the ongoing review of the U.S. nuclear posture and NATO strategic concept will help make progress on reducing nonstrategic nuclear arsenals–an issue that has been largely neglected for more than a decade.
Month: February 2010
Greg Mello’s recent Bulletin article “The Obama Disarmament Paradox” distorts the Obama administration’s nuclear agenda by making unjustified assumptions that discredit President Barack Obama’s historic commitment to seek a nuclear-weapon-free world. Obama has committed to such a goal several times–both before and after his election in November 2008. But Mello calls that a “vague aspiration” rather than a commitment. Yet the evidence he provides to support his assertion isn’t persuasive.
Allison Macfarlane, an associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University and chair of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board, has been named by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.
It is routine in U.S. foreign policy for a pot not boiling over to be moved to the back burner. Precisely because the North Korean issue is not boiling, however, might offer an all-too-rare chance to make progress with Pyongyang. Over the past several months, the North has signaled publicly and privately that it is in engagement mode. In Washington, arguments abound about whether or not this is a stall tactic or a trick, but we’ll never know if we don’t move ahead with serious and sustained probing of the North’s position.
Last April in Prague, President Barack Obama gave a speech that many have interpreted as a commitment to significant nuclear disarmament.
The Graham-Talent WMD Commission asserted again last week that a bioterrorism attack that “will fundamentally change the character of life for the world’s democracies” is highly likely to occur within the next four years. The commission argues that the United States must urgently expand its efforts to develop vaccines and other medical countermeasures against potential bioterrorism agents.
The State Department and USAID are in the midst of conducting an unprecedented Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which is intended to bolster the civilian capabilities of U.S. statecraft. It is taking place in the context of calls by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen to enhance our civilian capabilities in order to avoid the “militarization” of U.S. foreign policy. This, of course, is a positive step forward.