Seven years ago, in the Czech capital of Prague, Barack Obama delivered his first major foreign policy speech as president. To rapturous applause, he laid out his vision for “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”. It earned him that year’s Nobel peace prize. On Friday he will bookend his two terms in office with another appeal for nuclear disarmament, this time during a historic trip to Hiroshima. No other sitting US president has ever visited the Japanese city that was razed to the ground by a single atomic bomb in the final days of the second world war. Under the Obama presidency, contrary to perceptions, the pace of nuclear warhead dismantlement has slowed, not hastened. Indeed, the two presidents Bush and Bill Clinton each made greater gains in downsizing the colossal US nuclear stockpile amassed during the cold war. But more alarming than this failure to destroy old nuclear weapons has been the Obama administration’s aggressive pursuit of new, “smaller” ones, for which the threshold of use would be lower, according to former military commanders. At great expense, the president has bolstered all three components of the nation’s “nuclear triad”: the strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles. This was the price paid for securing Republican support in 2010 for the ratification of a modest bilateral arms reduction treaty with Russia.
Guardian 27th May 2016 read more »