After months of deliberation and 150 meetings, the Obama Administration finally released its new guidelines for nuclear weapons policy. In a sharp break from previous administrations, Obama's Nuclear Posture Review released today dictates the U.S. halt development of any new nuclear weapons and cease to consider nuclear retaliation against non-nuclear nations, even in response to a biological or chemical attack. However, the review did add exceptions for potential future biological weapons developed with genetic engineering, and for responding to rogue countries like North Korea or a future nuclear-armed Iran.
This release comes months late, as Obama had to counter dissent both on the right and the left of his cabinet and in the Defense Department. Those divisions reflect the reactions of the political establishment at large, with conservatives claiming that Obama went too far in degrading America's nuclear deterrent, and liberals criticizing the president for not going far enough in renouncing any possibility of a U.S. nuclear first strike.
The policy is a complete 180 from the Bush administration, which conducted its nuclear policy review in 2002, in the wake of 9/11. Unlike Obama, former President Bush advocated the creation of a new class of small, bunker-busting nuclear weapons for preemptive use against hardened nuclear development sites. Additionally, Bush reserved the right to retaliate with nuclear weapons against any WMD attack, be it chemical, biological, or nuclear.
While the Obama plan does end the development of new nuclear weapons by the US, it does allow for the continued upkeep of America's current nuclear inventory to ensure existing bombs still work. To that end, the Obama administrations has funneled between $5 and $7 billion to the National Atomic Labs, funding complex computer simulations of untested bomb designs and studies into how nuclear weapons age.
All of this plays out against the larger backdrop of Obama's nonproliferation agenda. This week Obama also signed the newly negotiation arms reduction treaty with Russia, and will host a nonproliferation summit with representative from all official nuclear powers later this month. For Obama, reducing the US nuclear stockpile is inextricably linked to the reduction of nuclear proliferation, a cornerstone of his foreign policy. Remember that Nobel Peace Prize? Now it's being acted upon.
I didn't vote for this Obamanation! He doesn't realize how vulnerable he's making us. Our nuclear weapons are what keeps other nations at bay. I agree that we should not resort to nuclear weapons but it's not like we're threatening anyone with them. A biological weapon could be just as dangerous as a nuclear weapon. How long would it take to figure out whether the weapon is genetically engineered or not? After the whole nation has been infected with some crazy airborne rabies disease (just an example). What the hell is he thinking? He's making the US look weak. Now nations wont have to think twice about whether or not to declare war on our soil. Yeah, we have other weapons, but none of them create as much fear and respect as our nuclear bombs. Think about it; if we told Al Queda that we were gonna nuke their asses, they would soil themselves and probably surrender right away. But we choose not to attack with nukes, which is a good thing and they just keep coming back for more. I think we should not cease production but just temporarily halt production for a bit just so we can be an example for other nations and we won't seem like hypocrites for not wanting them to have nuclear weapons as well. Chemical and Biological weapons could cause generation after generation of diseased/sick/deformed populations. We should be allowed to counter any of those types of weapons by any means necessary. Think if they dropped a biological weapon in New York City. Exactly.
@omaracoustic Your typical exaggeration and fear mongering only panders to those who want to keep you ignorant. The US maintains the second largest stock pile of Nuclear Weapons in the world, and the most deadly. Our response times to an attack are well beyond the rest of the worlds, additionally his changes have accounted for rogue and future nuclear states. All it really has said is that we cannot nuke a country that does not have them. Which makes perfect sense when you consider that any WMD used from a state outside of the US is simply being used as a base. Look at it from this point of view:
Say terrorists from a rogue state set up operations in a 3rd world country and use that as a symbiotic host. From there they fire a chemical weapon at the states. Should we, logically, cause an all out war just because some one else was to blame? No. This is actually brilliant in that it forces the government to first uncover where the ability to use such weapons came from. We attacked Iraq when we should have attacked Iran, and that was just a conventional war. I shudder to think what would happen if we accidentally dropped atomic weapons on an (relatively) innocent state.
He does not mention the reduction of our current stockpiles, and in fact advocates proper care and virtual testing being done. This isn't an accord to expedite our nuclear disarmament (which has been going on since the end of the Cold War), but rather it focuses what steps should be taken. But since I am clearly supporting Obama in this matter, I am by default a hippy liberal that would love nothing more than to make the world better for Commies.
@omaracoustic: don't you know by now that nuking a cockroach doesn't kill it, it shakes it off and keeps coming.
@SJak: If North Korea buys land in an African country (which it has done several times) and build a military base there. Then installs a couple of there longer range missles there loaded with VX gas or IF they can a nuke and launches it at us. Then what? It is a military base of a nuclear armed state in a country that is not nuclear armed. Also China and Iran also own fair amount of land in Africa.
The thing is you both are right and wrong...there is never a good answer to nuclear weapons in this day and age.
@caradoc01 I don't mean to be insulting but for some reason you seem to think I am arguing against that point. I stated that according to these changes you cannot outright nuke a non-nuclear state just because it is a knee jerk reaction. And as a result, it would allow for a much firmer response to such an action. To set up a base even capable of lobbing WMD's at the US would require a massive investment that would take years. In that time you do not think we wouldn't notice? It is kind of difficult to hide such devices and equipment, even in a sparsely populated country. My argument for these changes was that this was a good thing, by preserving lives and possible evidence that would most certainly implicate a nuclear-state was involved and not some poor farmer just trying to survive.
Again - this point is all most certainly moot as no country would actually go through such a convoluted plan just to buy themselves a few hours. The only course of action after the initial strike (assuming it wasn't destroyed en route) would be try and finish the job. Something no country on earth that has the ability is so suicidal to do, and no country that wants to is capable of.
I'll try to keep this brief...(no, really)
Obama's attempt to straddle both sides of the aisle grants him few (if any friends) on this debate. So I can't exactly see this succeeding well in Congress.
MOST IMPORTANTLY...this will make MORE problems than it will fix.
Popular Science had a report last year named: Battling Over Aging Nuclear Weapons - you can check it yourself. Now I can prove my claims:
That report was made by JASON, "an independent scientific advisory group for the U.S. government".
And in it, they made it perfectly clear that actions like this are only delaying the inevitable.
In short, our nuclear weapons are aging. Though the report says that they would be reliable until 2091, that doesn't take away from the fact that they we must get new nukes. Though Obama wants to keep maintaining the ones we have now, this is something we have been doing for the last 50 years or so. Despite the fact that the new nukes would cost billions of dollars, we are coming to a point where "The issue is whether we can, at any cost, maintain them".
The nuclear cores of the bombs – "the source of a nuclear bomb's extraordinary power" – have never been replaced. EVER. Without attention, "the warheads’ decayed cores could leave the U.S. with an impotent nuclear arsenal".
In fact,today's nukes are so old now that scientists say they're "akin to a fleet of '57 Chevys." If we made new nukes, it would be like trading in those '57 Chevy's for Volvo's with the latest features.
Scientists want to add new features like having them"programmed to detonate only after sensing a specific environmental signal such as a predetermined change in speed" - like those only found in our missiles. Though these new reductions are "inextricably linked to the reduction of nuclear proliferation", last year's report tells us otherwise.
Our nation's nuclear umbrella extends far beyond our borders. If Obama thinks that enemy nations without nuclear weapons won't get obliterated "even in response to a biological or chemical attack", then how could our allies rely on us to protect them.
If we did this it "opens the door to nuclear proliferation by prompting the more than 30 countries protected by U.S. nuclear forces to pursue their own arsenals." Most of those nations would likely "feel they need to go nuclear if they can’t count on the United States". It is one thing to ask nations like Russia and China for reductions. But it is illogical to expect that eliminating American nukes would make the world a safer place in the face of our world's dangers. It may make the situation far worse if those allies end up causing Cold War-style escalation the world over.
So forget Obama and his new rules; I say: NEW NUKES PLEASE
I wouldn't sweat this too much. Obama can't be in office more than eight years and might be out in just three. If we need the weapons to defend ourselves, we will, just as we always have. Fairy tales and unicorns will not prevent the US from fielding what it needs when it needs it.
Obama's problem: changing everything that this country is fundamentally about. His campaign promise was for change and he has kept that promise.
It's too bad nobody realized that what we need is not "change", but progress.
The question is: who is this decision intended to impress? To our allies it's magnanimous but unnecessary. To our enemies, it's a sign of our lack of resolve to resist and stop them. It sends a message that we don't have the fortitude to use any appropriate weapon against them.
In a civilized world, people speak softly and work things out diplomatically. Unfortunately there are still plenty of tyrants and state sponsors of terrorism around. To the them carrying a big stick means something. If they see our might and believe our resolve, they are less likely to attack. Nuclear weapons weren't designed for war, they were designed to keep the peace.
Until we live in a world without tyrants, it's unwise to let them know that we don't really mean to use our weapons; that they're just for show. I'm afraid President Obama's understanding of 20th century international relations is shockingly limited.
Humans on this world have to grow up some day, and what better way to do that then to have the United States be a good example. It's time for us to leave planet Earth and colonize the stars. Just like it was America's dream and duty to colonize the west to California, it's humanities duty and dream to colonize our galaxy. It's our new frontier. We should be out there living on other planets, mining asteroids, and spreading like a virus. If us humans can get past our petty problems and differences, maybe we can do it.
SJak did an outstanding job with his argument. Thank you for posting.
No one is going to fire a nuclear missile at the US. In about 3 years, we'll have enough control over the skies to shoot down any missiles. The North Korean missile test that fizzled, I'm fairly certain that it was shot down by one of our laser systems. Rogue nations are not going to use missiles either, they are going to bring them over in a van or through a tunnel. Think of all the drugs that enter this country. Just replace the drugs with a nuke...who needs a missile.
And as for retaliation, no terrorist entity will be deterred by our possession of nuclear weapons.
The next war will be fought conventionally...and the next one after that will be fought conventionally and so on and so on. We won't see nukes flying anytime soon.
Actually the next war will probably be fought in cyberspace making nukes useless. And with sonic weapons and mobile laser systems, the war after that will look like StarWars.
So the "oh we must have nukes or we are getting weaker" position is just not there anymore. We must have lasers and sonic bullets. Now you are talking.
"What the hell is he thinking? He's making the US look weak."
"I'm afraid President Obama's understanding of 20th century international relations is shockingly limited."
What scares me the absolute most, what makes me afraid for the entire world, is that what if he does understand international relations very very well. And still he chooses the path he chooses.
From a non-American point of veiw, I see this as a good thing. The USA is like the 'bully in the sandbox' who uses their muscles to do the talking rather then accepting others for their ideas. Yes, I know there are some really bad people out there who would love to kill you. But you must also think as to why. It's not just because of religion (although that plays a huge part). It is also because the USA thinks it is their right to police the world and force people to do what they wish. Until the USA comes down from their high-horse and accepts that they are no better then anyone else, people will continue to hate them.
Look at Canada for example, they are much like the USA ideologicly, but because they don't go around the world telling countries how to run their governments, and attacking countries for no reason. It seems as though the USA is still not over their manifest destiny days. Is it a surprise then that American tourists choose to put Canadian flags on their back-packs when traveling abroad? Canadians are seen as polite, well mannered people whereas Americans are seen as the bullies of the Earth. And where there are bulliees there are people who resent them.
Obama appears to be trying to move the USA forwards from this image but the American people are fighting him at every turn. It's time that Americans woke up and smelled the roses. Yes you are a great country, but you don't have to go around the world forcing people into acting like you. And not pursuing WMD's is a good place to start.
Welcome to Chicago gun control politics, leveraging your freedom’s future to feel good legacy policies that put your family and the free world at risk. Let us shift from the position of control to the role of victim by finishing the treason that Clinton started (removal of Strategic Air Command, reduction of land launch ICBMs, and removal of remote launch capability of the Trident fleet) and neuter our nuclear weapons policy. Obama will not be held accountable for the loss of Taiwan and Japan or the invasion of Europe and we Americans can hide our collective heads in the sand with a clear conscience of knowing that we could not do anything, because we are all just victims.
i would think that, by getting rid of a few nukes, this may open more room to research on defensive capability rather than offensive.
the way i've heard it explained is that Obama is curtailing new development and reducing existing numbers, not throwing everything out at once. and for those that think this makes us vulnerable, we'll still have around 1500+/- left. China is estimated to have about 20 and no one has nuked them yet, so why or how would this make us vulnerable?
i've also read that others think our nukes are what keep us safe because other nations fear and respect the possible retaliation. i believe history shows that the U.S. developed nukes first. Germany and Japan were working on them, but we won the race. wouldn't it be possible that others developed their own nukes simply out of fear from something we started...even though we say we'd never use them? if a guy walks into a liquor store with a gun would you expect him to use it? if you're standing behind the counter would you grab a weapon or ignore him?
i'm not much on tree hugging, but slowly standing down nukes and (possibly) attempting new defensive technology makes more sense than adding to the problem.
I think we'll be okay, were developing new weapons... swarms of drones instead of mushroom clouds.
If there's one silver lining to this new policy, it's that the US appears to be backing away from defending Europe and Canada and letting them take a greater responsibility in their own defense. The US spends hundreds of billions annually providing defense to other free nations. It's time they picked up the slack and paid their own way.
We don't need to stand between a nuclear Iran and Europe when they can build their own missile defenses. The same is true for Canada and North Korea. I would gladly give up defending those countries to help reduce the deficits the US is incurring to do so.
tertertert I agree. Without warmongering, world policing US and the UK and many other countries the way they were before this way of thinking took over. We'd be goose stepping our way through a socialist/ communist/ fascist/ progressivist utopia. Turning each other in for questioning the wisdom of the state. One world wide state to goose step through anywhere you want if you have the papers and permission of the state of course.
No freedom, but on the flip side no responsibility either. Everything provided for you by the beneficence of the jolly old state, uprising somewhere, well we'll just cut off food supplies to the affected area and starve them out. Absolute control of the media by true believers, no one will ever think that starving them was bad, or even that it ever happened. And religion, the old excuse for all the bad stuff will be a thing of the past. The only higher power you will be allowed to look toward is the state and state sanctioned quasi-mystical belief systems like the nazis and hippies demonstrated to great affect.
I understand why some people are attracted to the idea, why they are willing to give up their freedom for the flip side of no responsibility. It's very attractive to some, I understand. But why can't those people form some sort of progressotopia somewhere, perhaps buy a huge plot of land in africa and form a new country. Based on progressive ideals, where there never is any opposing opinion because everyone thinks the exact same, the laws will provide for and control every aspect of the peoples lives like they want. Progressives from around the world can flock there to never be made fun of or listen to another opposing opinion again.
Instead of trying to force all countries to adapt to suit them, why can't they form their own, and leave the rest of us alone.
In most cases, if The US is policing then why are other nations joining It in coalitions and task forces. The obvious wars aside, there are antipiracy task forces that consist of several countries' navies.
And as far as the North Korean/African missile base...
1. I'd think we'd see it being built
2. Since when do we need a nuke to destroy a base or 2? Are these bases like 10 miles in diameter?