BERLIN â€” Despite an uphill battle both in Moscow and in Congress, President Obama vowed Wednesday to try to shrink the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, making the case for what he called a “move beyond Cold War nuclear postures” to enhance global security.
In a foreign policy speech here, Obama said he would seek to cut by up to one-third the number of deployed strategic U.S. nuclear warheads beyond levels set by the New START treaty â€” if Russia would agree to the same, an unlikely prospect given the mounting tension with Moscow. He said both countries could cut their arsenals without undermining deterrence or capabilities.
Obama also said that after a “comprehensive review,” he had directed the Defense Department to strengthen its nonnuclear capabilities, to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring nonnuclear attacks and in contingency planning and security strategy.
The 2010 New START, or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, calls for the United States and Russia each to cut their nuclear arsenals to 1,550 warheads by 2018, the lowest level since the 1950s. Obama’s proposal would reduce that to about 1,000. He also called for “bold reductions” in U.S. and Russian tactical weapons in Europe.
The reaction from Republican lawmakers in Washington and Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated how distant that goal remains.
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