Obama Has Plans to Cut U.S. Nuclear Arsenal, if Russia Reciprocates
WASHINGTON â€” President Obama plans to use a speech in Berlin on Wednesday to outline plans for further reductions in the American nuclear arsenal if Russia agrees to pare back its weapons at the same time, administration officials said Tuesday.
Resuming a drive toward disarmament that he had largely shunted aside over the past two years, Mr. Obama will propose trimming the number of strategic warheads that each of the two big nuclear powers still maintains by up to a third, taking them below the 1,550 permitted in the treaty he signed with Russia in his first term, a senior administration official said. That would leave each country with just over 1,000 weapons.
Mr. Obama will also declare that he will work with NATO allies to develop proposals for major cuts in tactical nuclear weapons, which are not covered by the existing treaty. Russia, which has far more tactical nuclear weapons deployed than the United States and Europe do, has firmly resisted such cuts. There are fears that its tactical weapons are in parts of Russia where they risk being seized by terrorist groups.
Mr. Obama will also announce that he will host a final nuclear security summit meeting in the United States just before he leaves office.
The president, who once talked about eventually ridding the world of nuclear weapons, faces enormous obstacles to any further reductions, both in Moscow and in Washington. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has demanded further concessions on missile defense before entertaining deeper nuclear cuts, and Republicans in the Senate have made clear they would resist any treaty that went beyond the New Start pact ratified in 2010. Mr. Obamaâ€™s aides have said that they have no appetite for another treaty battle, and that they would try to follow the precedent of the first President George Bush, who arranged reciprocal but not binding cuts with the dying Soviet Union without a treaty.
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