April 6, 2010
US President Barack Obama plans to release a review of the US nuclear arms strategy that purportedly restricts the use of its nuclear arms against most non-atomic states except Iran and North Korea.
The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which the US Congress requires all US administrations to submit at least once during their tenure, will be issued one day before Obama leaves for Prague to sign a new nuclear-arms treaty with Russia.
Despite the US claim of planning to stop funding for the development of future nuclear weapons, in its new budget request for 2011 the Obama Administration dramatically increases the funding for new US nuclear weapon production facilities while calling for a spending freeze for such domestic programs as education, nutrition, air traffic control and national parks for three year.
The development comes as Iran prepares to hold an international conference on nuclear disarmament late this month dubbed “Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for none.” Representatives from 60 countries are to participate in the two-day conference that focuses on the complete elimination of nuclear weapons across the globe.
The new NPR by the Obama Administration is also to encompass restrictions on the use of US nuclear arms against some non-nuclear countries. So far, nuclear retaliation has been reserved as an option for the US government to use in response to chemical or biological attacks.
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The exception will remain for a possible nuclear attack on countries that are not in compliance with non-proliferation treaties ‘from the US perspective.’
In a Monday interview with The New York Times, Obama clarified what Washington meant by non-compliance with non-proliferation treaties by claiming that the loophole for violating the stated restrictions would apply to what he called “outliers like Iran and North Korea.”
Israel, India, and Pakistan are the only regimes with nuclear warheads that have refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). But, Obama made no reference to any of those nuclear-armed powers. Although Israel has not declared its possession of nuclear weapons, it has neither denied it, nor has it submitted to any international inspection.
The Israeli regime is widely believed to possess over 200 atomic warheads.
While North-Korea has withdrawn from the NPT, Iran has been a long-time member of the pact, in accordance to which its civilian nuclear activities have been placed under wide-ranging supervision by the UN nuclear watchdog inspectors.
The much-awaited review is expected to include an announcement for massive reductions in the United States’ nuclear arsenal, as Obama pledged last April, during a major speech in Prague, which won him the Nobel peace prize.
However, based on reports released last month, the US is likely to reduce its arsenal by dismantling costly-to-maintain, older nuclear warheads no longer deployed (warheads that cannot be loaded onto ready for launch missiles).
The new treaty to be signed with Russia already calls on both sides to reduce their nuclear warheads to 1,550, about one-third below current levels.
In the review, Obama’s government is also expected to ‘clarify’ that the purpose of the remaining US nuclear arsenal is fundamentally for deterrence.
The new policy is also to renounce US development of any new nuclear weapons.
In 2003, the George W. Bush administration decided to engage in research for a new generation of small nuclear weapons, especially “earth penetrators”.
The budget passed by the US Congress in 2004 eliminated funding for some, but not all of such research.