WASHINGTON, June 19, 2013 – President Barack Obama today announced his intention to seek deeper cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, provided Russia is willing to negotiate similar reductions.
In an address before several thousand people at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Obama said a comprehensive review has determined America can ensure its own safety and that of its allies by reducing the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal by up to one-third.
“I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures,” he said, and repeated the goal he articulated in 2009 of “pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons, no matter how distant that dream may be.”
U.S. officials said the proposed cuts would take the number of strategic warheads for both countries below the limit of 1,550 established by the 2010 New START Treaty, provided Russia is willing to agree to those levels as well. Administration officials said the reductions would still leave the United States with a credible nuclear deterrent as well as strategic stability with Russia and China, while reducing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy.
“At the same time, we’ll work with our NATO allies to seek bold reductions in U.S. and Russian tactical weapons in Europe,” the president said, and he added that the United States will host a summit in 2016 “to continue our efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world” while working to build support in the United States for ratification of the long-stalled Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Obama also touched on a theme he raised during a counter-terrorism address he delivered last month, stressing again the need to remain vigilant about the terror threat, while moving beyond “a mindset of perpetual war.” “In America, that means redoubling our efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo,” he said. “It means tightly controlling our use of new technologies like drones. It means balancing the pursuit of security with the protection of privacy,” the latter being a reference to recently disclosed data-mining programs run by the National Security Agency that administration officials say have prevented more than 50 terrorist attacks since 9/11.