Obama says he will limit when US can use nukes
On the eve of announcing a new nuclear strategy, President Barack Obama told The New York Times on Monday he plans to dramatically narrow the conditions under which the US would use atomic weapons.world Updated: Apr 06, 2010 09:02 IST
On the eve of announcing a new nuclear strategy, President Barack Obama told The New York Times on Monday he plans to dramatically narrow the conditions under which the US would use atomic weapons.
In an interview, Obama said he would make exceptions for "outliers like Iran and North Korea," but that his new strategy was aimed at eliminating Cold War ambiguities about when such weapons could be used.
Obama will unveil his strategy on Tuesday ahead of a major nuclear conference in Washington next week and two days before Russia and the US sign a treaty promising to slash their stockpiles of long-range nuclear warheads by a third.
The New York Times said Obama will commit not to use such weapons against non-nuclear states in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if they launched biological or chemical weapons or a crippling cyberattack against the US.
"I'm going to preserve all the tools that are necessary in order to make sure that the American people are safe and secure," Obama told the newspaper during an interview in the Oval Office.
"We are going to want to make sure that we can continue to move towards less emphasis on nuclear weapons... (to) make sure that our conventional weapons capability is an effective deterrent in all but the most extreme circumstances."
A senior administration official said last month that Obama planned "dramatic reductions" in the country's arsenal of nuclear weapons as part of his administration's sweeping review.
Armed with the replacement for the START treaty and a new nuclear review, Obama will host leaders from around the world Monday for a two-day nuclear security summit in Washington.
From April 12-13 they will discuss the prevention of acts of nuclear terrorism, and steps that can be taken to secure vulnerable nuclear materials.
Among world leaders attending will be Chinese President Hu Jintao under global pressure to swing behind imposing fresh sanctions on Iran for its continued refusal to rein in its suspect nuclear program.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also take part in the summit, expected to be attended by high-level officials from nuclear-armed neighbors, India and Pakistan.
The United States has said it currently has some 2,200 nuclear warheads, while Russia is believed to have about 3,000.
The administration is also pushing the US Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which would ban all nuclear tests, whether military or civilian.