A year after his groundbreaking pledge to move toward a “world without nuclear weapons,” US President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil a policy that constrains the weapons’ role but appears more cautious than what many supporters had hoped, with the president opting for a middle course in many key areas.
Under the new policy, the administration will foreswear the use of the deadly weapons against non-nuclear countries, officials said, in contrast to previous administrations, which indicated they might use nuclear arms against non-nuclear states in retaliation for a biological or chemical attack.
But Obama included a major caveat: The countries must be in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations under international treaties. That loophole would mean Iran would remain on the potential target list.
The new policy will also describe the purpose of US weapons as being fundamentally for deterrence. Some Democratic legislators had urged Obama to go further and declare that the US would not use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. But officials in the Defence and State departments worried that such a change could unnerve allies protected by the US nuclear “umbrella.”
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