Obama's Nuclear-Reduction Fantasy; U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy Could Trigger Arms Race

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 28, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Obama's Nuclear-Reduction Fantasy; U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy Could Trigger Arms Race


Byline: Richard Grenell and Eddie Walsh, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Earlier this month, James N. Miller, principal undersecretary of defense for policy, acknowledged to the House Committee on Armed Services that China is increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal, North Korea continues to pursue the development of enriched-uranium weapons, and Iran is advancing its own nuclear ambitions. Mr. Miller also admitted that despite the administration's decision to unilaterally declare the number of nuclear weapons in the American stockpile, neither China nor Russia has met the calls to increase transparency in their programs.

The nuclear issues Mr. Miller chose not to address, at least publicly, should be of even greater concern to policymakers. They includes rising concerns that Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, will pursue their own nuclear programs in reaction to Iranian progress. He also did not tackle the increasing threat of North Korean nuclear proliferation, nor did he confront the negative security assurances provided to South Korea and Japan as a result of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

Mr. Miller's silence on emerging issues and lingering concerns similarly should not go unnoticed. He avoided the rising threat posed by emerging nonnuclear, high-end capabilities, including offensive cyberweapons and long-standing questions about the safety and readiness of the U.S. nuclear arsenal without proper testing. He also failed to elaborate on what fallout NATO's campaign in Libya would have on future denuclearization and nonproliferation diplomacy.

It is clear that the administration's nuclear nonproliferation policies are not working to advance American national security interests. The administration is not preventing nuclear proliferation, maintaining strategic deterrence, strengthening deterrence and reassuring U.S. allies and partners, or sustaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal - the very objectives that the administration set forth in the 2010 NPR. Despite these obvious contradictions, the administration continues to press forward with its efforts to reduce U.S. nuclear weapons.

If the United States is serious about reducing its nuclear arsenal without undermining American national security, the administration must take a new policy approach. Policy should rest with the very objectives that it is failing to achieve, starting with nonproliferation. Given that the high-end-threat environment has only increased under this administration's watch, the unilateral reduction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should not be prioritized as a stand-alone objective.

A new policy approach will require a more accurate portrayal of current and future high-end threats that affect America's nuclear posture.

In the Cold War, nuclear deterrence centered on the threat posed by nuclear-state adversaries. The threat of U.S. nuclear weapons was designed to remind such adversaries that violence against Americans would be met with shock and awe - overwhelming, instant and certain devastation. Today, new threats from unconventional sources have emerged. These include non-state actors targeting Americans and their allies as well as rogue states' illegal pursuit of nuclear technology.

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