A Better Way to Banish the Bomb; Robust Missile Defense Renders Nuclear Arms Race Futile

Article excerpt


I can tell you that the United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean ballistic-missile attack.

That was White House spokesman Jay Carney reacting to the third nuclear test this year by the self-styled Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as well as a brash threat from Pyongyang to, well, nuke the United States.

Mr. Carney's words are reassuring, but the real question is why they were necessary in the first place.

There are two basic problems. One is the administration's policy on nuclear weapons. The other is the laggardly pace of our missile-defense system.

Begin with the policy, which President Obama outlined in a speech in Prague in 2009: "Let me describe to you the trajectory we need to be on. First, the United States will take concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons. To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same.

Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies - including the Czech Republic. But we will begin the work of reducing our arsenal.

The goal of a world free of nuclear weapons is worthy, of course. No one faults the president for that. The problem lies with how this goal will be achieved. Ironically, the president's approach - which relies on pre-emptive disarmament and places an undue faith in the power of arms-control treaties - ensures a world in which such weapons become more common, not less.

If the United States must maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear weapons arsenal to ensure the security of the nation and its allies, why did the president agree to a New START with Russia that calls for the U.S. to cut its number of nuclear weapons to 1,550 by 2018? Why stand behind the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a pact that other nations flout with impunity while we honor it, and which allows our arsenal to atrophy through disuse?

Our nuclear modernization efforts are anything but. …