US eyes deep cuts to nuclear arsenal
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
President Obama looks at possible cuts to the nuclear arsenal of the country. AP photoU.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is looking at possible cuts to the U.S. nuclear arsenal that include a drastic option to reduce the number of warheads by up to 80 percent, a U.S. official said Feb. 15.
But no decision has been taken yet on how to reshape the nuclear force, officials said, as the White House prepares for more arms control negotiations with Russia and an international nuclear summit next month in Seoul.
The United States now has 1,790 deployed warheads and has to scale back the number to 1,550 by 2018 under an arms control agreement with Russia. The policy review underway suggests a range of additional cuts that include reducing the arsenal to 1,000 to 1,100 another that proposes dropping to 700 to 800 or shrinking the force dramatically to 300 to 400 warheads, the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. “Three hundred (warheads) is the very low end of those options,” the official said. “No proposals have been made to the president. This thinking is in its early stages.” In keeping with longstanding U.S. policy, any reduction in the arsenal likely would only be carried out as a result of arms negotiations with Russia. Slashing the arsenal down to about 300 deployed warheads would represent a dramatic break with American strategy and downsize the atomic force to a level not seen since the 1950s.
Obama vowed to work for a world free of nuclear weapons in a speech in Prague in 2009 and has championed arms control as a hallmark of his presidency. The details of the administration’s nuclear review come ahead of a nuclear security summit in South Korea in March. Obama launched the forum in 2010, touting the session as a way to bolster international safeguards and prevent nuclear terrorism.