This piece by President Barack Obama of the United States, below, was published in the Washington Post on March 30th, shortly before a gathering of dozens of world leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit which attempted to tackle the subject of nuclear terrorism.
Nuclear weapons activists and organisations denounced the hypocrisy of the event given that the vast majority of weapons grade material is in the hands of the nuclear weapons states who continually refuse to disarm, or even discuss the possibility of it, and stop their production of this very material that they portray as so dangerous in the hands of terrorists. Their own weapons on hair-trigger alert, the danger of conventional weapons on nuclear power plants in such places of conflict as Ukraine and other issues were not discussed. Russia – irritated beyond belief by continued NATO expansion and military exercises on their borders and their portrayal as a pariah state in the corporate western media – stayed away.
Alice Slater, lifelong anti-nuclear campaigner, and occasional contributor to Pressenza took the time to annotate Obama’s words with a few pithy observations of her own. Alice’s notes in bold and italic.
March 30, 2016
By Barack Obama
Of all the threats to global security and peace, the most dangerous is the proliferation and potential use of nuclear weapons. What about the modernization and nuclear-weapons-forever programs going on in the US and followed by all the other nuclear criminals? That’s why, seven years ago in Prague, I committed the United States to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and to seeking a world without them. This vision builds on the policies of presidents before me, Democrat and Republican, including Ronald Reagan, who said “we seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth” as long as I can keep doing Star Wars and dominate and control the earth!
Thursday in Washington, I’ll welcome more than 50 world leaders to our fourth Nuclear Security Summit to advance a central pillar of our Prague Agenda: preventing terrorists from obtaining and using a nuclear weapon. Instead of the old Red scare, we have the new terrorist scare. The greatest terror is the high-trigger alert status of US and Russian nukes that have suffered numerous accidents and close calls! We’ll review our progress, such as successfully ridding more than a dozen countries of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. Nations, including the United States, will make new commitments, (but not in my lifetime, or several lifetimes as Hillary misquoted Obama’s prediction) and we’ll continue strengthening the international treaties and institutions that underpin nuclear security by expanding NATO, walking out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, testing long range missiles over the Pacific and planting new missile bases all over the world while demonizing North Korea and Iran for testing missiles.
Given the continued threat posed by organizations such as the terrorist group we call ISIL, or ISIS, we’ll also join allies and partners in reviewing our counterterrorism efforts, to prevent the world’s most dangerous networks from obtaining the world’s most dangerous weapons.
Beyond preventing nuclear terrorism, we’ve made important progress toward the broader vision I outlined in Prague.
First, we’re taking concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons. The United States and Russia remain on track to meet our New START Treaty obligations so that by 2018 the number of deployed American and Russian nuclear warheads will be at their lowest levels since the 1950s. Even as the United States maintains a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal to deter any adversary and ensure the security of our allies, I’ve reduced the number and role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy. I also have ruled out developing new nuclear warheads and narrowed the contingencies under which the United States would ever use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. We’ve been so provocatively offensive to Russia that they didn’t even come to this puerile meeting to beat the drum for fighting terrorists. And we also built a new bomb factory in Kansas City, with plans for a second one in Los Alamos, tested a new dummy bunker buster nuclear warhead in Nevada this summer, and are moving full speed ahead on new missiles, submarines and airplanes to deliver updated nuclear bombs.
Second, we’re strengthening the global regime — including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — that prevents the spread of nuclear weapons. We’ve succeeded in uniting the international community against the spread of nuclear weapons, notably in Iran. A nuclear-armed Iran would have constituted an unacceptable threat to our national security and that of our allies and partners. It could have triggered a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and begun to unravel the global nonproliferation regime.
After Iran initially rejected a diplomatic solution, the United States mobilized the international community to impose sanctions on Iran, demonstrating that nations that fail to meet their nuclear obligations will face consequences. After intense negotiations, Iran agreed to a nuclear deal that closes every single one of its paths to a nuclear weapon, and Iran is now being subjected to the most comprehensive inspection regimen ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program. In other words, under this deal, the world has prevented yet another nation from getting a nuclear bomb. And we’ll remain vigilant to ensure that Iran fulfills its commitments. And we’re supporting new “peaceful” nuclear technology in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan to keep them in line with the deal so they can have their bomb factory reactors.
Third, we’re pursuing a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation so countries that meet their responsibilities can have access to peaceful nuclear energy. The international fuel bank that I called for seven years ago is now being built in Kazakhstan. With it, countries will be able to realize the energy they seek without enriching uranium, which could be at risk of diversion or theft.
Our progress notwithstanding, I’m the first to acknowledge that we still have unfinished business. Given its violations of the INF Treaty, we continue to call on Russia to comply fully with its obligations. Not to mention that we walked out of the ABM treaty and put illegal new bases in Romania, Poland, and Turkey. Along with our military leadership, I continue to believe that our massive Cold War nuclear arsenal is poorly suited to today’s threats. The United States and Russia — which together hold more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons — should negotiate to reduce our stockpiles further.
The international community must remain united in the face of North Korea’s continued provocations, including its recent nuclear test and missile launches. The additional sanctions recently imposed on Pyongyang by the United Nations Security Council show that violations have consequences. The United States will continue working with allies and partners for the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.
More broadly, the security of the world demands that nations — including the United States — ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and conclude a new treaty to end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons once and for all. Those steps will certainly make a huge difference as we keep testing nuclear weapons and producing tons of fissile materials in “peaceful” bomb factories.
I said in Prague that achieving the security and peace of a world without nuclear weapons will not happen quickly, perhaps not in my lifetime. But we have begun. As the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, the United States has a moral obligation to continue to lead the way in eliminating them. Still, no one nation can realize this vision alone. It must be the work of the world.
We’re clear-eyed about the high hurdles ahead, but I believe that we must never resign ourselves to the fatalism that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable. Even as we deal with the realities of the world as it is, we must continue to strive for our vision of the world as it ought to be while losing no opportunity to expand our empire and dominate the world with nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to every corner of the world.
This article was originally published by the Washington Post on March 30 at 7:43 p.m.