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Groups Call on White House To Update Outdated Nuclear Policy, Deliver Petition with 50,000 Signatures
WASHINGTON - May 14 - Representatives of various groups advocating nuclear arms reduction, presented a petition with over 50,000 signatures to the White House. The petition urges President Obama to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons as he makes a once-in-a-decade decision on the Presidential nuclear weapons policy “guidance.”
The White House received the petition at a May 7th meeting with Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and speechwriting. Leaders of arms control groups, including the Arms Control Association,Council for a Livable World and Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Women’s Action for New Directions participated in the meeting, as well the American Values Network, and a representative from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“In the 21st Century, nuclear weapons are a global liability, not an asset,” the petition said, calling on the President to “end outdated U.S. nuclear war-fighting strategy, dramatically reduce the number of U.S. nuclear weapons and the number of submarines, missiles, and bombers that carry those weapons, and take U.S. nuclear weapons off high alert. Maintaining large numbers of nuclear forces on alert increases the risk of accident or miscalculation.”
In an email following the meeting Rhodes said: “The White House appreciates the engagement of citizens across our country who support efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and seek the peace and security of a world without them. This type of grassroots activism is critical to build awareness around the dangers of nuclear weapons, and to support common sense arms control policies. We look forward to continued dialogue on these critical issues for U.S. and global security.”
In a speech March 26, President Obama said: “… the massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the Cold War is poorly suited for today’s threats, including nuclear terrorism. Last summer, I therefore directed my national security team to conduct a comprehensive study of our nuclear forces. That study is still underway.
But even as we have more work to do, we can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need. Even after New START, the United States will still have more than 1,500 deployed nuclear weapons, and some 5,000 warheads. I firmly believe that we can ensure the security of the United States and our allies, maintain a strong deterrent against any threat, and still pursue further reductions in our nuclear arsenal.”
“It is certainly a step in the right direction to reevaluate our current nuclear stockpile,” said John Isaacs, Executive Director of the Council for a Livable World, “We urge the President to use this time to negotiate deeper cuts to the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals as well as working to engage other nuclear weapons states on weapons reductions.”