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As Nuclear Summit Begins, Critics Slam Expansion of US Arsenal

'Enormous state arsenals are the main problem'

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

As the third ever Nuclear Security Summit kicked off in the Netherlands on Monday, critics are slamming President Obama for reneging on his commitments to combat nuclear proliferation by expanding the U.S. nuclear budget.

Obama first announced the idea for a Global Summit on Nuclear Security in a 2009 speech, in which he declared, "I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." He said reducing the threat of nuclear weapons would be a key agenda item for his foreign policy and pledged, "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."

Yet, Kate Hudson writing for Al Jazeera argues that the actual U.S. policy track record under Obama falls well short of his promises. She writes,

And what about strengthening the NPT - complying with that basically sound bargain where the US will move towards disarmament? As we learn from the Stockholm Institute (SIPRI), over the next decade, the US government intends to spend $214 bn to modernize nuclear delivery vehicles, warheads and production facilities.

This includes designing a new class of ballistic missile submarines, a new long-range bomber and a new air-launched cruise missile; studying options for the next-generation land-based ICBM; deploying a new nuclear-capable combat aircraft; producing or modernizing three types of nuclear warhead and building new nuclear weapon production facilities.

That sounds like serious re-armament, wholly at odds with NPT requirements.

She adds, "Enormous state arsenals are the main problem, together with the seeming determination of those states to modernize and upgrade rather than downsize and disarm."

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, argued in an interview last week that a reduction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal would be a step towards greater "national security."

"[E]very weapon that we retire is one less nuclear weapon waiting for an accident or that we cannot fail to keep absolutely secure," he argues.


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