Obama Must Scrap Costly Nukes

American ‘Peace President’ lacks courage to pull the plug on nuclear arsenal

U.S. President Barack Obama will shortly issue a Nuclear Posture Review, a task each new president must perform.

The Nobel Peace Laureate must decide what to do with America's 5,500 nuclear weapons -- enough to destroy the planet at least five times over.

Obama, strongly influenced by Defence Secretary Robert Gates, will likely decide to spend $7 billion US modernizing nuclear weapons and plants. This when the U.S. is bankrupt and running on borrowed money.

The president is expected to reject a "no first use" policy demanded by many Democrats that would reaffirm the sole purpose of the U.S. arsenal is deterring nuclear attack.

He will probably leave an option to use nuclear weapons against other non-nuclear nations or anti-American groups -- particularly so if the U.S. is attacked by chemical or biological weapons.

The U.S. and Russia are nearing agreement to cut their deployed strategic warheads by 1,000 units, down to 1,500-1,675 each. But much of these reductions would come by storing rather than dismantling active warheads.

Thousands more tactical nuclear warheads will remain, though Washington hints it might remove some from Europe and Asia.

But what is the purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal which costs an estimated $52 billion annually?

The conventional view holds that nuclear weapons are the ultimate deterrent against any nuclear attack on the United States and its allies. But since the Bush administration, the hard right has been pushing for using small nuclear weapons against deeply buried targets -- like Iranian nuclear plants -- or guerrilla groups. A new, small tactical nuclear warhead -- a.k.a. "Muslim-buster" -- was evaluated.

No military value

Republicans are again beating the war drums over the supposed nuclear threat from North Korea and Iran. They accuse Obama of near treason for having even considered junking America's huge nuclear arsenal.

These low-IQ Republican scaremongers don't know, or don't care, that North Korea has no long-ranged nuclear capability and wants nukes for defence against a possible U.S. nuclear attack. Or that Iran has no nuclear weapons as of now and poses no threat to the distant U.S.

Retired U.S. generals and admirals have repeatedly advocated junking all nuclear weapons, calling them ruinously expensive and of no military value.

The 1970 UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty mandated all signatories to quickly dismantle their nuclear weapons. The U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China are in treaty violation. Israel, Pakistan and India refused to sign and secretly built their own nuclear arsenals.

In the 1980s, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev earnestly proposed total nuclear disarmament, but President Ronald Reagan foolishly refused to scrap the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

"Peace President" Barack Obama has the chance to get rid of America's largely useless nukes, or at least reduce them to a dozen strategic missiles. But while Obama may slightly narrow nuclear doctrine, it appears America's increasingly potent national security complex and angry Republicans have pushed him into retaining the nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is promoting its new "prompt global response" system: U.S.-based missiles with conventional warheads that can rapidly strike anywhere on the planet.

When one of these missiles is fired at some Muslim malefactors, one hopes Russia or China will not confuse it for a nuclear strike aimed at them. In 1995, Soviet air defences mistook a Norwegian scientific missile for a U.S. nuclear strike. Soviet nuclear missiles came within minutes of being fired at North America. The Cold War was filled with such terrifying nuclear false alarms.

Global nuclear disarmament means intensive inspections of all nuclear capable powers, including Brazil, Iran, Israel, India, Pakistan, both Koreas and Taiwan.

Mutual and international inspection is the answer. For good example, let Israeli experts inspect Iran and Iranians inspect Israel.

U.S. President Obama should lead the way by sharply reducing, then scrapping America's nuclear arsenal. What thwarts this sensible policy is not verification, but political willpower and courage.

It behooves the only nation to ever use horrific nuclear weapons to take the lead in freeing humanity from their curse.

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© 2023 Eric Margolis