David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, saw the elimination of nuclear weapons as a real possibility when surveying what president-elect Barack Obama had said and promised about nuclear weapons. In an email sent in December 2008, Krieger said: “The election of Barack Obama as President of the United States is a great moment for America and the world — a time of celebration and tears. The American people have chosen hope over fear, unity over division. In doing so, we have repudiated policies of violence, lawlessness and closed-door rule. We have restored hope and made possible the restoration of America’s credibility in the world.”
The Obama statement that Krieger liked best was: “A world without nuclear weapons is profoundly in America’s interest and the world’s interest. It is our responsibility to make the commitment, and to do the hard work to make this vision a reality. That’s what I’ve done as a Senator and a candidate, and that’s what I’ll do as President.”
Obama had also said: “I will make the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide a central element of US nuclear policy.”
David Krieger listed the specific steps that Barack Obama had promised to take in the Presidential campaign. I comment briefly on what Obama has done to carry out the promises.
1) Lead an international effort to de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons around the world, With the exception of Iran, no action.
2) Strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. No discernible action.
3) Lock down the loose nuclear weapons that are out there right now. U.S. Senator Obama did some good work on this item; President Obama has provided some funding but has not made it a major priority.
4) Secure all loose nuclear materials within four years. Well behind schedule.
5) Immediately stand down all nuclear forces to be reduced under the Moscow Treaty and urge Russia to do the same. Obama pushed back the warhead dismantlement target date for complying with prior START treaties.
6) Seek Russia’s agreement to extend essential monitoring and verification provisions of the START I (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) before it expires in December 2009. No information.
7) Work with Russia to take US and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert. No information.
8) Work with other nuclear powers to reduce global nuclear weapons stockpiles dramatically by the end of his presidency. Focus has been almost solely on Iran.
9) Stop the development of new nuclear weapons. Obama renounced the development of any new nuclear weapons. In April 2010, President Obama explicitly committed the United States to not use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
10) Seek dramatic reductions in US and Russian stockpiles of nuclear weapons and material. The long-range plan calls for a new class of nuclear submarines, new nuclear-capable bomber and fighter aircraft, and updated nuclear bomb warheads and missiles. The heart of a modernization program is the building of three new nuclear facilities, which will quadruple the capability for construction of “pits,” the triggers for nuclear explosions. The price tag of $185 billion for the modernization program will likely be greatly exceeded.
11) Set a goal to expand the US-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles so that the agreement is global. No evident progress.
12) Build a bipartisan consensus for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Totally off the table.
13) Cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. Has continued funding at about prior levels.
14) Not weaponize space. The Pentagon has a space command.