Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jeffrey T. Kuhner’s recent column “Does nonproliferation equal capitulation?” (Commentary, April 9) asserts that President Obama’s nuclear policies are “unilaterally disarming America.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia (START) will set equal levels of deployed nuclear warheads for each side - 1,550. They will be backed up by an effective, multilayered system of verification that will ensure that neither side can game the system to gain a strategic advantage. The treaty is part of a sound, responsible security policy that will make us all safer.

As for the president’s recent announcement that the United States will not threaten nonnuclear states in full compliance with their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with nuclear weapons, it is just common sense. It doesn’t prevent such threats from being made against Iran or North Korea, nor would it have prevented threatening Saddam Hussein’s regime with a nuclear attack. In short, the policy toward the U.S. “enemies” would not change. Even if the United States were to pledge not to threaten any non-nuclear-weapons state with nuclear weapons, our overwhelming conventional military superiority would deter any nation from attacking us with chemical or biological weapons.

As he demonstrated by calling together the Nuclear Security Summit, Mr. Obama is undertaking a smart, pragmatic and step-by-step approach to reducing nuclear dangers. To call it “unilateral disarmament” is simply absurd.


Director, Arms and Security Initiative

New America Foundation

New York

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