We are days away from marking the 6th anniversary of President Obama’s 2009 speech in Prague, Czech Republic, during which he declared his intent to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
So how is that going?
Well, we may be close to a deeply flawed nuclear agreement with Iran. A “framework” for this deal is due by March 31st; the final deal by June 30th. As my Center for Security Policy colleague Fred Fleitz has documented, the agreement is likely to 1) enable Iran to continue enriching uranium; 2) include dangerous concessions on plutonium enrichment; and 3) ignore Iran’s ballistic missile program – all of which will allow Iran to get that much closer to developing a deployable nuclear weapon capability.
Middle Eastern nations are contemplating acquiring their own nuclear capabilities to hedge against a bad deal with Iran. Saudi Arabia, some experts have observed, is on the short list of countries that will seek such a capability – the kingdom has already signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea and could conceivably purchase a nuclear weapon from Pakistan. Others have pointed to Egypt, Turkey and Jordan as possible contenders for acquiring nuclear weapons to offset Iranian gains in this area – Egypt signed an agreement with Russia earlier this year to build the former’s first nuclear power plant.
Meanwhile, China and Russia continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals. Russia’s assault on Ukraine has included a threat to use nuclear weapons against the latter in response to any attempt to retake Crimea. One has to wonder if a more assertive American response to Russia’s incursion in the first place would have affected President Vladimir Putin’s calculations about dropping nuclear threats and, for that matter, whether a more serious American posture toward Russia that didn’t lean on a literal “reset” button and a horribly negotiated New START treaty would have affected Mr. Putin’s calculations about going into Crimea in the first place.
Mr. Obama’s policies are actually helping bring about the world he had boasted his de-nuclearization worldview would avoid.
Ben Lerner is vice president for government relations at the Center for Security Policy.