Peace Action West joined a broad coalition of faith, environmental, arms control, and peace and security organizations in sending a letter to President Obama thanking him for his leadership on nuclear weapons issues. The letter also made recommendations for how the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review can reflect the vision of a nuclear weapons free world President Obama announced in his speech from Prague. 179 national, regional, and local organizations signed the lettter, representing 31 states and hundreds of thousands of people.
The Nuclear Posture Review, due early next year, will set U.S. nuclear weapons policy for the next 5-10 years. This review is an opportunity to reject outdated Cold War thinking and create a transformational policy that addresses the threats of the 21st century and sets the U.S. on a path toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The letter from organizations is especially important because there are signs of internal divisions within the Obama administration over the direction of the Nuclear Posture Review. In the president’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama stated that the U.S. “will complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opens the door to deeper cuts and reduces the role of nuclear weapons.” However, entrenched bureaucratic interests at the Department of Defense are pushing to maintain Cold War thinking and policies. At an Air Force Association conference in September, Secretary of Defense Gates spoke in favor of modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, including supporting new warhead designs.
Developing new nuclear weapons would undermine international nonproliferation efforts and is contrary to the president’s commitment to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.”
The letter from organizations asks that the Nuclear Posture Review reflect the reality that:
- the United States does not need and shall not pursue new nuclear warheads;
- maintaining a large, ready-to-launch nuclear arsenal hurts U.S. security interests overall by encouraging similar Russian behavior, and;
- only substantial reductions in those arsenals, U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and a commitment to a world without nuclear weapons can attract the international support necessary to stop more countries from getting the bomb and terrorists from using one.