As the Democratic National Convention continues this week in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party have reasserted their intent to move towards a world free of nuclear weapons. The Democratic Party Platform released Monday states, “[we] believe we must address the threat that nuclear weapons pose to our security and to peace in the world.” It then adds, “President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons and to eventually ridding the planet of these catastrophic weapons.” Also outlined in the platform are the party’s stances toward Iran, Russia, North Korea, securing loose nuclear materials, reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles and warheads, and preventing nuclear proliferation.
While there is still much to accomplish, the platform recognizes that significant progress has been made over the last three years on nuclear threat reduction. For example, the Obama administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review steps back from Cold War thinking and reduces the role of nuclear weapons in US national security policy. President Obama also signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, which Mitt Romney opposed. This treaty verifiably reduces US and Russian deployed strategic warheads and delivery systems. In addition, it laid the groundwork for future reductions.
It is clear that President Obama and the Democratic Party comprehend the enormous task of securing fissile materials and preventing the spread of such weapons. The platform is quick to state that the shared danger posed by nuclear weapons requires collaboration with other countries, particularly Russia. The Obama Administration will continue to work with Russia to reduce and secure existing stockpiles of weapons and materials. It will also seek to negotiate a new Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty to end the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons. Pakistan continues to block efforts in the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate such a treaty. And the platform emphasized the importance of ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
The platform also asserts President Obama and the Democratic Party’s intentions to support the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. “As we work to uphold our obligations under the treaty by reducing stockpiles and recognizing the rights of all rule-abiding states to peaceful nuclear energy, we will insist that countries without nuclear weapon comply with their obligations not to develop them, and we will ensure that violators face real consequences.”
In regard to Iran, this administration has imposed the toughest sanctions ever against the country as result of its refusal to demonstrate more transparency on its nuclear program. President Obama also rightly continues to state there is still time for diplomacy. The platform indicates that “a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution.”
Similarly, the Obama Administration and international partners have established some of the toughest multilateral sanctions against North Korea. According to the platform, “the transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the US and our allies, and we would hold North Korea accountable for the consequences of such action.”
Overall, quite an improvement over the Republican platform we saw last week.