Published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Online on March 6, 2013.
Article summary below; read the full text here.
Nuclear arms control is back in the news. After paying little public attention to the issue over the long course of his reelection campaign, President Obama said in his February State of the Union address that the United States “will engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals.” A recent report by the Center for Public Integrity revealed that senior Obama administration officials believe the United States can reduce its arsenal of deployed strategic warheads to between 1,000 and 1,100 without harming national security. Those numbers would put the total below levels called for by New START, the treaty that limits the United States and Russia to 1,550 deployed warheads apiece. Meanwhile, numerous high-ranking administration officials have met with their Russian counterparts this year. Further arms control measures were likely on the agenda.
Not surprisingly, many congressional Republicans have expressed opposition to further nuclear reductions. They argue that additional cuts would undermine US security and worry that the Obama administration could reduce the national arsenal outside the auspices of a formal treaty approved by the US Senate.
These concerns are misplaced: Further nuclear weapons reductions are squarely in the national interest.