OBAMA ADDRESSES KEY NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUES IN STATE OF THE UNION
Washington DC – February 13, 2013– News Release – The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation applauds the President for emphasizing his commitment to nuclear threat reduction but seeks greater action and clarity from the White House on several key issues.
“Over his tenure in Congress and as Commander-in-Chief, President Obama has displayed an unwavering personal commitment to arms control, nonproliferation, and nuclear material security” said Lt. General (ret. USA) Robert Gard, Chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “Yesterday’s State of the Union again restated his commitment to these priorities but gave few specifics; we hope these specifics will be detailed in the coming weeks.”
In the speech the President stated that the United States “will engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals, and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands.”
“Lessening the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons usable materials is a vital national security and fiscal priority,” said Kingston Reif, director of non-proliferation programs at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “There is an emerging bipartisan and military consensus that a significantly smaller stockpile would meet our security needs. In this time of economic uncertainty, further reductions with Russia could create significant cost savings that would free funding for higher priority security programs.”
Yesterday morning, the White House released that it would be bringing home 34,000 troops from Afghanistan by February 2014.
“While the President’s plan to bring 34,000 servicemen and women home in the next year is a good start, it doesn’t go far enough or offer the necessary specifics the American people are demanding after a decade of war,” said John Isaacs, executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World. “The Council for a Livable World has launched a White House petition calling on the President to withdraw all American troops by the end of 2013.”
On the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, the President said, “…Now is the time for a diplomatic solution…” With forthcoming talks scheduled for the 26th in Amity, Kazakhstan, many are hopeful that a workable framework could be created before the elections in Iran this summer.
“Both parties need to come to the table in Amity willing to offer real solutions,” said Laicie Heeley, senior policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “Iran must be willing to stop enriching uranium beyond five percent and export its further enriched stock while the P5+1 must be willing to put sanctions relief on the table.”
Also, the President briefly mentioned the recent North Korea nuclear test and stated that North Korean security and prosperity is directly linked to meeting its international obligations.
“Pyongyang’s test yesterday was its early Valentine to the rest of the world,” said Duyeon Kim, senior non-proliferation and East Asia fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “It is clear Kim Jong-un is taking a more offensive and aggressive stance toward Washington – we cannot let Pyongyang go unengaged indefinitely; President Obama merely reiterated his basic position, but we need a real policy and strategy.”
In addition to arms control, the early part of the President’s speech was devoted to the automatic cuts known as sequestration, set to take place March 1, including their possible effects on the military. He said, “these sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness.”
“The across-the-board nature and timeline for sequestration are a problem,” said Heeley. “There are definitely savings to be had as the Pentagon reshapes itself to meet 21st century priorities that enhance security but our military leaders need to be in a position to make smart cuts to wasteful and unnecessary programs.”
The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a Washington-based non-profit think tank working to reduce the number of nuclear weapons stockpiled across the globe, increase international nonproliferation programs targeted at preventing the further proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism, redirect U.S. military spending to address 21st century security threats and halt the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons. www.armscontrolcenter.org