by Kingston Reif
Published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Online on February 27, 2013.
Article summary below; read the full text here.
For all the well-justified praise US President Barack Obama has received for his efforts to roll back the Iranian nuclear threat, the rest of his nuclear security agenda has stalled.
Obama famously proposed an ambitious nuclear risk-reduction program in a speech in Prague at the beginning of his first term, and followed it up with a number of early achievements. He reiterated the importance of his agenda in a June 2013 speech in Berlin, but key priorities remain incomplete while others have scarcely gotten off the ground.
To be sure, blame for the hold up is hardly the president’s alone. It stems in large part from forces beyond his control, like Russian resistance to further arms control measures and domestic political obstruction by Republicans. And Iran has no doubt consumed much of the nonproliferation oxygen. But a lack of White House attention and an overabundance of caution have also played a role, and if no additional progress is made, Obama’s triumphs will not compare favorably to the bold proposals he outlined in 2009. There are steps the administration can take during the remainder of Obama’s time in office to breathe new life into his agenda, increase US security, and set the stage for future progress.