Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Nuclear Priesthood Has Other Ideas

January 22, 2010

The Obama administration planned to submit its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) to Congress February 1, but has delayed the review’s release until March 1. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Obama stated: “We will complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opens the door to deeper cuts and reduces the role of nuclear weapons.”

There is, however, a Nuclear Priesthood that has other ideas. The nuclear weapons laboratories, contractors and the nuclear bureaucracies in the Pentagon and Energy Department – where the $60 billion in funding for nuclear weapons resides – all have a vested interest in keeping the nuclear weapons policy status-quo. Moreover, they would like to expand the nuclear weapons production complex. Their multi-billion dollar plan would increase US production capacity from 20 nuclear warheads a year to 80.

In December, all the Senate Republicans and one independent (Sen. Lieberman) sent a letter to the President. The message was clear – fund Bombplex or face a major defeat on the eve of a Global Nuclear Security Summit President Obama will host in April and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review at the United Nations in May.

The delay in the release of the NPR gives us time to effect the President’s decision. U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) have written to the president to encourage him to adopt forward-leaning policies in the NPR including taking US nuclear weapons off high-alert status as a safety measure, and adopting a No First Use policy for our nuclear arsenal. So, President Obama is faced with two clear choices. The US will either take a step forward on the difficult path to the abolition of nuclear weapons, or call out to the world its intention to sustain our nuclear weapons arsenal indefinitely.

President Obama has made some impressive speeches in favor of nuclear weapons disarmament, but of course the international community will not take seriously the President’s vision of a Nuclear Weapons-Free world if it is based solely on speeches.

Contact your Senators and Representatives today and request that they write to the President recommending an NPR that reflects Obama’s vision of a nuclear weapon-free future by taking concrete steps to dismantle our stockpile and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national and global security policy. Future generations may well look back on these few months as a critical moment when the United States committed itself to the bold pledge of its Nobel Laureate President to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

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