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Nuclear Weapons Strategy for the 21st Century

What will make us safer?

Nuclear Weapons Strategy for the 21st Century

On Tuesday, February 17, 2010 a secret meeting was held in the White House to discuss US nuclear policy. Military leaders and policy makers agree that the US needs a 21st century nuclear security strategy that prevents hostile groups like Al Qaeda from acquiring nuclear weapons technology.

On Thursday, February 18, Vice President Biden gave a speech about how the Obama administration's large funding request for monitoring will make nuclear weapons testing obsolete and will begin the first push for congressional ratification of the United Nations nuclear test-ban treaty since the Clinton presidency.

Biden stated that the White House is looking for a 13.5% increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration - a major $5 billion increase for the nuclear-weapons budget for 2011 that will be spent over the course of 5 years.

This is an attempt for the Obama Administration to win over Republican support. While the 67 votes the Senate needed to ratify the Test Ban treaty seem unlikely, Biden hopes to convince the Senate that the 2 decades without nuclear testing has proven that testing is unnecessary.

The Republicans want to delay any talk of a Test-ban treaty until a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia is signed by President Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, possibly as early as next month.

“It is clear that we stand on the precipice of a proliferation tipping point. As more countries seek to join the nuclear weapons club, it becomes even clearer that the status quo is untenable,” Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, the Arms Control Center’s chairman, said. “There is a broad and growing bipartisan consensus among the national security and military establishment that in order to confront the most pressing 21st century threats, like nuclear terrorism, we must secure all vulnerable nuclear materials and verifiably reduce the number of nuclear weapons that exist.”

The decisions made over the next few days will define US nuclear policy for the next 5 to 10 years. Will Obama truly put an end to “Cold War Thinking?”