The White House is set to reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal by one-third, signing off on a new internal review of the country’s nuclear weapons strategy, reports The Hill newspaper.
It says that according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity issued Friday, the recommended reductions were part of a draft version of a classified directive compiled by top defense and national security officials.
Sources told CPI that Obama, while he has not officially approved the directive, has not expressed any opposition to the findings, said the paper.
It also reports that administration officials had pushed to get the new directive finalized late last year but the White House at that point objected to the plan; Obama’s advisers did not want the directive released publicly before the November election.
Meanwhile, North Korea said it conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday in self-defense against “U.S. hostility,” and threatened further steps if necessary.
The move drew widespread condemnation, including from Pyongyang’s ally China. Beijing summoned the North Korean ambassador to protest.
North Korea said the latest test had "greater explosive force" than the 2006 and 2009 tests it conducted.
At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Iran is installing new centrifuges for its uranium enrichment program that could cut the time needed to create a nuclear bomb by a third.
Tehran announced late last month that it planned to install the new machines at its main enrichment plant.
According to the internal U.S. review, however, using a smaller arsenal to target a limited number of threats, including North Korea and Iran, rather than keeping a large ballistic arsenal, would still allow the country to maintain a viable nuclear deterrence strategy.
It’s not clear how many nuclear weapons a one-third cut would come to, said The Hill, because the total amount of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal is classified.
The move is bound to draw criticism from Republicans, who have denounced Obama’s stance on missile defense.
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