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Rising Global Threats Likely Sparked Obama Revamp of Nuclear Program

By    |   Monday, 22 September 2014 12:10 PM

Arms control supporters are expressing "baffled disappointment" over efforts by the Obama administration to modernize nuclear facilities in rebuilding efforts aimed at the nation's sagging warhead arsenal, the New York Times reports.

The new program, which will occur over three decades and could by one estimate cost close to a trillion dollars, stands in marked contrast to the president's longtime goal reducing the country's nuclear program, the Times noted.

“A lot of it is hard to explain,” former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, who is said to have influenced the president's early disarmament position, told the Times. “The president’s vision was a significant change in direction. But the process has preserved the status quo.”

Observers noted that rising global crises and power threats may have spurred the president's sea change of sorts as the U.S. strives to keep its protective arsenal up to date in the event it would need to be used.

“The most fundamental game changer is Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Obama's nuclear adviser during his first term, Gary Samore.

“That has made any measure to reduce the stockpile unilaterally politically impossible,” Samore, not a Harvard scholar, told the Times.

About 40,000 people are employed by the government's nuclear program, including a new plant in Kansas City, Missouri, the National Security Campus, which cost $700 million to build.

As Obama supporters question his decision to move ahead on a nuclear revamp, those who favor a more hawkish military policy agree that it is needed.

Noted Foreign Policy magazine of Obama's nukes flip-flop: "The drive for a nuclear-free world, in fact, has been a central thread of Obama's foreign policy views for his entire adult life. It was the topic of his first public foray into the debate over America's role in the world as a university student, a subject that he turned into his calling card in the U.S. Senate, and an issue that he raised in his first months as president, where he told a crowd in Prague that he would work toward "a world without nuclear weapons." Now, it may just be the cause that defines his administration's foreign policy legacy."

Others noted the surprise registered by the administration's ramped up nuclear strategy: "At the same time President Obama has been pressing for further reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)--a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy--is planning to spend $60 billion over the next 25 years to replace existing nuclear weapons with a suite of new warheads," the Huffington Post reported.

The president is set to speak to a UN climate change summit on Tuesday, but faces a world that has seen drastic change even over a year ago as violence rises in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict continues unresolved and as the ebola epidemic continues to spread across the African continent, a melange of troubles where the president's foreign policy response has been described as "dithering," Politico noted.

“He’s in a much worse position, without a doubt, than a year ago. … You’ve got a world on fire,” Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast peace adviser, told Politico. “The presidency is all about managing disorder and unruliness and managing perceptions so that the world’s not seen as being in chaos. He’s not been able to convey a strategy for dealing for all this, so I think it’s much grimmer for him a year later.”

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Arms control supporters are expressing baffled disappointment over efforts by the Obama administration to modernize nuclear facilities in rebuilding efforts aimed at the nation's sagging warhead arsenal, the New York Times reports. The new program, which will occur over...
climate, change, obama, nuclear
Monday, 22 September 2014 12:10 PM
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