Despite campaigning on a platform that endorsed having “a nuclear-free world” in the not so distant future, United States President Barack Obama is overseeing an administration that’s aim has taken another path, the New York Times reported this week.
On Sunday, journalists William Broad and David Sanger wrote for the Times that a half-decade of “political deals and geopolitical crises” have thrown a wrench in the works of Pres. Obama’s pre-White House plans, as a result eviscerating his previously stated intentions of putting America’s — and ideally the world’s — nuclear programs on ice.
According to the Times report, an effort to ensure that the antiquated nuclear arsenal being held by the US remains secure has since expanded to the point that upwards of $1 trillion dollars is now expected to be spent on various realms of the project during the next three decades, the likes of which are likely to keep the trove of American nukes intact and do little to discourage other nations from doing differently.
“The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads,” the journalists wrote. “Instead, because of political deals and geopolitical crises, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return.”
Shortly after he first entered the oval office in early 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize commission awarded Pres. Obama with its highest award for, among other factors, taking a strong stance against international nuclear procurement.
“I’m not naïve,” Obama said that year. “This goal will not be reached quickly — perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence.”
After speaking with analysts, however, the Times journalists — both Pulitzer winners in their own right — now raise doubts that the commander-in-chief’s campaign goals will come to fruition anytime soon.
“With Russia on the warpath, China pressing its own territorial claims and Pakistan expanding its arsenal, the overall chances for Mr. Obama’s legacy of disarmament look increasingly dim, analysts say,” they wrote. “Congress has expressed less interest in atomic reductions than looking tough in Washington’s escalating confrontation with Moscow.”
Indeed, international disputes have without a doubt raised concerns in recent years over the nuclear programs of other nations. The Washington Post reported this week that Pakistan is working towards achieving the capability to launch sea-based, short-range nuclear arms, and concurrently the Kremlin confirmed that Russia is set to renew the country’s strategic nuclear forces by 100 percent, not 70 percent as previously announced.
As those countries ramp up their nuclear programs on their own, the Times report cites a recent study from the Washington, DC-based Government Accountability Office to show that the US is making more than just a minor investment with regards to America’s nukes. According to that report, 21 major upgrades to nuclear facilities have already been approved, yet in the five years since Obama took office, “the modernization push” to upgrade the nukes has been “poorly managed and financially unaccountable.”
“It estimated the total cost of the nuclear enterprise over the next three decades at roughly $900 billion to $1.1 trillion,” the journalists noted. “Policy makers, the [GAO] report said, ‘are only now beginning to appreciate the full scope of these procurement costs.’”