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Archive for April 9, 2010

Milestones on the Road to Nuclear Disarmament

Milestones on the Road to Nuclear Disarmament


by Paul Deaton

“In recognition of the fact that President Obama is
consistently, diligently working to
improve
the national
security
posture of the
United States, Blog for Iowa will
publish major addresses by the
administration concerning its policy towards nuclear disarmament. Our
intent is to be a voice to get the message out to Iowans, something the
corporate media seems uninterested in.”


This week, the administration passed two significant milestones on the road to fulfillment of the nuclear disarmament policy President Obama outlined in Prague, Czech Republic on April 5, 2009.

On April 6, Secretary of Defense Gates, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Energy Chu and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mullen held a joint press conference announcing the release of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) which outlines the administration's stance on the role of nuclear weapons in national security. This was the first time the NPR has been released in as an unclassified document. Following is an excerpt from President Obama's remarks upon release of the NPR and a link to his entire statement:

“One year ago yesterday in Prague, I outlined a comprehensive agenda to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to pursue the peace and security of a world without them.  I look forward to advancing this agenda in Prague this week when I sign the new START Treaty with President Medvedev, committing the United States and Russia to substantial reductions in our nuclear arsenals.

Today, my Administration is taking a significant step forward by fulfilling another pledge that I made in Prague—to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and focus on reducing the nuclear dangers of the 21st century, while sustaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent for the United States and our allies and partners as long as nuclear weapons exist.

The Nuclear Posture Review, led by the Department of Defense, recognizes that the greatest threat to U.S. and global security is no longer a nuclear exchange between nations, but nuclear terrorism by violent extremists and nuclear proliferation to an increasing number of states.  Moreover, it recognizes that our national security and that of our allies and partners can be increasingly defended by America’s unsurpassed conventional military capabilities and strong missile defenses.

As a result, we are taking specific and concrete steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons while preserving our military superiority, deterring aggression and safeguarding the security of the American people. (To read the rest of the statement, click here).


On Thursday, April 8, President Obama and Russian Federation President Medvedev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in Prague, Czech Republic. The treaty would reduce the nuclear weapons arsenals of the two countries that own 90% of the nuclear weapons that exist. To read the remarks of Presidents Obama and Medvedev, click here.

These two events this week are evidence that the Obama administration is taking substantial steps to improve United States national security and reduce the threat of nuclear weapons in the world.

To read President Obama's
speech on April 5, 2009 in Prague, Czech Republic,
click
here.

~Paul
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. He is also a member of Iowa Physicians for
Social Responsibility and Veterans for Peace.
E-mail Paul
Deaton

An Iowan's Reaction to the START Signing Ceremony



An Iowan's Reaction to the START Signing Ceremony


imageby Paul Deaton

In the 21st Century,
there are few valid reasons why citizens can’t participate in what our
country
is doing, directly and with limited filtering. If Iowans were watching,
so were
people around the world.”


On Thursday, April 8, U.S. President Barack Obama and
Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction
Treaty in Prague, Czech Republic. The parties had been working diligently, for
more than a year, on the terms of the treaty and the conclusion of negotiations
that resulted in the signing ceremony represents a substantial accomplishment
for the American and Russian people. The accomplishment is not only the New
START treaty, which must be ratified by the U.S. Senate and by the Russian Parliament, it is also the re-setting of the U.S.- Russian relationship which,
according to Obama, had “started to drift” under the previous administration. Many
Iowans believe that New START represents hopeful beginnings in our relationship
with Russia and a significant step towards a world without nuclear weapons.

In rural Iowa, we could participate in the signing ceremony
by viewing it on streaming video and by following the U.S. Embassy in Prague’s Twitter
feed. Shortly after the ceremony, the President’s remarks were released on the
U.S. Embassy in Prague’s Facebook Fan page. In the 21st Century,
there are few valid reasons why citizens can’t participate in what our country
is doing, directly and with limited filtering. If Iowans were watching, so were
people around the world.

While I was listening to the translation of President Medvedev’s
remarks after the signing, I noticed the translation feed went silent during
his explanation of Russia’s position on Iran sanctions. At once, I wondered if
the silence was intentional and a form of censorship. I hope not. It is clear
that Russia and the United States have not come to agreement on what Medvedev
called “smart sanctions” on Iran. How to handle Iran’s violations of the
Non-Proliferation Treaty has been a subject of discussion and each party has
distinct interests in its resolution. Where the leaders agreed was that it
should be referred to the United Nations Security Council for consideration.
While there are differences between the parties on Iran, that there was
agreement on process for resolution of differences was significant. For some of
us, it is the best that can be expected as the two countries deal with Iran's
nuclear ambitions.

Earlier in the week, Under Secretary of
State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher answered press questions about when the next round of disarmament talks with Russia would commence. Both parties to the negotiation have been working extremely long hours to finalize New START. Secretary Tauscher herself had recently spent three weeks in Geneva, made trips to Brussels and Prague and is heavily involved with the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington next week. When asking about the next round of nuclear disarmament negotiations, the questioner did not consider that members of the respective negotiating teams, all specialists in what they do, may need a break from this challenging work. In any case further nuclear disarmament negotiations with Russia seem unlikely before the U.S. Senate and Russian Parliament consider START for ratification, even if Secretary Tauscher did not say as much.

Despite the opulence of the Spanish Hall in Prague’s Old
Castle, set in today’s spring weather, what remains unseen is the long, hard
work that goes into negotiating and finalizing a treaty like New START. Already the
critics have emerged with their suggestion that the treaty is flawed, that the
United States should not have signed, and that the Russians could be deceiving
us. The arguments seem superficial and arbitrary in light of what was visible
yesterday morning. When we can view the ceremony, and hear the carefully chosen
words, and crafted phrases of diplomacy, we understand that there are
complexities in our relationship with Russia that are beyond our view.

President Obama closed his remarks as follows, “I could not
help but be struck the other day by the words of Arkady Brish, who helped build
the Soviet Union’s first atom bomb. At the age of 92, having lived to see the
horrors of a World War and the divisions of a Cold War, he said, ‘We hope
humanity will reach the moment when there is no need for nuclear weapons, when
there is peace and calm in the world.’

It is easy to dismiss those voices. But doing so risks
repeating the horrors of the past, while ignoring the history of human
progress. The pursuit of peace and calm and cooperation among nations is the
work of both leaders and peoples in the 21st century. For we must be as
persistent and passionate in our pursuit of progress as any who would stand in
our way.”

For many of us, the signing ceremony yesterday was another
milestone on the road to a world without nuclear weapons.

~Paul
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. He is also a member of Iowa Physicians for
Social Responsibility and Veterans for Peace.
E-mail Paul
Deaton