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Nuclear Naivete

The White House must explain how cutting U.S. nuclear forces will contribute to nonproliferation

1:40 PM, Feb 1, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
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John Bolton has a piece in this week's issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD on President Obama's pledge to dismantle our nuclear arsenal:

We have no need for further arms control treaties with Russia, especially ones that reduce our nuclear and delivery capabilities to Moscow’s economically forced low levels. We have international obligations, moreover, that Russia does not, requiring our nuclear umbrella to afford protection to friends and allies worldwide. Obama’s policy artificially inflates Russian influence and, depending on the final agreement, will likely reduce our nuclear and strategic delivery capabilities dangerously and unnecessarily. (Securing “loose” nuclear materials internationally has long been a bipartisan goal, properly so. Obama said nothing new on that score.) Meanwhile, Obama is considering treaty restrictions on our missile defense capabilities more damaging than his own previous unilateral reductions.

Bolton continues on to what should be the crux of the nuclear debate: The link between U.S. nuclear cuts and nonproliferation. To wit, there is none.

Since the introduction of  U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms control treaties during the Kennedy administration, proliferation has mushroomed with China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, Iran, South Africa, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, with each either successfully developing weapons or experimenting with basic nuclear weapons construction. Of the latter four nations, only South Africa has abandoned nuclear ambitions in the absence of force or fear of force.

International treaties only limit proliferation among participating nations. It is the height of foolishness to believe that Iran and North Korea, two countries with a history of disregard for international process, would somehow be influenced by a treaty between the U.S. and Russia.

The White House is disregarding nuclear nonproliferation's key axiom -- that muscle trumps ink. Sacrificing our own strategic security for a starry-eyed belief in international "inspiration" isn't just naive, it's downright dangerous.

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