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Obama has ‘failed to deliver on nuclear disarmament promises’ via The Guardian

Data shows US president has made fewer reductions to stockpile than any incumbent since the end of the cold war

When Barack Obama told his audience in Hiroshima that consistent effort would be needed to roll back from the brink of catastrophe and rid the world of nuclear weapons, the words evoked promises made at the start of his presidency.

The speech Obama was echoing was his first major foreign policy address, made in April 2009, in Prague, where he promised his presidency would ensure “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”.

However, newly declassified data, released by the Pentagon, awkwardly on the eve of the historic Hiroshima visit, showed that Obama had made fewer reductions to the US nuclear weapons stockpile than any president since the end of the cold war.

According to the data, analysed by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the US arsenal as of last September was 4,571 warheads. That was 702 warheads (or 13%) less than the final tally of the Bush administration. Much of that reduction was carried out under the New Start arms control deal agreed with Russia, a year after the Prague speech. But after New Start, and the return of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency, bilateral disarmament ground to a halt, as did unilateral US efforts.

“Although 702 warheads is no small number (other than Russia, no other nuclear-armed state has more than 300 warheads), the reduction constitutes the smallest reduction of the stockpile achieved by any previous post-cold war administration,” FAS nuclear arms analyst Hans Kristensen wrote in a blog.

The historical data shows that the biggest nuclear disarmers since the cold war were the two presidents Bush. For all the sweeping rhetoric in Prague, Obama has not been as effective. The Pentagon figures show that 109 retired warheads were dismantled in 2015, the lowest number of weapons taken apart in the US in a single year since at least 1970.

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