Obama to decide on cuts to US nuclear arsenal in October via The Guardian

Limited politically feasible options on table for president to cement a disarmer legacy, most far-reaching of which is a one-third cut to deployed strategic arsenal

Barack Obama is expected to make a final decision next month on possible cuts to the US nuclear arsenal, in an attempt to consolidate his legacy as a disarmer before leaving office.


Unable to persuade the Senate to reconsider ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the White House has backed a United Nations security council resolution, due to be passed on Thursday, that reaffirms member states’ commitment not to conduct explosive nuclear testing. The administration official said there might be more steps to come before Obama leaves office in January.

“There are a whole lot of other steps the administration is looking at, and right now it is an open book as to what will be decided,” he said.

Nuclear disarmament was one of the signature ambitions of Obama’s first months in office. In a speech in Prague in April 2009, he pledged US commitment “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”. However, he approaches the end of his eight years in office having made fewer reductions to the US arsenal than any president since the end of the cold war.


Zia Mian, from the programme on science and global security at Princeton University, said fissile material stocks could also be cut. They are now believed to constitute 243 tons of HEU and 38 tons of plutonium.

“If say, a typical US warhead has 25kg of HEU and 4kg of plutnium, then if the US were to reduce to 1,000 operational warheads (as Obama says they can) and say 1,000 reserve warheads, it would need only 50 tons of HEU and eight tons of plutonium for its nuclear arsenal and the rest could be declared excess,” Mian said.

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