What Obama did not say in the state of the union

Last week a New York Times article announced that during the State of the Union, Obama was going to call for drastically reducing our nuclear weapons stock pile.

Yet the state of the union came and nothing was said on the matter.

Lately, tensions with Russia have begun to fray around the edges. Vladimir Putin refuses to renew the Dunn-Lugar Treaty, the Russian Parliament banned Russian adoptions to American parents, and the Russians have expressed their great displeasure of the United States’ involvement in their energy sector. Perhaps this is all why Obama chose instead not to discuss the fragile issue during one of his most public speeches.

He planned to say that 700 out of the total 1850 deployed weapons would be taken out of use. This comes two years after the senate ratified New START, which agreed with Russia that both countries would limit their weapons to 1,550 by 2018. As that date is just five years away, Obama seems to want to finish this before he leaves office. The US military even agreed that the arsenal can be cut by 1/3 and still maintain the safety of the American people. The former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff argued that with just over 900 deployed, the US would remain extremely safe and powerful. He went on to explain that he believes the current stockpile is due to the cold war reserves and that this is not a current threat for the 21st century, “The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the cold war,” Gen. Cartwright said.

82% of Americans approved of New Start and it passed with bi-partisan support. As more and more members of congress begin to approve of lessening our arsenals, it seems that everyone is starting to agree that having this many nuclear weapons is detrimental to our national security, our wallet, and our foreign policy.

It can be quite hard when we’re calling on Iran or North Korea to suspend all tests of nuclear weapons when we have 1,950 of them pointed their way. Recently a former intern wrote a blog piece on the disarmament and preventing nuclear terrorism. If one of the weapons we have ever was caught by terrorists, it would cause more problems than our stockpile could solve. Then there is the fact that the upkeep of our arsenal is expensive and during the discussion on our debt the extensive defense budget has been targeted for cuts.

Status of World Nuclear Forces End-2012*

Country

Operational
Strategic

Operational
Nonstrategic

Reserve/
Nondeployed

Military
Stockpile

Total Inventory

Russia

1,740a

0b

2,700c

4,500

8,500d

United States

1,950e

200f

2,500g

4,650

7,700h

France

290

n.a.

?i

300

300

China

0j

?j

180

240

240j

United Kingdom

160k

n.a.

65

225

225k

Israel

0

n.a.

80

80

80l

Pakistan

0

n.a.

90-110

90-110

90-110m

India

0

n.a.

80-100

80-100

80-100n

North Korea

0

n.a.

<10

<10

<10o

Total:p

~4,100

~200

~5,700

~10,200

~17,300

* All numbers are approximate estimates and further described in the Nuclear Notebook in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and the nuclear appendix in the SIPRI Yearbook. See also status and 10-year projection of U.S. and Russian forces. Additional reports arepublished on the FAS Strategic Security Blog. Unlike those publications, this table is updated continuously as new information becomes available. Current update: December 18, 2012.

Looking at the chart above; the threats that everyone seems to be scared of have no change against us even with only 1,000 operational weapons.

So why did Obama leave this important section of his speech out? Most likely for diplomatic reasons or because he wanted to focus more heavily on gun control and the economy. Russia may not be our biggest enemy anymore, and they may hardly be a power player in global politics, but they still hold a seat on the Security Council and a large portion of Europe and Asia are dependent on them for energy. For reasons we will never know, President Obama decided not to bring the subject up, yet it remains a serious topic. Leave a message for the president and say you want the issue on the table.

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