Obama vows to reduce number, role of nukes

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama yesterday pledged to reduce both the number and the role of nuclear weapons as he recommitted himself to the abolition of the ultra-destructive arms.

Obama was marking the 40th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which he said remained the cornerstone of international efforts to stop the spread of the weapons.

“Our forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review will move beyond outdated Cold War thinking and reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, even as we maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent,” Obama said in a statement.

A senior US official earlier this week said that the Obama administration planned “dramatic reductions” in the country’s nuclear arsenal as part of the review, due to be completed by late March.

Obama laid out a vision for a nuclear-free world in a major speech last year in Prague, while acknowledging he may never see the goal achieved.

“The United States reaffirms our resolve to strengthen the nonproliferation regime to meet the challenges of the 21st century as we pursue our ultimate vision of a world without nuclear weapons,” he said in the statement.

Obama has called a major summit in Washington in April on nuclear security. His administration is also involved in talks with Russia on a new treaty, which Obama said yesterday would “significantly reduce our nuclear arsenals.” The US — the only nation to have used nuclear weapons in combat — maintains a vast nuclear arsenal including around 2,200 operational warheads and an additional 2,500 warheads. Obama called the NPT the “cornerstone of the world’s efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.”