Obama: The Anti-Anti-Nuke President

Is he undercutting his own nonproliferation agenda?

Comments: 48

  1. Republicans took money from something else to do this instead. What? This does not say what was reduced, except that it too was non-proliferation.

    So is there unimportant non-proliferation that we can stop doing? Pray tell us what that is.

    If this is so important, why not fund it? We fund these useless wars we are using with hundreds of times more money. This is important, but not important enough to pay for it?

    That absurdity is the Congress being "more responsible" than Obama, per Univ of Texas.

  2. Many a Times readers eyebrows are sure to rise sharply this morning as they declare to nobody in particular, ' Heavens! Richard Luettgen is the last person in world to be reproaching anyone for " using any issue as a mere pretext for attacking" whomever!

  3. The fact is it is a zero sum game; X amount of money for non-proliferation divided up by Y programs. As someone else mentioned at times there will be competing priorities.

  4. Careful what you wish for Richard, November is on the horizon!

  5. Of all people to accuse of being an anti-anti-nuke president, I would have put Barack Obama somewhere behind Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Until the Russian “reset” of Mr. Obama’s failed so spectacularly with the clear breakout of Vladimir Putin as a manipulator of the heft of Richelieu, we were on a road of mothballing our nuclear deterrent, basically at the suggestion of Vladimiir Putin. Since the failure of the “reset”, however, Mr. Obama has executed a volte-face, largely out of pique at Russia for having used him like a professional woman of indiscriminate charms.

    This doesn’t make him anti-anti-nuke: it makes him ticked off at being used in such a humiliating manner.

    It may be as the author contends that the precise issue of assessing feasibility of downgrading the peril of proliferation occasioned by naval nuclear fuel is a bureaucratic matter, but the whole issue of nuclear deterrence in the curious mind of President Obama needs to be assessed. Pique doesn’t an anti-anti-nuke president make.

  6. Pique? Oh but it does. Since when isn't pride an issue with Presidents? Indeed Kuperman makes a point of not trying to look through the smoke of the gun. The buck stops at increasingly at the Presidents desk with alarming regularity.

  7. Yes,yes,the Putin pullout in Syria was as successful as George W. Bushes claim of victory on an aircraft carrier in the war in Iraq. And the Russian embargo by the U.S. has been ineffective. Republican leadership has been so effective in foreign & domestic policy of blocking every facet of the Obama Presidency. If Obama is the professional woman of indiscriminate charms,then Mr. McConnel is the pimp to Putin. I am a bit surprised the editorial staff allowed the the use of metaphors. Free speech has no quality control and can be found in the markdown aisle at the local 99 cent store.

  8. Shame. Between dancing a tango as Brussels burns; giving Iran a free pass for its, appreciated, slow-down of nuke development, and, turning friends into enemies – it would seem that such a short-sighted perspective suggests a President who believes his country must be punished for its sins. But, I do have confidence in the American people.

  9. So to the writers to this article,have you ask the President what his input for this topic is? What is his take on it? What does Ashton Carter have to say? I hope these questions were asked . Would love to hear a response and maybe a quote or two from the Executive Branch included in the article. My only criticism of the article is that there was an over generous amount of assumptions made to be taken serious as an Op Ed piece. The issue is serious and needs more in depth questions asked instead of a knee jerk approach.

  10. Hard to see how America and Israel can prevent dirty bombs or outright nukes from jihadis forever, given all the potentially loose Russian, Pakistani, and North Korean nukes, and nuclear materials, available to them. If I lived in NYC or Tel Aviv, I'd move.

  11. This article seems quite biased. If the President of the US, who is provided much more detailed information than the general public, evolves his position we should be asking what we don't know., rather than assuming he has become uncharacteristically stupid or political. Assume good will -- he has changed his position because he knows something we don't know.

  12. This is strange and surprising. Can the author share evidence of these claims?

  13. Nuclear weapons can never be used again, morally or even tactically.
    Proliferation of these weapons endangers us all, so they must be abolished.
    Moreover, the collateral urge to have us impulsively leap from the oily frying pan into the nuclear fire, in hope of averting climate catastrophe with nuclear power is an energy source falsehood.
    The physics cannot be ignored. There is no way that radioactive waste can safely and securely be sequestered for the thousands of years required.
    NO NUKES !

  14. >>>>

    A problem for sure. I think you make it sound much too easy to build an A-bomb, which is not true, at least as a bomb. A dirty bomb is most certainly within their reach if they obtained the material. You would need very little expertise to build a dirty bomb.

    Ref: "If terrorists obtained less than 100 pounds of the stuff, they could almost surely set off a similar explosion. A country with even moderate technical expertise could achieve the same yield with a much smaller amount."

  15. Thank you for writing an important article. Today it is difficult to know what Congress is doing or not doing with all the campaign silliness in the headlines.

  16. This is too trivial to take seriously regarding something as important as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

    When the cold reality is that Russia has 4700 nuclear warheads and America has 4500 nukes. No country or group of countries has that many possible worthy targets. The United Kingdom has 215 nukes and France has 300 nukes. China has 260 nukes. These permanent members of the UN Security Council are also all parties to the NPT. America invented nuclear weapons and used them twice.

    But there are four nuclear proliferation rogue states with histories of ethnic sectarian violence and war that are not parties to the NPT. India has 120 nukes and Pakistan has 130 nukes. North Korea has less than 10 nukes while Israel is estimated to have from 60-400. Israel is the only one to neither deny nor confirm it's nukes. Apartheid South Africa had nukes as did several former Soviet Republics. American nukes are in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey.

    Japan is an NPT party with 1200-1400 kg of enriched uranium. How much does NPT party and NATO ally does Germany have. Iran is an NPT party with no nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons can be made from plutonium and uranium. Keeping track of that material is hard.

    Why not eliminate more weapons beginning with Russia and America down 500 each? Why not resurrect the P5+1 with the addition of Japan to focus on the nuclear rogues with economic sanctions and diplomacy? That would be serious and major.

  17. "In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the center of Prague, in the heart of Europe and pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons”. People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

    It was all fake. He was lying. The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion." So much for Barack Obama's "legacy" on this account!

  18. Your appeal certainly seems logical but then again it's Washington.
    You say yes and I say no.
    But thanks for reminding me he won the Nobel peace prize, I had forgotten.

  19. The United States will be spending a trillion dollars during the next few years to upgrade her huge arsenal of nuclear weapons that is already capable of destroying the whole world ten times over, and now you are worried about terrorists stealing some nuclear fuel from submarines! The problem lies elsewhere. It is the crazy logic of being more powerful than the rest of the world put together, a logic that is being preached by all Republican presidential candidates, that is at the root of the problems.

    The entire crazy structure of nuclear deterrent needs to be dismantled before it wipes out the human rice. The problem with nuclear deterrent is that it works until it fails, and when it fails even once, which is certain to happen, it is irreversible. We should destroy the nuclear weapons or they will surely destroy all of us.

  20. Terrorist supporters already have atomic bombs. And the Obama Administration had nothing to do with it.

    They call themselves the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Pakistanis are major supporters of the tyrannical Taliban, who themselves have been happy to host the murderers of Al Quada. Lest we forget, Bin Laden was hosted for years after 9/11 right within nuclear armed Pakistan.

    Then, there is the matter of North Korea. They had a nuclear non-proliferation deal with the Clinton Administration back in the 90's. How did that work out?
    Is North Korea selling nuclear technology to oil rich, and now cash empowered, Iran? How can the Nuclear Security Summit do anything about that?

    Iran also has a nuclear deal with the Obama Administration, and the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to be a leading exporter of terrorism worldwide.

    And what happens should Iran decide to emulate Pakistan, and North Korea?
    if they are not doing so already.

    It seems most likely that terrorist proliferation from behind the nuclear umbrella of State actors is the most likely course for the future, as it has been in the past.

    After the horse has left the barn, peevishness, or lack thereof, should be the least of anyone's concerns.

  21. I could only wish that John Kerry were President at this time..
    why...because

    the persistent cavalier stance of Barack Obama ...has lowered the image
    of all US Presidents heretofore....
    Who has the gravitas to be our next President...I would wish this might be
    John Kerry....not Hillary Clinton.

  22. The low-enriched uranium research project is crucial. How can it not be? If Obama failed to include funding in the budget, whatever his motivation, Congress should dip into other funds to support it.

  23. This opinion piece deserves a clear and immediate response from the Obama administration.

  24. correction

    Alan Kuperman sells Obama & his legacy thing short. Obama isn't simply the "The Anti-Anti-Nuke President." Obama is The Pro-Nuke President.

    “I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch.”
    – Obama to T. Friedman

    Obama's de facto nuclear arming of apocalyptic radical-Islamist terrorists not constrained by MAD—and worse, propelled by it, which implies first-strike intention— is anthropogenic interference of cataclysmic proportion.

    The Iran nuke deal is all about nuclear proliferation.

    Assuming Iran does not cheat—(a big assumption, witness its firing of 2 ballistic missiles (BM) w/ message—in Hebrew—“Israel should be wiped off the Earth”)—in 8 yrs can legally pursue BM, in 10 yrs, will have legal nuke program w/ centrifuge R&D. At 15 yrs, all restrictions lift. Will expand nuke program w/ near-zero breakout time, plutonium reprocessing, unlimited uranium enrichment, a certified BM program.

    Nuke deal is a farce: No baselines established, inspections an illusion, R & D already outsourced to Pyongyang/Pakistan, Putin supplying Iran state-of-art ICBMs/ABMs, Russia is a surreptitious "secondary source of uranium" for client state Iran, thanks to Clintons' $450-mil sellout of US.

    Countervailing forces are not going to wait for Iran to nuke-up. The nuclear arms race has already begun in the entire apocalyptic, unstable region.

    BRUSSELS NEWSFLASH—Dirty bombs targeting EU/US in ISIS pipeline.

    Obama: The Pro-Nuke President, indeed.

  25. ADDENDUM to prev. submittal—Obama is The Pro-Nuke President.

    Beyond irrational, dangerous, nuclear-proliferating, legacy-driven deals or insane, apocalyptic, terrorist signatories, Obama's recklessness w/ nukes is reminiscent of Clinton's. The similarity—the deals' drivers—2 messianic narcissists blinded by their own imagined brilliance.

    Unlike Obama, Clinton delusion is mitigated not only by legacy, but by quid pro quo.

    Wm J Broad argues,"Spying Isn't the Only Way to Learn About Nukes," NYT, 5/30/99—that Clinton disseminated our atomic secrets proactively to implement his counterintuitive, postmodern, quite inane epistemological theory, namely, that, contrary to currently held dogma, knowledge is not power after all.

    The theory: instructing China & a motley assortment of terrorist nations on how to beef up their atom bombs & how not to omit the "key steps" when building hydrogen bombs would somehow blunt their appetites for bigger & better bombs & a higher position in the power food chain.

    Broad's failure to connect the dots—Clinton wholesale release of atomic secrets, decades of Chinese money sluicing into Clinton campaigns, Clinton pushing of the test ban treaty, Clinton concomitant sale of supercomputers & Clinton noxious legacy—reduces his piece to just another Clinton NYT apologia.

    Calling his position on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty "an historic milestone," Clinton believed that if he could get China to sign it, his place in history would be assured.

  26. NOw we have to deal with the reality of today's Washington. As soon as President Obama supports the idea, the republicans will withdraw support and fight it in any way they can. That is today's reality.

  27. "Such peevishness is shortsighted. President Obama should instead use the meeting to highlight ..., and he should challenge other countries to follow suit. Not only would that promote global security ..., burnish Mr. Obama’s foreign-policy record. Indeed, the conversion of naval nuclear fuel could yield the greatest reduction in bomb-grade uranium commerce in human history. Now that would be a legacy."

    Perhaps, if he reads your report, he will be sufficiently embarrassed to have a nonproliferation initiative ready for the Nuclear Security summit.

    "Peevishness" meaning, "impatient, peevish and annoyed that he had to answer to anyone", is actually something I've noticed in the persona of President Obama.

    In fact, if one examines his two terms there has been an aloofness, a kind of "look I'm the President, and I know best", attitude, which is a childish kind of peevishness, and aside from the racist nature of the Republican Party as they continue their obstructionist behavior, their reaction to this perceived peevishness, is to be even more obstructionist, so in some ways, President Obama is responsible for his failure to cause the "change" he promised during his campaigns.

    Its too late now for him, and also too late for Hillary, as both he, and Hillary represent more of the same, a continuation of the status quo, which the people are entirely fed up with, and this is why Bernie Sanders is ahead nationally of Hillary, in the Bloomberg Poll of yesterday, March 25, 2016.

  28. This article is yet another misdirection. Obama nor previous presidents don't do what they did, because they care about Nuclear Security! Sanctioning and or attacking Libya, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Russia had nothing to do with Nukes, if so we would have sanctioned Pakistan a long time ago.

    It has to do with protecting those who will sell their energy for US Dollars. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are far more radical than those we sanctioned and invaded. The Saudis have financed the nuclear development of weapons in Pakistan. The Saudis have missiles from Pakistan that will carry Pakistani nuclear warheads. The Saudis said they are going to acquire these weapons of mass destruction and can do so with-out any reprisal from the US. Qatar has spent billions on financing terrorists who ended up joining ISIS. Obama abd Hillary violated UN Law (International Law) when they covered up the CIA operation in Libya to retrieve weapons (many were surface to air missliles) and transport them out of Libya to the ME to be used by terrorists and insurgents.

    The UN agreement Obama signed implied that even knowing that weapons were being shipped in out of Libya was a violation of the agreement.

  29. This is just another example of Obama's peevish nature. He's never really earned anything - not even his Nobel prize - so he approaches life from a position of entitlement. One shouldn't be surprised with his "if Republicans are for it, I'm against it" attitude.

  30. This editorial is vexing? Very few navies operate nuclear fleets, and those that do only use them on extremely well protected capital ships. Reactors that are small, reliable and safe enough to navalize are prohibitively expensive to operate and technologically far too complex to build for most countries. Furthermore, all countries with nuclear powered naval fleets also maintain a healthy stock pile of nuclear weapons (some of which, undoubtedly reside on these same nuclear powered ships), thus appropriate safe handling procedures are in place. Military stockpiles of nuclear fuel in general are far safer than civilian stock piles for obvious reasons.

    Iran's "future nuclear fleet" is a complete red herring, as they (by separate treaty) are not permitted to have highly enriched uranium in any usable capacity for any purpose for at least the next ten years. This much should be obvious.

    In an America under sequestration with a wretched Republican congress... the president is completely wise not to divert valuable (and finite) funds from a nuclear non-proliferation general fund that is intended to counter far more pressing and likely proliferation risks.

    Finally, each nuclear ship we construct costs upwards of 8 billion dollars. The Ford class carries have been designed and the first ship of the class is off the line, we are well underway for the Ohio replacement subs as well... In short, we can't afford to redesign these ships this late in the game.

  31. The less enriched the uranium, the bigger the reactor has to be. That is why submarine nuclear reactors use highly enriched uranium.

  32. Highly enriched uranium (HEU) is advantageous for submarines because it reduces the size of the reactor and extends the time between refueling - sometimes to the life of the ship. Refueling a nuclear submarine is not like refueling your car. It takes the ship out of service for about two years.

    Whether adequate performance can be achieved with LEU I'll leave to the experts. It's certainly worth exploring since the benefit of reducing the amount of HEU in circulation worldwide is huge.

    I will give President Obama credit for focusing on the true nuclear risks. In past Nuclear Summits he has focused on securing vulnerable materials, breaking up black markets, and intercepting illicitly trafficked nuclear materials. The risk that we will be attacked by another nuclear nation (other than the wackos in N. Korea) is virtually zero. But a terrorist nuke or dirty bomb is a real risk.

  33. Among many successes, President Obama's failure to address the gross incompetence of Pentagon and senior military leadership is disappointing. Military experts have claimed 300 strategic nukes meets requirements. Obama requested 1,000; yet the US still has many times that. Pentagon management of nuclear weapons and technology is an abysmal failure. Billions of taxpayer dollars squandered on jets performing nowhere close to requirements and ships and planes unable to go into harm's way. This gross lack of fiscal responsibility and, even more important, accountability must be addressed by the next US president and quickly.

  34. Mr. Kuperman writes: "Such peevishness is shortsighted." But par for the course. Welcome to the club of those who have the misfortune not to be on the side of Obama's self-defined history.

  35. Mr Obama's sole concern is to stymie Republicans and their initiatives. The same but opposite thing he claims their sole concern is. But because he's a Democrat, Liberals think it's okay. It's okay for Liberals when Democrats do stupid things.

  36. Great…something else to worry about.

  37. Perhaps the writer hasn't noticed that congress is at war. They're at war with President Obama. Phrases like "petty turf war", "peevishness is shortsighted", and the situation being "ridiculous", simply describe the entirety of governmental negotiations between the Republicans and the president, not just the issue of naval nuclear fuel. Republicans like to say the president created this environment, forgetting that they are publicly on record as heroically trying to undermine, obstruct, block, and sabotage anything this president attempts on any issue, from planting a tree on Arbor Day, to nuclear non-proliferation. Doesn't matter: if he's for it, they're agin it.

    This sad battle also illuminates the dysfunction created by the main ideological conflict between these two parties: how much money are we going to collect for government, and what are we going to spend it on. Mostly, the Republicans are clear on two things. That they want to collect as little as possible from the folks at the top, as they try to beat the dead horse that is supply-side economics for another furlong, and what they're not going to spend money on: Planned Parenthood, renewable energy research, medical research, education (except replace evolution with Creationism in science textbooks), food stamps, welfare, social security, Medicaid, infrastructure repairs, jobs, the FDA, the EPA, school lunches, college debt.
    Unfortunately, safer nuclear fuel is caught up in this mess. Welcome to Washington, 2016.

  38. "The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe."

    Albert Einstein

    All war is obsolete. (From the Beyond War movement of the 1980's).

    We still don't understand this issue at its most fundamental level... thinking.

  39. Maybe Obama is pretending to be against it so the republicans would be for it. Why do republicans think they can continue to defund all of our government departments, we need more revenue so we can continue to function..

  40. I find the op-Ed piece a bit lacking,making assumptions on limited evidence,but I guess the op-Ed columns do not need evidence and any interviews from whom they accuse. Was President Obama ,Ashton Carter or John Kerry interviewed or quoted on the piece? Are there any cons to the Republican proposals? Costs for conversion? I was a little surprised that an academic from my alma mater hasn't substantiated his claims with a bit more in depth facts.

  41. Well, we only have the author's version of the machinations regarding whose budget ox was gored to serve someone's alternate idea. That said, the author's cv is impressive if you google his credentials. So if this a matter of bureaucratic peevishness, it is indeed shortsighted.

    So let's focus on the logic of the author's arguments.

    There is zero basis to believe that if the US signaled an intent to convert to low-enriched uranium fuel that either Russia or Iran would feel pressure to follow suit. Particularly if such an R&D effort were expensive and a technological reach for them. In fact, they might double down on their efforts to produce more highly-enriched uranium as a counter measure since that's what they would know how to do.

    The US already has the most comprehensive processes for safeguarding their fuels, so its not clear that jihadist theft of US fuels is a high probability. Nothing the US could do or offer the Russians will improve Soviet safeguarding of their fuels. Actually, the world has a bigger exposure to the lower security safeguards of such nations as Belgium of their nuclear power plants than to theft of highly enriched urainium from the noted naval programs.

    Something is missing from the author's opinion piece. On the face of it, its sounds like academic pique that a favored R&D proposal was not adopted or a political slam to discredit President Obama. Hope not, but his logic as presented doesn't hold water.

  42. I served 7 years in the US Navy, on submarines. Therefore, I understand the great importance that is placed on nuclear propulsion. Is it possible that there is serious concern over decreased capabilities with lower grade uranium?

  43. And why, pray tell, will the congress that initiated the study simply add the money into the budget from their end. Seems to me I heard just the other day that the Presidents budget will not even get a hearing this year. Perhaps the writer should inquire with his Texas Senators. Oh thats right. They are Republicans and don't show up for work very often.

  44. This is actually very simple.

    But people, especially devoted liberals, constantly over-think Obama's every move, ascribing to him a 3 dimensional chess intellect engaged in masterful moves simply beyond citizens' meager abilities to understand.

    In Obama's world... everything is about HIM.

    The sun, in his solar system, orbits him.

    Have you not figured this out yet?

    Obamacare, largely a failure, is sacrosanct in his view, and beyond reproach.

    The "deal" with Iran, the same.

    All wars ended in the Middle East... another vast accomplishment.

    Terrorists contained.... check.

    These are great accomplishments in his mind and he will brook no discussion nor criticism of these "crown jewels of his legacy".

    He "waves" away terrorist attacks, dances the tangential tango, eschews a supreme court justice's funeral, tees off minutes after Americans are beheaded my purveyors of the "religion of peace".

    The President of the US has a duty to represent the people of the USA, and a large part of his duty is ceremonial in that he should embody a civilized and appropriate leader.

    But this seems about as vital as an appendix in Obama's body politic.

    Why won't Obama deal with the issue of nonproliferation and promote global security.... simple... he's already fixed it and can't be bothered.

    Having done little for America but create chaos and divisiveness, Obama only has time now to burnish his pretend legacy as he prepares for the riches of post-presidential super stardom.

  45. After the promiscuous neo-cons of the last administration lead us into international and economic disaster, the nation twice elected President Obama, based, largely, on his less muscular approach to global issues.

    But what kind of president would he be if his policy altered reflexively with every headline? Remember, he is not a candidate -- who can apparently say anything at all. He is the person we elected, responsible to us for America.

  46. Uranium can also cause the men who handle it to be sterile! My husband was a physicist. Perhaps that will be a different way to stop all the violence.

  47. Nonproliferation is the name we have assigned to these initiatives and nonproliferation is the idea leaders sell to the people. But I suspect the real idea, that determines actual policy, is more aptly described as "control." The US wants to control the spread and development of nuclear technology and nuclear weapons. That is different from nonproliferation, which usually includes the idea that the goal is to get rid of the darn things.

    I highly doubt any US president actually wants that, or that it is anywhere close to the actual policy and mission goals of our national security and military plan-makers. I suspect we want control, and a given nonproliferation policy idea may or may not be valuable toward that end.

    The loophole on naval usage of HEU may be a loophole we find valuable. It may be a loophole we are putting to use in one way or another.

    But I understand that it is galling, especially since the leader in question got a rather poorly thought out Nobel Prize for this very issue. But the reality is, the interests of the US national security establishment only overlaps with, but does not coincide, with the interests of the nonproliferation movement. That might be unfortunate, but that is what happens when you are dealing with a massive military superpower. That state has its own thinking and objectives, and long experience teaches, there is only so far outside interests and movements can affect the choices it makes and the outcomes it pursues.