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More on the Candidates and Nukes


More on the Candidates and Nukes

Courtesy of

Tomorrow is election day — and the end of the deluge of political adverts — so I thought readers would find a recent piece at Global Security Newswire useful.

Lee Michael Katz, writing for the Global Security Newswire, surveyed a number of arms control advisors and former administration types regarding the Obama Administration and candidate Romney positions on nuclear weapons policy, global nonproliferation approaches and arms control.

Katz summarizes the perspectives as follows:

“Romney is generally skeptical of the value of nuclear weapons reductions and other arms control measures, whereas Obama has largely embraced these as policy tools. Obama, for example, wants to seek Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, while the Republican challenger’s advisers do not see that as a possibility during a Romney administration.”

The views are somewhat predictable.  Romney is not a fan of the CTBT, nor of new START.  Moreover, “Russia is a destabilizing force on the world stage,” Romney’s campaign website states. “It needs to be tempered.” (That view, of course, gave rise to the snarky comment President Obama uttered during the last debate, essentially accusing Romney of being stuck in the Cold War-era 1980s.)  However, the last debate did underscore that President Obama and Romney are nearly on the same page with regard to a nuclear-armed Iran.

To wit:

“As long as I’m president of the United States Iran will not get a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.

“They must not develop nuclear capability,” Romney said. “Iran is the greatest national security threat we face.”

However, Katz writes that this is the sole issue of similarity.

On missile defense, the candidates diverge again.

According to Baker Spring of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation,  “…the Obama administration will subordinate the U.S. missile defense program” to higher priorities such as arms control, nuclear disarmament and the desire for improved relations with Russia.  “I don’t think a Romney presidency would do that. A Romney administration will have a greater emphasis on what would go to protect the U.S. homeland,”.

However, Ellen Tauscher, speaking while she was still State Department special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense, noted in March that “The Obama administration has not only talked about supporting missile defense, we’ve actually done it. And, we have focused on effective systems. We have worked to protect and enhance our important homeland defense capabilities and to expand our regional missile defense capabilities.”  She added that,  “In the [fiscal 2013] budget request, where every program and every agency is subject to cuts,” she added, “we protected our most critical BMD capabilities to protect the U.S. homeland, our deployed forces, and our allies and partners.”

Regardless of who wins tomorrow, it is likely that the arms control and nonproliferation agenda will reflect the traditional views of the parties:  either one that bangs the militaristic drum and emphasizes military might over diplomacy, or one that values international engagement and respect for international law.  I’ll leave it up to readers to decide which side is which.



Jodi Lieberman

Jodi Lieberman is a veteran of the arms control, nonproliferation, nuclear terrorism and nuclear safety trenches, having worked at the Departments of State, Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She has also served in an advisory capacity and as professional staff for several members of Congress in both the House and Senate as well as the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Jodi currently spends her time advocating for science issues and funding as the Senior Government Affairs Specialist at the American Physical Society. The views expressed in her posts are her views based on her professional experience but in way should be construed to represent those of her employer.