Most of the time when President Obama is mentioned in a news article these days it is to talk about his legacy or note that he will be one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest assets on the campaign train over the next few months. All of that will change for a moment on Wednesday when he travels to Dallas to speak at the memorial services for the police officers who were killed in the attacks on Thursday night.
But in the meantime, he’s still busy being President. As I noted back in March, he set a far-reaching goal back in 2009 when he traveled to Prague.
So today I am announcing a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. We will set new standards, expand our cooperation with Russia, pursue new partnerships to lock down these sensitive materials.
Since then, the United States has hosted four Global Summits on Nuclear Security and the President affirmed the need to continue working on these issues during his visit to Hiroshima.
That is why we come to Hiroshima.
The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.
Obviously Obama intends to keep working on this one right up until the day his second term is over.
In recent weeks, the national security Cabinet members known as the Principals Committee held two meetings to review options for executive actions on nuclear policy. Many of the options on the table are controversial, but by design none of them require formal congressional approval. No final decisions have been made, but Obama is expected to weigh in personally soon…
Several U.S. officials briefed on the options told me they include declaring a “no first use” policy for the United States’ nuclear arsenal, which would be a landmark change in the country’s nuclear posture. Another option under consideration is seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution affirming a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons. This would be a way to enshrine the United States’ pledge not to test without having to seek unlikely Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
The administration is also considering offering Russia a five-year extension of the New START treaty’s limits on deployed nuclear weapons, even though those limits don’t expire until 2021. This way, Obama could ensure that the next administration doesn’t let the treaty lapse. Some administration officials want to cancel or delay development of a new nuclear cruise missile, called the Long-Range Stand-Off weapon, because it is designed for a limited nuclear strike, a capability Obama doesn’t believe the United States needs. Some officials want to take most deployed nukes off of “hair trigger” alert.
The administration also wants to cut back long-term plans for modernizing the nation’s nuclear arsenal, which the Congressional Budget Office reports will cost about $350 billion over the next decade. Obama may establish a blue-ribbon panel of experts to examine the long-term budget for these efforts and find ways to scale it back.
After the 2014 midterm elections, President Obama promised to play through to the end of the fourth quarter. Don’t count him out just yet. He is obviously making good on that promise as well.