By Theodore A. Postol
When Barack Obama was campaigning for president in 2008, he famously pledged to place nuclear disarmament at the center of his national-security strategy. He seemed to be delivering on that promise when he began outlining the terms of an arms-reduction treaty with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev during his first months in office. In a highly celebrated speech in Prague in April 2009, Obama declared that “the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War,” and he restated “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Later that year, the Nobel Committee cited the president’s leadership on this issue when it awarded him the Peace Prize.
Why, then, we must ask, is the Obama administration moving forward with an ambitious nuclear-weapons modernization program that could dramatically raise the threat of nuclear war? The program aims to overhaul the entire US nuclear-weapons arsenal, with a particular focus on improving the fusing systems and accuracy of long-range land- and sea-based ballistic-missile warheads and on increasing the killing power of other nuclear warheads. A recent federal study estimated the cost of this enterprise at $1 trillion.