Carney: No proposal to cut nuclear arsenal in State of the Union

President Obama isn’t expected to announce any new proposals regarding nuclear disarmament during his State of the Union on Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

The comments follow a New York Times report suggesting the president would use his annual address to Congress to build support for cutting the nation’s deployed nuclear arsenal by about a third, to about 1,000 warheads. The four-year anniversary of Obama’s Prague speech on disarmament is in April, and experts are expecting the president to refocus his attention on the issue in his second term.

“His commitment to arms control, and nuclear reduction is well-known,” Carney said at his press briefing, “but I do not anticipate a new announcement in the State of the Union address.”

{mosads}Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department’s top disarmament official, arrives in Moscow on Tuesday to “review key issues on our bilateral and international arms control, nonproliferation and international security agenda with Russian counterparts,” according to the State Department. Her trip precedes National Security Adviser Tom Donilon’s visit next month to negotiate further cuts under the 2010 New START Treaty ahead of two summits between Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin this summer.

Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 in part because of his advocacy in favor of nuclear disarmament, and he is expected to press forward with those efforts now that the election is over. Items on advocates’ wish lists include negotiating a follow-on treaty with Russia to cover tactical and non-deployed weapons, getting the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and negotiating a new Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty at the United Nations.

The most likely avenue for progress, however, rests in bilateral talks between the United States and Russia to go below the target of 1,500 nuclear warheads agreed to in the New START Treaty.

“Some in Congress may groan and moan, but this is fundamentally a decision by the president,” said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. “The Obama administration has made it clear they want to pursue further reductions in offensive nuclear arsenals with Russia. Now that the U.S. election is over, they can pursue this more.”


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