US President Barack Obama will use his State of the Union address on Tuesday to call for dramatic cuts in nuclear arsenals around the world, The New York Times has reported.
Quoting unnamed administration officials, the newspaper said late Sunday that in recent months Obama had secured agreement with the US military that its nuclear force can be cut by roughly a third.
In his speech, Obama is unlikely to discuss specific numbers but White House officials are looking at a cut that would take the arsenal of deployed weapons to just above 1,000, the report said.
Currently, the United States has about 1,700 nuclear weapons, and the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia that passed the Senate at the end of 2009 calls for a limit of roughly 1,550 by 2018.
But Obama “believes that we can make pretty radical reductions — and save a lot of money — without compromising American security in the second term. And the Joint Chiefs have signed off on that concept,” the Times quoted one official as saying.
However, the White House is loath to negotiate an entirely new treaty with Russia, which would lead to Russian demands for restrictions on US and NATO missile defense systems in Europe and would revive a major fight with Republicans in the Senate over ratification, the paper said.
Instead, Obama is weighing how to reach an informal agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin for mutual cuts within the framework of the new START treaty, but without the need for ratification, The Times said.
The White House said that Obama had already made clear his desire to further reduce nuclear arms, a political goal that pre-dates his presidency.
“His commitment to arms control and nuclear reductions is well known. But I do not anticipate a new announcement in the State of the Union address,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.