Fox News hosts and contributors baselessly stated that cuts to America's deployed nuclear arsenal proposed by President Obama would jeopardize U.S. national security. In fact, nuclear weapons experts assert that reducing nuclear arsenals helps the nation's security and say that the U.S. could have effective deterrence with fewer warheads.
In Berlin Speech, President Obama Says America Can Remain Secure While Reducing Nuclear Arsenal
Obama: “We Can Ensure The Security Of America ... While Reducing” Nuclear Arsenal. From President Obama's June 19 speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany:
OBAMA: Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons -- no matter how distant that dream may be. And so, as President, I've strengthened our efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and reduced the number and role of America's nuclear weapons. Because of the New START Treaty, we're on track to cut American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s. (Applause.)
But we have more work to do. So today, I'm announcing additional steps forward. After a comprehensive review, I've determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third. And I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures. (Applause.)
At the same time, we'll work with our NATO allies to seek bold reductions in U.S. and Russian tactical weapons in Europe. And we can forge a new international framework for peaceful nuclear power, and reject the nuclear weaponization that North Korea and Iran may be seeking.
America will host a summit in 2016 to continue our efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world, and we will work to build support in the United States to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and call on all nations to begin negotiations on a treaty that ends the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. These are steps we can take to create a world of peace with justice. [The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 6/19/13]
CNN: Obama's Proposal Would Reduce U.S. Nuclear Weapons To Roughly 1,000 Warheads. CNN.com explained the effect of President Obama's proposal on America's stockpile of nuclear weapons:
Obama's latest proposals on nuclear stockpiles come two years after New START -- an agreement between the United States and Russia -- went into effect. New START, which stands for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, calls for each country to limit its nuclear warhead arsenal to 1,550 by the year 2018.
If fully implemented, his proposals on Wednesday would reduce both stockpiles by another one-third -- to roughly 1,000 warheads for each country. [CNN.com, 6/19/13]
Fox News Dismisses Call To Reduce Nuclear Weapons, Claims It Will Weaken America's Security
Fox News' Charles Krauthammer: Nuclear Arms Reduction Is “Dangerous” And “The Least Important Issue On The Planet.” On Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer criticized President Obama for discussing nuclear arms reduction in his Berlin speech, which Krauthammer called “the least important issue on the planet.” Krauthammer called Obama “obsessed” with reducing nuclear weapons and dismissed reducing weapons in the U.S. and Russia as “not only useless, but dangerous.” Krauthammer concluded by saying that America leading by example on reducing nuclear arsenals is “preposterous.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 6/19/13]
Fox News' The Five Suggests Obama's Speech Ignored Considerations Of America's Safety. The Five co-host Eric Bolling said that Obama's call to reduce the nuclear arsenal is part of the reason why he “has absolutely no clue what he's doing when it comes to foreign policy.” Co-host Greg Gutfeld criticized Obama's speech, saying:
GUTFELD: Obama said the world would not be safe with nukes. Who cares about the world? What about the United States? Could you just think about the United States just once, first, before the world? [Fox News, The Five, 6/19/13]
Fox News' John Bolton: Obama's Call To Reduce Nuclear Arms “Is A Program Of Weakness.” On Happening Now, Fox News contributor John Bolton said that President Obama “has a very misguided view of the role of American power in the world,” and said that his call to reduce nuclear armaments “is a program of weakness” and would encourage other countries to build up their nuclear arsenals. [Fox News, Happening Now, 6/19/13]
But Experts Say America Can Remain Secure While Further Reducing Nuclear Arsenal
Former Commander Of U.S. Nuclear Forces Called For Large Cut In Arsenal. In an interview with The New York Times, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former commander of America's nuclear forces Gen. James E. Cartwright said that the U.S. could maintain deterrence with fewer than 1,000 nuclear warheads:
General Cartwright said that the United States' nuclear deterrence could be guaranteed with a total arsenal of 900 warheads, and with only half of them deployed at any one time. Even those in the field would be taken off hair triggers, requiring 24 to 72 hours for launching, to reduce the chance of accidental war.
“The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the cold war,” General Cartwright said in an interview. “There is the baggage of significant numbers in reserve. There is the baggage of a nuclear stockpile beyond our needs. What is it we're really trying to deter? Our current arsenal does not address the threats of the 21st century.” [The New York Times, 5/15/12]
Department Of Defense Strategic Guidance Document Says It Is Possible U.S. Can Achieve Deterrence Goals With Smaller Arsenal. From a Department of Defense January 2012 strategic guidance document:
Maintain a Safe, Secure, and Effective Nuclear Deterrent. As long as nuclear weapons remain in existence, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal. We will field nuclear forces that can under any circumstances confront an adversary with the prospect of unacceptable damage, both to deter potential adversaries and to assure U.S. allies and other security partners that they can count on America's security commitments. It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force, which would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in our inventory as well as their role in U.S. national security strategy. [Department of Defense, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities For 21st Century Defense,” January 2012, emphasis original]
Brookings' Steven Pifer: Obama's Call For Arsenal Reduction “Would Be Good For U.S. And Global Security.” Steven Pifer, the director of the Brookings Institution's Arms Control Initiative program, wrote that Obama's announcement on nuclear arms control would benefit U.S. security:
President Obama used part of his speech at Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate to return to the vision of reducing the role and number of nuclear weapons that he first articulated four years ago in Prague. In doing so, he outlined his arms control agenda for the remainder of his presidency. Let's hope he makes progress. It would be good for U.S. and global security.
The president has issued new guidance regarding the employment of nuclear weapons. We won't see that document, which is highly classified. But he told his audience in Germany that the United States could reduce its deployed strategic weapons further--by one-third below New START levels.
This is a logical next step in the process of moving U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces to lower and more reasonable levels 20 years after the end of the Cold War. It would cut the nuclear threat to the United States, offer the prospect of future defense budget savings, and bolster U.S. diplomatic efforts with third countries to increase the pressure on problem states such as Iran and North Korea.
Some wasted no time in criticizing the proposed reductions as undercutting U.S. security. That is difficult to see. Even with an arsenal reduced to some 1,000 deployed strategic warheads--plus several thousand reserve strategic and tactical weapons--the United States could easily maintain a robust, effective and credible nuclear deterrent. Can the critics explain what new danger would arise or what country would act differently toward the United States? Would Pyongyang adopt an aggressive new course if the U.S. military had only 300-400 times as many nuclear weapons as North Korea instead of 500 times? [Brookings Institution, Up Front, 6/19/13]
Arms Control Association: Nuclear Arsenal Cuts Are “In Our National Security Interest.” Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, explained to The Wall Street Journal that reducing nuclear stockpiles benefits America:
Advocates of cuts say they would help save money as the Pentagon struggles to cope with deep, automatic spending cuts.
A 2013 assessment by the Arms Control Association estimated that the U.S. could save $58 billion over the next decade by reducing its nuclear force to 1,000 or fewer strategic deployed nuclear warheads.
“Action by the president to achieve further cuts to the Cold War nuclear arsenal is overdue and in our national security interest,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.
He said a reduction to 1,000 deployed warheads would only be 300 warheads fewer than the U.S. was prepared to agree to during the New Start negotiations four years ago. [The Wall Street Journal, 6/19/13]