Major Cuts in US Nuclear Arms Urged

Posted May 16th, 2012 at 1:50 am (UTC-5)
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A nuclear arms control advocacy group is calling on the United States to drastically reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

A special panel convened by the group Global Zero has issued a report urging the U.S. to cut its current nuclear arsenal to 900 total warheads, well below the 5,000 nuclear warheads currently in service. The report calls for the elimination of all land-based intercontinental nuclear warheads, in favor of an arsenal deployed either by submarine or long-range bombers.

The panel, chaired by retired U.S. General James Cartwright, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says America's current nuclear posture is part of an outdated Cold War-era mindset that does not address the current threats of the 21st century.

The panel says the reductions could save the U.S. as much as $100 billion over the next decade, at a time when the Pentagon is facing huge budget cuts.

The U.S. and Russia have agreed cut their nuclear arsenal to 1,550 deployed strategic warheads by 2018, as required by the New START agreement reached in 2009. President Barack Obama is considering a number of options, including keeping the levels at those agreed to in the New START treaty, or reducing them to 300 to 400 warheads. The Global Zero report suggests 450 deployed warheads, with an equal number kept in reserve.

The report from the Global Zero panel emphasizes the importance of missile defense to protect the U.S. from the threat of nuclear attack from such nations as Iran and North Korea.

The panel includes such prominent national security experts as former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, Thomas Pickering, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, retired General Jack Sheehan, who served in a number of posts in NATO, and Richard Burt, a former chief U.S. nuclear arms negotiator.