By: Walter Fick
White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON – President Obama signed the new START Treaty on Thursday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague. The agreement expands on the limits enforced by the original START Treaty, which expired in December. The new agreement cuts the number of operationally deployable nuclear warheads down to 1,550, which is about a two-third reduction from previous levels.
The treaty also limits the number of deployable and non-deployable intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers to 800. 700 of these can be in a deployed status at any given time.
“When one surveys the many challenges that we face around the world, it is easy to grow complacent, or to abandon the notion that progress can be shared,” Obama said on Thursday. ”But I want to repeat what I said last year in Prague: When nations and peoples allow themselves to be defined by their differences, the gulf between them widens. When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp.”
Last week President Obama also issued a new Nuclear Posture Review. In it, he pledged for the first time that the United States would not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state. Exceptions were included, however, for rogue nations like Iran and North Korea that are in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“Those nations that follow the rules will find greater security and opportunity,” Obama said. ”Those nations that refuse to meet their obligations will be isolated, and denied the opportunity that comes with international integration.”
This week, Obama will continue with his nuclear security agenda by hosting the Nuclear Security Summit. The Summit will include 47 nations. It will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Administration officials say the primary focus will be the threat of nuclear terrorism and the need for securing vulnerable nuclear materials.
To gain further insight on these matters, WPRB News sat down with Dr. Frank von Hippel. Von Hippel is a Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Co-Director of the Program on Science and Global Security. He has over thirty years experience specializing in nuclear security, nuclear arms control and nuclear nonproliferation. A portion of his interview was broadcast as a Special Report on Sunday, April 11.