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New US policy limits role of nuclear arsenal
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 6, 2010

Obama to hold flurry of talks at nuclear summit
Washington (AFP) April 6, 2010 - US President Barack Obama will hold a flurry of meetings with other world leaders during next week's nuclear security summit in Washington, seeking progress across a broad range of issues. The US leader has no plans however to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the summit in Washington, following the Israeli leader's acrimonious visit to the US capital last month. Obama will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and Jordan's King Abdullah II, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

There will also be talks with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, President Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia, Malaysian Premier Najib Razak and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Gibbs said the summit, which Obama hopes will produce a commitment to secure all loose nuclear material across the globe within four years, would include 47 nations, including the United States. One world leader who will not be in Washington for the April 12 and 13 summit is British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who called a general election on Tuesday and will be in the thick of campaigning. Gibbs said the line-up of meetings between Obama and world leaders was dictated largely by the president's recent schedule, and the list of some heads of government whom he has yet to meet.

Many of the meetings would focus on Obama's goal of halting nuclear proliferation, but others would concentrate on broader foreign policy goals, Gibbs said. He noted that Obama hosted French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week at the White House, and said the reason that Netanyahu would not meet Obama was because of their recent talks. Netanyahu returned home after that visit to a tide of derision in the Israeli press, with a showdown over Jewish settlement construction unresolved amid some of the most open hostility in US-Israeli relations in years.

US offers 'stabilizing role' to allies: Clinton
Washington (AFP) April 6, 2010 - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged Tuesday the United States would maintain a "stabilizing role" for its allies after issuing a new policy restricting the use of nuclear weapons. "For generations, the United States' nuclear deterrent has helped prevent proliferation by providing our non-nuclear allies in NATO, the Pacific, and elsewhere with reassurance and security," Clinton told reporters. "The policies outlined in this review will allow us to continue that stabilizing role," she said. The United States has been committed since the aftermath of World War II to providing a nuclear umbrella for key allies including Japan, South Korea and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In a new policy, the United States -- the only nation to have carried out a nuclear attack -- committed not to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said NATO would decide the alliance's nuclear posture but that it would maintain a nuclear component. "As long as there are nuclear weapons that threaten NATO, NATO will need to maintain a nuclear capability," Gates said. Clinton said it would be up to NATO as a whole to determine any changes to its nuclear posture. "We make it very clear that any changes in NATO's nuclear posture should only be taken after a thorough review within and decision by the alliance," she said.

The United States on Tuesday unveiled new limits on the nation's nuclear arsenal, saying it would only use atomic weapons in "extreme circumstances" and would not attack non-nuclear states.

In a shift of policy, the United States said for the first time that countries without atomic weapons which complied with non-proliferation treaty obligations need not fear a US nuclear attack.

But President Barack Obama warned exceptions could be made for "outliers" such as Iran and North Korea, which are both accused of flouting UN resolutions.

"Indeed, the United States wishes to stress that it would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners," the administration said in a policy document.

The Nuclear Posture Review released on Tuesday also describes "nuclear terrorism" as an immediate and extreme threat, with efforts to prevent the spread of atomic weapons given a higher priority.

The policy rules out building new nuclear weapons or carrying out tests, but calls for setting aside billions of dollars to "modernize" existing US weaponry.

Obama's new take on nuclear policy comes two days before he is due to sign a treaty with Russia to slash stockpiles of long-range nuclear warheads by a third, and less than a week before he hosts world leaders at a nuclear summit.

In a bid to bolster efforts at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, Obama has committed the United States to a series of nuclear arms cuts.

For next week's summit, Obama called on world leaders to commit to securing all "vulnerable nuclear materials" around the world within the next four years.

The United States has never renounced the "first use" of nuclear weapons, and Obama's policy stops short of calls by arms control activists to explicitly limit their role to deterrence of other nuclear-armed states or terror groups.

The issue over "first use" divided Obama's deputies, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the administration decided keep its options open.

"I think that there was agreement within the administration that we didn't think we were far enough along the road toward getting control of nuclear weapons around the world to limit ourselves so explicitly," he told reporters.

Gates said the review sent a firm message to countries such as Iran or North Korea that refuse to abide by UN authority.

The message was that "if you're not going to play by the rules, if you're going to be a proliferator, then all options are on the table in terms of how we deal with you," he said.

While limiting the possible use of nuclear weapons, the policy review also warns of a "devastating conventional military response" in the event of a chemical or biological attack on the United States.

The policy met with criticism in Washington from both the left and right, with hawks accusing Obama of undermining US military power and liberals arguing for bolder action and bigger arms cuts.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called the new policy a "courageous step" towards disarmament, saying it offered hope for further cuts to US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

Obama promised in a speech in Prague a year ago to work toward a world without nuclear weapons.

In an interview with the New York Times, Obama said that despite ruling out a US nuclear attack in some cases, he retained "all the tools that are necessary in order to make sure that the American people are safe and secure."

He said he wanted to ensure the US approach to nuclear weapons was clear to the rest of the world, including Iran and North Korea.

"And I do think that when you're looking at outliers like Iran or North Korea, they should see that over the course of the last year and a half we have been executing a policy that will increasingly isolate them so long as they are orating outside of accepted international norms."

US nuclear forces on land and at sea will stay on full-time alert under the new policy, but Gates said efforts would be made to improve the "command and control system" to give the president more time to make a decision in a nuclear crisis.


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US to release nuclear strategy Tuesday
Washington (AFP) April 5, 2010
The Barack Obama administration was to release its new nuclear strategy on Tuesday just ahead of a major atomic security conference to be hosted by the US next week, the White House said Monday. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the new document, which is expected to stress non-nuclear deterrent capabilities, will also build momentum before the two-day nuclear security summit which ope ... read more

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