President Barack Obama

President Obama took office with an ambitious blueprint for modernizing and reducing the country’s nuclear arsenal. A central element of the plan, the president said, was the goal of ultimately eliminating all nuclear weapons. But according to nuclear expert and former Obama adviser Joe Cirincione, politics and world events have delayed action on the plan. He joins us to talk about the spread of nuclear weapons and how to secure them.

Joe Cirincione on ‘Nuclear Nightmares’ 9 January,2014forum

Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund and author of "Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late"

  • Aaron

    I wonder what impact if any Obama’s former work as a CIA agent in Pakistan working for a front company called Business International has had on his feelings about nuclear weapons. I also wonder perhaps like Tavis Smiley whether we can really believe anything that Obama says about himself, as Obama seems to constantly present himself as a good guy while doing terrible things like attacking whistle-blowers who uncover criminality.

  • Ben Rawner

    Though I agree with decreasing the total amount of nukes because it makes sense monetarily, a nuclear free world and particularly a nuclear free US, is a pipe dream. It is knowledge that humanity never forget and is now responsible for.

  • Neal Strummer

    I don’t agree with the caller that we should give Iran $350B….how about investing that money in US education. Of course we could work on building “economic bridges” with global partners but not giving away tax payer dollars.

    • Aaron

      Giving the military industrial complex money for nukes is like giving the banks trillions in bailouts. It’s throwing good money after bad.

  • Neal Strummer

    What about biological weapons…to me these pose more of a global risk than nuclear?

    • Aaron

      Many don’t realize that financial weapons are also on the table and that financial war games are a part of the Pentagon’s programs.

  • Jackie Cabasso

    Joe, I think you’re giving the Obama administration way too
    much credit. President Obama made a deal for Senate ratification of the new
    START treaty which pledged over $200 billion for modernization of the nuclear
    weapons complex and all three legs of the strategic triad. He also pledged
    support for further development of missile defenses and prompt conventional
    global strike weapons, and kept open the possibility of weaponization of space.
    These are exactly the obstacles identified by Russia to further nuclear weapons
    reductions. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) was so pleased with the result he said, “the new START treaty could easily be called
    the “Nuclear Modernization and Missile Defense Act of 2010”.

    Yes, Congress is a big problem, but there are things the administration
    could do without Congress. It hasn’t done so. Last year the government of
    Norway hosted the first international conference on the humanitarian impacts of
    nuclear weapons. 127 countries participated. The US did not send a
    representative. The US boycotted a new United Nations Open Ended Working Group
    exploring ways forward on multilateral nuclear disarmament. At the first ever United Nations High Level
    meeting on nuclear disarmament last September, the US chose to be represented
    through a dismissive statement delivered on behalf of the US, France and UK, by
    a low-level British diplomat. High-Level in UN parlance refers to heads of
    state and foreign ministers. Iran was represented by President Rouhani.

    This fall the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution
    calling for commencement of comprehensive negotiations in the 2014 Conference
    on Disarmament (CD) on the verifiable prohibition and elimination of nuclear
    weapons within a timebound framework. This resolution was supported by 129
    countries, including 4 nuclear weapon states: India, Pakistan, China and DPRK.
    The United States voted against it.

    Mexico is hosting a follow-up meeting on the humanitarian
    impacts of nuclear weapons February 13-14, 2014.

    Will the Obama administration go to Mexico? Will it support the
    commencement of negotiations on nuclear disarmament in the CD?

    Another point: On the eve of the 100th
    anniversary of World War I, you’re downplaying the possibility of war among
    great powers which could lead to another nuclear weapons use. I think this is the greatest nuclear weapons
    danger facing humanity – far more likely than the possibility of nuclear
    terrorism. Consider, for example, the current
    dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, especially in
    light of the US-Japan defense agreement and the US “strategic-pivot” to the

    As the Canberra Commission concluded in 1996: “As long as any country has nuclear weapons, others will want them; as long as nuclear weapons exist, they will be used…. The proposition that nuclear weapons can be
    retained in perpetuity and never used – accidentally or by decision – defies
    credibility. The only complete defence is the elimination of nuclear weapons
    and assurance that they will never be produced again.”

    — Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal

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