Obama: US Must Lead In Reducing Nuclear Weapons Spread

19 May 2009

President Barack Obama at the White House, 19 May 2009
President Barack Obama at the White House, 19 May 2009
President Barack Obama says the United States must lead the effort to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons.  The president commented Tuesday after meeting with former secretaries of State and Defense.

President Obama says the United States must take leadership in limiting the spread of nuclear weapons, especially when North Korea and Iran are developing their nuclear weapons capacity.

"It is absolutely imperative that America takes leadership, working with not just our Russian counterparts but countries all around the world, to reduce and ultimately eliminate the dangers that are posed by nuclear weapons," said President Obama.

Mr. Obama discussed nuclear non-proliferation in the Oval Office Tuesday with former secretaries of state George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, as well as former Defense Secretary William Perry and Sam Nunn, former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The president outlined several areas in which the U.S. can advance the issue.

"We can revitalize our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," said Mr. Obama. "We can work with the Russians, as the two countries with by far the largest nuclear stockpiles, to continue to reduce our dependence on nuclear weapons."

Mr. Obama is scheduled to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow this July.  They are expected to discuss reducing their countries' nuclear stockpiles.

The president said he and other leaders can take some specific steps to ease nuclear tensions.

"We can move forward on a Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, " he said. "It is going to require more work, but I think that we can get something accomplished there and we can lock down loose nuclear weapons that could fall into the hands of terrorists."

Shultz said he and the other visiting former national security officials support the Obama administration's agenda on limiting nuclear weapons.