Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Dispute Over Nuclear Weapons Underscores Clinton and Obama’s Differences

Getting a few more miles out of the story, the Center recently put out an interesting press release on the topic, included below.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s recent dispute over the use of nuclear weapons highlights serious differences between their positions on threatening to use or employing the most destructive weapons ever developed, the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation said today.

Responding to a question about his willingness to use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat terrorism and bin Laden, Sen. Obama said, “I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance" in Afghanistan or Pakistan. "There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table," he added.

Sen. Clinton objected to Obama’s pledge, stating that "Presidents should be careful at all times in discussing the use and nonuse of nuclear weapons.”

Leonor Tomero, Director for Nuclear Non-Proliferation at the Center, commented: “The United States should not recklessly threaten to use nuclear weapons, particularly against states that do not have these weapons.”

John Isaacs, Executive Director of the Center, cautioned:For more than 60 years, there has been a bright line drawn against dropping atomic bombs that would kill untold tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.”

As part of the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), whereby 182 countries have given up the right to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, the United States - along with France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia - promised never to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states that are members of the NPT, except if attacked by a non-nuclear state that is allied with a state possessing nuclear weapons. Pledged in 1995, these so-called “negative security assurances” were reiterated at the 2000 Non-Proliferation Review Conference.

Threatening to use nuclear weapons to fight Al Qaeda in Pakistan and in Afghanistan is unnecessary and irresponsible,Tomero added. “Sen. Obama’s nuanced position reflects a responsible understanding of the logic of deterrence. There is currently no justification for lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.”

NOTE: The Center does not endorse or fundraise for presidential candidates and has no ties to either the Obama or Clinton campaigns.

No comments: