Programs are underway under the Obama administration to modernize the US’s aging nuclear arsenal and build a new generation of weapon carriers, at a price tag of up to a trillion dollars.
According to the New York Times, the expansion, under a president who campaigned for “a nuclear-free world” and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy, was originally intended to be a modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex, speeding arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads.
Instead, because of political deals and geopolitical crises, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return.
“A lot of it is hard to explain,” said Sam Nunn, the former senator whose writings on nuclear disarmament deeply influenced Mr. Obama. “The president’s vision was a significant change in direction. But the process has preserved the status quo.”
With Russia on the warpath, China pressing its own territorial claims and Pakistan expanding its arsenal, the overall chances for Mr. Obama’s legacy of disarmament look increasingly dim, analysts say. Congress has expressed less interest in atomic reductions than looking tough in Washington’s escalating confrontation with Moscow.