Nuclear Proliferation is no Longer Just about U.S., Russia

President Obama proposes to deal with the proliferating threat of nuclear weapons and associated ballistic missiles by savaging the nuclear deterrent force and missile defenses that keep us safe. If actually implemented, his proposals will contribute to a more dangerous planet and a less secure America.

Mr. Obama’s ideas are a throwback to a world that no longer exists — one in which there were two nuclear superpowers who believed that bilateral agreements on offensive forces and missile defenses were necessary to manage their relations and prevent Armageddon. Today, Russia is no superpower, although it is keen to parlay the vestiges of its once-vast nuclear arsenal into restored international prestige and power. The real danger is emerging from actual or incipient nuclear-armed rogue states like North Korea and Iran, an unstable Pakistan and a militaristic China.

Far from discouraging proliferation, gutting our strategic forces in a new treaty with the Kremlin will increase that phenomenon. Our severe reductions will only embolden China and other prospective foes to build-up. Meanwhile, allies who have heretofore relied on our nuclear "umbrella" will lose confidence in us and go nuclear themselves.

Particularly insidious is President Obama’s call for the Senate to ratify the discredited, unverifiable and previously rejected Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The practical effect would be lopsidedly against American interests: Permanently untested, the U.S. arsenal will inevitably become obsolete, unsafe and unsustainable. But, thanks to the likes of Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan and his ‘Nukes-r-Us’ operation, those with cash can acquire crude, but functional — and previously tested — atomic weapons. Others can confidently get away with testing covertly.

Cold War-era "old think" that would impose new limitations on U.S. and Russian anti-ballistic missile defenses is similarly not just ill-advised. It is reckless at a time when countries like North Korea and Iran are acquiring missiles capable of delivering devastating electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) or other nuclear attacks against this country.

America needs an informed and rigorous national debate before adopting defense budget cuts and arms control initiatives that reflect nostalgia for a world now gone — but that risk blowing up the one we now inhabit.

[This article originally appeared in USA Today.]

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