Obama's 'Hot Mic' Comment More Telling Than Three Years Of Speeches

Travis Korson
By Travis Korson | March 27, 2012 | 10:18 AM EDT

Yesterday, at a the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, President Obama made a comment that reveals more about his nuclear policy than any other administration statement of the last 3 years:

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space… This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

This is cause for great concern, considering the Obama administration’s nuclear policies to date:

  • A New Start treaty, which I have previously reported will result in:
    - A failure to modernize: the Obama administration convinced key Senators that it was committed to modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, but, now has threatened to veto legislation holding it to that commitment.
    - Limits on Missile Defense: the Obama administration successfully persuaded key Senators that New START did not limit the development of U.S. missile defenses, yet the treaty provides them with a "veto" over U.S. missile defense development, which in fact was used.
    - An inept verification regime: the Obama administration successfully persuaded key Senators that New START had to be ratified in a lame-duck session of the Senate in order to effectively monitor and verify the Russian nuclear posture, despite evidence that the treaty's verification regime was flawed
  • Additional unilateral disarmament, in the form of up to an 80% cut in the nuclear arsenal and $500 million less in 2013 funding for modernization of the remaining stockpile than recently promised.
  • Jeopardizing the tried and tested nuclear triad.  Last October, Gen. Robert Kehler of U.S. Strategic Command discussed the possibility that United States may in the future decide to move from a “triad” of nuclear delivery vehicles (submarines, bombers, and inter-continental ballistic missiles) to a “dyad” of only two types.

Such a statement then begs the question, with all the cuts already made to America’s nuclear deterrent what else could possibly be coming down the road?

  • The initiation of a new Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would bar all experiments on nuclear weapons that produce a self-sustaining fission chain reaction.  This would result in another treaty that would be ignored by adversaries of the United States and result in further unilateral disarmament.
  • The Obama administration may be planning even further modernization cuts.  In a January 26th briefing Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter clearly stated they will defer on this issue: “The White House—and we’re obviously working under their direction—are considering the size and shape of the nuclear arsenal in the future. So when those decisions come, we’ll factor them into our budget.”

    According to Baker Spring of the Heritage Foundation; “Carter’s statement virtually admitted that the White House is directing changes in the nation’s nuclear posture to advance President Obama’s cherished cause of U.S. nuclear disarmament…It is now clear that the scope of these cuts is quite large. The Obama Administration is looking at a force of as few as 300 to 400 warheads.”
  • Providing the Russians with unprecedented access to the European missile shield, including information on the hit-to-kill technologies, a core of the program that has uses well beyond anti-missile missions and a “red button” veto over the initiation of any anti-missile launches in Europe.

The picture is clear.  After 3 years of the Obama administration, the United States is already ceding their strategic nuclear advantage.  According to Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon, “the current U.S. strategic arsenal of 5,000 deployed warheads will be cut to 2,000 deployed warheads under the treaty (New START), with 3,000 remaining in storage.”

“Russia currently has between 4,000 and 6,500 warheads. China has between 300 and 400 warheads, although Chinese secrecy has raised questions about whether Beijing has hundreds or even thousands of additional warheads.”

Whether or not these comments were a simple mistake or as some pundits have argued, a deliberate ‘shot across the bow,’ the reality is the same; if Obama is given ‘more flexibility’ on missile defense, our already diminished nuclear deterrent will be at even further compromised.

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