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Obama Calls For Nuke-Free World 705

jamie points out news that President Obama has put out a call for a world free of nuclear weapons at a speech in Prague today. He acknowledged that it was a long-term goal, perhaps not something that can be accomplished in his lifetime, but promised to encourage the US Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty. According to the BBC, he also stated his desire to "negotiate a new treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons," and to hold a global summit within the next year to work out agreements for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Obama said, "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it." His speech came less than a day after North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket.
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Obama Calls For Nuke-Free World

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  • Always playing at the wrong end of the bell curve

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @11:48AM (#27465757)

    Free of nukes only works until some other 4 foot 9 dictator decides to raise his status the only way he can to impress the world.

    What then? Does he become emporer of the world or just harasser of the world as Hannibal did to Rome?

    • by canadian_right ( 410687 ) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Sunday April 05, 2009 @11:54AM (#27465807) Homepage

      I don't think the USA will have any problem using conventional weapons to take out any tinpot dictators nuclear facilities - well before they have a nuke.

      After all, the USA outspends the rest of the wolrd combined [globalsecurity.org] on their military.

      • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @11:59AM (#27465857)

        I don't think the USA will have any problem using conventional weapons to take out any tinpot dictators nuclear facilities - well before they have a nuke.

        After all, the USA outspends the rest of the wolrd combined [globalsecurity.org] on their military.

        I seriously doubt we have the will to do this under this administration. At least not until it is far to late to help.

        • by lixee ( 863589 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @01:20PM (#27466541)
          Dear USA,

          Please keep your "help" to yourself.


          Signed: The Rest of the World
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Really ? Notice what North Korea was doing just as Obama announced this idiocy ?

        Launching an intercontinental ballistic missile you say ? In the direction of either Japan or the US you say ... What mean, clearly untrue things you say.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Snarfangel ( 203258 )

      Free of nukes only works until some other 4 foot 9 dictator decides to raise his status the only way he can to impress the world.

      C'mon, that's hardly fair. Roosevelt was in a wheelchair.

    • Invasion guarantee (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:18PM (#27465981)

      Has America invaded any nuclear power?


  • Ahem. (Score:2, Insightful)

    And now, Ill come forth and call to an end of mean people. And a pony. I want a pony.

    Really though, nuclear technology isnt that hard. Take 2 pieces of near-critical U235 and smack them together.. Hell, we could have Soulskill clap them together.

    And dont forget yeah, the US, France, UK, Russia, and China all have nukes. Those countries like India, Pakistan, and Israel also have them, and we dont have a nuclear holocaust yet, either.

    Just a bunch of North Korea fearmongering. After all, if they do get scared,

    • Re:Ahem. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by canadian_right ( 410687 ) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Sunday April 05, 2009 @11:57AM (#27465835) Homepage

      The "gun" method will get you a low yield weapon. And everyone knows the hard part is enrichment of the uranium, and building the reactor etc... As long as existing stockpiles of weapons grade material are kept safe it takes a nation quite a while to go from zero to nuke and it's hard to hide. The whole world knows about N. Koreas secrect nuke program.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bersl2 ( 689221 )

      And an ideal being one which almost assuredly cannot be realized means that it should not be attempted at all. Riiiiiiight.

      A continuing reduction in the number of nuclear weapons is still a very realistic goal, and it is probably a desirable one too.

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:05PM (#27465915) Homepage Journal

      Its how you get the populace to give up their rights 'for their protection'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      Still, the M.A.D. doctrine rests upon the idea that the people in charge of nuclear nations will act in a rational and sane way. The probability for this to fail increases with every new nuclear nation. The way to go is incredibely hard : to encourage nations to abandon their nuclear programs, like Libya did.

      And I really think that China relies on North Korea to the fear-mongering it can't afford to.
    • Re:Ahem. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Vanders ( 110092 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:24PM (#27466033) Homepage

      Really though, nuclear technology isnt that hard. Take 2 pieces of near-critical U235 and smack them together.. Hell, we could have Soulskill clap them together.

      It's a touch harder than that. First you need that highly enriched uranium, which means you'll need a reactor, reprocessing facilities and some way to refine your U238-rich Uranium into weapons grade U235. You'll also need a few other metals while you're there, such as Beryllium. Then once you have all of that, and assuming someone hasn't bombed your facilities in the mean time, you have to "smash them together" in just the right way: too fast and they'll fly apart before they reach criticality, too slow and the mass will not be compressed enough: either will lead to a fizzle.

      Which is exactly what happened to North Korea by the way. Apparently even after decades of research and development, smacking to bits of metal together is pretty hard to do right.

    • After all, if they do get scared, China WILL step in and handle the situation.

      Not if North Korea gets nukes first, they won't.

        - Alaska Jack

  • by dameepster ( 594651 ) * on Sunday April 05, 2009 @11:49AM (#27465773) Homepage

    The United States has 5,914 strategic nuclear warheads, followed closely by Russia with 4,237 deployable warheads. (Source: Arms Control [armscontrol.org] ). The rest of the members of the nuclear club -- UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel -- have less than 1,000 combined nuclear weapons. Clearly, if Obama wants the world to take him seriously, he needs to restart the START-II treaty [wikipedia.org] and disassemble his own stockpile before he can expect others to do the same.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I actually like having 2 superpowers both with enough nukes to make the world glow like a nite-lite.

      Knowing that certain actions, like a country using atomics, WILL lead to mutual assured destruction. And that prevents a lot of "bad stuff".. And also cutting off commerce and trade also scares these likes shitless.

      • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:01PM (#27465887)
        Unless you face an enemy that actually believes mutually assured destruction is not a bad thing...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Comatose51 ( 687974 )
      Geez. The man just announced it. Give him time and see where this goes. It's not like there's a giant plug in the White House that he can just pull out. Things like that will always involve gradual steps and take time. Also, why START II? Why is that the only viable way of doing this? Next, sure dissemble our stockpile but perhaps gradually as other countries do the same with theirs. How can we monitor and be sure everyone is being honest? How can we guarantee these weapons can't be reassemble or m
  • by Daimanta ( 1140543 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @11:52AM (#27465795) Journal

    Nobody is going to disarm if another country still has nukes, that would be suicide. Furthermore, countries that possess nukes would still have the knowhow to produce them after the destruction of all of the nuclear weapons. That alone would create an unbalance in the worldpower, some countries can still make nukes if the situation warrants it and they can be produced in a year or 4(probably less) so any war with these powers would mean a re-arming of the nation involved and as a reaction a re-arming of all other nuke-capable nations.

    Furthermore, some countries still rely on nukes as a deterrent like Israel. I just don't see them disarming, and my believe is affirmed since Israel categorically refuses to say anything about its nuclear capabilities which leads to the last objection to these plans. You can hide your nukes and feign compliance with disarming programs.

    In short, it won't work and Obama is not believing his own words if he has any intelligence.

    • by kentrel ( 526003 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:56PM (#27466309) Journal

      I think he's just blowing smoke up the ass of environmentalists, and trying to rebuild America's image of being an agent of peace.... Nobody will buy it for a second, but thats what politicians do. Every President has vowed similar things, yet all have been heavily involved in wars and armed conflicts of some kind.

      The reason I don't see any harm with this kind of bullshit is that it does the opposite that Bush's Axis of Evil rhetoric did. When Bush hyped up countries as being a real evil threat, then it already put the thought of war into people's mind. Any incident, no matter how small would escalate the chances of war rapidly. If Iran farted then a lot of people were clammering for war, or at least fighting talk.

      When you put forward a peace process the escalation to war in people's minds is far slower. Small incidents don't anger people as much. There's more room for compromise, etc, and people are not as hyperreactive to disagreements. Cooperation is easier.

      Its bullshit, and I don't for a second believe Obama has any intention of giving up nukes, ever. In my opinion, the best strategy now is to keep things like that going so you can twist the momentum from "Lets nuke 'em", to something else, more productive.

  • With states like North Korea and Iran actively pursuing nuclear technology, can the US, Russia and the other nuclear states afford to lose their deterrence? It seems that states like Pakistan that are potentially fragile are also on the list of potential threats.

    I'm all for getting rid of nukes; they're the most terrible weapon we have and really serve as a weapon of last resort. However, in the current political climate, is it possible to eliminate the stockpiles and deterrence that goes with them?


  • by rotide ( 1015173 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @11:56AM (#27465825)
    Isn't this going to do the exact same thing? If you outlaw the weapons then only the outlaws will have the weapons?

    I'm not one that believes in using nuclear weapons, but not having them seems worse than having them.

    Ya, I know, pretty easy to say when I'm in one of the countries with a crapton of them (US).

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:03PM (#27465899) Homepage Journal

    So we get rid of our nukes and so does other 'law abiding' countries. What about the 100's that really don't give a damn?

    Then again, he thinks banning personal guns will work too.

  • by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:12PM (#27465949)
    Reagan's solution to eliminate nuclear weapons: Create defenses that make them impotent, and trust but verify.

    End result of Reagan's plan: Collapse of the USSR, and reduction of the probability of nuclear armageddon.

    Obama's solution to eliminate nuclear weapons: Curtail or eliminate defenses against nuclear weapons, sign on to a treaty that would have no effect upon those that would actually use nuclear weapons, and ensure that nuclear deterrence would eventually fail, as there would be increasing uncertainty whether the nuclear weapons of the nations that had signed the Test Ban Treaty had functioning nuclear weapons or not, especially if you're going to then go and end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.

    End result of Obama's plan: Defenseless US et al against those whose moral duty to act includes nuking us.

    • by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:33PM (#27466119)

      yeah because obama is defiantly fighting a cold war! terrorists leaders don't care about thier people, so launching a nuke against them isn't a threat.
      Did the 5000 nukes stop osama? NO
      Did the 5000 nukes, get the taliban to hand over osama? NO
      Did the 5000 nukes, keep you from having to invade iraq? NO
      Did the 5000 nukes, stop jim's missile program? err NO
      Can the US go round killing inocent civilians? NO
      Can the US even retaliate to the actions of a rouge state using a nuke? NO

      So what the fuck do you want them for? other than to lose a moral high ground and mean you have no right to tell others that they shouldn't have them!

    • by AdmiralXyz ( 1378985 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @01:23PM (#27466569)

      There are so many things wrong with that post I hardly know where to begin, but here goes.

      1. You are implying that correlation implies causation in the most ludicrous way imaginable. Are you seriously suggesting that "Star Wars" was responsible for the Soviet Union's collapse? The USSR did not break up because it felt it had lost the ability to emerge victorious in a war with the United States (if it ever had it), but because of the enormous dissent within its member states. While there may, may, be some argument that the Reagan presidency caused or accelerated the USSR's collapse, it certainly wasn't because of his plans vis-a-vis nuclear weapons, and more than likely it would've happened no matter who was president of the USA. Gorbachav, not Reagan, was responsible for the breakup of the USSR. This point is all moot though, because:

      2. Reagan's plan was never finished in the first place. This one's pretty simple. Do we have a functioning missile defense system, capable of protecting us from ICBMs? Answer: no. Since Reagan didn't actually accomplish anything in this regard, how can you attribute any lasting effects, political or otherwise, to it?

      3. You are badly misinterpreting Obama's plans for missile defense. Obama is on record as saying that he is not opposed to missile defense systems if they can be shown to work. And if they can't, we shouldn't be spending on them anyway.

      4. You are making up attributes to his disarmament plan out of whole cloth. His statements were the typical grandiose words that politicians have been making at summits since time immaterial. If you look through his words carefully, this plan is very open-ended and could be implemented any one of several ways (if it is at all).

      5. You are implying that "lacking nuclear weapons = defenseless". Even if we got rid of all our nuclear weapons, we would still have the most technologically advanced, well-financed military on Earth, easily strong enough to act as a sufficient deterrent to so-called "rogue states".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hachete ( 473378 )

      Your distortion of history is ... unbelievable.

      Star Wars never worked, would never have worked, was never built, will never be built.

      What Reagan may have done was probably hasten the end of the Soviet Union by forcing it to spend like crazy on weapons programs. Then again, I think he was lucky. The Soviet Union was ripe for collapse anyway, and it just happened on his watch. I think that's the most likely explanation.

      What Reagan DID do was almost cause WWIII: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Able_Archer_83 [wikipedia.org] Afte

  • One of the main problems with getting rid of nukes has been mentioned here: no one wants to give their own up. A few countries have already given up nuclear weapons, including South Africa. All countries cannot be expected to do the same with their weapons, which leaves us with one solution...

    We have to nuke the nukes from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.
  • Nukes are obsolete. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    To respond to a bunch of folks here:

    First of all, it would be economic suicide for any country to be a nuclear aggressor. The World's economy is so integrated that it can't happen among countries that trade internationally or want to.

    Now the countries that don't want to: N. Korea. International trade would undermine his regime. Yes, Jong Ill will use nukes for blackmail purposes. Launching missiles, threatening the World, mostly the US, with nuclear aggression. From what I'm seeing, he's so fucked up, he do

  • Steve Wynn announces ambitious plan to start charging for drinks at all his Vegas Casinos. More at 11.
  • A fools call (Score:5, Interesting)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby@comc[ ].net ['ast' in gap]> on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:30PM (#27466093)

    The nuke has very effectively prevented WWIII from happening as the deterrent of MAD has proven to be histories most effective peace policy. The concept of non-proliferation, to keep nukes from spreading is one that that world has turned it's back on. You want to make the world a safer place, get real about nuclear programs run by countries like Iran and North Korea.

    In the event that nukes were somehow magically put back in the nuclear genie bottle, countries would simply go back to larger standing armies. Conventional armies with conventional weapons have proven their ability to kill in large quantity time and time again.

  • by krou ( 1027572 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:35PM (#27466139)

    It's political posturing, with more important objectives.

    1. If you RTFA, you'll notice he's talking primarily about stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, which is what just about every US president has called for over the last several decades. The prime focus seems to be non-state actors (read: al-Qaeda), and states without nuclear weapons (read: Iran).
    2. He states quite clearly that the US will keep a nuclear deterrent as long as a nuclear threat exists.
    3. He wants to reduce the US arsenal in conjunction with a reduction of the Russian arsenal. Working to reduce one's nuclear arsenal is not the same as working towards a nuke-free world.
    4. Obama is manoeuvring the US into a position whereby it forces other countries to appear as aggressors and stumbling blocks to world peace. Currently, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is not ratified by the US and China, and both India and Pakistan have not signed it either. He is making these statements in the knowledge that it is likely that China will not agree, and India and Pakistan will not join, thus giving an "out" in future i.e. the nuclear threat is there.
    5. Besides which, this is also no doubt designed to try and bring the Russians on board in supporting the missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
    6. This seems to be an attempt to try and isolate Iran as well. He says in his speech, "We need more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections. We need real and immediate consequences for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the Treaty without cause. And we should build a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation, including an international fuel bank, so that countries can access peaceful power without increasing the risks of proliferation." It again seems clear that he is manoeuvring the US into a position of peace-maker, and compromiser.

    In short, the "nuke-free world" is window-dressing for more real, practical objectives.

  • by memorycardfull ( 1187485 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:36PM (#27466141)
    What Obama is seeking is similar to the consolidation of material advantage when you trade pieces away on a chess board when you are already up in material. If major nuclear powers were to unite in disarming small nuclear powers first and controlling proliferation it would consolidate their strategic control of the world through these weapons. This could be done under the guise of world nuclear disarmament but of course it would take a "little" longer to disarm the major powers that would drive the effort. I think that this is less about dreaming of a day without nuclear weapons than it is about dreaming of a day when it is possible to control the rest of the world through possession of these weapons again. Admittedly the chess material analogy is a little strained: a nuke isn't a pawn advantage, hell it's not even like being a queen and 2 rooks up. It is more like being a Wookie opponent at the chess table.
  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:41PM (#27466187) Journal
    If you outlaw nukes, only outlaw countries will have nukes.

    Yes, I know I'm paraphrasing pro-gun rhetoric here, but I believe it applies. The only way that International Law works, is if all the countries involved agree to abide by said laws -- which we all know doesn't work often enough. One day, assuming the human race actually lives long enough to see it, we MAY evolve enough, physioligically and mentally, that our needs for things like solving problems with aggression will become obsolete; THEN things like nuclear weapons will have a chance to go the way of the dinosaurs. Until that day comes this technology will (unfortunately) have to exist. You can't put the genie back in the bottle once you've let it out, after all; knowing something is possible is half the battle towards MAKING it possible, even if we effectively buried the knowledge of how to create nuclear fission, physicists would work backwards and rediscover how to make it happen anyway. I applaud Obama's sentiments on the subject, as I applaud the realism of his thoughts when he says "not in my lifetime".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dave420 ( 699308 )
      You should read the article before assuming the Slashdot title describes it perfectly, as in this case, it doesn't. Obama didn't call for anything of the sort.
  • Monopoly (Score:5, Funny)

    by kentrel ( 526003 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:44PM (#27466207) Journal

    The problem is there's a monopoly on nuclear weapons. Thats why nukes are such a security risks with terrorists about, and a lot of attempts to acquire missiles by al queda. They will succeed as long as nukes are in the hands of a small few. The solution is to make nuclear weapons open source, so we can better secure them. Open source = better security.

    If nukes are available to the common man for free, then anybody from part-time nuclear engineers, to hobbyist reactor specialists in their spare time, at home, can better analyze the security around them, test them in their backyard, etc. Put the specs on the internet for everybody to download and install in their home uranium enrichment centres. Most security holes are found by accident, so home-made nukes will help reveal more holes than any other method available.

    Open Source Nukes, FTW!

  • by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @12:58PM (#27466325)

    The fact is large scale deliberate civilian killing is not acceptable by any democratic country, in the cold war era it was barely acceptable when the US could have been destroyed. MAD doesn't work when your fighting an enemy that are smaller than you and surrounded by innocent people.

    The enemy know the US won't use a nuclear weapon on them so it doesn't act as a deterent:
    *Taliban handing over Osama
    *Both Gulf wars

    Nobody takes the threat of the US launching a nuclear attack seriously. The only things that the huge stockpile does:
    *Cost a fair bit of money
    *Remove any high ground the US may have, you can't expect other to give up their weapons if you keep yours
    *Increase the risk of one going missing (minor in the US, but in Israel/Russia/china this is a risk)
    *Increase the risk of semi-produced materials being stolen (Again lower in the US, but non-trivial elsewhere)

    So by starting to reduce the pointless arsenal in America (see above), Obama can try and convince other to follow. Negotiations are just that, and you never get anything by just shouting louder. Even if Obama only convinces the 'good' guys (US/china/russia/uk/france) to disarm, that is still a significant reduction in the risk of one of them inadvertently helping the bad guys (hell in the uk we seam to be losing everything, I wouldn't trust us with a nuke), while simultaneously putting you in a better position to convince the 'bad' countries (Iran) that they should disarm.

    The total loss for the US is NOTHING, you can't use the nuclear weapons anyway!

  • by Torodung ( 31985 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @02:36PM (#27467169) Journal

    A "nuke free" world would be one in which we use no fission/fusion of atoms for the energy. Weaponizing it is one aspect of the technology.

    The problem is, a power plant program can (and likely will) be used to make weapons. The horse is out of the barn. Obama is advocating that we can have the knowledge to make steel, but no one will make swords.

    It's somewhat naive. We'll see how he executes his plans, or us.


  • Further reading (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Britz ( 170620 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @02:40PM (#27467197)

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/183673 [newsweek.com]
    by Henry Kissinger

    The real story is about the fact that nuclear prolifiration and nuclear disarmament should have gotten a lot more attention from previous presidents (both Clinton and Bush completely failed on this one) and Obama's pledge came much too late. Now trying to go as far as possible (nuke free world) is the least he can do.

  • by recharged95 ( 782975 ) on Sunday April 05, 2009 @03:51PM (#27467715) Journal
    a. He's in Prague.

    b. In that region, nuclear weapons are still a hot topic political issue.

    c. Obama gives the crowds what they want to hear. He's prven that already. In essence, a good (but typical) politician.

    d. Slashdot took the bait, and now we're discussing what was discussed 10yrs ago. Only difference is we think we have someone that can do something about it... Just like 10yrs ago.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger