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Obama Unveils New Nuclear Doctrine 526

Posted by kdawson
from the backing-off-the-hair-trigger dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that under Obama's new 'Nuclear Posture Review,' released today, the US will foreswear the use of the nuclear weapons against nonnuclear countries, in contrast to previous administrations, which indicated they might use nuclear arms against nonnuclear states in retaliation for a biological or chemical attack. But the new policy included a major caveat: The countries must be in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations under international treaties. The problem for Iran and North Korea is that the pledge does not cover them because the US regards them as in non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The new policy will also describe the purpose of US weapons as being fundamentally for deterrence. Some Democratic legislators had urged Obama to go further and declare that the United States would not use nuclear weapons first in a conflict, but officials worried that such a change could unnerve allies protected by the US nuclear 'umbrella.' The president of the Ploughshares Fund said of the new stance, 'It orients US policy towards dramatically fewer weapons and greatly reduced roles.'"
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Obama Unveils New Nuclear Doctrine

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  • by david_thornley (598059) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:11PM (#31754058)

    If Venezuela launches a biological attack (remember that chemical and biological attacks are a whole lot harder than they sound), they're in a world of hurt by conventional means. We wouldn't have nuked them under any President since, maybe, Eisenhower, more likely Truman, but have you looked at what the US spends on its military compared to any other country (or, for that matter, all other countries)?

    Obama's promising the US won't do something that almost everybody was confident the US wouldn't do anyway. It's good PR but that's about it.

    The cat has been out of the bag since at least 1982, when Britain did not nuke Argentina in the Falklands/Malvinas war. No nuclear power will nuke a non-nuclear power except out of dire necessity.

  • Re:Cold war is over! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lakitu (136170) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:42PM (#31754540)

    Russia is a declared nuclear state, and as such, is still a potential target for US nuclear strikes.

  • It's a false "news" (Score:3, Informative)

    by rarel (697734) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:42PM (#31754544) Homepage
    Unless I'm mistaken, this is a handwave. The US already took that same engagement in April 1995 [nouvelobs.com]. It was a condition posed by non-nuclear states for their approval of nonproliferation treaty.

    So what's new here?

  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:42PM (#31754552)

    1. Retribution is a good way to do things
    2. Retribution against non-military is acceptable
    3. The acts of states can be trivially compared to the acts of individuals
    4. The reader is too dumb to understand the situation without an analogy

  • Re:Good and Bad (Score:4, Informative)

    by AmigaMMC (1103025) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:51PM (#31754692)
    Israel, as per their usual policy, has never admitted nor denied to have nuclear weapons.
  • Re:Good and Bad (Score:3, Informative)

    by causality (777677) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:10PM (#31754972)

    Israel, as per their usual policy, has never admitted nor denied to have nuclear weapons.

    They certainly have the technology, so it would be foolish to assume that they don't have them. The USA didn't talk about the Manhatten Project until much later on as well.

  • by ratnerstar (609443) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:12PM (#31754990) Homepage

    I'll tell you what doesn't go down well in America: lack of reading comprehension. Israel is not "exempted" -- they are a nuclear state. Iraq is not exempted either, as, having no nuclear weapons, they don't need an exemption. The "exemptions" you are worried about are for non-nuclear states that are considered (by the US) to be in non-compliance with NPT requirements. You're free to disagree with the policy, but at this point it doesn't seem as if you have any idea what you're disagreeing with.

  • by jessejay356 (625312) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:21PM (#31755082) Homepage
    Some rouge nation meeting their nonproliferation obligations hits the US with a chemical attack in a major city. Say, one million dead... and we won't nuke them back?
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:23PM (#31755112)

    Signatories to the NPT are required to sign a "safeguards agreement" with the IAEA, which lays out how the IAEA will monitor the country's compliance with the NPT. Iran did so, and then in 2005 the IAEA, after several warnings, concluded [iaea.org] that Iran was not in compliance with its safeguards agreement.

    According [dfat.gov.au] to the Chairman of IAEA Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation, this is in effect a declaration of NPT violation:

    Formally IAEA Board of Governors (BOG) decisions concern compliance with safeguards agreements, rather than the NPT as such, but in practical terms non-compliance with a safeguards agreement constitutes non-compliance with the NPT.

    Iran was then referred to the UN Security Council for the violation, as provided for in the NPT. Incidentally, as a signatory of the UN Charter, Iran also agrees to abide by all decisions of the UN Security Council. Security Council resolution 1696 demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment program; resolutions 1737 and 1747 have followed up and imposed sanctions for noncompliance (the two follow-up resolutions passed unanimously). Iran has so far violated all three resolutions.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:23PM (#31755118)

    We send more money to Israel every year than we spend on our own domestic affairs.

    Citation please, since that is obviously not true.

    The US sends about $3 billion Israel's way. Which is clearly not larger than the $1.4 trillion the US spends on just Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

    So are you an idiot? Or are you really claiming that the US spends three as much money on the Israeli military than it spends on its own military?

  • Re:Good and Bad (Score:3, Informative)

    by Xaositecte (897197) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:08PM (#31755674) Journal

    While I was Stationed at Ramstein AFB, Germany - Once a year a Russian Nuclear inspection team came by to verify that there were no Nukes on base. It was something of a big deal because we had to open up all our facilities to the inspectors if they wanted to come in and snoop around.

    Dudes always seemed to just do a once-over with what I assume was a radiation detector in a van driving around base, and then break for vodka around noon.

  • Re:It's a good sign (Score:4, Informative)

    by knarf (34928) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:18PM (#31755770) Homepage

    "Nucular" is the vernacular in half the country. I'm sorry you don't understand the concept of dialects, and you can go to hell if you want to judge me based on my accent.

    All I can say is that this fits in with that rightwing extremist shop ad you have in your sig. It reinforces the stereotype. Would you walk around in a t-shirt reading something along the lines you just uttered?

    " Nucular or go to hell "?

    "Praise the lord and pass the nucular bombs"?

    "Nucular Choctaw Bingo"?

    Of course nucular is just plain wrong no matter which dialect you speak or accent you have. At least that is what I learned at school...

  • Re:Cold war is over! (Score:3, Informative)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:24PM (#31755828)

    Besides if you use a nuke, you can't occupy the area you just de-populated.

    Yes, that's why Hiroshima and Nagasaki were never rebuilt...Oh, wait....

    Note that neither city was depopulated by the atomic bombing, and both were rebuilt at about the same rate as the rest of Japan.

  • Re:Cold war is over! (Score:3, Informative)

    by khallow (566160) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:50PM (#31756082)

    Those people - insurgents, terrorists, whatever you would call them - pose absolutely no existential threat to the United States.

    Their threat directly corresponds to their capabilities. If they just have explosives or guns, then they're very limited in what damage they can do. If they have highly lethal versions of the flu, then well, they're more dangerous. If you say terrorists can't be existential threats because they only kill a few thousand people a year, I agree, as long as those conditions remain that way. If if they can kill a few billion people a year, then that's a different level of threat.

  • Re:Actual reasons (Score:5, Informative)

    by Marcika (1003625) on Wednesday April 07, 2010 @04:30AM (#31758834)

    I've read that NK has somewhere on the order of 1,000,000 troops - how true is that? What's the combined number of S.Korean stationed US troops + S. Korean troops? It would appear to me that they have the advantage in a ground war, assuming they have the bullet supplies to maintain a sustained offensive. 100 bullets a month x a million soldiers is a lot of bullets for a country like NK.

    North Korea is the most militarized country in the world today, with about 20% of men ages 17–54 in the regular armed forces (at nearly 1.2 million armed personnel), plus about 3 million reserve troops (i.e. past conscripts). Most of the divisions are infantry, mech inf or antiquated artillery, but it's only half a day's marching to Seoul...

    South Korea tries to keep step with this: they have about 650k (much better-equipped) active troops due to two years' conscription for all males, and have 3 million reserves as well -- which would make a Northern attack without the support/assistance of China suicidal.

"The greatest warriors are the ones who fight for peace." -- Holly Near

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