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Obama Stresses Arms Control Cooperation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2010 – Calling the threat of nuclear weapons “perhaps the greatest danger to the American people,” President Barack Obama last night stressed the importance of nonproliferation initiatives to keep terrorists and rogue nations from acquiring them. Video

The president also emphasized the need to keep international pressure on North Korea and Iran so they abandon their nuclear weapons programs.

“I’ve embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons and seeks a world without them,” Obama said during his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress.

He noted the upcoming Global Nuclear Security Summit, part of the three-part strategy he laid out last year to address nuclear weapons threats facing the United States. That strategy includes reducing and eventually eliminating existing arsenals, keeping additional states from acquiring nuclear weapons and preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons or the materials used to produce them.

“At April's nuclear security summit, we will bring 44 nations together here in Washington, D.C., behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists,” Obama said last night, drawing extended applause.

Meanwhile, the president pointed to diplomatic efforts he said have “strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of these weapons.”

Both North Korea and Iran are feeling the impact of this international pressure, Obama said. “That's why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions – sanctions that are being vigorously enforced. That's why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated,” he said.

“And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They, too, will face growing consequences,” he warned.

Obama noted negotiations under way between the United States and Russia to reduce both countries’ nuclear weapons stockpiles and launchers while enduring deterrence.

An agreement that would succeed the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expired last month, would represent “the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades,” the president said.

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