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2 Mar, 2010 03:00

US reducing nukes, arsenal to remain strong

Senior White House officials are reported as saying that President Obama plans to dramatically reduce the US nuclear stockpile as part of a new strategy to provide a larger role for conventional weapons.

Still, what officials call "a strong and reliable" nuclear deterrent, will be maintained.

Hans Kristensen, a nuclear expert at the Federation of American Scientists, says despite the shift in emphasis, the US is still arming.

“The existent rumor is that they are considering reducing the role that nuclear weapons play vis-à-vis chemical and biological adversaries. That is a particular corner, if you will, of the US nuclear policy that evolved over the Clinton years and the Bush Administration. I heard for a pretty long time that there might be a change there, that the US would change to a sole purpose nuclear policy if you will, when nuclear weapons are just intended to return nuclear attacks,” Kristensen said. “So this Administration’s nuclear policy review can turn out to be quite different from the earlier one that, for various reasons, actually expanded the role of nuclear weapons. We are still trying to cut down on the number of weapons from the Cold War and that’s the process that is still going on. At the same time they are trying to invest in new technologies in order to be able to make sure that the weapons that are going to remain in the arsenal will remain reliable for the indefinite future. And that’s where the investment will come. But that’s not to build new nuclear weapons. It’s in order to maintain the weapons that are already there in case they need to be fixed.”