Presidential debates allow voters to hear how candidates differ, and there are few policy differences as great as that between Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Michele Bachmann on Iran. Take this exchange from last night:
Tales from the Trail
In hardball negotiations over the START nuclear arms treaty last year, Senate Republicans wrested a commitment from the White House to redouble work to overhaul the nation’s nuclear infrastructure.
Not only does Barack Obama face a united and hostile Republican Party at home, he cannot easily take refuge in foreign policy in the second half of his term. From Afghanistan to Russia and the Middle East, from climate change to nuclear weapons, there are more problems than easy solutions out there.
The new U.S. nuclear weapons doctrine released on Tuesday had stern warnings for Iran and North Korea, with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explaining that it left “all options on the table” for dealing with atomic renegades despite its broader goal of restricting the U.S. use of its nuclear stockpile.
Good news! We’re one symbolic minute further away from total annihilation!
The Doomsday Clock, created in 1947 to dramatize the nuclear threat, was reset today to six minutes before midnight, back from five minutes before midnight — midnight being the symbol of the Ultimate Big Kaboom. Or as the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists puts it, “the figurative end of civilization.”
from Global News Journal:
U.S. President Barack Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Obama had been awarded the prize for his calls to reduce the world's stockpiles of nuclear weapons and work towards restarting the stalled Middle East peace process.
from Global News Journal:
U.S. President Barack Obama says he wants a world without nuclear weapons. But will that ever happen?
Obama showed he's serious this week. He chaired a historic summit meeting of the U.N. Security Council which unanimously passed a U.S.-drafted resolution that envisages "a world without nuclear weapons".
It was the first time a U.S. president chaired a meeting of the Security Council since it was established in 1946.
John Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, an advocacy group, identified serious weaknesses in the resolution, including the absence of mandatory disarmament steps for the world's five official nuclear powers -- the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.
Some diplomats from countries without nuclear weapons said the lack of mandatory disarmament moves is not just a weakness, but a loophole the five big powers -- which have permanent seats and vetoes on the Security Council -- deliberately inserted into the resolution so that they wouldn't have to scrap their beloved nuclear arsenals.
An official from one of the five big powers appeared to confirm this in an "off-record" email to Reuters explaining the language in the resolution: "I would underline that creating the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons is not the same as calling for a world free of nuclear weapons." He added that "the spirit of the resolution is much more about non-proliferation than disarmament."
A diplomat and disarmament expert from a European country with no nuclear weapons said this was typical of the "cynicism" of some permanent Security Council members. He added that the U.S. delegation had made very clear that the use of the word "disarmament" meant total nuclear disarmament -- perhaps not today, but someday.
China's President Hu Jintao said China was not planning to get rid of its nuclear arsenal anytime soon. So did French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The resolution didn't name Iran and North Korea. However, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Sarkozy filled in the blanks and called for tougher sanctions against Iran for defying U.N. demands to halt sensitive nuclear work.
The resolution didn't mention Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea, the four others known or assumed to have nuclear weapons. But it did politely ask "other states" to sign the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and get rid of their atom bombs.
Libya's Muammar Gaddafi was the only leader of a council member state that stayed away from the meeting. Several council diplomats expressed relief at his absence, saying they had been afraid the long-winded Gaddafi would have exceeded the five-minute limit for statements.
Veteran Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau is on Hugo Chavez’s case.
Morgenthau warned last week at Washington’s Brookings Institution that Iran is using Venezuela’s financial system to avoid international sanctions so it can acquire materials to develop nuclear weapons and missiles. He urged more scrutiny of the “emerging axis of Iran and Venezuela” in an op/ed article in the Wall Street Journal, in which he said a number of mysterious Iranian factories had sprung up in remote parts of Venezuela.
President Obama’s push to reduce the global nuclear arms threat received an endorsement Tuesday from some big names in U.S. national security policy.
With a new round of strategic arms talks getting under way in Moscow, Obama met in the Oval Office with former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Defense Secretary William Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn.
Obama, who outlined his vision of a world free of atomic weapons in a speech in Prague last month, said he welcomed the support of the bipartisan group, who have been pushing for over two years for the United States to lead an effort to eliminate nuclear arms.
“We do not want a world of continued nuclear proliferation,” Obama told reporters after the meeting.
“It is absolutely imperative that America take leadership working with not just our Russian counterparts but countries all around the world to reduce and ultimately eliminate the dangers that are posed by nuclear weapons,” he said.
“We can take some very specific steps in order to do that. We can revitalize our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We can work with the Russians as the two countries with by far the largest nuclear stockpiles to continue to reduce our dependence on nuclear weapons. We can move forward on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty … And we can lock down loose nuclear weapons that can fall into the hands of terrorists.”
Shultz, speaking on behalf of the group, said the four former U.S. officials supported Obama’s approach.
He did have one little quibble though. The group, he said, was really non-partisan, not bipartisan.
“This is a subject that ought to somehow get up above trying to get a partisan advantage,” he said. “And it’s of such importance that we need to take it on its own merits. And that’s the way we’ve proceeded, and that’s the way, at least it seems to us, you’ve proceeded.”
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