Six Years Post-Prague

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by Amanda Waldron

Let’s take a walk down memory lane--to 2009.

Six years ago in April, on a stage in Prague, a youthful looking, freshly inaugurated President Obama committed his next eight years in the White House to taking “concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons.” Months later, the 44th President’s visionary words took flight, eventually materializing as an arms control treaty with Russia known as New START, which continues to pay dividends to this day. That same year, Obama became the third sitting U.S. president—after Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt—to earn the Nobel Peace Prize, for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Zoom ahead to 2015.

From securing the landmark New START agreement, to nailing down a framework agreement to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, there is no doubting that Obama has has taken enormous steps toward achieving the worthy goal of eliminating nuclear weapons from this earth. But for every few steps forward, there have been a few steps backward. During his time in office, Obama has also given the go-ahead to a complete overhaul of the U.S. nuclear triad, set to cost the U.S. taxpayers up to $1 trillion dollars over the next thirty years. Also under his watch, thanks to problems with Moscow, cooperation with Russia over nuclear security has slipped dangerously off the radar. But before we dig the grave on Obama’s Prague promises just yet, let us remember he has over a year and a half to make bold progress and improve his legacy of sensible nuclear weapons policies. And, from Cuba to climate change to immigration, Obama has proved he is refusing to act like a lame duck.

A Letter for Leaving a Legacy

Specifically, there are five key areas where the President has room for progress on nuclear weapons issues. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World have penned this letter to President Obama, complete with achievable steps for the remainder of his term on how to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and increase U.S. and global security. The recommendations are as follows:
      1. Increase transparency and accountability for nuclear weapons
2. Increase nuclear security through cooperation with Russia 3. Work with Congress to preserve arms control agreements and nuclear security programs 4. Reduce the size of the nuclear hedge 5. Reduce the role of nuclear weapons for generations to come The reality is, it’s anyone’s guess where the 45th U.S. President will stand on nuclear weapons, but we know exactly where the guy now sitting in the Oval Office stands. Let’s see if he can walk the walk.