WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama will use his State of the Union address on Tuesday to call for dramatic cuts in nuclear arsenals around the world, The New York Times reported late on Sunday.
Quoting unnamed administration officials, the newspaper said that in recent months Obama had secured agreement with the US military that its nuclear force can be cut by roughly a third.
In his speech Obama is unlikely to discuss specific numbers but White House officials are looking at a cut that would take the arsenal of deployed weapons to just above 1,000, the report said.
Currently, the Unites States has about 1,700 nuclear weapons, and the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia that passed the Senate at the end of 2009 calls for a limit of roughly 1,550 by 2018.
But Obama “believes that we can make pretty radical reductions — and save a lot of money — without compromising American security in the second term. And the Joint Chiefs have signed off on that concept,” the Times quoted one official as saying. However, the White House is loath to negotiate an entirely new treaty with Russia, which would lead to Russian demands for restrictions on US and NATO missile-defence systems in Europe and would revive a major fight with Republicans in the Senate over ratification, the paper said.
Instead, Obama is weighing how to reach an informal agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin for mutual cuts within the framework of the new START treaty, but without the need for ratification, The Times said.
Meanwhile, Americans are eager to hear Obama’s address on economy and federal deficit in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, with more than half still convinced the nation is in a recession, a poll released on Monday found.
Gun policy and healthcare are also top concerns US voters want the president to discuss in his annual speech to the nation, according to the survey by Quinnipiac University.
Obama, who began his second term last month after winning re-election in November, is expected to use on Tuesday night’s speech to offer his plan for spurring the tepid economy, including proposals for investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy and education.