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President Obama's Nuclear Legacy

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President Obama has built a lasting legacy by reducing the number of nuclear weapons and their role in U.S. policy—laying a foundation for further reductions and making progress in securing fissile materials. This article reviews that legacy and provides an outline for bolder action in a possible second term. In such a term, Obama would also have an historic opportunity to do more to fulfill his Prague vision and enhance our security by tossing out the remaining cold war-era policies. He could achieve these goals by pursuing an additional round of arms reductions with Russia, securing Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, pulling tactical nuclear weapons out of Europe, and continuing to contain the nuclear weapons ambitions of Iran and North Korea. Were President Obama to achieve substantial progress on this agenda, it would be one of the most substantial and long-standing accomplishments of his presidency.
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Keywords: Iraq; North Korea; Obama; Prague vision; Russia; fissile materials; nuclear proliferation; tactical nuclear weapons

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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