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former IAEA Director-General

Groups Call On White House To Update Outdated Nuclear Policy
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DELIVER PETITION WITH 50,000 SIGNATURES

For Immediate Release: May 15, 2012

Contact: Daryl G. Kimball, 202-463-8270 x107

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Representatives of various groups advocating nuclear arms reductions, presented a petition with over 50,000 signatures to the White House. The appeal--circulated between February and April--urges President Obama to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons as he makes a once-in-a-decade decision on Presidential nuclear weapons policy “guidance.”

The White House received the petition at a May 7 meeting with Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and speechwriting. Leaders of arms control groups, including the Arms Control Association, Council for a Livable World and Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Women’s Action for New Directions participated in the meeting, as well the American Values Network, and a representative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“In the 21st century, nuclear weapons are a global liability, not an asset,” the petition says. It calls on the President to “end outdated U.S. nuclear war-fighting strategy, dramatically reduce the number of U.S. nuclear weapons and the number of submarines, missiles, and bombers that carry those weapons, and take U.S. nuclear weapons off high alert. Maintaining large numbers of nuclear forces on alert increases the risk of accident or miscalculation.”

In an email following the meeting Rhodes said: “The White House appreciates the engagement of citizens across our country who support efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and seek the peace and security of a world without them. This type of grassroots activism is critical to build awareness around the dangers of nuclear weapons, and to support common sense arms control policies. We look forward to continued dialogue on these critical issues for U.S. and global security.”

In a March 26 speech, President Obama said: “… the massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the Cold War is poorly suited for today’s threats, including nuclear terrorism.  Last summer, I therefore directed my national security team to conduct a comprehensive study of our nuclear forces.  That study is still underway."

"But even as we have more work to do," Obama continued, "we can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need.  Even after New START, the United States will still have more than 1,500 deployed nuclear weapons, and some 5,000 warheads.  I firmly believe that we can ensure the security of the United States and our allies, maintain a strong deterrent against any threat, and still pursue further reductions in our nuclear arsenal.”

“We agree that current nuclear stockpiles are excessive and urge the President to translate his words into action by opening the door to dramatically deeper U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and engaging other nuclear-armed states on nuclear risk reduction measures,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

For further information and perspectives, see:

"U.S. must revamp its strategy on atomic weapons," by Lt. Gen. Dirk Jameson (ret.), Buffalo News, April 25, 2012; The Providence Journal, April 24, and The Hill, April 11, 2012.

"Opponents of Nuclear Cuts Misread Trends," by Greg Thielmann, Roll Call, April 18, 2012

"Maine Voices: To save taxes and enhance national security," by Dr. Peter Wilk, Portland Press Herald, April 14, 2012

"U.S. Should Cut Nuclear Stockpile," by Dr. Ira Helfand and Daryl Kimball, Newsday, March 29, 2012

"The Case for Considering Arms Cuts," by Maj. Gen. Paul Monroe (ret.), Politico, Feb. 26, 2012

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

Posted: May 14, 2012