President Obama will be the first sitting US President to visit Hiroshima when he travels to Japan later this month. He will give a speech at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which commemorates the atomic bombing by the United States on August 6, 1945.
According to the president’s speech writer, Ben Rhodes, Obama’s remarks “will reaffirm America’s longstanding commitment — and the President’s personal commitment — to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. As the President has said, the United States has a special responsibility to continue to lead in pursuit of that objective as we are the only nation to have used a nuclear weapon.”
But the president must do more than give another beautiful speech about nuclear disarmament. The world needs—indeed, is desperate for—concrete action.
There are many meaningful steps that President Obama can take that will make every American safer—without the approval of Congress or agreement of Russia. As UCS and its faith partners—the National Association of Evangelicals, the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition—noted in their May 4 statement Faith and Science Leaders Agree: Reduce the Threat of Nuclear Catastrophe Now, the president should:
- Scale back his plans to spend more than $1 trillion building a new generation of nuclear warheads, missiles, bombers, and submarines and cancel the new nuclear-armed cruise missile, which is destabilizing and unneeded.
- Reduce the U.S. deployed strategic arsenal by a third, which is a level the Pentagon agrees is adequate to maintain security.
- Remove U.S. land-based nuclear missiles from their current hair-trigger status and eliminate the option in U.S. war plans of launching them on warning.
In Prague in 2009, President Obama committed the United States to reducing the role of nuclear weapons and putting an end to Cold War thinking.
It’s time to walk the talk, Mr. President.
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