The U.S. government in its Nuclear Posture Report released Tuesday said Washington will not launch a nuclear attack against a country upholding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. U.S. President Barack Obama told The New York Times Monday that the U.S. will not use nuclear weapons even if attacked with biological and chemical weapons by a non-nuclear state that follows the treaty. This is a clean break with the nuclear policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations. Obama also declared a stop to nuclear testing and the development of nuclear weapons and warheads.
The U.S. president in April last year had pledged to pursue a nuclear-free world in Prague. Today, he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will sign a new treaty on nuclear arms reduction, a follow-up treaty to START I. The two leaders have agreed to reduce the number of long-range nuclear warheads from 2,200 to 1,500 and missiles deployable to land and sea from 1,600 to 800. Obama will also chair a nuclear security summit in Washington Monday and Tuesday to be attended by leaders and officials from 47 countries. These events demonstrate Obamas strong commitment to reduce all nuclear threats. Hopefully, his initiative will begin international efforts to free the world from nuclear weapons.
Another major point of the new U.S. nuclear doctrine is Obamas determination not to tolerate countries blocking his goal of achieving a nuclear-free world. Naming North Korea and Iran, Obama said nuclear weapons will be used against outliers who withdraw from the nuclear treaty or violate its provisions. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also said the Nuclear Posture Report has a strong message for North Korea and Iran.
North Korea must take Obamas warning seriously. His nuclear doctrine can give Pyongyang the opportunity to abandon nuclear weapons and assure the security of its communist regime. If North Korea returns to the treaty, from which it withdrew in 2003, it will be excluded from the targets of U.S. nuclear attacks. Pyongyang should also remember its promise to give up its nuclear ambition made at the six-party nuclear talks.
The change in U.S. nuclear strategy and the nuclear arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and Russia will also affect the nuclear policies of other nuclear states including the U.K., France and China. Israel, Pakistan and India, three countries believed to have gone nuclear, will also feel pressured. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May will deal with countries that have withdrawn from the treaty. If North Korea continues to defy the times by developing nuclear weapons, it will face only isolation and international sanctions.