This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
During last year's presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama told Sen. John McCain that presidents can, indeed, multitask; and that he personally could walk and chew gum at the same time. Since taking office, Mr. Obama has done just that, starting new initiatives at a breakneck pace. He continued in that vein on his European tour when, in the face of North Korea's launch of a ballistic missile, he announced an ambitious new approach to nuclear disarmament.
The approach is layered, calling for a reduction in the nuclear arsenals of countries with the largest stockpiles – starting with the United States – while simultaneously attempting to curb a growing threat from wanna–be nuclear powers. It's one part Cold War doctrine and one part renewed focus on nuclear nonproliferation, with a dash of Obama flavoring. It's a good recipe for reducing the nuclear threat from wildly divergent sources.
This is how President Obama assesses the threat: "In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up," he said. "Black market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound. The technology to build a bomb has spread."
His reference is to the fact that the United States and Russia have reduced their gigantic arsenals and have pledged to sign a new treaty that reduces stockpiles to below the 1,700 to 2,200 warhead limit agreed to under President George W. Bush in 2002. Meanwhile, new threats come, unpredictably, from North Korea, Iran and Pakistan. Worst-case scenario? A terrorist group like al–Qaeda gets its hands on nuclear materials and warheads.
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