Obama Comes Through On Nukes

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


President Obama’s climate speech to the United Nations may have been a big letdown, but he has come through in one key area: nuclear disarmament. In his address to the General Assembly on Wednesday, Obama promised to introduce a draft UN resolution later this week that would herald a significant shift in American nuclear policy compared with the Bush administration, which let the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty wither unratified in the Senate and stymied other important arms control initiatives. Obama’s resolution indicates that the US will renew efforts to ratify the treaty, and, among other things, proposes that a country’s right to use nuclear energy should be contingent on meeting its nonproliferation obligations. (That would currently bar Iran, for instance, from enriching uranium.) Later in the week, the president will head a UN Security Council meeting on nuclear nonproliferation—the first time an American president has done so.

Obama also announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend the Test Ban conference this week—a glaring contrast with the Bush administration, which didn’t even send a delegation to the last four meetings. Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton huffed to the National Review that this meeting would be an “incredible waste of time for [Clinton].” (He also thought Obama’s speech to the UN was too “UN-centric.”)

Ridding the world of nuclear weapons has long been a pet cause for Obama—he spoke about them on the stump while running for the Senate way back in 2004. Later, he forged a close relationship with Sen. Richard Lugar on the issue, accompanying him on a trip to Russia to inspect weapons facilities and co-sponsoring legislation to secure loose nukes. “If we fail to act,” Obama told the UN on Wednesday, “we will invite nuclear arms races in every region, and the prospect of wars and acts of terror on a scale that we can hardly imagine.”

 

  

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.