Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Does Your Political Party Say About Nuclear Weapons?

The 2012 U.S. Presidential election season is well underway, and among the most important political issues that America faces is determining a policy on nuclear weapons. The following passages are the official stances on nuclear weapons from the Democratic, Republican, and Green Party platform. Each party platform addresses the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation and disarmament, in regards to both the U.S.'s nuclear program and nuclear programs abroad.

Preventing the Spread and Use of Nuclear Weapons. In our continuing efforts to keep America safe, President Obama and the Democratic Party believe we must address the threat that nuclear weapons pose to our security and to peace in the world. Despite the two decades that have passed since the end of the Cold War, large stockpiles of nuclear weapons persist, and more nations are interested in acquiring them. Nuclear testing and black-market trade in sensitive nuclear materials continue. And terrorists remain determined to buy, build, or steal the ultimate weapon.

President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons and to eventually ridding the planet of these catastrophic weapons. This goal will not be achieved overnight. It will require patience, perseverance, and the steady accumulation of concrete actions. But real progress has already been made.

Reducing Nuclear Weapons Stockpiles. The Obama administration has moved away from Cold War thinking by reducing the prominence of nuclear weapons in America’s national security strategy, and it has urged others to do the same. As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal to deter any adversary and guarantee the defense of our allies. But President Obama has taken important steps to decrease America’s nuclear arsenal and is committed to further responsible reductions.
To reduce our warheads and stockpile, lower the threat of a nuclear exchange, and lay the foundation for future progress, President Obama negotiated and signed the landmark New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, producing cuts in each side’s deployed nuclear stockpiles and launchers and allowing us to monitor and verify Russia’s arsenal. Yet despite bipartisan consensus among former National Security Advisors, Secretaries of Defense, and Secretaries of State that New START makes America safer, Mitt Romney strongly objected to the treaty. Moving forward, the President will work with Russia to achieve additional reductions in stockpiles and nuclear delivery vehicles, including tactical and non-deployed nuclear weapons. We will also work to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and seek a new Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty that prohibits the production of fissile materials intended for use in nuclear weapons.

Preventing Nuclear Proliferation. President Obama and the Democratic Party are also committed to strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as the bedrock of international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries. As we work to uphold our obligations under the treaty by reducing stockpiles and recognizing the rights of all rule-abiding states to peaceful nuclear energy, we will insist that countries without nuclear weapons comply with their obligations not to develop them, and we will ensure that violators face real consequences.

Iran. President Obama, working closely with our international partners and Congress, has put in place unprecedented sanctions against Iran. Iran has yet to build a nuclear weapon, but has continually failed to meet its obligations under the NPT and several United Nations Security Council resolutions, and it cannot demonstrate with any credibility that its program is peaceful.

The President is committed to using all instruments of national power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. When President Obama took office, Iran was ascendant in the region, and the international community was divided over how to address Iran’s nuclear violations. The President’s early offer of engagement with Iran – quickly rebuffed by the regime – allowed the United States to expose Iranian intransigence and rally the international community as never before. Working with our European allies and with Russia and China, the administration gained unprecedented agreement for the toughest ever UN sanctions against Iran, laying the foundation for additional national financial and energy sanctions imposed by the United States and other nations. As a result, Iran is now increasingly isolated and the regime faces crippling economic pressure – pressure that will only build over time.

President Obama believes that a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution. At the same time, he has also made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options – including military force – remain on the table. But we have an obligation to use the time and space that exists now to put increasing pressure on the Iranian regime to live up to its obligations and rejoin the community of nations, or face the consequences.

North Korea. President Obama will also continue to confront North Korea, another regime that ignores its international obligations by developing nuclear weapons and missile technology, with a stark choice: take verifiable steps toward denuclearization or face increasing isolation and costs from the United States and the international community. That is why the administration worked with international partners to impose the harshest multilateral sanctions on North Korea in history. And it is why the President has made clear that the transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies, and we would hold North Korea accountable for the consequences of such action.

Securing Loose Nuclear Materials. The President has led a global effort to secure all loose nuclear materials around the world, hosting a nuclear security summit in Washington, and making concrete progress in locking these materials down. This is an important goal because the prospect that al-Qaeda or another terrorist organization might acquire a nuclear device represents an immediate and extreme threat to global security. At the same time, the United States will continue to work with international partners to break up black markets, detect and intercept nuclear materials in transit, and use financial tools to disrupt this dangerous trade. 

Russia. Crucial to achieving all of these objectives has been, and will remain, expanded cooperation with
Russia. The Cold War mentality represented by Mitt Romney’s identification of Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe” ignores the very real common interest we share with Russia in reducing nuclear stockpiles, stopping additional proliferation by countries such as Iran and North Korea, and preventing nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. The President’s “reset” policy toward Russia has produced significant cooperation in these areas, as well as in Russian support for the Northern Distribution Network that supplies our troops in Afghanistan. We support establishing permanent, normal trade relations with Russia because it would be good for the U.S. economy, for U.S. businesses, and for U.S. workers if we do. And securing Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization is an important step toward encouraging Russia to follow a rules-based system, and to protecting the rights of American workers, farmers, ranchers, and firms. At the same time, we are candid with the Russians when we disagree. The administration will not put aside our differences but will raise them directly with the Russian government. And we will continue to strongly criticize Russian actions that we oppose, such as their support for the Assad regime in Syria.

The complete Democratic platform:


The Current Administration’s Failure: Leading From Behind. The Republican Party is the advocate for a strong national defense as the pathway to peace, economic prosperity, and the protection of those yearning to be free. Since the end of World War II, American military superiority has been the cornerstone of a strategy that seeks to deter aggression or defeat those who threaten our national security interests. In 1981, President Reagan came to office with an agenda of strong American leadership, beginning with a restoration of our country’s military strength. The rest is history, written in the rubble of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. We face a similar challenge today. The current Administration has responded with weakness to some of the gravest threats to our national security this country has faced, including the proliferation of transnational terrorism, continued belligerence by a nuclear-armed North Korea, an Iran in pursuit of nuclear weapons, rising Chinese hegemony in the Asia Pacific region, Russian activism, and threats from cyber espionage and terrorism. In response to these growing threats, President Obama has reduced the defense budget by over $487 billion over the next decade and fought Republican efforts to avoid another $500 billion in automatic budget cuts through a sequestration in early 2013 that will take a meat ax to all major defense programs.

A Failed National Security Strategy. The current Administration’s most recent National Security Strategy reflects the extreme elements in its liberal domestic coalition. It is a budget-constrained blueprint that, if fully implemented, will diminish the capabilities of our Armed Forces. The strategy significantly increases the risk of future conflict by declaring to our adversaries that we will no longer maintain the forces necessary to fight and win more than one conflict at a time. It relies on the good intentions and capabilities of international organizations to justify constraining American military readiness. Finally, the strategy subordinates our national security interests to environmental, energy, and international health issues, and elevates “climate change” to the level of a “severe threat” equivalent to foreign aggression. The word “climate,” in fact, appears in the current President’s strategy more often than Al Qaeda, nuclear proliferation, radical Islam, or weapons of mass destruction. The phrase “global war on terror” does not appear at all, and has been purposely avoided and changed by his Administration to “overseas contingency operations.”

Nuclear Forces and Missile Defense Imperiled. We recognize that the gravest terror threat we face—a nuclear attack made possible by nuclear proliferation—requires a comprehensive strategy for reducing the world’s nuclear stockpiles and preventing the spread of those armaments. But the U.S. can lead that effort only if it maintains an effective strategic arsenal at a level sufficient to fulfill its deterrent purposes, a notable failure of the current Administration. The United States is the only nuclear power not modernizing its nuclear stockpile. It took the current Administration just one year to renege on the President’s commitment to modernize the neglected infrastructure of the nuclear weapons complex—a commitment made in exchange for approval of the New START treaty. In tandem with this, the current Administration has systematically undermined America’s missile defense, abandoning the missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, reducing the number of planned interceptors in Alaska, and cutting the budget for missile defense. In an embarrassing open microphone discussion with former Russian President Medvedev, the current President made clear that, if he wins a second term, he intends to exercise “more flexibility” to appease Russia, which means further undermining our missile defense capabilities. A Republican President will be honest and forthright with the American people about his policies and plans and not whisper promises to authoritarian leaders. A strong and effective strategic arsenal is still necessary as a deterrent against competitors like Russia or China. But the danger in this age of asymmetric or non-traditional warfare comes from other quarters as well. With unstable regimes in Iran and North Korea determined to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the United States, with the possibility that a terrorist group could gain control of a nuclear weapon, it is folly to abandon a missile shield for the country.

U.S. Leadership in the Asian-Pacific Community. We are a Pacific nation with economic, military, and cultural ties to all the countries of the oceanic rim, from Australia, the Philippines, and our Freely Associated States in the Pacific Islands to Japan and the Republic of Korea. With them, we look toward the restoration of human rights to the suffering people of North Korea and the fulfillment of their wish to be one in peace and freedom. The U.S. will continue to demand the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs with a full accounting of its proliferation activities.

The Challenges of a Changing Middle East. Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability threatens America, Israel, and the world. That threat has only become worse during the current Administration. A continuation of its failed engagement policy with Iran will lead to nuclear cascade. In solidarity with the international community, America must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability. We express our respect for the people of Iran, who seek peace and aspire to freedom. Their current regime is unworthy of them. It exports terror and provided weapons that killed our troops in Iraq. We affirm the unanimous resolution of the U.S. Senate calling for “elections that are free, fair, and meet international standards” and “a representative and responsive democratic government that respects human rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law.” We urge the next Republican President to unequivocally assert his support for the Iranian people as they protest their despotic regime. We must retain all options in dealing with a situation that gravely threatens our security, our interests, and the safety of our friends.

The complete Republican platform:


Foreign Policy – Peace and Disarmament. Our government should establish a policy to abolish nuclear weapons. It should set the conditions and schedule for fulfilling that goal by taking the following steps:

-Declare a no-first-strike policy.
-Declare a no-pre-emptive strike policy.
-Declare that the U.S. will never threaten or use a nuclear weapon, regardless of size, on a non-nuclear nation.
-Sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Our pledge to end testing will open the way for non-nuclear states to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which has been held up by our refusal to sign the CTBT. Hon­or the conditions set in the NPT for nuclear nations.
-Reverse our withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and honor its stipulations.
-End the research, testing and stockpiling of all nuclear weapons of any size.
-Dismantle all nuclear warheads from their missiles.

We urge our government to end all stockpiling of chemical and biological weapons and all research, use, and sale of such weapons; and sign the convention that will establish the decrease and inspection of all nations’ stockpiles of such weapons, which the U.S. abandoned.

Nuclear Issues. We oppose the development and use of new nuclear reactors, plutonium (MOX) fuel, nuclear fuel reprocessing, nuclear fusion, uranium enrichment, and the manufacturing of new plutonium pits for a new generation of nuclear weapons.

Advanced Technology and Defense Conversion. The Green Party supports defense technology transfer towards a peacetime technology-based economy, particularly new industrial applications and developments in the areas of advanced communications, alternative energy, non-toxic battery technology and waste management.

1. Consolidation of the nuclear weapons complex should move toward alternative civilian technologies and non-proliferation work, not toward a new generation of nuclear weapon design and production.

2. We recognize the need for de-escalating the continuing arms race, and we strongly oppose putting nuclear weapons, lasers and other weapons in space in a new militarization policy that is in clear violation of international law.

The complete Green Party platform:


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