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Article posted Feb 02 2010, 8:40 PM Category: Politics/Corruption Source: Raw Story Print

After pledging to ‘reverse’ their spread, Obama increases nuclear weapons budget

By Stephen C. Webster

"I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of [nuclear] weapons, and seeks a world without them," President Barack Obama claimed during his first State of the Union speech.

"To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades."

Yet, in the budget the Obama White House will send to Congress on Monday, the administration proposes a 10 percent spending increase on the nation's nuclear weapons budget, bringing the total to roughly $7 billion, according to McClatchy Newspapers.

In a Friday op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal, Vice President Joseph Biden claimed that the increase is due in large part to the decay in nuclear stockades over the last decade, due mainly to neglect by the Bush administration.

"For as long as nuclear weapons are required to defend our country and our allies, we will maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal," he wrote. "The budget we will submit to Congress on Monday both reverses this decline and enables us to implement the president's nuclear-security agenda. These goals are intertwined."

The increased funding would also be used to modernize old facilities and retain the necessary staff to track nonproliferation issues and ensure weapons reduction agreements are upheld, McClatchy added.

"Our budget request is just one of several closely related and equally important initiatives giving life to the president's Prague agenda," Biden explained. "Others include completing the New START agreement with Russia, releasing the Nuclear Posture Review on March 1, holding the Nuclear Security Summit in April, and pursuing ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty."

"Fascinating point: it took a Democratic president and a Democatic Congress to modernize the stockpile," The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder noted. "The Bush administration's efforts in this regard failed. It remains to be seen how and whether the administration ties this achievement into a larger narrative about nonproliferation and national security."

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