Former nuke negotiator weighs in on Obama's speech

June 20, 2013 12:59:59 AM PDT
On Wednesday President Barack Obama proposed a major reduction in nuclear weapons and he did it from one of the most iconic locations on the planet -- Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.

It's a spot so special only sitting presidents are permitted to give speeches there. Five years ago candidate Obama was refused, but he used the Brandenburg Gate as a backdrop to call for a significant increase in nuclear disarmament.

On a steamy day at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate Obama said today's global challenges must be met with the same spirit that won the Cold War.

"We may no longer live in a fear of global annihilation but so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe," said Obama.

Speaking from the same spot where President Kennedy proclaimed himself a Berliner and where Ronald Reagan told Soviet leader Gorbachev to tear down this wall, Obama said it's time to for the U.S. and Russia to do more.

"We can ensure the security of America and our allies and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one third," said Obama.

A one third reduction in nuclear weapons was met with criticism from Russia's President Validimir Putin. He said Russia can't allow a reduction in their nuclear armaments. But former nuclear arms negotiator Gloria Duffy, Ph.D., cautions not to put a lot of stock in that statement.

"The Russians always start out talking in a very tough way," said Duffy.

Duffy says they're protecting their negotiating flexibility. But the woman who negotiated arms reductions with the Soviets says both the U.S. and Russia share a desire to cut military spending.

"So I think the budgetary pressures will operate on both sides to push both us and the Russians towards some kind of agreement," said Duffy.

The CEO of the Commonwealth Club says it will take time. Obama will face opposition at home from Senate Republicans who have asked for a $200 million increase in nuclear weapons spending.

Duffy says this is the beginning of a long road, but the U.S. and Russia do share a common interest and she believes those interests will eventually prevail.

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