Posted: Jun 19, 2013 6:19 PM by CBS News/MTN News
In a wide-ranging speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, President Obama on Wednesday unveiled U.S. plans to reduce its global nuclear presence, as part of a broader effort to "move beyond Cold War nuclear postures" and "reject the nuclear weaponization" long pursued by countries like North Korea and Iran.
Delivering a lengthy speech in the high Berlin heat, Mr. Obama, his face covered with a sheen of sweat, outlined a plan to "ensure the security of America" and its allies by "reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one third."
"Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons," Mr. Obama told the crowd of thousands.
According to a White House fact sheet on the new strategy, the United States will continue to maintain a nuclear presence that can serve as a "credible deterrent, capable of convincing any potential adversary that the adverse consequences of attacking the United States or our allies and partners far outweigh any potential benefit they may seek to gain through an attack." At the same time, however, the president is directing the defense department to "strengthen non-nuclear capabilities and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks," and "examine and reduce the role of launch under attack in contingency planning."
"The guidance narrows U.S. nuclear strategy to focus on only those objectives and missions that are necessary for deterrence in the 21st century," according to the fact sheet. "In so doing, the guidance takes further steps toward reducing the role of nuclear weapons in our security strategy."
Mr. Obama said he would host a summit in 2016 as part of this effort, and that he would continue to pursue the ratification of a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.
Montana's Congressional delegation, Senators Max Baucus (D) and Jon Tester (D) and Representative Steve Daines (R), reacted to the announcement by reiterating their support for the nation's Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) force.
The nation's 450-strong ICBM force is housed in silos scattered across Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota.
Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the 150 ICBMs in Montana.
In a joint press release, Baucus, Tester, and Daines said many questions remain about the details of the President's plan, but pointed out that any large-scale nuclear reduction agreement would require congressional consent.
All three reaffirmed their commitment to working together to support the ICBM mission at Malmstrom.
Baucus said, "Maintaining a strong nuclear deterrent keeps America safe and supports good-paying American jobs in Montana. There are still a lot of questions about what exactly the President is proposing and we need answers. A strong ICBM force is absolutely critical to our national defense strategy, and I won't support anything that puts our American security in jeopardy."
Tester said, "It would be misguided to further alter our nuclear stockpile before the New START Treaty is fully implemented. Nuclear weapons are the centerpiece of our defense strategy, and I will not support any short-sighted effort that threatens our national security."
Daines said, "I am deeply concerned that not only is the President's proposal unwise and short-sighted-it could seriously diminish the long-term security of our nation. For more than 50 years, the men and women at Malmstrom Air Force Base have proudly housed the 341st Missile Wing, whose motto is ‘Scaring the hell out of America's enemies since 1962.' I believe that sums up the importance of a strong nuclear deterrence program perfectly. We cannot underestimate the role that our strong nuclear defenses have played in keeping America secure and maintaining peace not only with Russia, but throughout the world."