WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) — A White House nuclear policy review will likely highlight the opposing views of U.S. President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, officials say.
While the Democratic president has opposed development of new nuclear weapons, his Pentagon chief, a holdover from the Bush administration, has advocated a new generation of warheads, Politico reports.
The administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, more than two months overdue, is to be released before the president plans to host a nuclear safety summit for heads of state next month. The review is conducted by the White House every four years.
“Quite clearly, the secretary has been stating he sees a need for replacement warheads and new designs, and I’m not sure those are the words the president would want to use at this stage in the process,” said Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists.
“This is the big challenge of the Obama administration, that it has to find some common ground for those two relatively, I wouldn’t say contradictory, but what can be distant positions,” Kristensen said.
The review has been perceived as dividing senior officials, with Vice President Joe Biden representing those who favor arms control while Gates is seen as leader of the military and nuclear establishment advocating new weapons programs.
Liberal arms-control activists say Obama ceded too much to Gates’s wishes with funding for nuclear weapons labs in the 2011 budget.
Administration officials said it is too early to discuss differences between the president’s position and that of Gates.
Gates “still believes in the fundamental goals of ensuring warhead safety, security and reliability, and believes we need a modern infrastructure to support that. Those investments are in the budget,” said Geoff Morrell, a Pentagon spokesman.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.