While we’re on the subject in reaction to North Korea’s nuclear weapons test over the Memorial Day weekend William J. Perry, Brent Scowcroft, and Charles D. Ferguson have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on reducing the nuclear threat. They note five components for reducing the threat:
An effective strategy to reduce nuclear dangers must build on five pillars: revitalizing strategic dialogue with nuclear-armed powers, particularly Russia and China; strengthening the international nuclear nonproliferation regime; reaffirming the protection of the U.S. nuclear umbrella to our allies; maintaining the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent; and implementing best security practices for nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials worldwide.
They call for re-invigorated arms control talks between the U. S. and Russia and the U. S. Senate approving the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, among other measures.
I think the only sticking point for the Obama Administration will be maintaining the credibility of the U. S. deterrent. Deterrence is a subject I’ve written about at some length. It has two components: the physical and the psychological. The physical component is possessing the ability to respond. The psychological component is having any prospective opponent believe that you may respond and IMO multiple successive presidents, largely through a lack of understanding of this vital component, have systematically undermined our nuclear deterrent. President Obama’s calls for complete nuclear disarmament (see here and here) have continued this practice and must be reversed if we’re to maintain a credible deterrent.