Monday, August 6, 2018

Republicans sacrificed national security just to undermine Obama

I cringe each time I hear Republican criticism of the Iran nuclear deal, knowing what the Republicans did when President Obama was newly elected with a commitment to nuclear proliferation. Suffice it to say, they showed no concern for nuclear proliferation then.  

The bipartisan 9/11 Commission had warned that,
“The greatest danger of another catastrophic attack in the United States will materialize if the world’s most dangerous terrorists acquire the world’s most dangerous weapons.”
The Commission also found that Al-Qaeda had been trying for a decade to acquire weapons of mass destruction

President Bush and Senator John Kerry agreed that,
“ The single, largest threat to American national security today is nuclear weapons in the hands of a terrorist network.”
For more than a decade, security initiatives allowed the United States and allied governments to block shipments of nuclear materials or technology to other countries for disposal.  

The "loose nukes" strategy, working closely with Russia, who's recognition Trump now yearns for  like a shy schoolgirl, included:
Securing sites by helping countries install modern security systems at nuclear material storage sites.  The United States had been helping Russia since 1991 to install modern security systems at nuclear material storage sites.

Securing nuclear materials nuclear warheads and bomb-grade plutonium and uranium were gradually consolidated to more secure sites in Russia 
Reducing quantities through the " Megatons to Megawatts " program, Russia converts highly enriched uranium used in bombs into low-enriched fuel suitable for power reactors. It is then shipped to the USA and sold to power companies. The program converted 287 tons of highly enriched Russian uranium into reactor fuel.  
Border control with U.S. help, Russia and neighboring countries installed equipment designed to detect smuggled nuclear materials. There have been attempts, but no known successful thefts. 
Port security initiatives added new cargo-screening devices at ports in Rotterdam, Netherlands; Piraeus, Greece; Freeport, Bahamas; and Colombo, Sri Lanka. 
The program helped block a shipment of nuclear centrifuges from Malaysia to Libya. The incident led to the arrest of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan and a secret proliferation network. 

While President Obama most surely had an aversion to the use of American military power, his commitment to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, fissionable material, and nuclear technology and information was without question.

On April 6, 2009 Obama delivered a speech in Prague's Hradcany Square where he made a commitment to rid the world of loose nuclear materials in his first term.  His vision of a world free from nuclear arms stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Soon after his speech,  six countries gave up their highly enriched uranium; nuclear materials that could have been used for 120 bombs. 

At the 47-nation Nuclear Summit, several countries, including Ukraine, Mexico and Canada, declared their intention to give up highly enriched uranium. 

Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili revealed that his government had thwarted eight attempts to sell uranium on the black market and a criminal gang was caught in a sting operation trying to sell highly enriched uranium. 

So while the Cheney’s blitzed the media accusing the President of “making America less safe”, Sarah Palin screeched that he was “ paling around with terrorists ”, and Republicans were chanting that he was “afraid” to say we were at war, behind the scenes, President Obama was quietly working to fulfill his goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material from 35 countries where it was concentrated.

According to Thomas D’Agostino, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, by the end of Obama's first year in office, 111 pounds of highly enriched uranium had been removed from three sites in Ukraine alone. At the end of 2010, they had cleared 19 countries and had 16 more to go. 

Progress had been made in reducing and removing highly enriched uranium from Russia, Serbia, Kazakhstan, South Africa, and Mexico. They had accomplished more than 50% of the mission and expected to fulfill their commitment by the end of President Obama's first term. Upon awarding the new president the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee “attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

Despite, the looming threat and the success of the program, the House of Representatives made brutal cuts to the national security programs designed to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. It was more important to Republicans to deny Obama than it was to keep the nation, indeed the world safe.  These were not patriots, just politicians.

Singling out Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor, Retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert Gard of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation said,
“Congressmen Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor are making it easier for terrorists to get nuclear weapons .” 
He called the cuts “reckless.” 

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