Narayan Lakshman

‘U.S. working with both countries to ensure that their stockpiles are safeguarded'

The risk of a nuclear attack has increased

U.S. to boost funding for maintaining weapons stockpile

WASHINGTON DC: India and Pakistan have pursued nuclear weapons “in a way that has upset the balance of nuclear deterrent,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday.

That was why the United States was working with both countries “very hard to try to make sure that their nuclear stockpiles are well tended to, and that they participate with us in trying to limit the number of nuclear weapons,” she said.

Speaking at at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, Ms. Clinton argued that the nature of the nuclear threat had changed. “As President Obama has said, the risk of a nuclear attack has actually increased. And the potential consequences of mishandling this challenge are deadly.” Nuclear terrorism presented a different challenge, but the consequences would still be devastating, she said.

Doomsday scenario

Highlighting the growing threat of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation a few days ahead of the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, Ms. Clinton illustrated what a doomsday scenario would look like, given these risks. “A 10-kiloton nuclear bomb detonated in Times Square in New York City could kill a million people. Many more would suffer from the haemorrhaging and weakness that comes from radiation sickness.”

In the light of these risks, Ms. Clinton outlined three main elements of the U.S.'s strategy to safeguard itself and its allies from nuclear attacks: support for the basic framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); a global effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material and enhance nuclear security; and efforts to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent for the U.S. itself.

Disarmament move

As for the impact of the new U.S.-Russia START on countries where non-proliferation challenges remained, Ms. Clinton said she did not suggest that moves towards disarmament by the U.S. and Russia would convince Iran or North Korea to change their behaviour. “But ask yourselves, can our efforts help…persuade other nations to support serious sanctions against Iran? I believe they could.”

Following the recently announced Nuclear Posture Review and its implications for military expenditure, the Secretary said: “Our budget devotes $7 billion to maintaining our nuclear weapons stockpile and complex…And over the next five years, we intend to boost funding for these important activities by more than $5 billion.”

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