Nobel Peace Prize-winner Barack Obama ups nuclear spending

Friday, January 29, 2010 - 1:23pm

Barack Obama has allocated £4.3billion to spend on maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile - £370million more than what was budgeted by George Bush.

The budget will also be increased by more than £3.1billion over the next five years.

The announcement comes despite the American President declaring nuclear weapons were the ‘greatest danger’ to U.S. people during in his State of the Union address on Wednesday.

And it flies in the face of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to him in October for ‘his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples’.

The Nobel committee was attacked at the time for bestowing the accolade on a new president whose initiatives are yet to bear fruit – which included reducing the world stock of nuclear arms.

The budget is higher than that allocated by George Bush – who was seen by many as a warmongering president in the wake of the Iraq invasion in 2003 – during his premiership.
During his 70-minute State of the UNion speech on Wednesday, which marked his first year in office, Obama said: 'I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons, and seeks a world without them.'
However, Vice President Joe Biden today supported the increase on nuclear weapons maintenance, saying: ‘Even in a time of tough budget decisions, these are investments we must make for our security.

‘We are committed to working with Congress to ensure these budget increases are approved.’

Biden said the Obama administration had inherited a ‘steady decline’ in support for U.S. nuclear stockpiles and infrastructure.

‘For almost a decade, our laboratories and facilities have been underfunded and undervalued,’ he said.

‘The consequences of this neglect - like the growing shortage of skilled nuclear scientists and engineers and the ageing of critical facilities - have largely escaped public notice.

‘The budget we will submit to Congress on Monday both reverses this decline and enables us to implement the president's nuclear-security agenda.’
He added: 'This investment is long overdue. It will strengthen our ability to recruit, train and retain the skilled people we need to maintain our nuclear capabilities.
'It will support the work of our nuclear labs, a national treasure that we must and will sustain.'

The Obama administration will publish its budget for fiscal year 2011 on Monday. The proposal will include a budget increase for nuclear issues while paring back other areas in an effort to control record deficits.

Biden said those steps along with others to advance non-proliferation were essential to ‘holding nations like North Korea and Iran accountable when they break the rules, and deterring others from trying to do so’.