President Barack Obama plans to place new restrictions on the use of atomic weapons as part of a major US nuclear policy overhaul, a senior administration official said on Monday. In an interview with The New York Times, Obama said he would make exceptions for "outliers like Iran and North Korea," but stress non-nuclear deterrence and eliminate Cold War ambiguities about when such weapons could be used.
Obama unveils his strategy on Tuesday, two days before signing a treaty with Russia to slash stockpiles of long-range nuclear warheads by a third, and less than a week before hosting world leaders at a key nuclear summit in Washington. A senior administration official told AFP that the upcoming signing of the new START treaty with Russia, the summit, and the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) will see the administration "embracing a 21st century approach to nuclear weapons."
"The NPR focuses on preventing nuclear terrorism and proliferation and reducing the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, while sustaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent for the United States and our allies," the official added. In order to pursue a key foreign policy aim of halting nuclear proliferation, Obama has committed the United States -- the only country ever to unleash an wartime atomic bomb -- to a series of nuclear arms cuts. "Now, the Nuclear Posture Review states very clearly, if you are a non-nuclear weapons state that is compliant with the NPT, you have a negative assurance we will not be using nuclear weapons against you," he told The Times.