President Obama’s Prague speech focuses on nuclear disarmament
President Obama said in Prague that the USA intends to work in close cooperation with Russia on what he described as a “fundamental” issue: nuclear disarmament. Moreover, Obama let it be understood that he will continue implementing plans to establish a missile defense system in Europe.
US President Barack Obama met in Prague yesterday with European Union leaders and leaders of EU member states. The informal summit was dedicated to climate change and energy security issues. However, far more attention was focused on Obama’s announcement that the USA intends to work in close cooperation with Russia on what he described as a “fundamental” issue: nuclear disarmament. Moreover, Obama let it be understood that he will continue implementing plans to establish a missile defense system in Europe.
The informal US-EU summit was to have been held in Brussels, but it was moved to the Czech Republic on the grounds that this country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency. The main event in Obama’s visit to the Czech Republic was his thirty-minute public speech.
Over 30,000 people gathered in Prague, outside the ancient residence of Czech kings and presidents, to listen to the president of the United States.
Obama started his speech with some reminiscences about the era of saber-rattling on both sides of the Iron Curtain. He noted that although the Cold War era is long gone and Europe is united, the world has not become safer: “In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up. More nations have acquired these weapons.”
For these reasons, America’s new leader sees his main task as ensuring that nuclear weapons gradually disappear from the military arsenals of all countries.
The first step toward this, according to Obama, is to sign a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia by the end of this year. Obama also said that he will make every effort to ensure that the US Senate ratifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. According to Obama, the USA will work in close cooperation with Russia, and hopes that the next four years will bring an end to the illegal international market in nuclear materials which could make it possible for terrorist organizations to build nuclear weapons.
In the same speech, however, Obama said that as long as the Iranian nuclear threat persists, the USA cannot abandon plans to deploy missile defense system elements in Europe. As everyone knows, Moscow takes a very negative view of these plans. But Obama added that Washington is hoping for serious dialogue with Tehran and is prepared to support a civil nuclear development program in Iran under effective international oversight.