Last April, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his now infamous Prague speech in which he called for a world without nuclear weapons. Obama vowed to vanquish Cold War-era thinking and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy, but he also pledged to maintain an "effective arsenal" to deter adversaries and preserve the U.S. ability to uphold security commitments to allies.
Striking the appropriate balance between disarmament objectives and security obligations is the key challenge facing Obama as he finalizes the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) in the coming weeks. The NPR is a congressionally mandated review of the direction and role of nuclear forces in U.S. strategic posture.
It is critical that Obama refrain from allowing his Prague vision for a nuclear-free world to cloud the strategic realities that require continuation of a credible U.S. nuclear deterrent. The new NPR must preserve maximum flexibility and ambiguity with regard to potential use of U.S. nuclear forces.