The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today welcomed reports that the Obama administration is soon to propose the most significant cuts to US and Russian nuclear warhead numbers for a generation. The report in today’s Times newspaper quotes an administration official suggesting parallel cuts to a level of 1000 warheads each, down from the 4-5,000 currently active may be proposed.

The report suggests Obama will also order a review of the Bush-era plan to establish US Missile Defence bases in Eastern Europe, a major source of tension with Russia. Obama has only ever been luke-warm about the idea, setting conditions on effectiveness and cost which would prove difficult for the Pentagon to meet.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “We strongly welcome Obama’s vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. These plans are a significant step towards that goal. New legally-binding treaties between the US and Russia are an essential first step in creating the climate for global abolition. We have had eight wasted years of the Bush administration chasing WMD that didn’t exist, rather than tackling the thousands ready to be launched at a moment’s notice. Serious efforts are urgently needed before the START treaty expires this December.

She continued, “The suggested review of plans to install US Missile Defence rockets only a few dozen miles from Russian territory is highly significant. Without the cancellation of this highly destabilising programme, there is little prospect of progress on nuclear arms reduction. Instead there will be the great risk of a new nuclear arms race, as countries seek to overcome the so called ‘son of Star Wars’ missile shield. An agreement on warhead cuts and Missile Defence will unlock other areas to negotiation, ending the blight of Bush era aggression and unilateralism. Now we need comparable vision from our own government – ending the Trident replacement programme and ditching support for missile defence. Britain must not be the last bastion of Bushism in a time of significant change.”

The Foreign Office will shortly be releasing a position paper on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, to which CND will respond.