White House clarifies Obama’s comments on nuclear arsenal

Modi-Obama at NSS

The US clarifies US President Barack Obama’s comments on nuclear arsenal saying it is “attuned” to the security concerns of India and defended his views on nuclear and missile developments in South Asia. “The President’s comments were motivated by the concern that we have about nuclear and missile developments in South Asia. In particular, we’re concerned by the increased security challenges that accompany growing stockpiles,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. Following Mr Obama’s comments on equating India’s nuclear programme with Pakistan’s, India had reacted strongly saying that his comments reflect a “lack of understanding of India’s defence posture.”

Expressing uneasiness over Pakistan developing nuclear weapons, Mr Earnest said, “These systems are a source of concern because they are susceptible to theft due to their size and load of employment. Essentially, by having these smaller weapons, the threshold for their use is lowered and the risk that a conventional conflict between Pakistan and India, could escalate to include the use of nuclear weapons (by Pakistan)”.

The White House said it is aware about India’s security concerns and its unique location in this part of the world. “We are certainly going to be particularly concerned about, and attuned to the national security concerns that are expressed by close partners of the US like India. And that said, we do believe that evolving in this direction is something that won’t just enhance the national security United States, it will also enhance the national security of India,” Mr Earnest said.

“The US is committed to developing the US-India relationship and to the one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. And that includes of pursuing the strategic security dialogue that provides a dedicated venue to exchange ideas on India’s intentions and defence needs and to discuss issues that they may have related to strategic stability,” Mr Earnest said.

The goal of the recently concluded Nuclear Security Summit was to eventually create a world without nuclear weapons. “That is a longer-term goal. And one that the president has long prioritised. The President does believe that that is something that can be pursued, consistent with the relevant national security interests of countries around the world,” he added.

The US administration is of the view that improvements in bilateral relations between India and Pakistan could greatly enhance prospects for lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

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