Obama in Berlin: We Only Need 1K Nuclear Warheads

In Berlin speech, says he wants to see US, Russian arsenals cut by a third

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 19, 2013 3:12 AM CDT | Updated Jun 19, 2013 10:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – Five years after he addressed a huge crowd in Berlin as a presidential candidate—and 50 years after John F. Kennedy proclaimed "Ich bin ein Berliner"—President Obama gave an address at the iconic Brandenburg Gate today, calling for a major reduction in nuclear warheads. "We may not live in fear of nuclear annihilation—but as long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe," Obama declared, according to Politico. He said the US could still defend itself with one third fewer nuclear weapons, and said he intended to negotiate a cut to that level with Russia. That would mean taking the arsenals down to about 1,000 warheads each.

Officials tell the Wall Street Journal that the cuts may take place under a new treaty, to follow 2010's New START pact, but the White House will also consider reciprocal reductions without a treaty. Obama also spent plenty of time in the speech endearing himself to the crowd before him (which USA Today notes was limited to 6,000 invited guests), with frequent jokes and stirring references to the city's history. "I am proud to stand here and pay tribute to the past from the East side of the Brandenburg," he said. Of course, hanging over everything was the NSA spying issue. At a joint press conference earlier, Merkel said she and Obama had held "long and intensive" talks about it, while Obama offered assurances that the US wasn't "rifling through the ordinary emails of German citizens ... or anybody else."

US President Barack Obama, center background, delivers a speech in front of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2013.
US President Barack Obama, center background, delivers a speech in front of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2013.   (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
US President Barack Obama, left,  stands in front of Brandenburg Gate at Pariser Platz in Berlin, Germany,  June 19, 2013.
US President Barack Obama, left, stands in front of Brandenburg Gate at Pariser Platz in Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2013.   (AP Photo/Michael Kappeler, Pool)
President Obama waves after disembarking from Air Force One at Berlin's Tegel airport in Berlin yesterday for a two-day official visit to Germany.
President Obama waves after disembarking from Air Force One at Berlin's Tegel airport in Berlin yesterday for a two-day official visit to Germany.   (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
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