Clinton similarly rejected opportunities to take up Putin's proposal to cut our nuclear arsenals to 1,000 warheads. After Russia's ratification of START II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 2000, Putin called for new talks to reduce long-range missiles from 3,500 to 1,500 or even 1,000, upping the ante from planned levels of 2,500 warheads. This forward-looking proposal was accompanied by Putin's stern caveat that all Russian offers would be off the table if the United States proceeded to build a National Missile Defense (NMD) in violation of the ABM Treaty.
Astoundingly, U.S. diplomatic "talking points" leaked by Russia to the “Bulletin of Atomic Scientists” revealed that Clinton was urging Russia it had nothing to fear from NMD as long as Russia kept 2,500 weapons at launch-on-warning, hair-trigger alert. Rejecting Putin's offer to cut to 1,000 warheads, the United States assured Russia that with 2,500 warheads it could overcome a NMD shield and deliver an "annihilating counterattack"! If the Clinton administration had instead embraced Putin's plan, the United States and Russia would have been able to call all nuclear weapons states to the table — even those with arsenals in the hundreds or fewer — to negotiate a treaty to ban the bomb.
President George W. Bush unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, pursuing U.S. plans "to dominate and control the military use of space, to protect U.S. interests and investments," as set forth in the U.S. Space Command's “Vision 2020” mission statement and the Rumsfeld Commission Report of 2000.
Had Mr. Obama been willing to forego the illusory U.S. missile shield (which is incapable of offering any protection against incoming missiles, since those missiles could easily be accompanied by a barrage of indistinguishable decoys rendering the missile defenses useless) Russia might well have agreed to larger reductions in our mutual arsenals which together now total about 25,000 warheads. Only about 1,000 more are in the possession of all seven other nuclear powers—the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. If the United States and Russia agree to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear bombs to 1,000 or less, they would then have the moral authority required to bring all the nuclear weapons states to the negotiating table to eliminate nuclear weapons.
The numerous responses from U.S. experts and commentators that have been highly critical and dismissive of Mr. Obama's goal for nuclear abolition make it apparent that he must overcome the resistance of rusty cold warriors in the Pentagon and weapons labs to achieve a nuclear-free world. But he must also address the drivers for space weapons and missile shields – the millions of dollars spent unconscionably by Pentagon contractors now staffed by former Congress members and Capitol Hill aides. This corrupt revolving door system lobbies Congress and finances the re-election campaigns of members who can then be relied upon to keep the military-industrial-academic-congressional complex in the money to the detriment of nuclear disarmament and world peace.
— Alice Slater is N.Y. Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a founder of Abolition 2000.