Obama Explains Missile Defense Remarks

U.S. President Barack Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, March 27, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, March 27, 2012.

U.S. President Barack Obama set out Tuesday to clarify private remarks about missile defense to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev inadvertently picked up by a live microphone.

At the Seoul nuclear summit, Obama privately told the Russian president that this year is his last election and that he would have more flexibility after he is elected.

Nuclear Summit Statement Highlights

After two days of talks in Seoul, leaders from more than 50 nations stressed the following:

  • Importance of multilateral instruments to address nuclear security.
  • IAEA role in strengthening nuclear security.
  • Highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium require special precautions.
  • States are urged to secure nuclear materials while considering industrial and medical uses.
  • Need to maintain effective emergency preparedness at nuclear facilities.
  • Need to prevent, detect and prosecute illegal nuclear trafficking.

Obama later told reporters that the United States is in the middle of a presidential election campaign, and Russia just held a vote and is transferring power.

He said the current volatile political environment is not conducive to sensitive negotiations on missile defense and arms control.

Republicans, who seek to win back the White House from Obama, a Democrat, in November, have said they do not want to make what they see as concessions to Russia in arms talks.

Russia opposes Obama's plans for a missile defense system in Europe - an idea first proposed by former president George W. Bush and modified by Obama to address Russian concerns.

Obama said Monday that both the United States and Russia can continue to make progress in cutting stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

He called the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement ratified in 2010 the most comprehensive arms treaty in 20 years. Obama said he plans to pursue another round of cuts with Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin.

In another development, Medvedev criticized U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who called Russia the "number one geopolitical foe" of the United States.

CNN said Romney commented in response to Mr. Obama's private remarks on missile defense to Mr. Medvedev that were captured by an open microphone.

Medvedev said Romney's comments reminded him of Hollywood's portrayal of Russia as a U.S. foe. He suggested U.S. presidential contenders should "use their head" when phrasing their positions and remember that it is now 2012 - not the mid-1970s.

Also in Seoul, Obama, Medvedev and Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, hailed the nearly completed clean-up of an old Soviet nuclear test site.

The three presidents issued a joint statement calling the clean-up efforts a successful example of "trilateral cooperation." They said it also shows a "commitment to nuclear security and non-proliferation."

Kazakh, Russian and U.S. experts worked together to clean up and seal off the Semipalatinsk site in Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union carried out hundreds of nuclear weapons tests during the Cold War.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and AFP.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: enefaaaah.enefaaaah
March 29, 2012 9:48 AM
the President's statement is common sense; statesman's wise words.There is nothing illegal about it; you guys need to open your minds and hearts for full education and liberating civilization.

by: hamad extra+(2/2)
March 27, 2012 11:38 PM
Americans ? Look at how Russia is working to clean up the remainder of Nuclear test site . Obama administration needs to get clean up tool and nationwide protesters knew how they are going to do it .

by: Natasha
March 27, 2012 6:51 PM
How stupid Romney was when he called Russia the "number one geopolitical foe" of the United States! Turning an old enemy into a friend is difficult and turning a friend into an enemy is much easier. Romney has chosen the second choice because he is an incapable candidate.

by: Lorraine Conley
March 27, 2012 1:35 PM
Obama secret wasn't gaffe. Obama didn't ask for time. Obama asked Russia to help him (Obama) get illegally re-elected - "Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said Tuesday that Joe Biden’s statement that the Taliban is not America's enemy in Afghanistan was not a gaffe, but instead the vice president was “articulating what the White House strategy is.” - Bolton Says Biden's Taliban Statement Wasn't Gaffe

by: Godwin
March 27, 2012 7:37 AM
Obama is ready to sell America if give the chance. The statement shows he's running double standard, saying one thing and meaning another. A president whose personal agenda is at variance with that of the American government is foremost not an American and therefore not a suitable person for the whitehouse. Thanks to God it's election year and everyone not suitable in position mistakenly given shall be changed. Oh how I wish USA had remained God's own Country!

by: Jason
March 27, 2012 6:18 AM
What a shame of a President we have... Hope he packs his bags in a few months

by: NVO
March 27, 2012 6:11 AM
One only needs to turn to Ezekiel to know what is up Russias sleeve, then one only needs to turn to Joel to find out what will happen to Russia. The Gog of Magog and his army will attack Israel, followed by Egypt and the Arab Federation, then the Kings from the East, then all nations will come against Israel. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem=Psalm 122:6

by: TheUSAvoice
March 27, 2012 4:20 AM
To quote George W. Bush regarding Vladimir Putin: "I looked into his eyes and saw his soul." BTW... there was only one CLINTON in the White House. Should everyone think that Laura Bush made decisions for her husband? (on 2nd thought, they would have been better than the frat boy). Should everyone think that Nancy Reagan made decisions for her husband? (on 2nd thought, she DID make decisions, to the detriment of the country).

by: Roger Rimal
March 27, 2012 4:12 AM
I believe President Obama's tactic to reduce tension with Russia is a concession as Republicans believe. In fact, I believe Obama just know very well how to deal with Communists.

by: Regulas
March 27, 2012 3:55 AM
"he would have more flexibility after he is elected." The little dictator wannabe is pretty sure of getting re-elected. Maybe he knows something the American people don't as in it's all rigged. More flexibility as in he will wreak havoc on the USA and our economy to appease his Marxist/Socialist comrades in Europe.
Comments page of 2

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