News

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.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
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 http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/terror-taliban-bolton/2011/12/21/id/421680#ixzz1hCW05jmz

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
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs