News / Europe

In Berlin Speech, Obama Calls for Nuclear Reductions

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama set forth his vision for advancing toward a world free of nuclear weapons in a speech Wednesday at the historic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Obama said he will seek to reduce deployed nuclear weapons by up to a third and renew talks with Russia to "move beyond Cold War nuclear postures."

He said the cuts in nuclear weapons can be made while at the same time ensuring the security of the U.S. and its allies, and also maintaining "a strong and credible strategic deterrent."

The proposal would mean the United States and Russia would cut their number of strategic nuclear warheads by up to one third below the level they agreed to in the New START Treaty. That agreement, signed in 2010, calls for the two countries to reduce their arsenal to 1,550 deployed strategic warheads by 2018.

U.S. warheads, strategic and nonstrategicU.S. warheads, strategic and nonstrategic
U.S. warheads, strategic and nonstrategic
U.S. warheads, strategic and nonstrategic
Shortly before Obama delivered his speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying his government would not permit "disturbances to the system of strategic deterrence or a decrease in the effectiveness of Russia's nuclear forces."

Obama returned repeatedly throughout the speech to the theme of "peace with justice," praising the free enterprise system as opposed to the kind of "top down" economic planning pursued by the Communist government of the former East Germany.

Russia warheads, strategic and nonstrategicRussia warheads, strategic and nonstrategic
Russia warheads, strategic and nonstrategic
Russia warheads, strategic and nonstrategic
He warned Western countries not to "turn inward" or become "complacent" after having won the Cold War, and said they must meet a number of challenges, including global warming, poverty and the spread of AIDS.

He also said he would redouble his efforts to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Brandenburg Gate was the site of two notable addresses by former U.S. leaders. In 1963, president John F. Kennedy declared himself a citizen of a divided Berlin in his speech, and in 1987, president Ronald Reagan demanded that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall.

Before the address, Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks that covered, among other things, U.S. Internet surveillance.  

Video report by Kent Klein

Merkel said that while "enemies and opponents" can use the Internet to threaten democracy, she had stressed to the U.S. president that there should be "balance and proportionality" between the need to monitor threats and to preserve a "liberal order."

Obama called the U.S. Internet surveillance program "circumscribed" and "narrow," insisting that U.S. intelligence agencies are not "rifling through ordinary emails" of "German citizens or American citizens or anyone else," and that the Internet and telephone surveillance programs are under federal court supervision.

He said his administration has struck "the appropriate balance" between protecting the American people and preserving "civil liberty and privacy." He also reiterated that the surveillance programs have "saved lives."

This is Obama's first visit to Germany as president. He came to Berlin in 2008 as a presidential candidate, but was denied permission to make a speech at the Brandenburg Gate.

  • Flanked by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, U.S. President Barack Obama  waves at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin June 19, 2013.
  • A woman holds up a sign as she watches U.S. President Barack Obama at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, June 19, 2013.
  • Invited guests wait for U.S. President Barack Obama's speech front of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2013.
  • Invited guests are entertained by violinist David Garrett as they await the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin June 19, 2013.
  • Protesters display a cut out figure of U.S. President Barack Obama in front of a replicate piece of the former Berlin Wall reading "Mr Obama tear down Wall Street" in Berlin, June 19, 2013.

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Comment Sorting
by: jack from: prc
June 22, 2013 4:29 AM
human being'ultimate goal is destory nuclear weapons,at present cancel 50% is best!

by: Igor from: Russia
June 20, 2013 1:40 AM
Obama speech is non-sense! To get rid of nuclear weapons, all owners of them (including the US, the UK, France, Israel, China, India, Pakistan, Russia...) must sit down together and commit to eliminate their nuclear weapons by a specific point of time. So the world would be a much safer place and other nations such as Iran or North Korea would have no need for such weapons. Countries like Israel has never allowed any international inspector to inspect their nuclear weapons, let alone other countries. Only Russia and the USA negotiate to reduce the number of their warheads but how about others (France, the UK, Israel...)???

by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
June 19, 2013 11:13 PM
President Obama is an excellent orator. But oratory will not redeem him. Since he got the Nobel Peace Prize before he did anything, he makes peace and disarmament announcements at various occasions to justify his Peace Prize. But real justification for a peace price is based on actions and accomplishments and not by speeches outside the US.

by: Saliheen from: Port Harcourt
June 19, 2013 4:56 PM
Only the US and her allies (Israel, UK, etc), can give us the long awaited peace and prosperity in this. Not until they can start minding their business on international matters and be contented with the much they has stolen and rubbed other nations of.
You guys are threat the same global peace you preaches.

by: Phil
June 19, 2013 2:35 PM
A very predictable stance and speech by the guy who didn't deserve the nobel prize. All that bla bla about the nuclear reduction etc. doesn't make sense if there is no application and action on what u speak.. you my president are a hypocrite. We are bored and see through all the speeches. Where is the action on the ground ? Sounds like the American Presidency is powerless and nothing more than a mascot.

by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Victoria, BC, Canada
June 19, 2013 2:03 PM
President Obama is a super spy boss who wants to know what his subjects -- subjects -- are doing or not doing, to keep wealth in the hands of the 1% he answers to. PRISM helps do that.

As for reducing the world's nuclear arsenal, I suspect he politely ignored the dozens of nuclear weapons Israel has targeted against its enemies, and no doubt only offered lip service, if at all, about A-bombs built by and stocked in China, India, Pakistan, Britain, France.

by: Michael from: USA
June 19, 2013 8:25 AM
The historic Brandenberg Gate speech by Kennedy showed the world how the whole story is told, answers the "why" of military arms to deter only, showed what we did not need, and explained why.

The only missing part was the "big norm" needed to act as a standard, the Christian Gospel of Jesus [2 B.C.- 31 A.D. Jersusalem]

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