In Germany, Obama to Call For Fewer Nukes

Obama seeks to further reduce nuclear arms around the world.

U.S. President Barack Obama, right, shakes hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after a news conference at the German Chancellery on Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Berlin. Obama will speak at the Brandenburg Gate later in the day.
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President Barack Obama will deliver a speech Wednesday at Germany's Brandenburg Gate pushing for further nuclear arms reduction, a follow-up to a speech he gave as a presidential candidate in 2008. Then, he called for a world without nuclear weapons.

In 2008, hundreds of thousands of Berliners watched Obama speak in Tiergarten Park.

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"Today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," he had said.

This time Obama is expected to call for both Russia and the United States to reduce their nuclear arsenals by one-third, beyond the 2010 nuclear arms reduction treaty, called New START, according to news reports.

By speaking at the famous gate, which marked a key point on the Berlin Wall when it stood, Obama highlights what once had been a point of great division between the two nuclear-armed superpowers. President Ronald Reagan used the location in 1987 to call on Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union, to "tear down" the wall separating Eastern and Western Berlin, and Obama's planned speech commemorates the 50-year anniversary of John F. Kennedy's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" address, also made at the gate.

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"It's easy to think that history is behind us, essentially - the wall is down, there's not a threat of global nuclear war; the threats that we do face are far more distant." said Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, according to The Washington Post.

"And I think the overarching point that he's going to make is the exact same level of citizen and national activism that was characterized in the Kennedy speech and in the Cold War needs to be applied to the challenges we face now, even as they are more distant from our own lives."

Obama will call on the Senate to adopt the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, according to the Los Angeles Times, though it's likely to be met with opposition even in the Democratically controlled body.

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The address comes at a time when global concerns over the nuclear capabilities of countries such as North Korea and Iran are mounting.

Nuclear arms reduction is something Obama discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a two-hour long meeting the two had Monday, at the outset of the G8 summit. Though the two countries have differed on how to approach a number of issues, most notably the ongoing Syrian conflict, Obama hopes to work with Putin on nuclear arms reduction based on shared interests.

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