President moves to reduce the role of nuclear weapons

(NBC) – The U.S. laid out a new nuclear policy Tuesday, following up on President Obama's promise to begin the process of ridding the world of atomic weapons.

This new policy makes clear what the U.S. will and will not do to defend our country, and it's a big change from the Bush Administration.

"We believe this represents the best interests for the United States," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Obama team promises not to use nuclear weapons against countries that comply with the international treaty limiting those weapons. However, the administration makes clear, that does not include Iran or North Korea.

"If you're not gonna play by the rules, if you're going to be a proliferator, then all options are on the table in terms of how we deal with you," said Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The plan means no new warheads and no nuclear testing, but leaves open the door for the U.S. to strike first and beefs up our stockpile of conventional and nuclear deterrents.

"An aging nuclear force, supported by a neglected infrastructure, only invites enemy misbehavior and miscalculation," said Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

President Obama calls it a "significant step."

It comes just days before signing a new weapons treaty with Russia and hosting some 40 countries for a summit on nuclear strategy that will likely focus on Iran.

"It is very important for us to get Russia and china to agree with us that Iran is an outlaw and to join in strong, debilitating sanctions at the U.N. And I think this document helps facilitate that," said Congresswoman Jane Harman of California.

Obama will meet one-on-one with Chinese President Hu next week.

The White House points out that if a country significantly expands biological and chemical weapons, this policy allows the U.S. to re-evaluate whether to use nuclear weapons against them.

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