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Originally published Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 3:27 PM

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Pentagon plan won't echo Obama no-nukes pledge

The Pentagon is starting work on a nuclear mission statement that envisions the U.S. maintaining its atomic weapons stockpile for the next five to 10 years, a far more cautious stance than President Barack Obama's dream of a nuclear-free future.

AP National Security Writer

WASHINGTON —

The Pentagon is starting work on a nuclear mission statement that envisions the U.S. maintaining its atomic weapons stockpile for the next five to 10 years, a far more cautious stance than President Barack Obama's dream of a nuclear-free future.

The "nuclear posture review" due early next year will focus on the practical and nearer-term goal of deterring the use and spread of weapons, Pentagon officials said Thursday. It is not likely to echo Obama's pledge to work for "global zero," or total eradication, as an explicit goal.

Civilian and military officials described the forthcoming review, along with a larger master plan for Pentagon policy also due early next year, on condition of anonymity because the policies are still being developed.

The Pentagon nuclear plan envisions possible reductions in the U.S. arsenal while also ensuring that the U.S. maintains a secure deterrent, said a senior defense official involved in the review.

Estimates put the U.S. nuclear arsenal at less than 6,000.

The review is part of a realignment of U.S. nuclear policy and international agreements that will include working with Russia on a new treaty to limit the threat from the world's largest nuclear arsenals.

Outlining some of that policy, Obama told European audiences this month that a nuclear-free world is possible, although perhaps not in his lifetime.

"I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," Obama said in Prague, Czech Republic.

He promised to reduce the U.S. arsenal but said that as long as adversaries have nuclear weapons the United States will have defenses against them.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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