McCain: Fewer Nukes

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By Associated Press

DENVER (AP) – Republicans presidential candidate John McCain called Tuesday for talks with China to negotiate a temporary halt to production of nuclear weapons-grade material and with Russia on a new treaty to destroy more nuclear weapons.

“Today, we deploy thousands of nuclear warheads,” McCain said. “It is my hope to move as rapidly as possible to a significantly smaller force.” He did not set a specific goal but said the number would be consistent with U.S. security and global commitments.

Cautioning against relying solely on force or merely on talks, McCain proposed a bipartisan push to strengthen a broad array of international arms treaties and nuclear monitoring. And he criticized past administrations, both Democratic and Republican, for failing to halt the spread of nuclear weapons.

“We should also begin a dialogue with China on strategic and nuclear issues,” the likely Republican presidential nominee said in a speech at the University of Denver. The goal would be to encourage China to conform to the practices of the other four nuclear powers recognized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, “including working toward nuclear arsenal reductions and toward a moratorium on the production of additional fissile material.”

Noting that the United States and Russia “no longer are mortal enemies,” McCain said the two countries, as the owners of the majority of the world’s nuclear weapons, “have a special responsibility to reduce their number.”

The Arizona senator said the U.S. should “enter into a new arms control agreement with Russia reflecting the nuclear reductions I will seek.”