The US has signaled its apparent abandonment of the goal of nuclear disarmament "for the foreseeable future" as it embarked on a quest for a new generation of more reliable nuclear warheads.
Although the term "nuclear disarmament" quietly disappeared from the Bush administration's vocabulary long ago, the statement by Linton Brooks, head the National Nuclear Security Administration, marked the first time a top government official publicly acknowledged a goal enshrined in key international documents will no longer be pursued.
"The United States will, for the foreseeable future, need to retain both nuclear forces and the capabilities to sustain and modernize those forces," Brooks stated on Friday as he addressed the East Tennessee Economic Council in the city of Oak Ridge, which is home to a major nuclear weapons complex.
"I do not see any chance of the political conditions for abolition arising in my lifetime, nor do I think abolition could be verified if it were negotiated," he pointed out.
The acknowledgement rep-resents a departure from commitments given by previous US administrations to their negotiating partners and the international community at large.
In September 1998, then-presidents Bill Clinton of the US and Boris Yeltsin of Russia signed a joint statement, in which they reaffirmed the two countries' commitment to "the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament."