During a press conference in the Netherlands today, Obama said he is more worried about Manhattan getting nuked than any supposed threat posed by Russia.
The president made the remark after a reporter asked him if former challenger Mitt Romney was correct in his assertion that Russia is once again the primary foe of the United States following Crimeans voting to rejoin Russia.
“Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the No. 1 national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan,” Obama said.
Obama did not elaborate on the threat.
North Korea has threatened to nuke the United States on several occasions. Last April, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded with “moderate confidence” North Korea has a nuclear weapon small enough to be loaded on a ballistic missile. However, according to the DIA, the reliability of the missile would be low.
The previous December South Korea, for obvious reasons, said North Korea had developed the technology capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the West Coast of the United States. Experts, however, said at the time the hereditary communist state is years away from miniaturizing a nuclear weapon and mounting it on a ballistic missile.
California is approximately 3,000 miles from Manhattan. In order to nuke New York, the North Koreans would require a missile capable of traveling around 9,000 miles.
The next suspect on the Axis of Evil list the government has claimed for over a decade wants to do us harm is Iran. It currently does not have a nuclear bomb and, in fact, has not enriched uranium to the level required for a bomb, and also does not possess a missile capable of striking the United States. In January, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Iran has pledged to stop stockpiling uranium.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the government and various commentators told us on numerous occasions al-Qaeda has planted nukes around the United States and will “kill millions, destroy the economy and fundamentally alter the course of history.”
In 2010, Obama said al-Qaeda is trying to get nukes and would have “no compunction in using them.” He added if “there was ever a detonation in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg, the ramifications economically, politically and from a security perspective would be devastating.”
U.S. intelligence officials, however, say the al-Qaeda nuclear threat is, at best, a remote possibility.
“At this point, they don’t appear to have made much progress, but we continue to review every bit of information that comes in to determine whether they’ve advanced their efforts in any way whatsoever,” an anonymous intelligence official told CNN in 2010. “Developing a nuclear device involves a highly sophisticated technical process, and al-Qaeda doesn’t seem to have mastered it based on what we know now.”
Obama apparently does not consider Russia a threat, although it currently has around 45,000 nuclear weapons and a sophisticated ballistic missile system.
Russia, according to Obama, is a “regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength, but out of weakness.”
Obama made the remark while speaking with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte after a nuclear security summit in The Hague. Russia attended the summit and endorsed the meeting’s final statement on enhancing nuclear security.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Dmitry Rogozin threatened to use nuclear weapons if Moscow was attacked. He made the remark following discussions about missile defense systems installed in Eastern Europe by the United States.
“One can experiment as long as one wishes by deploying non-nuclear warheads on strategic missile carriers,” Rogozin said. “But one should keep in mind that if there is an attack against us, we will certainly resort to using nuclear weapons in certain situations to defend our territory and state interests.”