Washington: Outlining his vision of a world without nuclear weapons, President Barack Obama says April's Nuclear Security Summit, that would have India participating, would help ensure vulnerable nuclear materials never fall into the hands of terrorists.
Describing the threat of nuclear weapons as "perhaps the greatest danger to the American people", he said on Wednesday that he had embraced the vision of John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons and seeks a world without them.
"To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades" Obama said in his first State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress.
"And at April's Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring 44 nations together behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists," he said.
Iran, N Korea more isolated
Suggesting that these diplomatic efforts have also strengthened the US’ hand in dealing with those seeking nuclear weapons, Obama said North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions and Iran is more isolated.
"And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences," he warned.
The US was providing leadership and "engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people, Obama said. It was working through the G20 to sustain a lasting global recovery and had gone from a "bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change."
"We are helping developing countries to feed themselves, and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bio-terrorism or an infectious disease - a plan that will counter threats at home, and strengthen public health abroad."
"As we have for over 60 years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right," Obama said.
On military ban on gays
US President Barack Obama has vowed to work towards fixing the broken immigration system and that he would work with the US Congress to repeal the law that denies gays to serve in the military.
"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are," Obama said in his State of the Union Address.
On equal pay laws, immigration
"We are going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, so that women get equal pay for an equal day's work," he said.
"And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations," Obama said.
"In the end, it is our ideals, our values, that built America - values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still. Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers," he said.
In a speech in October last year to gay and lesbian activists, Obama promised to repeal the ban. "Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbours and give back to their country. They take pride in their labour, and are generous in spirit. These aren't Republican values or Democratic values they're living by; business values or labor values. They are American values," Obama said.
"Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions - our corporations, our media, and yes, our government - still reflect these same values. Each of these institutions are full of honourable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper," said the US President.
"But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people’s doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into silly arguments, and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away," he added.
(With Agencies’ inputs)
First Published: Thursday, January 28, 2010, 11:30