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Obama outlines major nuclear reductions in Berlin speech

President Obama spoke at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin earlier -- he remains quite popular in Germany -- and covered quite a bit of policy ground, though there was one subject in particular in which the president made some news.

The 30-minute speech included several noteworthy elements that progressives probably liked -- Obama stressed the importance of combating global warming, closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, ending discrimination, and promoting international economic justice -- and a few elements that the left liked far less, including the president's subtle defense of NSA surveillance programs, which has been a point of concern raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But arguably the biggest news in the speech had to do with nuclear policy.

"We may no longer live in fear of global annihilation, but so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.... Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons -- no matter how distant that dream may be. And so, as president, I've strengthened our efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and reduced the number and role of America's nuclear weapons. Because of the New START Treaty, we're on track to cut American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s.

"But we have more work to do. So today, I'm announcing additional steps forward. After a comprehensive review, I've determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third. And I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures.

"At the same time, we'll work with our NATO allies to seek bold reductions in U.S. and Russian tactical weapons in Europe. And we can forge a new international framework for peaceful nuclear power, and reject the nuclear weaponization that North Korea and Iran may be seeking.

"America will host a summit in 2016 to continue our efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world, and we will work to build support in the United States to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and call on all nations to begin negotiations on a treaty that ends the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. These are steps we can take to create a world of peace with justice."

Republican senators are already complaining about the notion of "unilateral disarmament" -- the Putin administration may need some convincing, too -- but this is an issue Obama has long been heavily invested in, and it's likely a policy agenda he's ready to fight for.