Obama More Worried About Nuclear Bomb Striking Manhattan Than Any Threat From Russia — Say What?!

As Russia stands firm on its takeover of Crimea, you might imagine President Barack Obama's biggest concern right now is Putin. Nope. At a press conference in the Netherlands Tuesday, Obama referred to Russia as a mere 'regional power,' suggesting that Putin's actions reveal more weakness than strength — and added that he's more worried about a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan than any threat from Russia.

Putin doesn't "pose the No. 1 national security threat to the United States," Obama said. "I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan."

Aah! What?! Well, officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations have expressed concerns about potential terrorist attacks since the 9/11 attacks. Anti-terrorism officials have deemed a nuclear weapon going off in any major city in the U.S. to be the worst-case scenario, and about $20 million is spent each year by the Department of Homeland Security for a pilot program that fields radiation detectors in the metropolitan region.

Obama's comment was in response to being asked if his 2012 election opponent Mitt Romney was right in saying that Russia is the United States' number one enemy. Obama replied he's certainly concerned about Russia invading more of Ukraine, given that nearly 30,000 troops are lined up on the Ukrainian border.

Ukraine has been a country in which Russia had enormous influence for decades — since the breakup of the Soviet Union. And you know, we have considerable influence on our neighbors. We generally don’t need to invade them in order to have a strong cooperative relationship with them.
The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more. There’s no expectation that they will be dislodged by force.
What we can bring to bear are the legal arguments, the diplomatic arguments, the political pressure, the economic sanctions that are already in place, to try to make sure that there’s a cost to that process.