Five Myths About the Nuclear Posture Review

03 February, 2018, 11:38 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Trump's Troubling Nuclear Plan

The U.S. says it needs smaller nuclear weapons as a deterrence against other so-called "Great Powers".

The Defense Department unveiled a new policy Friday that calls for expanding USA nuclear capabilities, with an eye on countering Russia's growing nuclear power. The report also stated that Russian Federation has over 2,000 "non-strategic" nuclear weapons, including missiles, "gravity bombs", anti-ship and anti-submarine torpedoes.

"What we're trying to do is ensure that our diplomats and our negotiators are in a position to be listened to when we say we want to go forward on nonproliferation and arms control", Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters ahead of the review's release Friday.

The NPR also highlights the White House's concerns about North Korea, China and Iran.

The recently updated policy on nuclear weapons calls for fitting existing submarine-launched ballistic missiles with low-yield warheads to deter Russian Federation, which believes that if it uses tactical nuclear weapons as part of a first strike, it can de-escalate a crisis on its terms because the United States would not want to counter with a full nuclear strike. Both the National Defense Strategy and National Security Strategy call for a safe, secure, effective nuclear deterrent, he pointed out.

"We realize this comes from their desire to inject more money into the military industry sector, we know the price tag is trillions of dollars", Antonov said.

United States officials argued that expanding the US's own low-yield nuclear capability would deter Russian Federation from using nuclear weapons.

As with the phrase regarding extreme circumstances, much of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review attempts to reassure readers that it is not so different from past documents.

"Expanding flexible USA nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression", the report says. The National Nuclear Security Administration also is considering moving at least some of this work to SC.

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The review claims a stronger United States nuclear deterrent is needed to discourage Russia, China, Iran and North Korea from either developing new weapons or expanding existing arsenals. USA delivery platforms modernization and warhead recapitalization will cost about 6.4 percent at their peaks, or less than 1 percent of the federal budget.

One difference is a plan to modify a small amount of submarine-launched nuclear warheads with less powerful options.

Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists also took issue with the nuclear modernization chart featured in the NPR, calling it "grossly misleading".

My view is that the use of or the threatened use of nuclear weapons in these circumstances simply aren't credible.

"We must look reality in the eye and see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be", Mattis wrote.

But it specifies that extreme circumstances also could include "non-nuclear strategic attacks" including those on the "U.S., allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure", as well as "on USA or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities".

In addition, "flexible, adaptable and resilient US nuclear capabilities [are] now required to protect the United States, [its] allies and partners, and promote strategic stability", according to the review.

The Russian nuclear doctrine, however, states that the only scenario when it will deploy nukes is in retaliation to either a nuclear attack; the use of weapons of mass destruction; or conventional aggression on a scale which threatens the existence of the state.


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