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"The nuclear bureaucracy is taking advantage of Trump's ignorance to push new weapons and old nuclear war-fighting plans retired with the Cold War. The new NPR is a shopping list, not a strategy." - Joe Cirincione, in a tweet on January 11, 2018

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Trump's Nuclear Posture Review

President Trump and Nuclear Weapons

Feb. 12, 2018:
Trump's Latest Remarks on the US Nuclear Arsenal
"We're modernizing and creating a brand new nuclear force. And frankly, we have to do it because others are doing it. If they stop, we'll stop. But they're not stopping. So, if they're not gonna stop, we're gonna be so far ahead of everybody else in nuclear like you've never seen before. And I hope they stop. And if they do, we'll stop in two minutes. And frankly, I'd like to get rid of a lot of 'em. And if they want to do that, we'll go along with them. We won't lead the way, we'll go along with them... But we will always be number one in that category, certainly as long as I'm president. We're going to be far, far in excess of anybody else." (ref)

Nuclear Posture Review, International Reaction:

Feb. 8, British American Security Information Council:
Trump's Nuclear Posture Review endangers Europe
"The US' pursuit of new nuclear weapons is likely to worsen tensions with Russia. As a strategy, it does little to deal with Russia's underlying security concerns, could entrench Russian protestations over US military deployments in Europe, and could further divide European allies.
"If President Trump delivers on the NPR... Europe could be caught between a new nuclear arms race. Since the end of the Cold War, Europe has worked productively alongside the United States and Russia to decrease the saliency of nuclear weapons on the continent, through arms control, dialogue and confidence-building measures. It is incumbent on Europeans to defend this vision and assert that with new nuclear weapons come new insecurities." (ref)

Mixed reactions in Japan
While the Abe government welcomed the Trump NPR, with its emphasis Asahi Shimbun on 'extended deterrence', Japanese press was more critical. An editorial in the Asahi Shimbun was titled "By backing Trump nuclear policy, Japan has sold its soul". Featured in Japan Times was an opinion piece by Gwynn Dyer, "The Pentagon's alarming nuclear posture review" saying "The U.S. is once again playing with the notion of a "limited" nuclear war- and everybody else is very unhappy about it."

Sigmar-Gabriel, German Foreign Minister Germany's Foreign Minister Calls On Europe to Lead Disarmament Push
Sigmar Gabriel, German Foreign Minister: "The US Administration's decision to develop new tactical nuclear weapons shows that the spiral of a new nuclear arms race has already been set in motion. As at the time of the Cold War, we in Europe are particularly at risk. For this reason, we in Europe in particular must launch new arms control and disarmament initiatives. (ref)

China: Washington's Reverse On Nuclear Strategy Harms Security Interests Of All
Ren Guoqiang, National Defense Ministry spokesman reaffirmed China's policy of "no first use of nuclear weapons at any time under any circumstances".
Ren-Guoqiang, China Defense Ministry spokesman Ren said that China has always exercised the utmost restraint in the development of nuclear weapons and limited its nuclear capabilities to the minimum required for national security. As the country that possesses the world's largest nuclear weapons arsenal, the US should conform to the irreversible world trend of peace and development rather than run in the opposite direction.
"We hope the US will discard its Cold War mentality, shoulder its own special and primary responsibility in nuclear disarmament, correctly understand China's strategic intention and take a fair view on China's national defense and military development." (ref)
- China Commentary:
"By ringing a false nuclear alarm in the review, Washington is merely trying to find excuses to seek absolute nuclear supremacy. Yet the Trump administration needs to understand that, instead of making itself safer, more nuclear weapons would only bring to it more security risks.
"For decades, major countries have endeavored to reduce global nuclear stockpiles in hopes of forestalling a human catastrophe.
"It is vital that, rather than undercut the efforts, Washington should stop backtracking on its nuclear policy, follow the trend of the times, and work with the rest of the international community to truly reduce the nuclear threat facing humankind." (ref)
- Note UCS China Report:
Nuclear Posture Review Overstates China's Nuclear Arsenal Modernization Plans
Report author Gregory Kulacki, China Project manager at the UCS Global Security Program: "After a half-century of continuous incremental 'modernization', China's nuclear arsenal is smaller than the US nuclear arsenal was in 1950.
"There is no evidence that nuclear weapons are becoming more prominent in China's military strategy or that China has changed its longstanding no-first-use policy. Chinese military sources emphatically state that China's only security objective with its relatively small nuclear force is to retain the ability to retaliate in the event of a nuclear attack.
"If the Trump administration were truly concerned about limiting the size and capability of China's nuclear forces," he added, "it would ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which China signed in 1996, and negotiate a fissile material control treaty, which China supports. Doing so would cap the size of China's nuclear arsenal." (ref)

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Comment on the new US Nuclear Posture Review
Sergei Lavrov, Russia Foreign Minister "We are deeply disappointed with the new US Nuclear Posture Review, which was made public on February 2. The first impression is: the document is focused on confrontation and is anti-Russian. It is regrettable that the United States justifies its policy of massive nuclear build-up with references to Russia's policy of nuclear modernization and the allegedly increased reliance on nuclear weapons in Russia's doctrines. We have been accused of lowering the threshold for the first use of nuclear weapons and aggressive strategies... None of this has any connection with reality.
"In addition to this, the new Nuclear Posture Review sets out sweeping nuclear modernization plans. Of special concern are the US plans to modify existing SLCMs to 'provide a low-yield option' and also to create a low-yield warhead for the Trident II SLBMs. Nuclear weapons with such options are clearly designed as battlefield weapons. This will greatly increase the temptation of using them, especially considering the right to a disarming first strike as set out in the new US doctrine. Assurances that the implementation of these plans will not lower the nuclear threshold can at least be interpreted as a desire to delude the international community."
"Of course, we will have to take into account the new US plans and to take measures to enhance our security. (ref)

On the Home Front
Secretary of Defense Mattis went to the House Armed Services Committee on February 6 to clarify and qualify the NPR. Defending the building and deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons, he explained that "We don't want someone else to miscalculate and think that because they are going to use a low-yield weapon, somehow we would confront what [former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger] calls 'surrender or suicide'. We do not want even an inch of daylight to appear in how we look at the nuclear deterrent. It is a nuclear deterrent, and must be considered credible." (ref)
Mattis basically said the proposed nuclear cruise missile is a bargaining chip, meant to provide new negotiating leverage to U.S. diplomats trying to persuade Russia to end [alleged] violations of the INF treaty.(ref)
Mattis noted that he recently received a letter from senators [see below] expressing concern that the new nuclear strategy would undermine traditional US leadership on reducing and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons. He said the strategy does just the opposite: it will strengthen deterrence of a nuclear attack, and thereby provide the security that would enable further progress on arms control. (ref)
Further coverage:
- To Counter Russia, U.S. Signals Nuclear Arms Are Back in a Big Way
- Trump's request for even more nuclear weapons is flawed overkill
- We're Sliding Towards a Nuclear 1914 - Can We Save Ourselves?
- Beatrice Fihn on Democracy Now: Trump's Nuclear Policy "Puts Us on Path To Nuclear War"
- Why Congress should refuse to fund the NPR's new nuclear weapons
- The Rising Risk of Nuclear War Under Trump
- Walter Pincus: Trump's Nuclear Posture Review: Cold War Redux?
"In various and sundry NATO countries, the United States has stationed 200-plus B-61 tactical nuclear bombs, current and older versions of which have dial-a-yield settings that allow various explosive yields, one of which is as low as the equivalent of 300 tons of TNT, or 0.3 kilotons. That was one of my first thoughts as I read the full, 100-page Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that was released last Friday, which says the U.S. needs to add new low-yield nuclear warheads to its already ample nuclear stockpile... The NPR makes no mention of the low-yield capability of the B-61." - (ref)
- How America Could Accidentally Push Russia into a Nuclear War - Jeffrey Edmunds
  (Former National Security Council Director for Russia)

February 2, 2018:
Nuclear Posture Review, Released Today, Met with Criticism and Alarm
View/download NPR PDF- Note this is the original full document which was pulled from the DoD website Feb. 3. DoD is now offering an executive summary, translated into Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and French. (View/download PDF)
DoD Press Briefing at the Pentagon: (Youtube)
Arms Control Association Press Briefing: (transcript and audio)
Trump's Nuclear Posture Review: Top Take-Aways
-Lisbeth Gronlund, co-director and senior scientist at Union of Concerned Scientists (source)
Nuclear Posture Review 2018 Notably: the NPR calls for the U.S. to deploy two new types of lower yield nuclear warheads, generally defined as nuclear bombs below a five kiloton range (the one dropped on Hiroshima was 20 kilotons), that could be fitted onto a submarine-launched ballistic missile, and one, yet to be developed, that would be fitted onto a submarine-launched cruise missile.
And while the report specifically denies it is a nuclear war-fighting prescription, it states: "The United States will...strengthen the integration of nuclear and non-nuclear military planning. Combatant Commands and Service components will be organized and resourced for this mission, and will plan, train, and exercise to integrate U.S. nuclear and non-nuclear forces and operate in the face of adversary nuclear threats and employment." (All the details at UCS)
A most interesting story of the background to the new NPR appears in the American Conservative, by Mark Perry:
Trump's Nuke Plan Raising Alarms Among Military Brass
They say strategy led by DoD policy wonks could lead to dangerous nuclear escalation.
Perry describes a "bitter battle during its drafting [which] pitted senior Army and Navy warriors against nuclear wonks inside the Defense Department. That fight- over the exorbitant costs associated with the NPR, and charges that it could make nuclear war more likely- are bound to continue through implementation."
"'It's one thing to write a policy,' a senior Pentagon civilian privy to the NPR fight told The American Conservative, 'and it's another thing to have it implemented. What the NPR is recommending will break the bank, and a lot of people around here are worried that making nuclear weapons more usable isn't what we should be doing. The conventional military guys have dug in their heels, they're dead-set against it. This battle isn't over.'"
Regarding the principal architects of the new NPR: "The prominence of [Keith] Payne and [Franklin] Miller set off alarm bells among senior Army and Navy officers, who viewed the two as nuclear hawks. Indeed, Payne and Miller had often teamed up in a kind of traveling road show to present their pro-nuclear views... The combination of Payne, Miller, Mies, Joseph, and Huessy, many senior military officers believed, meant that the NPR's conclusions had been 'pre-cooked.'" (When Payne was named by George W. Bush the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for forces policy, reporter Fred Kaplan dubbed him 'Rumsfeld's Dr. Strangelove.')
"'Listen,' a senior nuclear thinker and NPR critic told The American Conservative, 'the story you won't hear is how this really came about. And here's how it happened. One day, Sean Hannity got on television and talked about how we need more nuclear weapons and Donald Trump heard this and went over to the Pentagon and presto, we got Keith Payne and his crew. That's the truth, and that's what got us to where we are.'"
"The earliest drafts of the review reportedly contained a hodgepodge of ideas that included fielding a 'nuclear hyper-glide weapon' and a threat to non-nuclear states that, in extreme circumstances, the U.S. would retain the right to target them*. Neither option made the final cut. 'I credit Frank Miller for dampening some of these early ideas,' a senior Air Force officer says, 'but I have to tell you, some of this stuff was just wacky.'"
Perry concludes saying, "The battle over the Nuclear Posture Review and what it recommends isn't over. It's only beginning." (source AmCon)
Note that the Pentagon review and explanations by officials trying to distinguish between "strategic" and "non-strategic," or tactical, nuclear weapons are at odds with previous comments by the top U.S. nuclear weapons military official, Strategic Command head General John Hyten, who told the House Armed Services Committee in March, "I just fundamentally disagree that there is such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon. I believe that anybody that employs a nuclear weapon in the world has created a strategic effect; and all nuclear weapons are strategic." (WaPo)
*The final NPR states "The United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations." However in a further paragraph it states: "Given the potential of significant non-nuclear strategic attacks the United States reserves the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of non-nuclear strategic attack technologies and US capabilities to counter that threat." (pg 21)
More coverage:
Washington Post: Pentagon unveils new nuclear weapons strategy, ending Obama-era push to reduce U.S. arsenal
Bloomberg News: Pentagon Sees Broader Role for Nuclear Weapons
Time cover Feb 12 issue Time Magazine: Donald Trump Is Playing a Dangerous Game of Nuclear Poker
Statement from NTI CEO and Co-Chair Ernest J. Moniz and Co-Chair Sam Nunn on U.S. Nuclear Policy and Posture: "The world has crossed over to a new nuclear era, where a fateful error- rather than intentional aggression- is the most likely catalyst to nuclear catastrophe." (NTI)
NTI published six related policy papers together providing an alternative vision and roadmap for America's nuclear policy and posture and a template for Congress and the American people to evaluate the Trump Administration's Nuclear Posture Review. (NTI-resources)
Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize:
"The risk of use for nuclear weapons has always been unacceptably high. The new Trump Nuclear Doctrine is to deliberately increase that risk. It is an all-out attempt to take nuclear weapons out of the silos and onto the battlefield." (WaPo)

Sen. MarkeySen. FeinsteinSen. MerkleySen. WarrenSen. SandersSen. SmithSen. BaldwinSen. Whitehouse
Sen. MurraySen. WydenSen. DurbinSen. HarrisSen. SchatzSen. GillibrandSen. BookerSen. Cantwell

January 29, 2018:
Senators: Trump Nuclear Posture Review Raises Real Possibility of Nuclear War
In a new letter, 16 Senators urged President Trump to reconsider efforts that would undermine decades of U.S. nonproliferation leadership by building new nuclear weapons, and lowering threshold for use.
The senators write that the new NPR:
- Would undermine decades of US leadership in efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons.
- Calls for "more usable" low-yield nuclear weapons and Cold War era weapons systems that are unnecessary to maintain deterrence and are destabilizing.
- Expands conditions under which the US might use nuclear weapons, including to respond to a broadened range of non-nuclear attacks.
- In creating new nuclear capabilities and widening their possible use, constitutes an increase in America's nuclear war-fighting capacity that will pressure other nuclear weapons states to follow suit.
- Does not address how the US will afford these additional expenditures on top of the already unsustainable costs of modernizing our existing nuclear forces (est. $1.7 trillion over 30 yrs).
- Ignores our commitments under 1968 NPT to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament."
- Pays only superficial attention to the substantial threat posed by nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation. "These efforts are just as important as deterring existing nuclear weapons states."
"The sole purpose of our nuclear arsenal should be to deter nuclear attack against the United States, our allies and partners... However, the reported policies outlined in your forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review increase the risk of a nuclear arms race and raise the real possibility of nuclear conflict. As the world's greatest nuclear power and the only nation that has ever used nuclear weapons in combat, we have a unique responsibility to continue to lead the international community towards eventual nuclear disarmament."
Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.),Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) (story) View/download the letter (PDF)

January 24, 2018:
Adam Smith: Trump's Nuclear Posture Review is "short-sighted and ill-advised"
House Armed Services Comm. Ranking Member Adam Smith on the Nuclear Posture Review:
Rep. Adam Smith statement on Trump's NPR "A nuclear posture that implements the President's view that his nuclear button is 'bigger and more powerful' is short-sighted and ill-advised. This review is a missed opportunity to introduce realism into our nuclear weapons planning, enhance our security, and reassure our allies.
"The United States has an extremely robust, highly credible nuclear deterrent that is capable of responding to any attack and defending our allies with decisive force. We are currently in the process of upgrading that deterrent in an effort that will cost some $40 billion per year. That is far more than Russia's and China's nuclear weapons spending, and it would be irresponsible and misleading for the administration to act as if those countries are upgrading their nuclear arsenals while the United States is doing nothing. The administration's recommendations will not increase our security- they will instead feed a nuclear arms race, undermine strategic stability by lowering the threshold for nuclear use, and increase the risk of miscalculation that could precipitate a nuclear war." (full statement)

For Immediate Release, January 12, 2018:
Draft Nuclear Posture Review Degrades National Security
Yesterday evening the Huffington Post posted a leaked draft of the Trump Administration's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). This review is the federal government's highest unclassified nuclear weapons policy document, and the first since the Obama Administration's April 2010 NPR.
This Review begins with "Many hoped conditions had been set for deep reductions in global nuclear arsenals, and, perhaps, for their elimination. These aspirations have not been realized. America's strategic competitors have not followed our example. The world is more dangerous, not less." The NPR then points to Russia and China's ongoing nuclear weapons modernization programs and North Korea's "nuclear provocations." It concludes, "We must look reality in the eye and see the world as it is, not as we wish it be."
If the United States government were to really "look reality in the eye and see the world as it is", it would recognize that it is failing miserably to lead the world toward the abolition of the only class of weapons that is a true existential threat to our country. As an obvious historic matter, the U.S. is the first and only country to use nuclear weapons. Since WWII the U.S. has threatened to use nuclear weapons in the Korean and Viet Nam wars, and on many other occasions.
Further, it is hypocritical to point to Russia and China's "modernization" programs as if they are taking place in a vacuum. The U.S. has been upgrading its nuclear arsenal all along. In the last few years our country has embarked on a $1.7 trillion modernization program to completely rebuild its nuclear weapons production complex and all three legs of its nuclear triad.
Moreover, Russia and China's modernization programs are driven in large part by their perceived need to preserve strategic stability and deterrence.. (continue reading)

FAS: Nuclear Posture Review Resource
Analyses, resources - (FAS)

Recent news items:

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Co-opted: Trump's 'New' National Security Strategy is Old Warmongering

B-52s Useless Without New Long-Range Nuclear Cruise Missiles - US STRATCOM Chief

August 23, 2017:
Lockheed, Raytheon Get $900 Million Each
to Develop New Nuclear Cruise Missile

"The Long Range Standoff is a critical capability required to support Gen. John Hyten's war plans."
- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein (ref)

April 24, 2017:
The ambiguity challenge: Why the world needs a multilateral nuclear cruise missile agreement
"The US long-range standoff (LRSO) weapon program is clearly a major factor in the worldwide trend toward fielding nuclear-armed cruise missiles. Public information shows that it will likely have new abilities beyond its predecessor air-launched cruise missile, and these potential properties, and the fact that the Air Force intends to field it on its new stealth bomber, may raise new concerns among potential adversaries and alter strategic calculations." (The Bulletin)

August 1, 2016:
LRSO: Air Force Issues Request for Proposals
"The Air Force plans on awarding up to two contract awards for LRSO technology maturation and risk reduction by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017. By the end of this 54-month stage, contractors will have developed a preliminary design 'with demonstrated reliability and manufacturability,' the service said in a news release. After a competition, the Air Force will downselect a single vendor, with fielding scheduled to kick off by 2030.
"Air Force leaders have argued that it needs a nuclear-armed cruise missile for its bomber fleet to have standoff capability against enemies with more sophisticated air defenses..." (more)

After receiving the Leadership Award from Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Senator Diane Feinstein speaks about the planned new nuclear cruise missile, Washington DC, April 19, 2016.

Bill Perry - Don't do the LRSO

Cruise Control
"Franklin Miller, a veteran nuclear strategist now at the Scowcroft Group, points out that Mr Obama would never have persuaded the Senate to ratify the New START treaty in 2010 had he not pledged to renew America's nuclear weapons on land, sea and in the air. That agreement allows for what is known as the 'bomber discount', which counts an aircraft carrying several bombs as a single warhead. The LRS-B (the upcoming Long-Range Strike Bomber) will be able to carry internally a payload of cruise missiles, the new B61-12 bombs or a smaller stand-off missile with a conventional warhead. It is improbable that any president would forgo that option while Russia retains it." (The Economist, Jan 23, 2016)

Current nuclear stockpiles
For country reports and other details see original annotated infographic at

World Nuclear Arsenals

Mikhail Gorbachev "As long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a risk that they could be used- by accident, via a technical failure, or though the evil will of a man, madmen or terrorists. A nuclear-free world is not a utopia, but an imperative. Yet it can be achieved only through the demilitarization of international relations." -Mikhail Gorbachev, speaking in Reykjavik, marking the 30th anniversary of the 1986 Soviet-American summit.

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