February 17, 2018

US May Consider Nuclear Response to 'Extreme' Non-Nuclear Attack: DoD

04 February 2018, 01:37 | Kara Nash

Trump's Troubling Nuclear Plan

'US actions a threat to Korean ties'

"President Trump is embarking on a reckless path, one that will reduce USA security", said Lisbeth Gronlund, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

But rather than laying out a plan to halt this slide into a more unsafe world and working to decrease reliance on nuclear weapons, the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) hastens its rise by accepting the reasoning of US adversaries and affirmatively embracing nuclear competition.

"Expanding flexible US nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression", according to the Nuclear Posture Review.

Obama had believed the US could lead by example, downgrading its own nuclear capabilities in the hope that other countries would do the same. Today, nuclear weapons continue to fulfill their mission of deterring a large-scale attack on the US and allies.

"In the nuclear context, the most significant Russian violation involves a system banned by the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty", said the 74-page US nuclear policy report released on Friday. The U.S. says it has been in compliance with the limits since August and it expects the Russians to comply by Monday's deadline.

A 74-page report summarizing the review's findings calls North Korea a "clear and grave threat" to the USA and its allies.

In reality, the review is a balanced document carefully weighing the impact of risky global trends like a resurgent Russian Federation and an aggressive China on USA nuclear posture. What's equally troubling is that the new NPR treats regular, high-level engagement and diplomacy as an afterthought rather than an integral part of US nuclear-security strategy. "It is clearly inspired by overblown Russian worries that US missile defenses will make their missile forces obsolete". "We have not, which means the capability of Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals is actually getting better against ours". This has driven Russian Federation to maintain and upgrade its tactical nuclear systems and generally modernize its military, including the capacity for asymmetrical and non-nuclear attacks.

"China, too, is modernizing and expanding its already considerable nuclear forces", the NPR said. USA officials also argue that since the last NPR in 2010 Russian Federation has expanded and modernised its non-strategic nuclear weapons and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

"Our goal is to convince adversaries they have nothing to gain and everything to lose from the use of nuclear weapons", the NPR said and "in no way does this approach lower the nuclear threshold".

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"That's why the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons bans all nuclear weapons, and the threatening of their use".

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

The strategy, President Donald Trump said, is tailored and flexible to address the wide array of threats in the 21st century.

Two weeks ago, Mr Mount said the leaked review translates Mr Trump's impulses into an order for new, more usable nuclear options.

This week, the Trump administration is expected to release its "Nuclear Posture Review".

The United States now faces a more diverse and advanced nuclear-threat environment than ever before, "with considerable dynamism in potential adversaries' development and deployment programs for nuclear weapons and delivery systems", the NPR states.

The Trump Nuclear Posture Review not only rejects this logic, it ties our forward-deployed forces to NATO's strategic forces as part of the bloc's "supreme guarantee".

"Neither recommendation requires developing new nuclear warheads", Shanahan said.

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