February 21, 2018

Trump's new nuclear posture review reverses course on arms control

07 February 2018, 01:05 | Kara Nash

US 'shamelessly threatening Russia with atomic weapon', says Iran's Rouhani

Iran's Hassan Rouhani on Donald Trump

But because of North Korea's boasting that its nuclear warheads can now reach any city on the U.S. mainland, President Trump has ordered a second look at the USA nuclear program.

"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", Kulacki said.

The new policy was applauded by establishment Republican defense experts, including some who have shuddered at Trump's threats to use nuclear weapons against North Korea, but have anxious that he was insufficiently focused on Russia's nuclear modernization.

"It is also a doubling-down on the announced willingness of the United States to be the first to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear-armed foe", he said.

Tactical nuclear weapons (warheads, air bombs, small-range missiles, torpedoes, mines, etc.) do not fall under the Russian-US New START treaty.

It also explicitly rejects Obama's commitment to make nuclear weapons a diminishing part of American defenses.

"The nuclear threshold is not being lowered", Wood said.

The Pentagon's so-called Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), unveiled last week, outlined United States plans to revamp its nuclear arsenal by developing new low-yield atomic weapons. He said he recently received a letter from senators expressing concern that the nuclear strategy would undermine traditional US leadership on efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.

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Moscow has called the new United States policy "bellicose" and "anti-Russian" and warned it might take responsive measures to boost its own security.

A senior administration official, who would discuss the policy only on the condition of anonymity, said Trump had been briefed on the new nuclear approach but was leaving the details to Mattis and to his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. HR McMaster.

Iran is accusing the US of threatening Russian Federation with the use of new nuclear weapons following the Trump administration's call to expand nuclear capabilities in an aim to deter Moscow, Reuters reported Sunday.

However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has put the cost of modernizing the nuclear triad of bombers, land-based missiles and submarines through 2040 at $1.2 trillion. For example, the policy calls for "the rapid development" of a cruise missile that would be fired from submarines, then become airborne before reaching its target. Most of that money would go to new generations of bombers and new submarines, and a rebuilding of the land-based nuclear missile force that still dots giant fields across the West.

Historically a close U.S. ally and key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, nuclear weapons were a divisive issue in Germany's cold war politics. "I imagine it led to a very awkward phone call with our Asian allies", said Mount, one of several nuclear experts who noticed the error in the preliminary draft.

"The document's statement that Russia allegedly refuses to further reduce its nuclear capabilities is yet another example of the blatant "falsification", the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Alicia Sanders-Zakre of the Arms Control Association said she was anxious by "a president who repeatedly boasts about the size of his nuclear button on Twitter" and his "loose talk about nuclear weapons".

He made a decision to retain the ICBM force because he thinks the hundreds of silos across the heartland serve as an important deterrent for Russian Federation and other potential adversaries, given how hard it would be for an enemy to disable them all in one shot.

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