Interest in the condition and role of US nuclear weapons has grown as North Korea develops its own nuclear arsenal it says is aimed at the U.S. So I don't think it makes a convincing case that we somehow lack capabilities.
What a difference a year makes.
The document, called the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, lays out what appears to be a new approach to nuclear deterrence that relies on acquiring weapons with comparatively "low"-level destructive capabilities meant to convince nations like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea that the USA has weapons in its arsenal that it would hypothetically be willing to use". "Russia is also developing at least two new intercontinental range systems, a hypersonic glide vehicle, and a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, undersea autonomous torpedo", the review says.
The nuclear posture review (NPR), the first in eight years, is expected to be published after Donald Trump's state-of-the-nation speech at the end of January. The new NPR, however, also raises the prospect of the USA using nuclear weapons in response to nonnuclear attacks.
Until Mr. Trump, no one could imagine the United States ever using a nuclear weapon again.
In September 2017, Rob Soofer, deputy assistant defense secretary for nuclear and missile defense policy, said the NPR would look at how nuclear weapons could "deter new non-nuclear attacks that could have strategic effects: catastrophic mass casualties, cyberattacks against USA infrastructure, chemical or biological attacks, or attacks against United States critical space capabilities". But Trump sees a fuller deterrent role for these weapons, as reflected in the plan to develop new capabilities to counter Russian Federation in Europe.
"The use of even a small number of these weapons would be catastrophic", Kimball said.
The report said: 'At times of heightened tension, cyber-attacks on nuclear weapons systems could cause an escalation, which results in their use.More news: Rachel Bloom dings former host TJ Miller during Critics' Choice Awards
In 2015, former secretary of defense William J. Perry and former assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs Andy Weber penned an opinion piece in The Washington Post asking President Obama to "kill the new cruise missile" precisely for that reason, calling it a "uniquely destabilizing type of weapon".
Worse still, the new NPR is expected to overturn long-standing US policy barring the development of new nuclear warheads.
Cyber interference could also destroy industrial control systems within delivery platforms, such as submarines, causing them to malfunction, while clandestine attacks could be conducted on targeting information or operational commands, which may not be discovered until the point of launch.
That is risky, Cold War thinking.
The US already has over 1,000 such weapons, and experts say America's current nuclear capabilities are already flexible enough to counter and deter outside threats without additional weapons. The new plan dramatically shortens the timeline for a "simple [nuclear] test" to six to 10 months from the previous 24- to 36-month requirement. In reality, there is no new "missile gap".
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Trump reportedly responded to a chart about the reduction in USA nuclear weapons since the Cold War by hoping for a ten-fold increase in the stockpile, though he called the reporting from NBC "pure fiction".
IDN is the flagship of International Press Syndicate.