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A Pentagon document shows Trump wants to expand the US nuclear arsenal


U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up after speaking about tax legislation at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Trump
speaks about tax reform at the White House in
Washington

Thomson
Reuters


  • A Department of Defense document obtained by HuffPost
    calls for adding “low-yield” nuclear weapons to the US arsenal
    in order to counter Russia, Iran, North Korea, and other
    countries.
  • These low-yield weapons would roughly be equivalent to
    the bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.
  • 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.

President Donald Trump’s Defense Department wants to expand
American nuclear capabilities by adding “low-yield” weapons of
the kind that decimated Nagasaki and Hiroshima to the US arsenal,
according to a draft Pentagon policy document obtained by

HuffPost
.

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 US has weapons in its
arsenal that it would hypothetically be willing to use.

But as HuffPost notes, these weapons “supplements” are by
no means as harmless as they sound — their destructive power is
roughly akin to the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in
1945. 

The logic in the document, which will not be finalized
until February, is that by introducing more of these
less-powerful weapons, which it calls “supplements,” the US would
actually enhance nuclear deterrence. Other nuclear powers, which
also have low-yield bombs, would realize that the US has weapons
with capabilities weak enough to actually deploy in conflicts,
and would then avoid deploying their own arsenals as well.

“These supplements will enhance deterrence by denying potential
adversaries any mistaken confidence that limited nuclear
employment can provide a useful advantage over the United States
and its allies,” the document reads.

America’s existing arsenal is already equipped with low-yield
weapons

But the US already has over 1,000
such low-yield devices — more than the nuclear
weapons totals
of every other nuclear power in the world
besides Russia. 

The review claims that Russia is threatening to use its low-yield
weapons, and that the US must be willing to respond.

“Russia’s belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially
including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage is
based, in part, on Moscow’s perception that its greater number
and variety of non-strategic nuclear weapons provide a coercive
advantage and at lower levels of conflict,” the Review states.
“Correcting this mistaken Russian perception is a strategic
imperative.”


russia nuclear weapons
Shell,
which is the replica of the biggest detonated Soviet nuclear bomb
AN-602 (Tsar-Bomb), on display in Moscow,
Russia.


Maxim
Zmeyev/Reuters



But according to Hans M.
Kristensen
, the director of the Nuclear Information Project
at the Federation of American Scientists, the belief that more
weapons is the answer to perceived challenges misses the point.

“Advocates of additional nuclear capabilities seem too fixated on
weapon types and don’t seem to understand or appreciate the
flexibility of the current capabilities,” he write. “Yes there
are serious challenges in Russia and North Korea, but those
challenges can be addressed with the considerable capabilities in
the current nuclear arsenal.”

The policy stance laid out in the document stands in stark
contrast to the general policy of nuclear disarmament pursued by
both former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. The
document seems to contradict itself on nuclear non-proliferation.

“The United States remains committed to its efforts in support of
the ultimate global elimination of nuclear, biological, and
chemical weapons…” the review reads. “Nevertheless, global
threat conditions have worsened markedly since the most recent
2010 NPR, including increasingly explicit nuclear threats from
potential adversaries. 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 from nuclear weapons and delivery systems.”

The document also mentions the Trump administration’s continued
commitment to the NATO alliance.

“A strong, cohesive nuclear Alliance is the most effective means
of deterring aggression and promoting peace and stability in the
Euro-Atlantic region,” the document notes.


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