The Pentagon’s official outline for its use of nuclear force was denounced as “radical” and “extreme” by prominent anti-nuclear weapons groups when it was released Friday afternoon—confirming peace advocates’ worst fears that the Trump administration would seek to expand the use of nuclear force.
“Who in their right mind thinks we should expand the list of scenarios in which we might launch nuclear weapons?” asked Peace Action in a statement. “Who let Dr. Strangelove write the Nuclear Posture Review?”
The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) calls for the development of smaller warheads that the military believes would be seen as more “usable” against other nations.
“The risk of use for nuclear weapons has always been unacceptably high. The new Trump Nuclear Doctrine is to deliberately increase that risk.”—Beatrice Fihn, ICAN
“In support of a strong and credible nuclear deterrent, the United States must…maintain a nuclear force with a diverse, flexible range of nuclear yield and delivery modes that are ready, capable, and credible,” reads the report, which serves as the first updated document the U.S. has released regarding its perceived nuclear threats since 2010.
In addition to “diversifying” its nuclear arsenal, the Pentagon notes that it will seek to “expand the range of credible U.S. options for responding to nuclear or non-nuclear strategic attack,” raising concerns that President Donald Trump will argue for the use of nuclear force as a deterrent—a significant departure from previous administrations which saw nuclear weapons as an option only for retaliation.
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“The risk of use for nuclear weapons has always been unacceptably high,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). “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. This policy is a shift from one where the use of nuclear weapons is possible to one where the use of nuclear weapons is likely.”
Derek Johnson, head of Global Zero, called the NPR “a radical plan written by extreme elements and nuclear ideologues in Trump’s inner circle who believe nuclear weapons are a wonder drug that can solve our national security challenges.”
“Trump’s insistence that we need more and better weapons is already spurring countries to follow in his footsteps,” he added. “Nuclear arms-racing is a steep and slippery slope; we’d do well to learn the lessons of the former Soviet Union, whose collapse was accelerated by its unsustainable nuclear ambitions.”