"[The Arms Control Association is an] 'exceptional organization that effectively addresses pressing national and international challenges with an impact that is disproportionate to its small size.'" 

– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
January 19, 2011
Final vs. Draft of the Nuclear Posture Review: What Was Changed?

Arms Control NOW


On Friday, Feb. 2, the Trump administration officially unveiled its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). Huffington Post leaked an earlier version of the document on Jan. 11.

The Arms Control Association team reviewed both versions of the NPR and marked up a copy of the final NPR with all changes from the leaked version. (See our annotated version here.)* The final Feb. 2 document includes revised language and new charts on Russian nuclear doctrine, as well as new language on the proposed submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It also corrects several small errors. Significant substantive changes that we have noticed are listed below. Page numbers reference those in the final version of the NPR.

Pg. I-III (Secretary’s Preface): This section was considerably revised. Two notable changes include:

1) On pg. III the addition of the line: “Ensuring our nuclear deterrent remains strong will provide the best opportunity for convincing other nuclear powers to engage in meaningful arms control initiatives,” and
2) The switch on pg. III from describing nuclear modernization as “the top priority of the Department of Defense” in the leaked NPR to “a top priority of the Department of Defense” in the final version.

Pg. XII: Changed the categorization of the SLCM from an "INF-compliant response" to an "arms control compliant response" to Russia's non-compliance with the INF Treaty.

Pg. 6 & 7: Removed "illegitimate annexation" from the characterization of the Russian occupation of Crimea.

Pg. 7: Added the line: "Moscow apparently believes that the United States is unwilling to respond to Russian employment of tactical nuclear weapons with strategic nuclear weapons."

Pg. 8: Correction of the image of North Korea in the “Nuclear Delivery Systems Since 2010” graphic to depict North Korea and not the entire Korean peninsula, as it had in the leaked version.

Pg. 10: Added a new text box on "Responding to Russia's INF Treaty Violation."

Pg. 17: Changed the numbers and axis on "Wartime fatalities % of World Population" graph.

Pg. 22: Added a quote from the 2009 Perry-Schlesinger Commission report about the mischaracterization of "hair-trigger alert."

Pg. 31: Took out "in space and cyber space" when describing what kind of non-nuclear strategic Russian attacks the United States would need to deter against.

Pg. 51-52: Changed the spending levels on nuclear weapons modernization as a percentage of Department of Defense (DoD) and federal budgets from the 1980s and 1960s. The leaked NPR has nuclear recapitalization spending in the 1980s as 13.9% of DoD budget, while in the new document it is at 10.6%. The leaked NPR has spending on nuclear modernization as 3.2% of federal budget in 1980s, while the final version puts it at 3.7%. The leaked NPR puts nuclear modernization spending at 24.9% of DoD budget in the 1960s, while it is listed as 17.1% in the final NPR. These changes are also in the Executive Summary on pg. XI.

Pg. 53: Added a new chart titled "Russia's Non-Strategic Nuclear Challenge."

Pg. 53-54: Added two sentences on Russian nuclear doctrine, highlighting Russian emphasis on low-yield nuclear weapons. This change is also in the Executive Summary on pg. XII. 

Pg. 55: Changed a sentence about conditions under which the United States would "reconsider pursuit of SLCM" from including Russia returning to INF Treaty compliance to including Russia returning to "compliance with its arms control obligations." 

Pg. 55: Changed the study to initiate the development of a SLCM from a "requirements" study to a "capabilities" study. This change is also on pg. XIII of the Executive Summary.

If we've missed something, tweet it at us @ArmsControlNow. —ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE

Update: @MeyerThalheimer points out that on pg. 8 of the final NPR the "Nuclear Delivery Systems Since 2010" chart has been updated to classify the Russian ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) as the SSC-08 and to add China's Type 096 ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) and JL-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) to its sea-launched delivery systems. On pg. 11 of the final NPR, U.S. missile defense is further classified as "homeland missile defense — which is directed against limited nuclear threats." 

*The Nuclear Posture Review annotated here is the one that was put online on Friday, Feb. 2. The document was then taken down, revised and put back on the website. To our understanding, the only change between the version released Friday and the most recent edition was the correction of the maps of Russia and China, although we have not conducted a comprehensive review of the changes between the two documents.