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former IAEA Director-General

Strategic Policy

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at a Glance

History of the INF Treaty between the United States and Russia and details on potential violations by Russia

Contact: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107; Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: October 2018

The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty required the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification. As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty's implementation deadline of June 1, 1991.

The United States first alleged in its July 2014 Compliance Report that Russia is in violation of its INF Treaty obligations “not to possess, produce, or flight-test” a ground-launched cruise missile having a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers or “to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.” Subsequent State Department assessments in 2015, 2016, and 2017 repeated these allegations. In March 2017, a top U.S. official confirmed press reports that Russia had deployed the noncompliant missile. Russia denies that it is in violation of the agreement. On December 8, 2017, the Trump administration released a strategy to counter alleged Russian violations of the Treaty.

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History

U.S. calls for the control of intermediate-range missiles emerged as a result of the Soviet Union's domestic deployment of SS-20 intermediate-range missiles in the mid-1970s. The SS-20 qualitatively improved Soviet nuclear forces in the European theater by providing a longer-range, multiple-warhead alternative to aging Soviet SS-4 and SS-5 single-warhead missiles. In 1979, NATO ministers responded to the new Soviet missile deployment with what became known as the "dual-track" strategy-a simultaneous push for arms control negotiations with the deployment of intermediate-range, nuclear-armed U.S. missiles (ground-launched cruise missiles and the Pershing II) in Europe to offset the SS-20. Negotiations, however, faltered repeatedly while U.S. missile deployments continued in the early 1980s.

INF negotiations began to show progress once Mikhail Gorbachev became the Soviet general-secretary in March 1985. In the fall of the same year, the Soviet Union put forward a plan to establish a balance between the number of SS-20 warheads and the growing number of allied intermediate-range missile warheads in Europe. The United States expressed interest in the Soviet proposal, and the scope of the negotiations expanded in 1986 to include all U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range missiles around the world. Using the momentum from these talks, President Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev began to move toward a comprehensive INF elimination agreement. Their efforts culminated in the signing of the INF Treaty on December 8, 1987, and the treaty entered into force on June 1, 1988.

The INF ban originally applied only to U.S. and Soviet forces, but the treaty's membership expanded in 1991 to include successor states of the former Soviet Union. Today, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine join Russia and the United States in the treaty's implementation. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan possessed INF facilities (SS-23 operating bases) but forgo treaty meetings with the consent of the other states-parties.

Although active states-parties to the treaty total just five countries, several European countries have destroyed INF-banned missiles since the end of the Cold War. Germany, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic destroyed their intermediate-range missiles in the 1990s, and Slovakia dismantled all of its remaining intermediate-range missiles in October 2000 after extensive U.S. prodding. On May 31, 2002, the last possessor of intermediate-range missiles in eastern Europe, Bulgaria, signed an agreement with the United States to destroy all of its INF Treaty-relevant missiles. Bulgaria completed the destruction five months later with U.S. funding.

States-parties' rights to conduct on-site inspections under the treaty ended on May 31, 2001, but the use of surveillance satellites for data collection continues. The INF Treaty established the Special Verification Commission (SVC) to act as an implementing body for the treaty, resolving questions of compliance and agreeing on measures to "improve [the treaty's] viability and effectiveness." Because the INF Treaty is of unlimited duration, states-parties can convene the SVC at any time, and the commission continues to meet today. The most recent SVC session, called by the United States, took place December 12-14, 2017 and was also attended by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.

Elimination Protocol

The INF Treaty's protocol on missile elimination named the specific types of ground-launched missiles to be destroyed and the acceptable means of doing so. Under the treaty, the United States committed to eliminate its Pershing II, Pershing IA, and Pershing IB ballistic missiles and BGM-109G cruise missiles. The Soviet Union had to destroy its SS-20, SS-4, SS-5, SS-12, and SS-23 ballistic missiles and SSC-X-4 cruise missiles. In addition, both parties were obliged to destroy all INF-related training missiles, rocket stages, launch canisters, and launchers. Most missiles were eliminated either by exploding them while they were unarmed and burning their stages or by cutting the missiles in half and severing their wings and tail sections.

Inspection and Verification Protocols

The INF Treaty's inspection protocol required states-parties to inspect and inventory each other's intermediate-range nuclear forces 30 to 90 days after the treaty's entry into force. Referred to as "baseline inspections," these exchanges laid the groundwork for future missile elimination by providing information on the size and location of U.S. and Soviet forces. Treaty provisions also allowed signatories to conduct up to 20 short-notice inspections per year at designated sites during the first three years of treaty implementation and to monitor specified missile-production facilities to guarantee that no new missiles were being produced.

The INF Treaty's verification protocol certified reductions through a combination of national technical means (i.e., satellite observation) and on-site inspections-a process by which each party could send observers to monitor the other's elimination efforts as they occurred. The protocol explicitly banned interference with photo-reconnaissance satellites, and states-parties were forbidden from concealing their missiles to impede verification activities. Both states-parties could carry out on-site inspections at each other's facilities in the United States and Soviet Union and at specified bases in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, West Germany, and Czechoslovakia.

The INF Treaty Today

Under the influence of his new National Security Advisor, John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump announced Oct. 20 at a campaign rally that he would “terminate” the INF Treaty in response to a long-running dispute over Russian noncompliance with the treaty. 

In recent years, Russia has raised the possibility of withdrawing from the INF Treaty. Moscow contends that the treaty unfairly prevents it from possessing weapons that its neighbors, such as China, are developing and fielding. Russia also has suggested that the proposed U.S. deployment of strategic anti-ballistic missile systems in Europe might trigger a Russian withdrawal from the accord, presumably so Moscow can deploy missiles targeting any future U.S. anti-missile sites. Still, the United States and Russia issued an October 25, 2007, statement at the United Nations General Assembly reaffirming their “support” for the treaty and calling on all other states to join them in renouncing the missiles banned by the treaty.

Reports began to emerge in 2013 and 2014 that the United States had concerns about Russia's compliance with the INF Treaty. In July 2014, the U.S. State Department found Russia to be in violation of the agreement by producing and testing an illegal ground-launched cruise missile. Russia responded in August refuting the claim, and continues to maintain that it is not in violation of the INF Treaty. Throughout 2015 and most of 2016, U.S. Defense and State Department officials had publicly expressed skepticism that the Russian cruise missiles at issue had been deployed. But an October 19, 2016 report in The New York Times cited anonymous U.S. officials who were concerned that Russia was producing more missiles than needed solely for flight testing, which increased fears that Moscow was on the verge of deploying the missile. By February 14, 2017, The New York Times cited U.S. officials declaring that Russia had deployed an operational unit of the treaty-noncompliant cruise missile now known as the SSC-8. On March 8, 2017, General Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed press reports that Russia had deployed a ground-launched cruise missile that “violates the spirit and intent” of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

 

In April 2017, the U.S. State Department released its annual assessment of Russian compliance with key arms control agreements. For the fourth consecutive year, this report alleged Russian noncompliance with the INF Treaty. The 2017 State Department report lists new details on the steps Washington took in 2016 to resolve the dispute, including convening a session of the SVC, and providing Moscow with further information on the violation.

The report says the missile in dispute is distinct from two other Russian missile systems, the R-500/SSC-7 Iskander GLCM and the RS-26 ballistic missile. The R-500 has a Russian-declared range below the 500-kilometer INF Treaty cutoff, and Russia identifies the RS-26 as an intercontinental ballistic missile treated in accordance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The report also appears to suggest that the launcher for the allegedly noncompliant missile is different from the launcher for the Iskander. The United States has now published both its own designation for the missile (SSC-8) and what it believes is the Russian designation for the missile (9M729).

Russia denies that it is breaching the agreement and has raised its own concerns about Washington’s compliance. Moscow is charging that the United States is placing a missile defense launch system in Europe that can also be used to fire cruise missiles, using targets for missile defense tests with similar characteristics to INF Treaty-prohibited intermediate-range missiles, and making armed drones that are equivalent to ground-launched cruise missiles.

The Trump administration's stated strategy to respond to alleged Russian violations comprises of three elements: diplomacy, including through the Special Verification Commission, research and development on a new conventional ground-launched cruise missile, and punitive economic measures against companies believed to be involved in the development of the missile. (See ACT, January/February 2018.)

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act approves funds for the Defense Department to develop a missile that, if tested, would violate the Treaty. (See ACT, December 2017.)


Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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Posted: October 22, 2018

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START

October 2018

Contact:  Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: October 2018

See Table 1: U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START

    On April 8, 2010, Russia and the United States signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The treaty requires the sides to limit the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550 and fielded delivery platforms to 700. The treaty also permits the United States and Russia to conduct 18 annual on-site inspections of facilities operated by the other country. Biannual data exchanges indicate the current state of their strategic forces. For a factsheet on Russian nuclear forces, click here.

    Both the United States and Russia met these limits by the February 2018 deadline, and the limits will hold until February 2021. The United States declared that it had met its New START limits on Feb. 5. As of September 2018, the United States has 659 deployed strategic delivery systems, 1,398 deployed strategic warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed strategic launchers.

    Under New START, the United States retains a deployed strategic force of up to 400 ICBMs, 60 nuclear-capable bombers, and 240 SLBMs.

    •  As of February 2018, the United States deploys 400 Minuteman III ICBMs, all with a single warhead, and an additional 54 non-deployed silo launchers of ICBMs that remain in a warm, operational status.

    •  Some bombers were converted to conventional-only missions (not accountable under New START), and 49 nuclear-capable bombers were deployed as of February 2018. Bombers are not on alert or loaded with weapons in peacetime, and New START counting rules allow each bomber to be counted as “one” deployed warhead, even though bombers can carry up to 16-20 nuclear weapons.

    •  The United States retains all 14 of its strategic nuclear submarines (SSBNs), although it reduced the number of SLBM launch tubes per SSBN from 24 to 20, for a total of 280 tubes across the entire fleet. Between two and four submarines are in dry dock at any given time. The United States deployed 203 submarine-launched ballistic missiles as of February 2018

    In addition to the treaty limit of 700 deployed systems, the treaty allows for 800 deployed and non-deployed missile launchers, and bombers. The United States retains around 454 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, up to 280 deployed and non-deployed SLBM launchers, and up to 66 deployed and non-deployed heavy bombers.

    The strategic forces that remain under the treaty are currently being upgraded or replaced. Over the 30 years, the administration plans to invest an estimated 1.7 trillion dollars to modernize the nuclear weapons complex and nuclear delivery systems. For more on U.S. nuclear modernization, see U.S. Nuclear Modernization Programs.

    Under New START, both sides release aggregate data on their stockpiles every six months. 

     

    Table 1: Deployed U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START 

    This table shows how the deployed U.S. strategic nuclear stockpile in 2017 and in 2018, when reductions under New START were completed.

    All figures are from official sources except for shaded warhead numbers, which are best estimates. New START counts each bomber as one warhead, even though bombers can carry many more.

     20172018
     

    Delivery Vehicles

    Est. Warheads

    Delivery Vehicles

    Est. Warheads

    ICBMs

    Minuteman III

    399 
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    N/A

    400  

    (as of Feb. 2018)

    400

    SLBMs

    Trident II D5

    212
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    N/A

    203

    (as of Feb. 2018)

    901

    Strategic Bombers

    B-52H

    38
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    49

    36

    (as of Feb. 2018)

    49

    B-2A

    11
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    13 

    (as of Feb. 2018)

    Total Deployed

    660
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    1,393
    (as of Sept. 1, 2017)

    659

    (as of Sept. 2018)

    1,398

    (as of Sept. 2018)

    Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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    Posted: October 9, 2018

    The Wrong Choice for National Security Advisor

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    Description: 

    Press release on the appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor

    Body: 

    For Immediate Release: March 23, 2018

    Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104

    (Washington, D.C.)—The United States already faces an array of complex and dangerous foreign policy challenges that require pragmatic decision and sober diplomatic engagement with American allies and foes alike.

    With the choice of John Bolton as his National Security Advisor, President Donald Trump has chosen someone with a record of a hostile attitude toward multilateral security and arms control agreements and effective international institutions designed to advance U.S. national security and international peace and security.

    Bolton's extreme views could tilt the malleable Mr. Trump in the wrong direction on critical decisions affecting the future of the Iran nuclear deal, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and the strained U.S. relationship with Russia, among other issues.

    Bolton is a nonproliferation hawk, but he has a disturbing and bellicose record of choosing confrontation rather than dialogue, politicizing intelligence to fit his worldview, and aggressively undermining treaties and negotiations designed to reduce weapons-related security threats. 

    • Bolton has long advocated for bombing Iran instead of pursuing negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear program and he has called on the United States to abrogate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is working to verifiably block Iran’s pathways to the bomb. 
    • In the early 2000s, Bolton was among those in the George W. Bush administration who opposed further dialogue with North Korea which allowed North Korea to advance its nuclear program and test nuclear weapons. More recently, has argued that the United States should launch a “preventive attack” on North Korea, which would result in a catastrophic war. His approach runs counter to Mr. Trump’s own stated policy of using sanctions pressure and diplomatic engagement, including a summit with Kim Jong-un, to halt and reverse North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
    • Bolton has repeatedly criticized the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, which is one of the few bright spots in the troubled U.S.-Russia relationship and continues to enjoy strong support from the U.S. military. Last year Bolton called the treaty “an execrable deal.”
    • While undersecretary of state for arms control and international security during the George W. Bush administration, Bolton cherry-picked the findings of intelligence community assessments of that country’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities, and was a key player in making the Bush administration’s flawed case for the war in Iraq—a war that Donald Trump has correctly ridiculed as a catastrophic American foreign policy blunder.

    If Bolton succeeds in imposing his worldview on Donald Trump’s improvisational and impulsive foreign policy approach, we could be entering in a period of crisis and confrontation.

    In particular, if Bolton convinces Trump to unilaterally violate the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May when the U.S. is due to renew sanctions waivers, it would not only open the door to the re-emergence of Iran as a nuclear weapons proliferation risk, but it would undermine President Trump’s very tentative diplomatic opening with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    In the next year or so, Trump will need to decide whether or not to engage in talks with Russia about extending the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which is due to expire in 2021. Without the treaty, there would be no verifiable limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972.

    We can ill-afford two nuclear proliferation crises, as well as abandoning a key brake on the growing risks of renewed U.S. and Russian nuclear competition and arms racing. 

    Congress will need to play a stronger role to guard against further chaos and confusion in U.S. foreign policy, prevent the White House from blundering into unwise and catastrophic military conflicts, and to halt further degradation of the credibility of the United States as a responsible global leader.

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    Posted: March 23, 2018

    Nuclear Declaratory Policy and Negative Security Assurances

    March 2018

    Contact: Kelsey DavenportDirector for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 462-8270; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 462-8270 x104

    Updated: March 2018

    The world’s nuclear-armed states each have declared, to varying degrees of specificity, when and under what circumstances they reserve the option to use their nuclear weapons. Most nuclear-armed states have also declared under what circumstances they rule out the use of nuclear weapons. These “positive” and “negative” nuclear declaratory policies are designed to deter adversaries from military actions and to assure non-nuclear weapon states and allies they will not be subject to a direct nuclear attack on their territory and should be dissuaded from pursuing nuclear weapons themselves.

    There is no universal agreement among nuclear weapon states on the first-use of intercontinental ballistic missiles.Today, most nuclear-armed states, including the United States, reserve the option to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. Only two nuclear-armed states (China and India) have declared no-first-use policies, by which they commit themselves to use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack.

    All five of the nuclear-weapon states recognized in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have issued a set of “negative” nuclear security assurances, which were recognized by the UN Security Council in Resolution 984 (1995). These pledges, however, are nonbinding and some nuclear-weapon states reserve the right to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states under certain circumstances. The following is a more detailed summary of each country’s policies.

    United States

    The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review report declared that there are four missions for the U.S. nuclear arsenal: deterrence of nuclear and non-nuclear attacks, assurance of allies and partners, achievement of U.S. objectives if deterrence fails, and capacity to hedge against an uncertain future.

    The document reiterated that the United States does not maintain a nuclear “no first-use policy” on the grounds that U.S. response options must remain flexible to deter nuclear and non-nuclear attacks. “Non-nuclear capabilities,” according to the report, “can complement but not replace U.S. nuclear capabilities” for the purpose of deterrence. In the event that deterrence were to fail, the report also declared that Washington could use nuclear weapons to end a conflict on the “best achievable terms for the United States.”

    The NPR dictates that the use of nuclear weapons will only be considered under “extreme circumstances” to defend the “vital interests” of the United States and its allies. It defines “extreme circumstances,” which the 2010 NPR did not, to include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” against “U.S., allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.”

    The United States issued assurances not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon-state NPT members in 1978, 1995 and 2010 except in the case of “an invasion or any other attack on the United States, its territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies, or on a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear- weapon State.” In 1997 the United States issued a classified presidential decision directive (PDD) reaffirming these pledges.

    The 2018 NPR repeated existing U.S. negative security assurances by stating that Washington “will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.” However, the report qualified that the United States reserves the right to amend its negative assurance if warranted by “the evolution and proliferation of non-nuclear strategic attack technologies.” At the February 2 press briefing following the report’s release, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood clarified that this may include cyber capabilities.

    For a more details, see U.S. Negative Security Assurances at a Glance.

    China
    China issued negative security assurances at the United Nations in 1978 and 1995 and is the only NPT nuclear-weapon state that has declared a no-first-use policy, which it reiterated in February 2018.

    At the 2018 Munich Security Conference, Fu Ying, chairperson of the foreign affairs committee of the National People’s Congress, said that “China is also committed to the principle of non-first-use of nuclear weapons, and no-use of nuclear weapons against any nuclear state [sic] at any circumstances and no-use of nuclear weapons against nuclear-free zones.”

    In its April 1995 letter to UN members outlining its negative security assurances, China declared that it “undertakes not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances.” China consistently reiterates this policy in its defense white papers. The most recent, edited in 2016, stated that “China will unconditionally not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or in nuclear-weapon-free zones, and will never enter into a nuclear arms race with any other country.”

    At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, China also called for the negotiation of an international legally binding instrument to prohibit first-use of nuclear weapons and use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear-weapon free zones.

    France
    France maintains a policy of calculated ambiguity regarding first-use of nuclear weapons. A 2013 French government defense white paper states that “the use of nuclear weapons would only be conceivable in extreme circumstances of legitimate self-defence” and that “[b]eing strictly defensive, nuclear deterrence protects France from any state-led aggression against its vital interests, of whatever origin and in whatever form.”

    France issued negative security assurances at the UN in 1987 and 1995. In its 1995 statement to the UN, France pledged not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that are party to the NPT “except in the case of invasion or any other attack on France, its territory, its armed forces or other troops, or against its allies or a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a State in alliance or association with a nuclear-weapon State.”

    At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, France called for nuclear possessor states to “work resolutely to advance disarmament in all its aspects; in which the doctrines of nuclear powers will restrict the role of nuclear weapons solely to extreme circumstances of self-defence where their vital interests are under threat.”

    Russia
    According to the December 2014 Russian Military Doctrine Paper published by the Ministry of Defense, Russia reserves the option to use nuclear weapons in response to an attack involving any weapon of mass destruction, and in response to conventional attacks “when the very existence of the state is under threat.” This phrase suggests a willingness to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states in the event of an impending conventional military defeat.

    In 1993, Russia moved away from Leonid Brezhnev’s 1982 no-first-use pledge when the Russian Defense Ministry under Boris Yeltsin adopted a new doctrine on nuclear weapons. The new policy ruled out the first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states that are party to the NPT but said nothing about use against states possessing nuclear weapons. Since the 1993 shift, many Western analysts have come to believe that Russia pursues an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy—the notion that, in the event of a large-scale conventional conflict, the Kremlin would use or threaten to use low-yield nuclear weapons to coerce an adversary to cease attacks or withdraw. However, other analysts maintain that this is not the case. 

    Russia issued unilateral negative security assurances not to attack non-nuclear-weapon states in 1978 and 1995, but stated in 1995 that those pledges would not apply “in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the Russian Federation, its territory, its armed forces or other troops, its allies or on a State toward which it has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State.”

    United Kingdom
    In the 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review document, the United Kingdom said it will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with the treaty’s obligations. The United Kingdom appears to leave open the option to use nuclear weapons in response to WMD threats, such as chemical or biological attacks, if such threats emerge. Currently London acknowledged that there is “no direct threat” posed by WMDs to the United Kingdom in the 2015 document, but the government reserves the right to “review this assurance if the future threat, development or proliferation of these weapons make it necessary.”

    The United Kingdom issued a unilateral negative nuclear security assurance in 1978 and again in 1995. In the 1995 pledge the United Kingdom said it will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states party to the NPT. This assurance does not apply, however, to any state acting “in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon state” that attacks the United Kingdom, its territories or allies, or any state in breach of its commitments under the NPT.

    India
    India has a no-first-use doctrine. As the government stated in a draft nuclear doctrine in August 1999, “India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail.” Although India has adopted a no-first-use policy, some Indian strategists have called the pledge’s validity into question. The credibility of this pledge was weakened in 2009 when Indian Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor suggested that the government should review the pledge in light of the growing threat of Pakistan. In 2010, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon stated that India's nuclear doctrine was “no first use against non-nuclear weapons states.” MIT professor Vipin Narang has also observed that “the force requirements India needs in order to credibly threaten assured retaliation against China may allow it to pursue more aggressive strategies—such as escalation dominance or a ‘splendid first strike’—against Pakistan.”

    During debate at the Conference on Disarmament in 2014, India’s representative reiterated the government’s no-first-use policy and the policy on nonuse against non-nuclear-weapon states and said that India was “prepared to convert these undertakings into multilateral legal arrangements.”

    Israel
    Given that Israel has not acknowledged possession of nuclear weapons, it has not made any statements regarding its willingness to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. Israel generally abstains from voting on an annual UN General Assembly resolution that would establish international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon states that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would not be used against them, including recently in resolution 72/25 in 2017.

    Pakistan
    Pakistan has only issued negative nuclear security guarantees to those states that are not armed with nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s position regarding when and whether it would use nuclear weapons in a conflict with another nuclear-armed state, namely India, is far more ambiguous. Pakistani officials have indicated that the circumstances surrounding its no-first-use policy must remain deliberately imprecise, as demarcating clear redlines could allow provocations by the Indian military just below any established threshold for use.

    In a 2015 statement, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is one-dimensional, that is it for "stopping Indian aggression before it happens" “not for starting a war.” He also said in 2015 that Pakistan is capable of answering aggression from India due to Islamabad’s development of short-range tactical nuclear weapons. In July 2016, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif suggested Islamabad would use nuclear weapons for defensive purposes in armed conflict with India.

    North Korea
    Following its fourth nuclear test in January 2016, Pyongyang declared a policy of no-first-use under the condition that hostile forces do not encroach on its sovereignty. The Jan. 6, 2016 government statement said that North Korea, as a “responsible nuclear weapons state, will neither be the first to use nuclear weapons…as long as the hostile forces for aggression do not encroach upon its sovereignty.”  North Korea has re-affirmed this stance at the May 2016 Worker's Party Congress in Pyongyang and in the 2018 New Year's Address. North Korea, however, routinely threatens to use nuclear weapons against perceived threats, including against the United States and South Korea, a non-nuclear-weapon state.

    Strategic Arms Control and Policy

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    Posted: March 16, 2018

    Remarks to the Maryland House of Delegates Rules Committee on Nuclear Weapons Launch Procedures

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    Description: 
    Daryl Kimball offered the following testimony before the Maryland House of Delegates Rules Committee on Monday, March 5, 2018, regarding legislation introduced by Maryland delegates Queen (Montgomery Co.), Gibson (Baltimore City), and Gutierrez (Montgomery Co.).
    Body: 


    By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director
    Arms Control Association
    March 5, 2018
    Annapolis, Maryland

    Good afternoon. I want to commend Delegates Queen, Gibson, and Gutierrez for introducing House Joint Resolution 12, which:

    … “calls upon Maryland’s Congressional delegation to take all necessary steps to establish a system of checks and balances with regard to the first use of nuclear weapons and to ensure that the President of the United States shall no longer have the sole and unchecked authority to launch nuclear weapons, except in circumstances of retaliation.”

    At this very moment, the United States and Russia each deploy massive strategic nuclear arsenals, approximately 1,550 bombs on each side. Each side possesses thousands more nonstrategic warheads and warheads in reserve. These arsenals are far in excess of what it would take to decimate the other and far more that is required to deter a nuclear attack.

    Executive Director Daryl Kimball testifies before the Maryland House of Delegates Rules Committee on legislation urging its congressional delegation to support limits on presidential nuclear launch authority. (Photo: Maryland General Assembly)Worse still, each side maintains a significant portion of its land and sea-based missile forces on a prompt launch posture to guard against a “disarming” first strike.

    As a result, there are roughly 800 U.S. nuclear warheads – all of which are far more powerful than the weapons that destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 – that can be launched within about 15 minutes of an order by the president and the president alone.

    In most scenarios, the president would have just minutes to listen to the list of retaliatory options and decide whether or not to order one of the nuclear strike plans. No cabinet secretary, adviser, or military official has the authority to override the president’s decision. Congress currently has no say in the matter.

    Current U.S. nuclear policy also allows for the possible use of nuclear weapons first, or in response to a non-nuclear attack on the U.S. or our allies, such as in a conflict on the Korean peninsula.

    Continuing to vest such destructive power in the hands of one person and to maintain a prompt-launch posture is undemocratic, irresponsible, unnecessary and untenable.

    Cavalier and reckless statements from President Donald Trump about nuclear weapons use and threatening and boastful comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin about his country’s nuclear retaliatory capabilities underscore the risks of a system that puts the authority to launch nuclear weapons in the hands of these individuals.

    Defenders of the status quo argue that altering the current system would deprive the president of the ability to respond quickly in a crisis—including by using nuclear weapons first in response to a non-nuclear attack—and undermine the credibility of deterrence.

    Such arguments ignore the fact that throughout the history of the nuclear age, there have been several incidents in which false signals of an attack have prompted U.S. and Russia officials to consider, in the dead of the night and under the pressure of time, launching nuclear weapons in retaliation.

    The reality is that this “launch-under-attack” policy is unnecessary because U.S. nuclear forces and command-and-control systems could withstand even a massive attack. Given the size, accuracy, and diversity of U.S. forces, the remaining nuclear force would be more than sufficient to deliver a devastating blow to any nuclear aggressor.

    In addition, retaining the option to use nuclear weapons first is unnecessary and risky. Given the overwhelming conventional military edge of the United States and its allies, there is no plausible circumstance that could justify—legally, morally, or militarily—the use of nuclear weapons to deal with a non-nuclear threat.

    As then-Vice President Joe Biden said in public remarks in January 2017: “Given our non-nuclear capabilities and the nature of today’s threats—it’s hard to envision a plausible scenario in which the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States would be necessary. Or make sense.”

    Congress and the executive branch can and should take a number of steps to reduce these dangers:

    • Requiring that a decision to use nuclear weapons be made by more than one person. This could include the president, vice president, secretaries of state and defense, and perhaps one or more designated members of Congress, such as the speaker of the House or Senate majority leader.
    • Prohibiting the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) have introduced bipartisan legislation the "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017" that would put this policy into place.
    • Eliminating the requirement to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles under attack, which would increase the time available to consider the possible use of nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack against the United States or its allies.
    • Declaring that the United States will not be the first to use nuclear weapons and that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack. Congressman Adam Smith and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee has introduced H.R. 4415 to establish a “No First Policy” for nuclear weapons.
    • Clarify that only Congress can authorize U.S.-initiated military action against North Korea, which would likely result in a nuclear exchange, and urge the administration to “avoid actions that could contribute to a breakdown in talks, and continue to search for confidence-building measures that are conducive to dialogue,” as state in bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 4837/S. 2016).

    Your support for Maryland House Joint Resolution 12 can help push Congress to re-examine and revise nuclear decision making so that fate of millions in not decided by one person in the span of a few minutes.

    Since 2001, Daryl G. Kimball has served as the executive director the independent, non-partisan Arms Control Association and publisher of the monthly journal, Arms Control Today. The Association is a national membership organization established in 1971 to provide information and analysis on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and to promote practical policy solutions to address the risks they pose.

    Posted: March 5, 2018

    The Trump Administration’s ‘Wrong Track’ Nuclear Policies

    Why the new Nuclear Posture Review doesn’t make the country safer. 


    March 2018
    By Lynn Rusten

    Public opinion pollsters often ask, “Is America moving in the right direction, or is it on the wrong track?” When it comes to nuclear policy, the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) decidedly puts the country on the wrong track in that it fails to lower the risk that nuclear weapons will be used, to increase strategic stability, to reduce the chances of miscalculation, and to ensure our national security at reasonable cost.

    Further, it puts the country on the wrong track to maintain U.S. global leadership on nonproliferation and arms control. It also puts the United States on the wrong track by discounting the role of diplomatic and nonmilitary tools in countering nuclear threats and potential adversaries.

    Increasing Reliance on Nuclear Weapons

    Four successive Republican and Democratic administrations since the end of the Cold War had sought to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy. This NPR makes a dangerous and unjustified U-turn by expanding the role of nuclear weapons and the purposes for which they could be used, making a case for their enduring contribution to national security, failing to uphold reduced reliance as a desired goal, and elevating the contribution of U.S. forward-based nuclear weapons in Europe to the security of NATO.

    Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan (center), State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon Jr. (left), and Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette brief reporters on the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review at the Pentagon on February 2. (Photo: Kathryn E. Holm/DoD)Expanding the role of nuclear weapons. Like the 2010 Obama administration NPR report1, this one states that the United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons “in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies, and partners.”2 It redefines “extreme circumstances,” however, to include not only nuclear attacks but also significant non-nuclear strategic attacks, including but not limited to “attacks on the U.S., allied, or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.”

    This is a wrong-headed departure from the 2010 NPR. It dangerously lowers the threshold for nuclear use against a range of potential non-nuclear threats, including cyberattacks, and thereby raises the risk of miscalculation and the possibility that nuclear weapons will be used, particularly if other countries adopt the same policy. Under this policy, a cyberattack could lead to options for a nuclear response being presented to a president who would have to decide in a compressed time frame with potentially incomplete information who did it and for what purpose. Conversely, if Russia or China were to adopt a similar policy, the United States could be at risk of nuclear attack as a result of inaccurate attribution or miscalculation due to differing perceptions of what constitutes a strategically significant cyberattack meriting a nuclear response. There is also the question of whether the use of a nuclear weapon would ever be judged a proportionate response to a cyberattack under international law.

    Further, the new NPR underscores that nuclear weapons will continue to play a critical role in deterring nuclear attack and in preventing large-scale conventional warfare between nuclear armed states for the foreseeable future because non-nuclear forces alone “do not provide comparable deterrence effects” and “do not adequately assure many allies and partners.”

    In contrast, the 2010 NPR deemed that “the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners,” adding that the United States had already reduced and would continue to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks. Although noting “there remains a narrow range of contingencies in which U.S. nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring” a conventional, chemical or biological weapons attack, the previous NPR committed to working to establish conditions under which sole purpose—a policy to threaten nuclear use only in response to a nuclear attack—could be safely adopted. It affirmed the United States could provide deterrence and reassurance for allies at lower nuclear-force levels and with reduced reliance on nuclear weapons, taking into account not only the security environment but also unrivaled U.S. conventional military capabilities and improvements in missile defenses. It committed to strengthening conventional capabilities and reducing the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks.

    Diluting the negative security assurance. For non-nuclear-weapon states, the 2018 and 2010 NPR reports offer an identical negative security assurance: “The United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states that are party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.” The new NPR, however, adds a caveat so broad it risks undermining the very purpose of the assurance, which is to assure non-nuclear-weapon states that they will not be subject to nuclear attack and thus have no incentive to acquire nuclear weapons. It “reserves the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of non-nuclear strategic attack technologies and U.S. capabilities to counter that threat”; the 2010 NPR caveat was limited to adjustment warranted by “the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and U.S. capabilities to counter it.”

    Questionable declaratory policy on nuclear terrorism. The 2018 NPR breaks new ground with a threat to use nuclear weapons to deter or punish nuclear terrorism.

    The United States will hold fully accountable any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor that supports or enables terrorist efforts to obtain or employ nuclear devices. Although the role of nuclear weapons in countering nuclear terrorism is limited, for effective deterrence our adversaries must understand that a terrorist nuclear attack against the United States or its allies and partners would qualify as “an extreme circumstance” under which the United States could consider the ultimate form of retaliation.3

    Implementation of this policy raises difficult questions of attribution and responsibility. If an insider in one of the U.S. national labs were to provide the Islamic State group with nuclear materials for a dirty bomb, would Russia be justified in attacking the United States at all, let alone with a nuclear weapon? The logic and value of this policy is not obvious.

    Elevating the role of U.S. forward-based nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Europe. The latest NPR reverses the decades-long movement by the United States and NATO to reduce the relevance and number of U.S. forward-based nuclear weapons in NATO’s deterrence and defense posture, in particular going significantly beyond current NATO policy to assert that these weapons contribute to the supreme guarantee of alliance security.4 The NPR report’s wording foreshadows a potentially divisive reopening of painstakingly negotiated NATO nuclear policy language in the run-up to the July 2018 summit in Brussels.

    The 2010 NPR committed to retain the capability to forward-deploy U.S. nuclear weapons on tactical fighter bombers and heavy bombers, without presuming what NATO would decide about future deterrence requirements (e.g., maintaining U.S. weapons in Europe). These weapons are primarily political symbols of U.S. commitment to NATO. They have virtually no military utility, and the cost-benefit assessment of keeping them in multiple European locations is unpersuasive given threats from political instability and terrorism. Rather than instigate a fight in NATO to elevate their role, the United States should be removing nuclear weapons from harm’s way, particularly in Turkey, where political instability, deteriorating relations with the United States, terrorism, and war with the Syrian Kurds underscore the risks of keeping nuclear weapons reportedly based 70 miles from the Syrian border.

    Calling for New Types of Nuclear Weapons Systems

    The NPR goes in the wrong direction by seeking to add new “nonstrategic” nuclear weapons capabilities to the already formidable U.S. arsenal. Rejecting the 2010 NPR report pledge of “no new nuclear capabilities,” it identifies a “regional deterrence capabilities gap” that must be addressed by two new types of low-yield nuclear weapons—one to be deployed on a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and the other a new nuclear sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM).

    An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is launched during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., September 5, 2016. The NPR calls for replacement of all three legs of the nuclear triad, including fielding the Minuteman III replacement, the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, beginning in 2029.  (USSTRATCOM courtesy photo)Citing a “dramatic deterioration of the strategic environment,” the NPR asserts the need for these new weapons in order to enhance the flexibility and responsiveness of U.S. nuclear forces. The report posits that these new capabilities will make deterrence more credible against regional aggression and the threat of limited first use, for instance from Russia, by giving the president an expanding range of limited and graduated options to credibly deter Russian nuclear or non-nuclear strategic attacks. It claims these capabilities will “raise not lower” the threshold for nuclear use and are not intended to enable nuclear war-fighting.

    To quote The New York Times editorial board, this argument is “insane.”5 First, the United States has a robust, flexible nuclear deterrent, including low-yield options. To suggest the current U.S. nuclear arsenal does not provide a sufficient deterrent to Russia or any other nation is preposterous.

    Second, new low-yield nuclear weapons would not “raise the bar” for nuclear use; they would lower it because they increase the contingencies and planning for use and fuel the illusion that a use of nuclear weapons could remain limited and not escalate into a large-scale nuclear exchange. As former Secretary of State George Shultz recently testified, “A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon. You use a small one, then you go to a bigger one. I think nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons and we need to draw the line there.”6

    Third, it is disingenuous to deem a low-yield warhead on an SLBM a nonstrategic nuclear weapon. Nuclear warheads are neither strategic nor nonstrategic; that nomenclature refers to their delivery vehicle. A low-yield nuclear warhead on an SLBM is still a strategic nuclear weapon. To underscore the point, when an SLBM is launched from a submarine, how would an adversary know to expect one “small” low-yield weapon? Why would it not assume the attack was the leading edge of a full-scale strategic nuclear attack?

    Fourth, resurrecting nuclear SLCMs reverses the 25-year trajectory set by President George H.W. Bush, who removed nuclear weapons from surface ships and nuclear-powered attack subs in 1991, and President Barack Obama’s 2010 NPR, which retired nuclear SLCMs and the capacity to redeploy them on attack subs. Co-mingling nuclear and conventional capabilities at sea is costly and operationally complex and introduces risks of miscalculation and likelihood of use. If a dual-capable SLCM were launched, how would an adversary know whether it was conventional or nuclear?

    Rather than compelling positive changes in Russian behavior as the 2018 NPR report intimates, pursuit of nuclear SLCMs is more likely to stimulate Russia to deploy more nuclear weapons at sea and more missiles on land that violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Russian investments in new intermediate-range strike capabilities appear driven by perceptions of vulnerability to U.S. and NATO prompt-strike and missile defense capabilities. Compounding Russia’s perceived vulnerabilities will prompt more countermeasures, not submission. By what logic should the United States fuel an incipient arms race by pursuing nuclear weapons systems it does not need?

    These “supplemental” capabilities add to the already unachievable $1.2 trillion Obama plan for modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal and infrastructure over the next 30 years. As General Frank Klotz, recently retired administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, observed, the capacity of the nuclear weapons complex to refurbish and dismantle nuclear warheads and components is already overstretched.7 A more responsible NPR would have strived to rationalize and prioritize the program of record inherited from the Obama administration by considering what elements could be cancelled, postponed, or modified to put the nuclear modernization program on a more stable, affordable, and politically sustainable footing, with a focus on survivable forces intended primarily if not exclusively for deterrence of nuclear attacks.

    Abdicating U.S. Global Leadership

    In contrast to the 2010 NPR, the 2018 review puts almost exclusive emphasis on nuclear weapons and military means and insufficiently promotes diplomacy and nonmilitary instruments of national power to address national security threats. It overstates the degradation in the threat environment since 2010 and fails to explain why more types of and uses for nuclear weapons is an effective means to address threats that have legitimately worsened. These include increased Russian assertiveness, the growing North Korean threat, Chinese actions in South China Sea, and the spread of new technologies, including cyberabilities.

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with General Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, at the 8th Army Operational Command Center at Camp Humphreys, south of Seoul, on November 7, 2017. The Nuclear Posture Review makes no mention of the role diplomacy could play in addressing the North Korean nuclear threat. (Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)The new NPR report fails to make a convincing case that the United States is slipping from a position of nuclear parity with Russia and facing a regional deterrence gap necessitating new nuclear capabilities, or that the United States is newly threatened by China’s still significantly smaller nuclear arsenal. It fails to explain why all other nuclear-armed countries except Russia will not be deterred by a nuclear force that is primarily sized and postured to deter Russia, whose arsenal is orders of magnitude larger than any other potential adversary, including China. It undersells what the 2010 NPR report termed the “unrivaled conventional capabilities” of the United States—capabilities that are still unrivaled and contribute immensely to deterrence and the defense of our nation, allies, and partners.

    Against that backdrop, the 2018 NPR heralds a retreat from U.S. global leadership on nuclear nonproliferation and arms control. Although it reaffirms commitment to the NPT and supports the International Atomic Energy Agency and mechanisms to constrain, deny, and sanction proliferators, it falls short in advancing a positive strategy for addressing proliferation threats through diplomacy and pursuing steps related to the disarmament pillar of the NPT. This is a stark contrast with the 2010 NPR, which envisioned a comprehensive approach to reducing nuclear dangers and pursuing the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, including through practical steps of further nuclear reductions with Russia, pursuit of a fissile material cutoff treaty, and ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

    The new NPR report is silent on multilateral nuclear arms control, other than to reject CTBT ratification while upholding, with caveats, the testing moratorium.8 On bilateral arms control with Russia, it notes fairly that the current environment makes bilateral progress extremely challenging, but offers no proposals to improve the environment, failing even to endorse a five-year extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

    The latter is an easy call: As long as Russia is complying with New START, it is strongly in the U.S. interest to extend the treaty’s limits and most importantly its robust and intrusive verification regime, providing essential long-term predictability and insight into each other’s strategic nuclear forces. Russia’s violation of and mutual recriminations over the INF Treaty make this especially important. Extension is not a favor to Russia; it would be a mutually beneficial and stabilizing step as the United States and Russia seek to address bilateral problems and rebuild trust.

    The policies in the NPR will further erode strategic stability, notwithstanding the report’s stated desire for stable relations with Russia and China. While calling for nuclear dialogue and transparency with China, it offers no strategy for what do to about the erosion of strategic stability with Russia other than to rev up the engine for an arms race. It is devoid of any consideration of how the nuclear policies and forces it prescribes will be perceived by other countries, particularly Russia and China; how they might react and thus affect strategic stability; and how U.S. national security will be affected if they and other countries adopt similar policies and postures.

    The overarching problems with the nonproliferation and arms control element of the NPR are what it portends for U.S. policy and how it will be received internationally. Substantively, it offers no strategy and few proposals for reducing nuclear dangers, encouraging nuclear reductions, peacefully advancing nonproliferation, and sustaining international adherence to and support for the NPT regime. It fails to acknowledge the positive contribution of diplomacy in the Iran nuclear agreement and makes no mention of the role diplomacy could play in addressing the North Korean nuclear threat. It fails to reaffirm, in contrast to the 2010 NPR, that it is in the interest of all nations to extend forever the now 73-year record of nuclear non-use.

    The new nuclear weapons prohibition treaty, criticized in the NPR, is largely an outgrowth of the frustration and disappointment that has grown among non-nuclear-weapon states with the pace of progress by the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom on their NPT Article VI disarmament commitment.9 With the international community increasingly polarized, this NPR adds fuel to the fire and offers little to work with for allies and partners who have joined the United States in advocating a practical step-by-step approach as the most viable path toward verifiable disarmament. Rather than leading and helping to unify the international community with a positive and actionable nonproliferation agenda, the United States will find itself on the defensive trying to explain a nuclear policy likely perceived as evidence of a failure to uphold its end of the NPT bargain.

    Conclusion

    The goal of U.S. nuclear policy should be to prevent the use of nuclear weapons by deliberate act, miscalculation, or accident and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials to states and terrorists. Achieving these goals requires the United States to marshal all instruments of national power and to cooperate effectively with the international community.

    The Trump administration’s NPR takes the country in the wrong direction by increasing reliance on nuclear weapons and expanding the circumstances contemplated for their use; calling for new types of nuclear weapons systems that will provoke or exacerbate an arms race and will raise the risks of miscalculation and use; failing to set forth a realistic nuclear force posture and modernization plan that emphasizes stability and survivability and is affordable, executable, and politically sustainable; failing to articulate a positive strategy for U.S. leadership in nonproliferation and practical steps in furtherance of U.S. obligations under NPT Article VI; and failing to set forth a comprehensive strategy for addressing nuclear and regional threats through diplomacy and other nonmilitary tools, along with strengthening conventional defenses and ensuring a safe, secure, and reliable deterrent.

    The American public and Congress have a responsibility to consider whether this new nuclear posture is taking the country in the right direction and, if not, to encourage a course correction. Lawmakers should advance an alternative vision for U.S. nuclear policy and global nonproliferation leadership, deny funding for the dangerous and unnecessary new types of nuclear weapons systems proposed, and reassess the $1.2 trillion cost, feasibility, and necessity of the full range of nuclear modernization programs proposed for the next three decades. The Department of State should be given the opportunity to put more meat on the bones of a nuclear policy and strategy largely devoid of diplomatic initiatives.

    The damage to U.S. global leadership on nuclear nonproliferation as a result of the plans and policies in the NPR is real, and the stakes are far too high to allow these dangerous policies to go unchallenged. The time to start steering toward a better and safer track for U.S. nuclear policy and posture is now.

    ENDNOTES

    1 Office of the Secretary of Defense, "Nuclear Posture Review Report," April 2010, https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/defenseReviews/NPR/2010_Nuclear_Posture_Review_Report.pdf

    2 Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review,” February 2018, p. 21, https://media.defense.gov/2018/Feb/02/2001872886/-1/-1/1/2018-NUCLEAR-POSTURE-REVIEW-FINAL-REPORT.PDF (hereinafter 2018 NPR report).

    3 Ibid, p. 68.

    4 The 2018 NPR report states, “The United States will make available its strategic nuclear forces, and commit nuclear weapons forward-deployed to Europe, to the defense of NATO. These forces provide an essential political and military link between Europe and North America and are the supreme guarantee of Alliance security.” 2018 NPR report, p. 36. Current NATO policy as reflected in the July 2016 Warsaw summit communiqué states, “The strategic forces of the Alliance, particularly those of the United States, are the supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies…. NATO’s nuclear deterrence posture also relies, in part, on United States’ nuclear weapons forward-deployed in Europe.” “Warsaw Summit Communiqué Issued by the Heads of State and Government Participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw 8-9 July 2016,”
    press release (2016) 100 (July 9, 2016), para. 53.

    5 “False Alarm Adds to Real Alarm About Trump’s Nuclear Risk,” The New York Times, January 13, 2018.

    6 Connor O’Brien, “Schultz Warns Congress Against Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons,” Politico, January 25, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/25/nuclear-weapons-george-schultz-369450.

    7 Aaron Mehta, “As Trump Seeks New Nuke Options, Weapons Agency Head Warns of Capacity Overload,” Defense News, January 23, 2018, https://www.defensenews.com/space/2018/01/23/as-trump-seeks-new-nuke-options-weapons-agency-head-warns-of-capacity-overload/.

    8 The 2018 NPR report rejects Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty ratification; supports the International Monitoring System; commits to maintaining the testing moratorium, “unless necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the U.S. arsenal” or to meet “severe geopolitical challenges”; and encourages others to declare or maintain a moratorium.

    9 China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are the five states recognized under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as nuclear-weapon states. NPT Article VI requires all parties to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”


    Lynn Rusten is a senior adviser at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. From 2011 to 2014, she was senior director for arms control and nonproliferation on the National Security Council staff.

    Posted: March 1, 2018

    The New U.S. Nuclear Strategy is Flawed and Dangerous. Here’s Why.

    Sections:

    Description: 

    In December 2016, President Donald Trump tweeted that the United States “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability,” prompting condemnation in the United States and around the world. Those concerns, it turns out, were well justified.

    Body: 

    Volume 10, Issue 3, February 15, 2018

    In December 2016, President Donald Trump tweeted that the United States “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” and later told MSNBC that he would “outmatch” and “outlast” other potential competitors in a nuclear arms race. The comments mostly prompted condemnation in the United States and around the world and raised concerns about the direction the president would take U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

    U.S. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General Paul Selva (L), arrives at a closed briefing before the Senate Armed Service Committee January 23, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a closed briefing on the Nuclear Posture Review. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)Those concerns, it turns out, were well justified.

    The Defense Department released Feb. 2 a new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the fourth since the end of the Cold War. The NPR is a strategy document that outlines the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. strategy, the plans for maintaining and upgrading nuclear forces, and the overall U.S. approach to nuclear arms control and nonproliferation.

    Though there are, not surprisingly, elements of continuity with previous reviews, the proposed changes in the new NPR are significant and align with Trump’s more aggressive and impulsive nuclear notions. The document incorporates wish list items long-advocated by parts of the nuclear weapons establishment and breaks with past U.S. efforts to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons worldwide in several key areas.

    It is true that the international security environment is less favorable than it was in 2010 when the Obama administration conducted its NPR. Some of the other nuclear-armed states have not been responsible nuclear citizens. Technology is advancing in new and unpredictable ways. And the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal— originally built during the Cold War-era and refurbished since—is aging.

    But these developments do not justify the approach advanced in this NPR.

    The review proposes to expand the circumstances under which Trump might consider the use of nuclear weapons, including in response to so-called “non-nuclear strategic threats” and calls for the development of new, more usable nuclear weapons capabilities.

    The review also walks back from the longstanding U.S. leadership role on arms control and nonproliferation at a time when the global nuclear weapons risk reduction enterprise is facing significant challenges.

    Taken together, these and other changes in the Trump Nuclear Posture Review rest on faulty assumptions, are unnecessary and unlikely to achieve their stated goal, set the stage for an even more unsustainable rate of spending on U.S. nuclear weapons, would accelerate global nuclear competition, and could increase the risk of nuclear conflict in the years ahead.

    Wider Range of Nuclear Use Options

    Instead of deemphasizing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy as previous NPRs have done, the Trump NPR envisions a greater role for the weapons against a wider range of threats. Trump administration officials claim that their NPR is consistent with the 2010 Obama NPR on declaratory policy. Both in tone and substance, it is not.

    The 2018 NPR says that the first use of nuclear weapons will only be considered under “extreme circumstances” to defend the “vital interests” of the United States and its allies (p. 21). The 2010 NPR used identical language. Unlike the previous administration, however, the Trump administration defines extreme circumstances more broadly to include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” against “U.S., allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.”

    The document does not explicitly define “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” but at various points says it could include chemical and biological attacks, large-scale conventional aggression, and cyberattacks. The review references the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks over 30 times.

    The 2010 NPR, on the other hand, described “a narrow range of contingencies” in which nuclear weapons may play a role in deterring "a conventional or CBW attack.” There was no reference to cyberattacks or attacks on nuclear command, control, and communications capabilities anywhere in the 2010 document.

    “This opens questions,” writes former Pentagon official Rebecca Hersman, “about whether the United States would consider using” nuclear “weapons more readily than it might have in the past or in response to attacks that are less than fully catastrophic.”

    In addition, the 2010 NPR stated that the United States “will continue to strengthen conventional capabilities and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks, with the objective of making deterrence of nuclear attack on the United States or our allies and partners the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons.”

    Indeed, by the end of his second term of office President Obama believed that goal had effectively been achieved. As then Vice President Joe Biden put it in remarks delivered in January 2017: “given our non-nuclear capabilities and the nature of today’s threats, it’s hard to envision a plausible scenario in which the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States would be necessary. Or make sense. President Obama and I are confident we can deter and defend ourselves and our allies against non-nuclear threats through other means.”

    In contrast, the new NPR explicitly rejects the idea of “sole purpose” (p. 20). The review extols ambiguity and proposes two new low-yield nuclear capabilities to “expand the range of credible U.S. options for responding to nuclear or non-nuclear strategic attack” (p. 55).

    The Trump NPR diverges from the Obama NPR on declaratory policy in still other ways.

    The 2010 review updated and strengthened the U.S. pledge of nonuse against non-nuclear-weapon states that are in good standing with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations, even in the unlikely event that one of those states attacks the United States or its allies with chemical or biological weapons. This revised negative security assurance expanded the security benefits for non-nuclear-weapon states of good faith membership in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime.

    The 2018 NPR reiterates this pledge but undermines the value of this assurance by retaining “the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of non-nuclear strategic attack technologies and U.S. capabilities to counter that threat” (p. 21).

    It is notable that President Trump argued in his 2018 State of the Union address that “we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression by any other nation or anyone else.”

    This approach represents a clear shift away from past U.S. strategy and practice that aims to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. military and foreign policy. The 2010 NPR stated that the “fundamental role” of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack against the United States or its allies, not “any act of aggression.”

    The proposed changes in the 2018 NPR on the role of nuclear weapons are real. And they are dangerous.

    Threatening nuclear retaliation to counter new kinds of “asymmetric” attacks would lower the threshold for nuclear use, increase the risks of miscalculation, and make it easier for other countries to justify excessive roles for nuclear weapons in their policies. Such threats are also unlikely to be proportional and therefore would be difficult to make credible. For example, though a kinetic or nonkinetic attack on U.S. nuclear command and control capabilities, which support both nuclear and non-nuclear missions, could have major repercussions, such an attack is unlikely to result in any human casualties.

    Given the overall conventional superiority of the U.S.-led alliance system, it is in the U.S. interest to raise, not lower, the bar for nuclear use. A more prudent approach to countering potential non-nuclear attacks on U.S. infrastructure and command and control capabilities would include strengthening the resilience of these systems against cyberattack and ensuring the availability of credible symmetric and asymmetric conventional response options.

    New, “More Usable” Nuclear Weapons

    The Trump NPR calls for the development of new low-yield nuclear capabilities, primarily to counter Russia’s alleged willingness to use nuclear weapons first on a limited basis early in a conventional conflict or crisis (also known as “escalate to deescalate”). The review warns that Russia maintains a much larger arsenal of "non-strategic" nuclear weapons than the United States and is upgrading those weapons.

    To attempt to correct Russia's purported "mistaken impression" that its non-strategic forces could "provide a coercive advantage in crises or at lower levels of conflict," the review proposes to supplement the U.S. arsenal with the following capabilities:

    • the near-term deployment of a new low-yield, W76-1 nuclear warhead variant for the D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and
    • the longer-term development of a new nuclear sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM).

    To counter Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the review also seeks a new (for the time being conventional) ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) that would, if tested and deployed, put the U.S. in violation of the treaty.

    The shortcomings in the rationale for additional low-yield options are too numerous to count.

    For starters, the claim that Russia has lowered the threshold for the first use of nuclear weapons is hotly disputed. While Russia appears to rely more heavily on nuclear weapons for its security than the United States due to its overall conventional inferiority and concerns about U.S. missile defenses, is violating the INF Treaty, and developing new types of nuclear weapons, Russia’s official nuclear doctrine does not support the claim that it has an “escalate to deescalate” doctrine. As Jeffrey Edmonds, a former director for Russia on the National Security Council, has written, “If the Russian leadership decides to use nuclear weapons in a limited way to gain escalation control, then it is likely doing so as a last measure, reacting from a perception that the Russian state is about to fall.”

    In fact, what is far more likely to prompt Russian President Vladimir Putin to perceive that he could get away with limited nuclear use is past and future statements by President Trump questioning the value of NATO and U.S. alliances. Deploying additional low-yield nuclear options won’t solve this political problem.

    In any event, the review fails to produce compelling evidence that Russia might believe the United States would be self-deterred from using the weapons in its current arsenal (conventional or nuclear) in response to a limited Russian nuclear attack. Speaking of the weapons in its current arsenal, Washington already possesses hundreds of low-yield warheads as part of the air-leg of the triad and plans to invest over $150 billion in the coming decades to ensure these warheads can penetrate the most advanced air defenses. New low-yield options are a solution in search of a problem.

    The NPR argues that additional low-yield options are “not intended to enable” nuclear war-fighting “[n]or will it lower the nuclear threshold” (p. 54). But this assertion ignores the fact that the stated purpose is to make their use “more credible” in the eyes of U.S. adversaries, which means that they are meant to be seen as “more usable.”

    The belief that a nuclear conflict could be controlled is dangerous thinking. The fog of war is thick, the fog of nuclear war would be even thicker. Such thinking could also have the perverse effect of convincing Russia that it could get away with limited nuclear use without putting its survival at risk.

    Many military targets are in or near urban areas. It has been estimated that the use of even a fraction of U.S. and Russian nuclear forces could lead to the death of tens of millions of people in each country. An all-out exchange would kill hundreds of millions and produce catastrophic global consequences with adverse agricultural, economic, health, and environmental consequences for billions of people.

    No country should be preparing to wage a “limited nuclear war” that neither side can guarantee would remain “limited.” Rather, as Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev declared in 1985, today’s Russian and U.S. leaders should recognize that “a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”

    Even if one buys the rationale that more low-yield options are needed, the two new nuclear capabilities proposed by the review are deeply flawed.

    Given that U.S. strategic submarines currently carry SLBMs armed with higher-yield warheads, how would Russia know that an incoming missile armed with a low-yield warhead wasn’t actually armed with high-yield warheads? The answer is it wouldn’t, thereby increasing the risks of unintended escalation.

    Deploying nuclear SLCMs on U.S. surface ships and/or attack submarines also raises several concerns. The potential for miscalculation would increase since an adversary would be unable to determine if an incoming missile is armed with a nuclear or conventional warhead. And the Navy is unlikely to be pleased with the additional operational and financial burdens that would come with nuclearizing the surface and/or attack submarine fleet.

    The NPR claims that development of a new nuclear SLCM, which would take nearly decade, could serve as a bargaining chip in future arms control negotiations with Russia. The document states that if Moscow “returns to compliance with its arms control obligations, reduces its non-strategic nuclear arsenal, and corrects its other destabilizing behaviors, the United States may reconsider the pursuit of a SLCM” (p. 55). This requirement is so sweeping that it lacks any realistic negotiating value. It’s also not clear how additional nuclear options would be useful bargaining chips given Russia’s concerns about overall NATO conventional superiority.

    Ultimately, attempting to mimic Russia by developing more low-yield options would play into Moscow's hands, since it can match NATO in the nuclear sphere. The main deterrence challenge Russia poses to the alliance is not nuclear. That means the United States should continue to invest in maintaining its overall conventional edge, buttress defenses as needed on NATO’s eastern flank where Russia has local superiority, and more effectively defend against and respond to Russia's use of disinformatin, propoganda, and cyber tools to undermine western democratic institutions. At the same time, it should seek opportunities to engage with Moscow to reduce tensions and the risk of renewed military competition.

    Undermining the Taboo Against Nuclear Testing

    The NPR asserts that “the United States does not support the ratification of the [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty] CTBT” (p. 63) even though the United States and 182 other nations have signed the treaty, and even though there is no technical need to resume nuclear testing. No reason or justification for rejecting the goal of CTBT ratification is provided.

    The review says that “the United States will continue to support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Preparatory Committee” and “the related International Monitoring System and the International Data Center.” It also calls upon other states not to conduct nuclear testing and states that “[t]he United States will not resume nuclear explosive testing unless necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the U.S. arsenal.”

    But the NPR proclaims that the United States will remain ready to “resume nuclear testing if necessary to meet severe technological or geopolitical challenges.”

    The NPR also seeks “to reduce the time required to design, develop, and initially produce a warhead, from a decision to enter full-scale development.” An annual National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) report released in November 2017 shortens the previous readiness timeline to conduct a “simple [nuclear] test” explosion from 24 to 36 months down to six to 10 months, undermining the global nuclear testing taboo. This shortened timeline means that should the United States decide to conduct a “simple test” explosion, it should be prepared to do so within six to 10 months.

    While the NNSA report and the NPR both reaffirm that “there is no current requirement to conduct an underground nuclear test,” the administration’s hasty rejection of CTBT ratification, combined with the NNSA’s revised testing readiness timeline suggests the Trump administration only wants to reap the benefits of the treaty, including the data from the monitoring system, while leaving the door open to resuming nuclear testing.

    A Nuclear Force That is Excessive and Unsustainable

    The Trump NPR’s proposals to develop new nuclear capabilities come on top of the existing nuclear triad recapitalization program of record that the Trump administration inherited from its predecessor. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the Obama-era plans would cost over $1.2 trillion (excluding the impact of inflation) over the next 30 years.

    Massive spending on nuclear weapons on the scale and schedule envisioned by the 2018 NPR will pose a major threat to other high priority national security programs, to say nothing about Trump’s pledge to expand the non-nuclear military. What makes the growing cost to sustain the nuclear mission so worrisome for military planners is that costs are scheduled to reach a peak during the mid-2020s and overlap with large increases in projected spending on conventional weapon system modernization programs. Though the recent budget deal agreed to in Congress has improved the near-term outlook for defense spending, the Pentagon is likely to face continuing budget pressure in the future.

    The NPR acknowledges that the upgrade costs are “substantial” but attempts to downplay them by claiming that nuclear weapons will “only” consume more than 6.4 percent of the defense budget (p. 52). This projection does not include the major costs that must be borne by NNSA to upgrade nuclear warheads and their supporting infrastructure.

    The review offers no plan to pay for the rising price tag to upgrade the triad and the coming bow wave of non-nuclear modernization costs. It also fails to examine more pragmatic, cost-effective alternatives.

    The force outlined in the NPR calls for maintaining and upgrading U.S. nuclear forces at levels that exceed the deterrence requirements outlined by the Pentagon in 2013, which determined that the deployed strategic arsenal could be reduced by up to one-third below the limits set by the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) of 1,550 warheads and 700 delivery systems. Even if the United States maintains its arsenal at the New START levels, it can do so at a significantly lower cost, according to the CBO.

    Planning for an Arms Race

    President Trump said Feb. 12 that the United States is “creating a brand new nuclear force...[W]e’re gonna be so far ahead of everybody else in nuclear like you’ve never seen before.” The NPR comports with the president’s stated objective by laying the groundwork to provide “capabilities needed to quickly produce new or additional weapons” beyond the 4,000 warheads currently in the active U.S. nuclear stockpile (pgs. 59-64).

    One measure of the scale of the plan for building “new or additional weapons” is given in the commitment to “[p]rovide the enduring capability and capacity to produce plutonium pits [nuclear warhead cores] at a rate of no fewer than 80 pits per year by 2030” (p. 62). No basis is offered for this minimum capacity target.

    The NPR also calls for options to expand the arsenal by using old warheads, including “modifying warheads,” assessing “the potential for retired warheads and components to augment the future hedge stockpile,” and reducing “the time required to design, develop, and initially produce a warhead, from a decision to enter full-scale development” (p. 63).

    In addition, the review proposes to accelerate the life extension programs for the W78 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and W80-1 air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) warheads. It leaves open the option of whether to pursue Obama-era plans to develop common, interoperable warheads for ICBMs and SLBMs. The new NPR also appears to want to keep indefinitely the B83-1 warhead (the only remaining U.S. megaton-class warhead). The previous plan had been to retire it once confidence in the B61-12 had been achieved, if not sooner. In 2013 NNSA estimated that the cost to life extend the B83 would be $4 to $5 billion.

    The NPR says that the Pentagon will undertake research and development “for advanced nuclear delivery system technology and prototyping capabilities,” including “on the rapid development of nuclear delivery systems, alternative basing modes, and capabilities for defeating advanced air and missile defenses” (p. 40). This sweeping language suggests the possible pursuit of research and development on mobile ICBMs and hypersonic missiles for nuclear weapons delivery.

    These buildup plans go far beyond those proposed by the Obama administration, which married its proposal to develop a more responsive nuclear infrastructure with pledges to reduce the size of the stockpile of nondeployed hedge warheads and accelerate the rate of dismantlement of retired warheads. The Trump NPR does not reiterate these commitments.

    The NPR gives short shrift to the additional financial and operational demands preparing for an arms race will put on an already overburdened NNSA. Though NNSA would receive a significant budget increase in the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget request, such a buildup is unlikely to be executable.

    According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office report issued last year, the “NNSA’s plans to modernize its nuclear weapons do not align with its budget, raising affordability concerns.” And former NNSA administrator Frank Klotz said in a Jan. 23 interview just two days after leaving office that the agency is “working pretty much at full capacity... And you can draw your conclusion [on the Trump NPR proposals] from that.”

    Nevertheless, the NPR makes an open-ended commitment to unleashing a nuclear weapon buildup whenever the U.S. sees fit. It is a clear incitement to other weapon states to do the same, and a clear violation of the NPT obligation to end the arms race and pursue effective disarmament measures.

    Undermines U.S. Arms Control and Nonproliferation Leadership

    In his January 2018 State of the Union address, Trump dismissed the idea of the elimination of nuclear weapons — a goal embraced by American President’s since the beginning of the nuclear age— as some “magical moment in the distant future.”

    President Trump added Feb. 12: “Frankly I’d like to get rid of a lot of ‘em [nuclear weapons]. And if they [other nuclear-armed states] want to do that we’ll go along with them. We won’t lead the way, we’ll go along with them.”

    Not surprisingly, the new Trump NPR does not proactively seek negotiations to limit nuclear arms.

    Arms control only gets a brief mention at the end of the NPR and it’s a generally dismissive mention at that. The document passively states that “the United States will remain receptive to future arms control negotiations if conditions permit” and negotiations that “advance U.S. and allied security, are verifiable, and enforceable.” No previous nuclear arms control agreement has included enforcement measures.

    In contrast, a major and important theme throughout the 2010 NPR was that “by reducing the role and numbers of U.S. nuclear weapons…we can put ourselves in a much better position to persuade our NPT [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] partners to join with us in adopting the measures needed to reinvigorate the nonproliferation regime and secure nuclear materials worldwide.”

    The 2018 NPR does state that the “United States will continue efforts to create a more cooperative and benign security environment” (p. 24) and that “the United States will continue to pursue the political and security conditions that could enable further nuclear reductions” (p. 95).

    But the review offers next to nothing in the way of proposals to advance particularly U.S.-Russian arms control efforts and address the growing challenges to strategic stability more broadly. As Michele Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, put in a Jan. 18 interview:

    “One of the things that’s missing in this NPR is a focus on nuclear diplomacy. How are we going to get to our goals of reducing the dangers, reducing arsenals, reducing the role of nuclear weapons, what’s the strategy there? There’s virtually no discussion of the arms control component of U.S. nuclear policy in this document.”

    “The NPR essentially abandons the United States' leadership role in nonproliferation and arms control that have marked every president since Dwight Eisenhower,” noted Tom Countryman, former Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation, in a Jan. 23 Arms Control Association briefing on the NPR.

    On the one bilateral strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty that is currently in force—New START—the NPR does not commit its possible extension, despite the obvious benefits.

    New START has improved strategic stability, predictability, and transparency, and verifiably trimmed the still oversized U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. At a time when U.S.-Russian relations remain strained, New START, which is set to expire in 2021, serves an even more important role in reducing nuclear risks.

    The next step should be for Presidents Trump and Putin to agree to extend the treaty for another five years–to 2026. If New START is allowed to lapse in 2021 with nothing to replace it, there would be no limits on U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces for the first time since 1972. The United States would have fewer tools with which to verify the size and composition of the Russian nuclear stockpile.

    Flawed Assumptions

    Several of the arguments offered in the NPR for expanding the diversity and role of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy are highly misleading.

    • The Trump plan is centered on the mistaken belief that the United States is falling behind other countries in the fielding of a reliable and credible nuclear arsenal and it claims that there are gaps in our ability to “credibly” threaten to wage nuclear war. In reality, there is no “nuclear missile gap.” The United States is not falling “behind.” The U.S. arsenal is the most potent in the world and is more than intimidating enough to deter nuclear attack by others—and if ever used—kill hundreds of millions of people.
    • The Trump nuclear plan falsely suggests that U.S. leadership on nuclear disarmament has not contributed to nonproliferation efforts or enhanced U.S. global standing. In reality, the commitment of the nuclear-armed states to halt the arms race and achieve nuclear disarmament established in the NPT has been crucial to preventing proliferation and was essential to the non-nuclear weapon states decision extend the NPT indefinitely in 1995.
    • The Trump nuclear plan argues that the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been “polarizing” and “could damage the nuclear nonproliferation regime.” In reality, it is nuclear weapons, and U.S. threats of “fire and fury,” that are dangerous and divisive. This more aggressive U.S. nuclear posture gives other nuclear actors a cynical excuse to justify their ongoing nuclear upgrade efforts and build up their own nuclear capabilities. The “Nuclear Ban Treaty,” on the other hand, is a good faith effort by more than 130 states to meet their responsibility as signatories of NPT to help end the arms race. Steps, like the Ban Treaty, aimed at reducing the risk of catastrophic nuclear weapons use are necessary and should be welcomed.

    Bottom Line

    Despite elements of continuity with previous administrations, the Trump NPR is not a status quo document.

    Rather than develop new nuclear roles and capabilities and put additional strain on an already wobbly global nuclear order, the United States needs to show more responsible nuclear leadership.

    It will be up to Congress, U.S. allies, the international community, and ultimately the U.S. public to ensure that Trump’s radical nuclear plans do not become the tipping point toward a new and more dangerous nuclear era.—DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director, and KINGSTON A. REIF, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy

    Posted: February 15, 2018

    Press Briefing: The Trump Administration's New Nuclear Posture Review

    Sections:

    Description: 

    The Arms Control Association will host a briefing with a group of top experts to analyze the implications of the new Trump nuclear strategy.

    Body: 


    Tuesday, January 23, 2018
    1:00 to 2:30 p.m.
    Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC

    The transcript of the event is posted below.


    Press Briefing with Thomas Countryman, Joan Rohlfing, Jon Wolfsthal, and Kingston Reif. (Photo: Arms Control Association/ ALLEN HARRIS)The Trump administration will soon formally release its revised strategy document on the role and composition of U.S. nuclear forces, known as the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).

    According to a leaked draft of the 64-page document, the administration calls for expanding the number of scenarios under which the United States might consider the use nuclear weapons—including in response to a major cyberattack—and it proposes the development of new nuclear weapons and capabilities for “tailored” war scenarios.

    The document also reaffirms support for replacing and upgrading all three legs of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which is estimated to cost in excess of $1.25 trillion over the next 30 years and walks back U.S. commitments to pursue measures to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons.

    The independent, nonpartisan Arms Control Association hosted a briefing with top experts to analyze the implications of the Trump administration's nuclear strategy. The transcript and audio recording is below.

    Speakers included:

    • Jon Wolfsthal, former Senior Director, National Security Council
    • Thomas Countryman, Chairman of the Board; and
    • Joan Rohlfing, President, Nuclear Threat Initiative
    • Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament Policy, Arms Control Association (moderator)

    PHOTOS:  Available here. Usage requires attribution to the Arms Control Association. 

    AUDIO RECORDING: Listen here.

    TRANSCRIPT:

    KINGSTON REIF: Well, good afternoon everyone and welcome to today's event on the Trump Administration's Nuclear Posture Review. My name is Kingston Reif and I am the Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association.

    As most of you know, the Arms Control Association is an independent nonpartisan membership organization. We were established in 1971 and we're dedicated to reducing and eliminating the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons, namely nuclear, chemical, biological weapons as well as certain conventional weapons that pose particular harm and risk to civilians.

    Outside the room, you'll find copies of two of our recent issues of our flagship publication, "Arms Control Today," which include commentaries on the forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review.

    So, when we first conceived of this event, we anticipated previewing possible key outcomes of the NPR and the implications based on fragments of reporting and intelligence, and little did we know that a full pre-decisional draft of the document would leak, which now provides us the opportunity to discuss and analyze the review itself and the Pentagon, as we understand it, is formally slated to release the NPR in early February and the date that we are hearing is February 2nd.

    At the Arms Control Association, our take is that the NPR constitutes unnecessary, unexecutable (ph) and unsafe overreach. Yes, the international security environment is less favorable than it was in 2010 when the Obama Administration conducted its Nuclear Posture Review. Yes, some of the other nuclear arm states have not been responsible nuclear citizens. Yes, technology is advancing in new and unpredictable ways and yes, the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal is aging.

    But none of these justifies the direction that Trump Nuclear Posture Review proposes to take U.S. nuclear strategy. Though there are elements of continuity with the policies of previous administrations, the document aligns with President Trump's more aggressive and impulsive nuclear notions and breaks with past efforts to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons worldwide in several key areas.

    First, instead of deemphasizing the role of nuclear weapons and U.S. policy, as previous Nuclear Posture Reviews have done, the Trump NPR actually seeks a greater role for them. Notably, the review proposes to enlarge the circumstances under which the United States would consider the use of nuclear weapons and explicit—to explicitly include "non-nuclear strategic attacks including major cyber attacks.”

    Second, the NPR calls for new more usable nuclear weapons. These include the near-term deployment of low yield nuclear warheads on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and the longer-term development of a new nuclear armed sea-launched cruise missile. These proposals would come on top of the existing nuclear recapitalization program of record that the Trump Administration inherited from its predecessor, which according to the Congressional Budget Office will cost $1.2 trillion over the next 30 years excluding the impact of inflation.

    And third, the review walks back from key U.S. non-proliferation and disarmament commitments. Arms control only gets a brief mention at the end of the document and it's generally—and it is a generally a dismissive mention at that.

    So, to help us further explore these and other issues, we have assembled a topnotch panel of experts. Our first speaker, on the far right will be Thomas Countryman. Tom, I am thrilled to say, is the new Chairman of the Board of the Arms Control Association and former Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

    After Tom, we will have Joan Rohlfing who is seated between the three speakers there, the President of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, excuse me and batting third will be Jon Wolfsthal, former Senior Director on the National Security Council responsible for nuclear weapons and arms control issues.

    Each of our speakers will provide about 7 to 10 minutes of opening remarks which should leave plenty of time for questions from all of you. And before we get started, I just wanted to mention that we have coffee, tea, water and a selection of sodas in the back if you haven't seen them, and also if you're looking to access the wireless, the guest network is C-E-I-P guest and you open your browser and that should take you through the prompts that you need to get on the wireless and with that, the floor is yours, Tom.

    THOMAS COUNTRYMAN: Thank you, Kingston. And thank all of you for coming out today. Nuclear weapons of course are technically complex and the policy that dictates their use, their strategy is perhaps esoteric, but the issue is not so complex that it cannot be comprehended by the public, by the media and crucially, in the months ahead, by the United States Congress.

    The new NPR has real implications for our budget, for our leadership role and the world and above all, for our national security and it is crucial that the media and the public participate in an informed debate within the Congress on these issues.

    As Kingston noted, U.S. nuclear policy has great elements of consistency. It is in many ways slow to change and you will note similarities in this draft report from what was decided by the Bush Nuclear Posture Review in 2002 and the Obama Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, but the changes are significant and have real-world implications. They are significant in their substance, in their tone, in what is added and in the striking omissions from previous posture reviews.

    What concerns me most directly is the talk of an expanded role for nuclear weapons. For years, the United States under successive Presidents of both parties has consistently narrowed the circumstances under which an American President would contemplate use of nuclear weapons. For the first time in a long time, instead there is an expansion, an explicit expansion of the circumstances under which the President would consider such use.

    As Kingston noted, this includes responding to non-nuclear threats including that of a massive cyber attack.

    A year ago, Vice President Joe Biden, just before he left office, stood right here and spoke about the progress that the Obama Administration had made not only in narrowing those circumstances, but in reducing the role and the number of weapons in our nuclear arsenal and I’d just like to quote from Vice President Biden at that time. He said here, "Given our non-nuclear capabilities and the nature of today's threats, it is hard to envision a plausible scenario in which the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States would be necessary."

    That remains the case today and the draft Nuclear Posture Review fails to give a convincing rationale why it has changed. It does not explain why the U.S. nuclear arsenal, still the most powerful and diverse possessed by any nuclear weapon state is insufficient to match threats on both the nuclear and the non-nuclear level.

    It fails to explain why the overwhelming United States advantages in both conventional military capabilities, and yes, in cyber capabilities is inadequate to respond to threats or attacks.

    It does not explain why the Russian Federation's modernization, which parallels the United States’ own modernization efforts, is so severely different from ours that it means we have fallen behind in stability. It does not even talk about strategic stability between the United States and Russia as a goal to strive for and it does not explain how the additional threat of new nuclear weapons, including new low-yield weapons on top of those low-yield weapons that we already have, will change the Russian Federation thinking or make the first use of nuclear weapons by either side less likely.

    Of concern to me also is the effect on our global leadership. It essentially abandons the United States' leadership role in nonproliferation and arms control that have marked every President since Dwight Eisenhower. In speaking of the most successful security treaty the world has ever seen, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it treats this only as a nonproliferation treaty and ignores… it does not restate the binding legal obligation that the United States undertook almost 50 years ago in that treaty. That is, we are committed to pursue effective measures to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons leading to their verifiable elimination.

    By failing to restate this as a goal, it has an effect upon the readiness of other nations to honor their nonproliferation obligations. And this is the final point I would like to make: this posture review does not and will not be issued in a vacuum. It is not an issue simply between the U.S. and Russia, or the U.S. and China.

    Other nations look to the United States' signal to determine their own policy and the signal that is being sent is unfortunately that the United States is putting aside a legal obligation, is not going to exert the same kind of leadership on nonproliferation and arms control issues, and it also signals the utility of nuclear weapons, something that will make them more attractive to those countries that have smaller arsenals or those that have no arsenals at all.

    All of this is true even if you set aside the character and the impetuosity of the current United States' President. It still has these negative effects upon our national security. For these reasons, I hope not only that the final draft that we see perhaps next week will moderate some of these difficult points, but I also hope that the United States Congress will take up the obligation that it took up with great seriousness after the last two Nuclear Posture Reviews and put a limit to the kind of dangerous development that detracts from, rather than contributes, to stability in our world.

    Thank you.

    REIF: Thanks very much, Tom. Joan?

    JOAN ROHLFING: (Inaudible) Kingston, thank you, Tom. I have been asked to focus in particular on the new capabilities being contemplated by the posture review, but I would like to put that in a little bit of a frame before offering some observations on that.

    I do want to emphasize, I think you have certainly heard us mention that this is a draft and it still has to go through a White House review. I think this is important just to emphasize that anything nuclear is inherently presidential, so I am going to speak in terms of this being a draft with hopes that it could still improve. Much like, Tom and perhaps even a little bit more pointedly, I want to say this draft posture review represents a significant departure from the direction we have been headed in for the last four administrations.

    It increases our reliance on nuclear weapons. It expands their role in our security and it makes them more likely—it makes the use of them more likely.

    It also compounds rather than solves some of the top level nuclear issues left over from the previous administration. What do I mean by that? It maintains the same outdated hair trigger launch posture of our ballistic missiles that puts pressure on our leaders to make a use decision without enough time for deliberation.

    It proposes enhancements to our arsenal that make nuclear weapons more usable and more destabilizing. It compounds the resource challenge by increasing the cost of the modernization program by at least another 20 percent. It doesn't offer any proactive solutions for overcoming the impasse in our relationship with Russia.

    It undervalues arms control as a tool to achieve our military objectives and advance our national security. We don't do arms control for the sake of doing arms control. We do it because it advances our national security. If this review stands as it is currently written, I believe it significantly increases the risk of use.

    Our primary focus as a nation should be on preventing the use of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world and this posture review would move us in the opposite direction, so let me give you now a few specific examples of why that is the case starting with some of the capability enhancements proposed.

    As Kingston mentioned, the review is proposing two new types of low-yield nuclear weapons. First, a near-term capability to put low-yield capacity on our SLBMs, our submarine launched ballistic missiles and then potentially, it contemplates over a longer time period a low-yield nuclear SLCM.

    What's interesting about the SLCM is that we used to have nuclear SLCMs, they were taken off of deployment, off of our surface ships, off of our submarines in the 1991-timeframe by then President George Herbert Walker Bush. They were finally retired by the Obama Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, so this represents us coming you know, back full cycle to where we were at the height of the Cold War as opposed to continuing to move in the other direction.

    Why do we need these low-yield nuclear weapons in the arsenal? I would argue emphatically, we do not. We already have a robust flexible nuclear deterrent today that includes low-yield options. But this draft review posits that we need more low-yield options, more low-yield capacity to restore a so-called deterrence gap at a regional level.

    The premise in the review seems to be that the existing arsenal is not a credible deterrent to others unless we have this low-yield nuclear weapon. I find that argument simply incredible. The U.S. today has this robust deterrent. It is capable of being employed anywhere in the world in defense of our interest and our allies within a matter of minutes.

    And as Tom said, they haven't offered a satisfactory explanation for what is the military purpose, what is the rationale for why we need this new capability? So, rather than raising the bar for nuclear use as they assert in the review, I believe it lowers the bar and makes their use more likely.

    This is destabilizing, not stabilizing.

    I think it's also a mistake to believe that we could use a little nuke to control escalation rather than strengthening deterrence, it therefore undermines it and it increases the risks of miscalculation. One final point on this, if we talk about deploying low-yield nuclear weapons on an SLBM, how is our adversary if they detect the launch from the ocean somewhere, a ballistic missile coming from them, how are they going to know that it's a little nuke, not a full-yield nuclear weapon, if the same platform deploys both a full yield nuclear weapon and a low-yield nuclear weapon. This is also destabilizing, I think it's fanciful to expect that there wouldn't be a full-scale attack in return for that.

    So, a second point on how this posture review falls short just to emphasize some of comment that Tom made earlier about the short shrift given to arms control and nonproliferation, it mentions the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the good news is, it proposes that the administration will continue to observe the testing moratorium and will urge others to do the same, but it then undercuts that objective by explicitly noting that it will not seek ratification of the treaty. Why does this matter?

    Without ratification the U.S. undermines its own ability to secure this nuclear test ban regime that's really vital to preventing new nuclear states from emerging and frankly, it preserves the U.S. nuclear advantage. Why wouldn't we want to do everything we can to ensure that the treaty is ratified so that we can sustain those benefits?

    On the issue of further arms control with Russia, it offers no proactive agenda and is silent on the value of extending the New START Treaty, which is frankly critical to regulating our nuclear relationship with Russia. It ignores the value of the JCPOA and, very importantly, as mentioned by Tom, there is only a fleeting—the barest fleeting reference to a commitment to a world without nuclear weapons, but it's not stated as a goal.

    This is not only a U.S. legal commitment under the NPT, but also necessary for sustaining the political support, political will for the entire nonproliferation regime and it finally quite frankly, it takes too narrow a view of the role that arms control can play. We should have a whole-of-government approach looking at arms control diplomacy as a plank in our national security strategy; not one that's an afterthought. This review focuses primarily on the military dimensions of nuclear weapons.

    Let me just close by saying, coming back to where I started, which is that the policy, the proposed posture, the enhancements being sought by this posture review are destabilizing and fundamentally increase the risk of use, increase the risk of miscalculation. Deterrence may be necessary, but it's certainly not sufficient to prevent nuclear use and potential miscalculation.

    Thank you.

    REIF: Thanks, very much, Joan. Jon.

    JON WOLFSTHAL: Thanks, I am going to be lazy and just stay here unless anybody objects. Thank you to the ACA and Kingston and also to Joan and to Tom for letting me be part of this group. I want to support everything, everything that Tom and Joan have just said about the NPR and the concerns, I share many of them.

    I will—you know, we're sort of always pushed to say, it's OK to find something positive to say about the NPR. There's something good in it and you know, I was struck, and I'd actually be surprised if Tom and Joan didn't feel the same way.

    The stated objectives in the NPR to enhance deterrence, to reduce the risk of nuclear ambiguity, to ensure that countries that have nuclear weapons and threatened to use them like Russia, like North Korea know that they cannot use these weapons without escaping a consequence greater than any objective they might hope to achieve are I think valuable statements.

    The deterrent language in the document is actually, I would argue, something you could find probably in any other Republican NPR and there actually would have been a similar type of discussion in a Democratic NPR.

    The problem is of course the document then goes completely off the rails by pursuing systems that aren't supported by either intelligence information that suggests it will be helpful in enhancing deterrence by expanding the roles of nuclear weapons. It actually, as Joan said, increases the risks of use and then the document itself is rather schizophrenic when it talks about wanting to increase the ambiguity of the circumstances under which the United States might consider nuclear use.

    So, maybe that's not the nicest thing to say about the NPR, but I appreciate what they were trying to do because I think all of us appreciate the challenges that the U.S. government faces in reducing the risk of use are serious and whether there are cyber or nuclear or other challenges we face, I think we recognize that as an appropriate thing for both the Defense Department and the whole of government to be wrestling with.

    The problem with the NPR is everything looks like a nuclear nail and so everything is going to be solved with a nuclear hammer and there aren't solutions to many of the problems that are identified in the NPR, the nuclear space that do come with tremendous baggage.

    So, what I was asked to do is to talk about one part of that baggage, which is the budget and I guess I was in part picked on to talk about this because I worked at Monterey Institute with the kind support of the Nuclear Threat Initiative with Jeffrey Lewis and Mark Quint to produce I think, the first comprehensive report of what the U.S. Nuclear Modernization Program was going to cost, which we dubbed, "The trillion-dollar nuclear triad." I have a running joke that I get a nickel every time anybody uses that statement, so I have to pay myself.

    Since then, of course, we have gotten new information, the latest CBO report suggests that cost is actually closer to $1.25 trillion and if you look at out your dollars, you're looking about $1.7 trillion. The answer is, we don't know how much the nuclear budget is going to cost and we don't know it for a couple of reasons, but the main reason is because the Pentagon refuses to put together a standalone nuclear budget.

    They have been asked not once, but twice by the GAO to actually produce a nuclear budget that takes into account all of the disparate pieces from development, deployment, operations, disposal, personnel, healthcare—everything across the board and the answer from DOD, I kid you not is, "We don't want to do that because that's too hard." That's a response to the GAO.

    But interestingly, we were talking about this before. In the budget document, the Pentagon takes on this argument and I think that's an opening that many people should be looking to exploit. You hear from advocates for the nuclear mission that this is affordable. This is only a small percentage of the overall nuclear budget and if you look at the document, it talks about how at the height of the Cold War in 1984, we were spending 13.4 percent of the budget or 13.4 percent of the Defense budget on nuclear, we are only looking to spend 6.4 percent of the Defense budget on nuclear.

    So, it's interesting. They don't talk about exactly, you know, what the absolute number was, not including dismantlement and disposal, which Joan as refugees from the Department of Energy understand is a problem without a solution yet; but if you look at just the raw numbers are out there and some quick math, we spent roughly $50 billion in 1984, if you take the Pentagon's numbers on the nuclear mission.

    They're proposing that we would spend roughly $42 billion a year on the nuclear budget in 2029, so you say, "Well, well that's actually pretty small. It's reasonable, right?" In 1994, sorry, 1984 was the height of the Cold War. We were planning to fight and win a nuclear war. Is that the environment that the Pentagon sees us being in in 2029? If it does, I'm sorry, but 6.4 percent of the budget is not going to cut it, right? I mean, Ronald Reagan was right, you can't win a nuclear war, so don't fight one. But the idea that somehow these numbers can be compared and since we are below where we were back at 84 or in 62, we're OK, ignores the budget reality that we exist in

    It's not a question of whether it's affordable, it's a question of whether it is sustainable, and it is a question of whether it's advisable and if you look at the national priorities that we have on the plate, you are going to be seeing a lot of Pentagon brass and officials ask you want two new nuclear systems. Are these priorities for you? You want a new nuclear arms SLCM? Do you want that, or do you want the F-35? Do you want to modify the D5 submarine launch ballistic missile and put a small (U-warden) on it? Well, do you want to finish the B-61 Mod 12, the AirDrop tactical nuclear weapon that we have slated for deployment in Europe? Do you want this one instead?

    What you see in the NPR is not a prioritization or strategy, it's a laundry list. We want every capability that's possible. We have a President who is prepared to allow us to go for all of the things that we might conceivably want to use at some point? But none of these things are going to come in on budget or on time and if you have any doubts about that then ask the question, why did Secretary Mattis, when he took the job asked to be relieved from the budget caps for the nuclear mission?

    That was one of the first things he approached OMB for when he took over the job in the Pentagon. The same as his predecessors did, because they know that they can't fit that nuclear square in the round hole or sorry, the nuclear square peg into the round budget hole that they have to work with.

    So, as you work through these budget priorities, you then also have to ask the question, "Where else can we be spending this money?" And I'm not going to do the traditional guns and butter, let's take it out of the NPR itself. What do they point to as the preeminent threats that they don't think we can handle with our existing nuclear arsenal and therefore, we need to develop new capabilities and we to expand the role of nuclear weapons?

    Well, one of the ones that is on many people's minds is cyber. It's not explicitly mentioned in the NPR, but it's referenced in the National Security Strategy and is clearly a concern that is rightfully to be wrestled with by the U.S. government.

    In the last National Cyber Strategy that the Obama ministration released, we haven't gotten one out of the Trump Administration yet, the document stated that they requested $19.5 billion in cyber capabilities in 1990s—sorry, in 2016. That's how much we were planning to spend, right? How much are we going to spend any one of the individual legs on the nuclear triad. The LRSO, the lowest budgeted item in the nuclear capability is $25 billion to $ 30 billion, total. More than we spend annually on cyber, but if we are going to threaten the use of nuclear weapons in response to a cyberattack, why aren't we investing more money in our own cyber capabilities.

    If the damage that can be done to us through cyber is so consequential, yet we are the cyber superpower, right? President Obama said clearly that our capabilities are second to none. I guarantee you that Russia is more vulnerable than we are to cyber, not to say, less formidable countries.

    So, it seems me instead of investing money where Russia is trying to go to become stronger, we should be playing to your own strengths, which is in conventional capability, cyber capabilities, automation, integration—the things that were talked about in the third offset of the Pentagon, as opposed to trying to re-create some Cold War nuclear capability that doesn't match up with the threats that we face today.

    Two last things I'll mention. I really want to talk to as many people in the Navy as possible about this Nuclear Posture Review. There are two things that really worry me. If you've talked to any nuclear operator in the last 20 years, they will tell you without an exception that they were thrilled to be relieved of the nuclear mission on the surface fleet and in the attack submarine fleet, right?

    These things were complicated, and they made the Commanding Officer's life really complicated. You had to have security on board. You had to have different operations when you had nuclear missions. This is not like going into any port, you have to actually go to special nuclear weapons ports if you're going to be handling and shipping these things. You had additional training time, additional costs were associated with that. They lost all of that. They were supposed to be investing that in conventional operations.

    Now, clearly, we have some challenges in the nuclear Navy as we stand or sorry, in the conventional Navy is as we are finding out, but the idea that we're going reintroduce this thing under the surface fleet and the attack fleet is something that's going to cost money, it's going to influence operations and it's going to be a real challenge for the surface fleet and for the attacks of force, and I'm not sure they are going to be very enthusiastic about.

    The second issue is and I'm getting smarter on this. Joan talked about the discrimination problem when you launch an SLBM—is it one or all of them? Remember what our subs were designed for and built for. These are $5 billion shadows. They are meant to be secret and quiet and we spent a lot of money to keep them that way. We built them so they would be our ultimate retaliatory force if, God forbid, deterrence failed and some country launched out at us, we had the ability to destroy them.

    One submarine alone was enough to basically destroy most countries on earth; maybe two would be necessary if you had a major adversary. So, now we are going to take these quiet secret ships that spent their whole lives trying to disappear and we're going to launch a small tactical nuclear weapon from it, which immediately makes the whole boat vulnerable. Any time I try to talk with the nuclear Navy about well, maybe we could change operations of this and maybe we could reduce cost with that. They said, "Look, our biggest fear is Russian anti-submarine warfare capabilities. We cannot allow them to catch up and to make the oceans invisible." So, now we're basically going to have a giant dinner bell for every Russian attack sub to say, "Here it is."

    And people tell me, "Look, we practiced into the Cold War. We launch. We go deep. We run fast. You have a big part of the ocean." Well, that might have been true in 1984, but Russians have been investing a lot of money in their ASW capability, and so as we ask questions in Congress of the Navy and of the military, how do they feel about these? Are these priorities? I think we also have to start asking some operational questions because they really do pose challenges that I think are going to get us into the nuts and bolts. I have gone a little long, but that should be plenty to talk about. Thank you.

    REIF: Thanks very much, Tom, Joan and Jon. Great representations. Stayed within the allotted time limit which was beautiful and lots and lots to chew on—I mean, I could jump in on any of the numerous points that they made, but I'd like to open the floor to those of you in the audience for your questions and comments. The floor is yours, questions.

    (UNKNOWN): We probably have mics coming too.

    REIF: And we do—we will have mics coming around as well, thank you very much, (Sean). Right here, Jon.

    QUESTION: Great, thank you. Jon Harper with National Defense Magazine. In terms of the cost estimates for developing a new sea-launch cruise missile and also a new low-yield warhead, you know, roughly what do think the price tag would be for that and also just, you know from a technical perspective and kind of layman's terms, can you sort of explain what would be required to actually create these new weapons?

    WOLFSTHAL: Yes, and I will defer to Joan who of course has deep knowledge on how NNSA operates. What I will say is that what the draft NPR lays out is two things. One, they want to go immediately for this modified low-yield warhead for the submarine launch capability. They talk about that being a relatively low-cost option with a short timeline. The idea that's been pushed is we have thermonuclear weapons, two-stage nuclear weapons. We have a small fission primary, which has a smaller yield, a couple of kilotons, maybe less, maybe more, which then drives a second larger explosion, the thermonuclear part. That then brings up many hundreds of kilotons.

    The idea would be that they would simply remove the secondary, so they would just keep the primary and put in ballast or something that wouldn't affect the trajectory or the center of gravity in the warhead. That's something that the laboratories probably could effectuate in a relatively short period of time. Relatively short—a couple of years. It depends on how they want to affect the throughput of all the other life extension programs that were currently underway.

    We have a limited number of facilities. We have a limited number of staff and so, it's not clear how that would affect the life extension program for the W-88, the life extension program for the W-76, the life extension program for the B-61 Mod 12, so it would throw off some of the schedules.

    The second part is that they don't say they want to absolutely go for a SLCM, they want to have a study. The study then might lead to an assessment of alternatives, which is their contracting parlance and then they would get to a record of decision, choose an option. This is many years away. It's clearly going to extend beyond the Trump term in office, assuming one term in office, it might be something that they could sort of get to a prototype later in the second term if that happens. But in terms of the actual decision-making, I'd defer to Joan if she has some thoughts on...

    ROHLFING: I don't have more on the decision-making and I agree with everything you just said to the question of cost. I think I can't offer a clear answer and it really would depend, Jon, is right. You can make a relatively modest, though not trivial modification to an existing weapon to convert your SLBM weapon to be one that's low-yield in the near term. The much bigger project is the development of a low-yield weapon for a SLCM and if you assume that you're repurposing an existing nuclear package rather than trying to design a new weapon from scratch, you might find that it's in the same neighborhood of cost as the new air launched cruise missile called the LRSO that they're working on that Jon cited, about $25 billion price tag for.

    If you were trying to manufacture something from—to design it from scratch, that would most likely necessitate nuclear testing. That's a whole different ball of wax, much longer program, more expensive and not to mention, the significant cost from a diplomacy and National Security standpoint if we had to resume testing to prove a new weapon design.

    COUNTYMAN: And just add, Jon, quickly to what Joan has said, I mean, I think, it's absolutely right to say it would depend. I mean, if you look at the missile—potential missile for a new SLCM, the DOD, the Navy is going to do an analysis of alternatives, presumably to look at different options. It would seem to me that the lowest cost option would be some way to spin off a current or a future block of the Tomahawk missile and use that.

    Whereas the most expensive option would be some kind of totally new missile that they would have to design and then on the warhead sign, warhead side excuse me, there has been talk in an article actually that Jim Miller, a former Obama Administration Pentagon official and Sandy Winnefeld, the Former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff advocating for a new sea launched cruise missile. They said at least for the warhead, you could build a modified—so a modified version of the W80-4, which as Joan mentioned is the planned warhead for that the new air-launched cruise missile, the LRSO and build a few more of them and put it on a on a sea-launched cruise missile is a relatively lower cost option.

    So, I think potentially, range of cost, but the point is additional costs to a program of record that as Jon already pointed out is under tremendous stress and faces a major affordability and executability challenge.

    ROHLFING: And can I just follow that with one point that I would really want to emphasize. I think the largest cost is not a financial one, it's the National Security implications as we discussed of deploying a new low-yield warhead that is destabilizing and increases the chance that a nuclear weapon will be used. That I think, is the most important point that I would make about a sea-launch cruise missile.

    RIEF: Additional question. Yes?

    QUESTION: Thank you, Sandra Erwin with Space News. Jon, to your point about capabilities that we do need like cyber, can you be more specific. I mean, do you mean satellites? What are some of the areas where we need to be more resilient and what specific capabilities would you recommend? Thanks.

    WOLFSTHAL: So, I am not a cyber expert, but obviously, working in the administration and understanding both our capabilities and vulnerabilities, I think the question is what is it that the U.S. government is worried about in terms of our adversary's ability to use cyber capabilities against us? That makes us so vulnerable and that the impact could be so significant that it could approximate nuclear.

    And the Pentagon, the NPR draft talks about this. It talks about both infrastructure, I think that would mean critical infrastructure, communications, energy grid, communications, banking, nuclear early warning command-and-control is another area that is specifically cited that could somehow disrupt our ability to have a reliable deterrent and so, I would put those at the top of my list that I want to make sure that we are doing defense to the extent necessary to protect the power grid, the communications grid, banking and financial system—those are things that I wouldn't argue that losing the communications grid would be akin to say a nuclear detonation in New York.

    You know, we could learn to live without our cell phones for a couple days if we had to, but obviously, the implications are dramatic if we're so vulnerable that a country could bring it down, we should be spending more to protect it and defend it and helping states helping, and helping local municipalities, and helping utilities do that. We use some of that now, but clearly more is necessary.

    And then in terms of space again, I am not a space expert, but clearly as we are developing the new satellite constellation both for early warning for communications and for military operations, this is something the Pentagon has been worried about for many, many years. This is another one of the things that you constantly hear program officers and Cabinet officers demanding and asking for more resources for and yet, there's a large pot of money here that in my view isn't matched up against the threat we face.

    So, just for example, and we didn't get into a lot of nuclear doctrine here because you don't want to get bored and go right to sleep, but the idea here is that the Russians are threatening to use nuclear weapons against us or our allies because somehow, they doubt our nuclear capability, our 4,000 operational nuclear weapons aren't quite enough, the 1,000-low yield nuclear weapons aren't quite enough, so we need to have some exquisite new capability that will show the Russians we're serious.

    When in fact what the Russians are doing is saying, "We are conventionally inferior to you. We can't fight you in a fair fight and, so we don't want to fight fair, we want the option to escalate to the nuclear level." And the NPR draft says, "They shouldn't be convinced that they can get away with that," because we have all of these other nuclear capabilities. That's a reasonable deterrent statement.

    To then spend more money for some new capability that doesn't solve that problem strikes me as being—throwing bad money after good.

    QUESTION: (OFF MIKE) (Inaudible)

    WOLFSTHAL: I think that like most parts of the U.S. government, this is a stovepipe product of the nuclear establishment from the Joint Chiefs, from the OSD policy, from STRATCOM that's driving this. They said that we've already got a program of record, the incremental cost will be small and therefore, let's push this.

    Now, if they were put in a room with the cyber people or the ISR people or the infrastructure people or the—you know, name your list, my guess is they would lose, but because there is this demand for Nuclear Posture Review, this sort of stands up and above and that's where Congress is really going to have to come in and prioritize, but of course, they are stove-piped in Congress as well. The people that handle cyber don't handle nuclear. People who nuclear don't handle conventional, and so we will continue to see the slicing of the salami pretty thin.

    REIF: Yes, right here.

    QUESTION: Thank you very much for the presentation. My name is Yuki Toda from Kerala News (ph). Most of you put it out that the destabilizing effect of its NPR on not only on the National Security, but also the arms control regime. So, please, could you tell me your prospect, your kind of vision about what's the impact of this NPR on INF Treaty and also the extension of the New START and another question is now, the United States tried to create new nuclear warheads and a nuclear weapon, so the other leading country over the NPT—NPT is losing credibility or not?

    COUNTYMAN: On the new START Treaty, I am glad that the draft NPR leaves open the possibility of extension of the New START Treaty for an additional five years when the initial term expires in 2021. In my view, this is the single most logical step that Moscow and Washington could take, and they could take it today, that would provide additional strategic stability and also send a valuable signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. and Russian Federation, no matter what else they say, are still interested in limiting their nuclear arsenals.

    On the INF Treaty, the NPR—the draft NPR talks quite a bit about the Russian violation, which is a serious concern. It correctly describes that arms control is made more difficult if existing agreements are not honored, but I think it does not provide an easy answer any more than the Obama Administration could provide an easy answer for how to bring the Russians back into compliance with their obligations under the INF Treaty.

    It links the development of a submarine-launched cruise missile with the Russian violation and suggests that the U.S. might revisit development of a submarine-launched cruise missile if Russia returns to compliance. I don't believe that that's adequate by itself to get Russia to return, but it is appropriate for this NPR to take very seriously Russia's violation of the INF treaty.

    The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has many challenges, the challenge posed by North Korea is by far the greatest. The challenge posed by Iran was addressed in the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action and the most significant step backwards that could be taken for the Nonproliferation Treaty is if any of the parties to the JCPOA walk away from that agreement. That would be the single biggest threat to the credibility of the NPT.

    But at the same time, for this Administration to pretend that the U.S. has no legal obligation to continue to address reductions in its nuclear arsenal is damaging to our credibility not only as a leader in nonproliferation, but as a so-called leader on any of the issues that the U.S. has to deal with. It's why walking away from the JCPOA is a big challenge for the U.S. because it would signal to other countries that an agreement with the United States is not meaningful and can be easily reversed on the whim of a different President.

    So, the challenges to the NPT are there and I fear that the statements contained in this draft NPR will erode the U.S. capability to lead the world on nonproliferation efforts.

    REIF: Last one to—very good. Questions? Yes, right here.

    QUESTION: Doug Sharp from the George Washington University. Thank you all for a great panel. I am given to reflect on Scott Sagan and Jane Vaynman's effort after the Obama Nuclear Posture Review to understand what its effects were on the nuclear posture is the attitudes about nuclear weapons of other states and I'm wondering if you could reflect on that topic, on how nuclear weapon state potential adversaries, allies and other states will react to this nuclear posture?

    WOLFSTHAL: I'm thrilled you asked that question not only because Jane used to work for me here at the Carnegie Endowment, but because without a doubt, one of the best things I read when I was in government and this is including all the fine work that our intelligence community could produce was the work that they did try to understand how different countries saw the Obama NPR and to bring that into a feedback loop, so we can understand ourselves.

    Did our outgoing message—was it received the way we wanted to? How did that affect our ongoing planning? And there was a significant deviation between what we planned and it then factored into a lot of our thinking, so my favorite example—this is every time we said we wanted to reduce the role of nuclear weapons, what the work that Scott and Jane put together, what Russia heard was, we want to be able to do whatever we want with conventional weapons anytime, anywhere.

    Like, of course, you want to reduce the role of nuclear weapons. You are the conventional superpower. They didn't view that as a good thing. They viewed that as a very destabilizing thing that did not reassure them, so I think it would be very interesting to hear and see what foreign countries, adversaries and allies alike think about this NPR, but it gets to a fundamental problem which is, is this Trump's NPR or not?

    My interpretation and I wouldn't speak for anybody else is that Donald Trump is probably unlikely to read any of this document, that this is Secretary Mattis' NPR and it's a product of him, General Selva who is the Vice Chairman, General Hyten, the Commander of STRATCOM and Rob Soofer who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Missile Defense who is very knowledgeable and I think did an excellent job sort of pulling these threads together, but it doesn't reflect Trump thinking.

    And so, I don't know what our allies think, and I don't know what adversaries think because it—does Mattis runs nuclear policy or Trump? And if you have any doubts about that, just look at the NPR language itself. It says on the one hand, our commitment to our allies are ironclad and our assurances mean something, that's not Donald Trump language. And it says that any decision to use nuclear weapon would follow a deliberative process.

    Does anybody believe that that is the way that President Trump will think about using nuclear weapons? It's clearly the way that our military and our civilians in the Pentagon think about it, but that's not what we would see out of this White House.

    ROHLFING: I just like to add a simple kind of one sentence. I think the overall take away from this NPR is that we need more weapons and more roles for our nuclear weapons in our National Security and if the U.S. as the most powerful nation, the biggest most powerful military on earth needs more nuclear weapons for its National Security that sends a big signal that others needs them too and it really undermines our nonproliferation objectives and makes us less safe over time.

    REIF: Back there in the red.

    QUESTION: My name is Alicia Dressman. I am an independent consultant. When I read these section on the NPR on tailored deterrence towards Russia, which featured a very outdated view of Russia's nuclear posture, the escalated to de-escalate strategy, I don't think has been relevant in a recent National Security Strategy coming out of Russia in quite some time. I completely wrote off that there was an actual foreign-policy component that was competent and that this is more a technocratic objective introducing his new-yield low warhead.

    My question to you would be, how much of the NPR introducing the—may be resuming the W80 Mod 4 redesign for a SLCM, how much of that is the NNSA perhaps looking at the DOD NNSA three plus two programs in saying, "Okay, we have efficiencies. We can open up a new assembly and maybe use nonnuclear parts from the LRSO warhead for the SLCM, because they have a similar warhead design et cetera" and how much of this comes from this grand strategy perspective of our considering, you know, nuclear threats around the globe and proposing new warheads to meet those threats? Thank you.

    ROHLFING: I'll take a crack at that. I think it's both, and, but I do think it's primarily an attempt to address, perhaps a misinformed view of Russian doctrine and strategy. It's just taken as a given in this town that the Russians are seriously pursuing this strategy of escalate to de-escalate and I know among the experts, that's actually controversial and some of the experts I trust think it's not real, but I do think it is the primary driving factor behind seeking these new capabilities and then I think secondarily, as Tom mentioned, there's a component to creating some trade debate to try and get the Russians back to the table on INF.

    I would put both of those things in front at the NNSA trying to expand its mission space. They already have enough on their plate and not enough resources to tackle what they have been asked to do for their program of record.

    WOLFSTHAL: So, Joan is right. There is a discussion and debate about whether Russia really has an escalate to de-escalate. There is no such debate inside the U.S. government. When we looked in the Obama Administration where we continued to see what Russia is doing with their nuclear capabilities, with their capabilities of developing in violation of the INF and in addition to their statements and planning, there is a willingness to use nuclear weapons to escalate their way of a failed conventional crisis. That may not even be a dominant, it may not even be a likely capability, but is one that worries our planners and I think is appropriately worrying our planners.

    I can't speak for what it's like in this administration. I could tell you that as much as we valued and looked to the input of NNSA, they were not a strategy driver in the Obama NPR, I think it's very unlikely that they were a driving strategy. I don't think you have to look too far to see who really is the brainchild of these or who is the author of these brainchild. There was a lot of input for the NPR from Keith Payne at the National Institute for Public Policy who has written about tailor deterrence. You could actually take the sections, I mean, it's almost font matching in terms of what they are putting forward.

    So, these arguments have been out for a while. Frank Miller, the same who was a key official in the Bush administration for nuclear policy and defense and Brad Roberts also who worked on the Obama NPR is now at Livermore have been talking about these ideas for many, many years and I think they just found very fertile soil in the Trump Administration.

    COUNTYMAN: If I could comment on that. I don't know whether or not the Russians have an escalate to de-escalate doctrine or not. It does concern me that although the authors would deny it, we run the risk of slipping back into Cold War knee-jerk responses that if the Russians have such a policy, we must match that capability and that concerns me.

    I'm sure that the authors would see that comment as unfair, but there's a risk that we're moving in that direction, but the larger question about Russian statements and thinking, I think ties back to Doug's question about how other countries react and the fact is that even in the very hard world of military policy and nuclear weapons, words matter. Rhetoric matters.

    What I saw a few years ago as the most negative development for strategic stability and nonproliferation in the world was the fact that Vladimir Putin started talking about Russia's nuclear weapons as a key element of national power as what made Russia great. The kind of language that the North Korean leadership uses and that you heard sometimes in the past from Pakistan or India, but most countries had abandoned that language for a long period of time.

    And to have Putin again talking about nuclear weapons as what makes a country great was I think negative if the goal is to discourage still more countries from building nuclear weapons. And to have the United States President embrace that kind of language, even if less grammatically, I think further undermines our ability to discourage other nations from pursuing nuclear weapons. So, that's the part of Russian rhetoric that is separate from doctrine, but should be deeply concerning.

    REIF: We're getting closer to our time and I see that we have more questions out there. I am going to take a few at a time to ensure we get more questions, so first, Daryl and if you just wait to respond to Daryl's and I'll take another one.

    KIMBALL: Thanks, everybody. I'm Daryl Kimball, your host today. I wanted to draw Tom's attention and ask for comment about one part of the NPR that has gotten a lot of attention, but I think you're well equipped to address. One passage says, the United States is committed to arms-control efforts that advanced U.S. allied partner security are verifiable and enforceable.

    So, I think the Arms Control Association would agree that you know, that advanced U.S. allied partner security, yes, are verifiable, yes, but enforceable. What do you think the NPR authors mean? What might that entail? To my knowledge, there isn't a single arms-control treaty that contains an enforcement provision per se. So, your thoughts about that and quickly, Joan—back to the nuclear testing issue with your experience at NNSA and your work with a guy named Ernie Moniz at MTI (sic) who used to be at the Energy Department, as you know, the NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Management Plan also has a line and it came out a few months ago that says the United States test readiness timeline should be reduced to 6 to 10 months for a simple test. What is your interpretation of what that is about? What its implications could be?

    REIF: Real quickly before responding to Daryl. Sir, right here, yes?

    QUESTION: Stephanie Cooke with Nuclear Intelligence Weekly. I wanted to ask a little bit more about the clauses to do with disarmament and the ambiguity at best in these clauses. I've asked, we've talked about it with Tom Countryman and I'd like to ask if you think that that will be softened or hardened? I mean in the sense that it will become stronger in the final document.

    We heard Chris Ford saying that he questioned that as a goal in April when he was at Carnegie, so you didn't mention his involvement in this review, but I wondered if someone—if you would comment on that and if you see a chance that that might be argued down so that we get stronger language on disarmament?

    REIF: Well, let's take those two and then we will...

    COUNTYMAN: Well, very quickly on the last point. I'm glad that Dr. Chris Ford is now in the office I previously held, Assistant Secretary for International Security in Nonproliferation. He is highly intelligent, highly experienced in this field and a substantial cut above the average appointee of this administration in any agency.

    I don't know how strong his role has been. I know that he was at the White House coordinating the drafting process, but the drafting was done primarily at DOD. I don't know if it will change and maybe I'm not far enough removed from government service, but it still bothers me when things of this magnitude get leaked. As journalists, as NGOs, it's great to comment on a leaked document, but the fact is that it's now harder for there to be any changes made to this document particularly with this White House.

    So, that if there is any argument still going on about particular clauses, it's probably hard for them to walk back now and that's unfortunate in my view. Very quickly on Daryl's points. The reference to future arms-control agreements is bothersome in two ways. First, because it says they have to be enforceable. There does not exist an enforceable arms-control agreement in part because no U.S. president would ever be willing to say that the United States will subject itself to enforcement action by an international body. In other words, this administration wants agreements to be enforceable on everybody else, but optional for the United States, and that's very much the White House point of view on the JCPOA.

    So, it sets an artificially high standard, an impossible standard. More importantly to me is the very phrasing denotes passivity. We remain open to arms-control agreements. Maybe somebody else has a terrific idea, but no claim of U.S. leadership, no claim that the U.S. is going to press forward on arms-control agreements. I understand in part why it lists in great detail the obstacle placed by the Russians through their INF violation, but to write off the U.S. leadership role and condemn Washington to passivity on an existential question for the planet is distressing.

    ROHFLING: So, let me tackle the test readiness question. I found it curious as well, Daryl, I think it sends a signal that they're adopting a much more muscular approach, that they are risk-averse, I guess, I perhaps there is some question about their confidence of enduring weapons in the stockpile. I personally don't see why you would need such a compressed timescale to have changed from—we were looking at a timeframe of years to resume testing to now, possibly six months. I'm not—it's a pretty stressful scenario to even put a test package together within that timeframe.

    There are extraordinary costs associated with ramping up the capability to resume testing within six months, so it certainly wouldn't be on my list of priorities for what we should be investing in when we have so much competition for resources, so that's something I'd like to learn more about. It simply makes no sense to me.

    WOLFSTHAL: And just briefly since Tom mentioned it, I'll put in a plug for an article that is out front that Rick Burton and I wrote in the National Interest on abandoning the arms-control role that the U.S. has played and how in fact, we can shape the international environment that so worries the Pentagon that they have to threaten early use of nuclear weapons and arm-control has been successful in actually reducing those threats in the past. We need to get back to thinking about shaping the environment and not having environment shape us.

    In terms of the language on disarmament, so I heard Chris Ford same as you at the Carnegie conference. I actually view that as one of the ways the document has already improved. They recognized there was no need to take on a fight that had no payoff by insulting the entire international nonproliferation system and parties to it and so, I think the language could get—it could be better and I actually and Tom have a slightly different view.

    I mean, I'm with you. I hate leaked documents and I wish that they hadn't come to me and I know that I got burned by documents being leaked when I was in the White House not to our advantage, but that being said, I actually did the Pentagon didn't like the reaction that there was a bit of a feedback loop going on that somehow this is worse than they thought.

    Secretary Mattis had asked that the NPR do three things. Deter our enemies, reassure our allies and not upset what there is of support for modernization in the Congress and the fact that this document may not achieve all three of those goals, may lead them to consider some changes, but I don't think that necessarily spoke about what they are hearing on the language for disarmament because while it's not good, it probably will get them a passing grade among some of the countries that we have to work with.

    And with Chris Ford's role, just a modification, Tom may have more information than I do. I think it was the Defense Director at the White House of the National Security Council that's coordinating the document, Mild Office, Armstrong nonproliferation had input into these particular sections, but was not a driver when it came to much of the policy.

    ROHLFING: ... an issue with something, you just said Jon and surprisingly, I think you give the review you too much credit for what it does say about disarmament. I have a somewhat more alarmist reaction to it. I mean, if you actually look at the designated section that talks about arms-control, nowhere in there does it actually mention that we are pursuing a goal of a world without nuclear weapons...

    WOLFSTHAL: But if you were Tom, and I've sent him in the lion's den at the NPT, you would say, "Oh of course, we recommit ourselves to the elimination of nuclear weapons." It's here in the preamble...

    ROHLFING: Right, but this occurs within the context of a much broader global debate right now that's broader than just the NPT that has to do with the test ban and the absence of a reaffirmation of what the U.S. has publicly said for decades that it is committed to achieving the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons. I think that's really problematic.

    WOLFSTHAL: I agree that it is problematic. It is a problem among many. I think it probably is a fig leaf for the diplomatic (inaudible)...

    REIF: Excellent colloquium among colleagues there. I see a few hands raised, so let's see if we can get the final outstanding questions before we wrap. Yes, Alexey.

    QUESTION: Thank you, I am Alexey Fomenkov, Second Secretary for the Russian Embassy. There have been a lot of talk here about Russians, so I was wondering whether I could say a couple of words without probably asking a question, would that be OK?

    REIF: Yes, you may.

    QUESTION: Thank you. So, first on escalate to de-escalate, I would like to point out that there is a standing Russian military doctrine. It's public. It's in English. And it specifically says under which circumstances Russia would consider using nuclear weapons and that is when the existence of the state is under jeopardy and when its territorial integrity is in question so that's very specific and it's much more specific than in U.S. documents, both current and supposedly, the future ones.

    Also, on the rhetoric, I would like to point out that the NATO, in its documents, it says that nuclear weapons remain the supreme guarantee with security, so I would say that comparisons between Russia and North Korea would not be very appropriate in this context. Thank you.

    REIF: Any of the panelists want to comment on that, you are free to do so, but let's see if we can get additional question. Greg?

    QUESTION: Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association Board Member. Congress in recent years has been quite skeptical of arms-control and defense spending arguments given the deficit hawks seem to go into hibernation, so I wonder if could list a comment on what the Congressional reaction will be to the NPR and is it possible that nuclear policy issues over the nuclear programs will be an issue in the fall elections to the U.S. Congress?

    REIF: Like I said, one more and—yes, ma'am?

    QUESTION: Hi, I am Emma Fruy (ph) from Global Zero and as I understood the NPR, there was a point about ramping up plutonium production as part of the renewal process for existing nuclear weapons. I was wondering if you could comment on the potential consequences of that and how this compares to earlier NPR's?

    REIF: Let's answer those final three questions and then any closing comments that you might have.

    WOLFSTHAL: Maybe just a word on the Congressional reaction, we can talk Emma, anytime you want since we're both Global Zero now, welcome. So, I won't answer her question and Joan is better suited for that anyway.

    I have a prediction about politics although, I mainly worked for the Vice President who told me, "Look, you may be the smartest man in the world, but you don't know anything about politics." I think it's going to fall into two camps, Greg. I think partly this is going to fall into the resistance, right, Donald Trump can't be trusted with nuclear weapons. He is pushing for new nuclear options more usable. He wants to push the button, which is bigger than Kim Jong-un, you know, it sort would fit into that. I think this will provide plenty of fodder for that.

    In the discussions we've been having, I think there is a real interest on the Hill in the programmatic side of when it comes the—not just the cost, but also just the operations. How this will impact on the DoE complex, how it would impact on the on the other parts of the modernization.

    I don't think it's going to have—I don't think it's going to have a big electoral impact. I quite frankly, while, I was pleased as a lifelong arms-controller and a person who doesn't like nuclear weapons thrilled that there were nuclear commercials for the presidential election but quite surprised. I mean, I think this will fit into the narrative, but I think the real battle here is going to be on the budget for the new systems with the hope that it will inspire the Congress to exercise the oversight it should be exercising over the full suite of these capabilities.

    We have now door opening on the President's authority unfettered to use nuclear weapons. I think that's been very positive and helpful for shining light in this issue. I hope we will see a similar thing on the budget, but I don't expect to rise to a very high political national level.

    COUNTYMAN: In answer to Greg's question, just based on the past year, I predict that the Congressional majority will bring to this issue the same intellectual honesty, concern about deficits, non-partisanship, readiness to compromise and honest public statements that they've brought to every issue for the last 12 months.

    ROHLFING: Well said. I am not going to add to the Congressional budget question, but just a quick answer to the plutonium production. The review contemplates a ramp up to production facility that could produce 80 pits per year, which is actually consistent with the program of record under the Obama Administration that's been under discussion for a while, that's been on the books as part of the outgoing Stockpile Stewardship Plan, so it's obviously an increase from the onesie, two-sie capability that we have now, but not something new.

    Just one comment on the gentleman from Russia about the NATO statement, he's right. There is a statement about nuclear weapons being "the supreme guarantee of NATO's security" and what this represents is a greater emphasis on the role of nuclear weapons within the European context and I think this is a whole area, if we had more time, we could spend a whole session just talking that the role of U.S. forward deployed weapons in Europe, the role of nuclear weapons in Europe in general. I think, I would really matter have seen this review taking a completely different approach which is looking at how we can consolidate those weapons back to the United States, rather than reinforcing their role and underscoring that we need to keep them there for all.

    REIF: With that, let me thank our panelists for an excellent discussion. Let me thank all of you for coming. The conversation about the Nuclear Posture Review and the Trump Administration's nuclear weapons policy has just begun as has the Arms Control Association’s engagement on this question, so keep a lookout for future events, for additional resources on our website.

    My coworkers have informed me that I must conclude with two final housekeeping notes before I'm allowed off the podium. The first is a note that the transcript of this event will be available by the end of the week for those of you who are interested in consulting it and then a final note that the Arms Control Association, we have a date for our annual meeting which will be April 19th here at Carnegie and this year's annual meeting will focus on the challenges facing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and nonproliferation regime on the occasion of that 50th birthday of the treaty, so please, we hope to see you join us at that event on the 19th and with that, thank you all for coming and let's thank our panelists.

    END

    Author:

    Posted: January 23, 2018

    Vital SFRC Hearing on Nuclear Weapons Decision-Making and Authority: Tuesday, November 14

    Body: 


    This Tuesday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will convene a critical hearing on the president’s authority to use nuclear weapons and the process for executing that authority. The discussion will be the begin of an overdue re-examination of the use nuclear weapons and how those decisions are carried out.

    U.S. President Donald Trump leaves CIA headquarters accompanied by the omnipresent officer carrying the nuclear "football" (Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria)Why is this so important?

    Currently, President Trump, like all U.S. presidents before him, has sole authority over the use of US nuclear weapons. One person can order the launch of over 800 nuclear-armed missiles in under 10 minutes. Leaving such a momentous decision in the hands of a single person is a dangerous situation. SFRC chairman, Bob Corker, has expressed concerns that President Trump’s reckless and implusive rhetoric could push us into “World War III.”

    What Can You Do?

    If your Senator is on the Foreign Relations Committee—i.e., you live in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, or Wyoming—use the form below to contact your Senator’s office today. It provides all the information they need on the hearing and the hard questions they need to ask the witnesses, which will include a former commander of U.S. nuclear forces and a former high-ranking Pentagon official. Such questions, among others, could include:

    • “Do you believe the launching of a nuclear first strike is by its nature a declaration of war and, if so, shouldn’t that constitutionally require the approval and consent of Congress?
       
    • “If the United States were to launch a nuclear first strike against an adversary, what guarantee would we have that they would not retaliate likewise?"
       
    • "Under what circumstances would the benefits of a U.S. nuclear first strike ever outweigh the tragic costs and devastation that would play out afterwards?" 

    It is urgent that all member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee attend and engage on the critical questions surrounding U.S. nuclear decision-making and authority. Please write your Senator today and urge them to attend this hearing, a vital opportunity in re-examining U.S. nuclear decision making over time, and the prudence of putting the fate of millions in the hands of one person.

     

    Author:

    Posted: November 13, 2017

    U.S. Reconsiders Nuclear Abolition Goal

    The Nuclear Posture Review will include whether to maintain the long-standing goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

    April 2017

    Christopher Ford, the National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, addresses the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference on March 21. (Photo credit: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review will include whether to maintain the long-standing U.S. goal of seeking a world without nuclear weapons. Christopher Ford, the National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, said the review will consider whether that declared end state “is in fact a realistic objective” given current international security trends. The commitment is enshrined in the binding 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The United States joined the four other nuclear-weapon states at the time in committing to seek “complete” nuclear disarmament in exchange for other countries pledging not to acquire such weapons.

    Addressing the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference on March 21, Ford said there is reason to question whether “traditional U.S. fidelity to that visionary end state...is still a viable strategy” due to various factors, including the prospect of further U.S.-Russian reductions seeming “less likely than it might have been a few years ago.” Past U.S. declarations, including President Barack Obama’s April 2009 Prague speech on disarmament, encouraged “largely unrealistic expectations and demands for ever faster process,” Ford said. The disappointments from unmet nuclear disarmament expectations contribute to the demands by non-nuclear-weapon states for the “fundamentally misguided” negotiations for a nuclear weapons ban treaty, which the new administration opposes as “fundamentally misguided,” he said.

     

    Posted: March 31, 2017

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