nsucurrent.com May 21, 2018

New Thinking On Nuclear Weapons

19 January 2018, 02:47 | Colleen Roy

Nuclear weapons are a whole other ball game. | Kazuhiro Nogi AFP Getty Images

A screen broadcasts a missile test

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal is reporting the Pentagon is also planning to develop two new sea-based nuclear weapons.

In 2016, Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva noted at an event in Washington that the US military needs smaller nuclear weapons that wouldn't cause massive casualties, reported Defense One.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula and between Pyongyang and Washington have been sky-high for months, after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un repeatedly test-fired missiles potentially capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and hitting the United States. But it made tangible the growing fears that after decades of leaders trying to more safely control the world's nuclear arsenals, President Donald Trump has increased the possibility of those weapons being used.

The administration aims to advance the development of low-yield nuclear weapons in an effort to deter regional aggression, according to the pre-decisional NPR draft obtained by the publication. The Journal reports that a full nuclear modernization could eat up about 6.4 percent of the Defense Department's budget, more than double what it now spends on nuclear weapons, and that "if the Pentagon doesn't secure the spending increases it anticipates, this could heighten the competition between nuclear and nonnuclear programs for budgetary resources".

The report is based on a new Defense Department nuclear strategy review, which says the proposed new nuclear weapons would be to counter Russian Federation and China.

The nuclear review states that the development of new, lower-yield nuclear weapons is not meant to enable "nuclear war-fighting" that would see the U.S. military using the weapons on the battlefield.

"Threats have escalated dramatically" since 2010, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a prelude to the draft document, which was first published by the Huffington Post.

"If all you have is high-yield weapons to answer a low-yield attack, it's still a nuclear attack". The final version is expected on February 2nd.

This lowers the nuclear threshold in the U.S., Wolfsthal said, by giving the Pentagon "more options to use nuclear weapons that wouldn't be as devastating, which in some ways makes them more tempting" to use.

The document states that the United States would only consider using nuclear weapons in "extreme circumstances".

The nuclear review states its commitment to the non-proliferation treaty "remains strong".

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