[Strategic Intel] U.S. to loosen nuclear weapons constraints; develop new low-yield weapons

The Trump administration is moving to loosen the constraints on the use of nuclear weapons while also committing to the development of a new generation of low-yield nukes for Trident ICBMs

The change in policy is a significant break from the Obama administration, according to Jon Wolfsthal, who was special assistant to Barack Obama on arms control and nonproliferation.

Wolfsthal, who claims to have seen the most recent draft of the Pentagon’s policy review on nuclear weapons, said the nuclear policy change envisions a modified version of the Trident D5 submarine-launched missiles with just part of its normal warhead. The goal is to deter Russia from using tactical nuclear weapons in any Eastern European conflict.

President Obama sought to reduce the United States’ reliance on nuclear weapons, so the Trump policy change is seen as much more hawkish policy (JD: And to many, far more practical, given the realistic threats in the world).

In addition, the policy review expands the conditions under which nuclear weapons may be used, such as in any instance where the U.S. suffers mass casualties, or was aimed at U.S. nuclear facilities or critical infrastructure (JD: Think cyberattack).

Wolfsthal also said that according to the new draft review he saw, the U.S. will begin work on a new sea-launched nuclear missile because the Trump administration believes Russia is violating  a 1987 intermediate-range missile treaty with the development and deployment of a new ground-launched cruise missile. [source]

(Analyst comment: Those with a liberal worldview are criticizing this decision by the Trump administration to beef up America’s nuclear defenses and infrastructure. They’re not being realistic; Russia has been upgrading its nuclear forces and now some leaders in Moscow openly tout it as a deterrent to any aggression. Also, China is improving its nuclear forces as well.

This is not a policy decision that will please arms control advocates, but pushing for unilateral disarmament in the nuclear age is just idiotic.)

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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