Washington. The United States has announced it will adopt a more aggressive nuclear posture, including initiating nuclear strikes in response to non-nuclear threats.
A Trump administration Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) released Friday shows a greater willingness to use nuclear weapons first and calls for development of new nuclear weapons and capabilities to counter rivals such as Russia and China.
Washington’s new NPR states that the US would consider such an attack in the case of “extreme circumstances”, these could include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks”. This raises the prospect that nuclear weapons could be deployed in response to a severe cyber-attack, a large terror attack such as those staged on 11 September 2001, or another strategic threat.
The NPR also recommends a hawkish approach to cooperation with Russia over nuclear proliferation, and further calls for the US to tackle “an unprecedented range and mix of threats” posed by foreign powers including Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.
Although the Trump administration is preoccupied with the alleged nuclear threat from North Korea, experts say the review is aimed at a rising threat from China and Russia, which are seeking to modernize their military capabilities.
The review suggests a hawkish approach to cooperation with Russia over nuclear proliferation. It warns that Russia is “developing and deploying new nuclear warheads and launchers” and will “continue to increase its warhead delivery capacity” in the future.
Washington finds “troubling” Russia’s adoption of military strategies and capabilities that rely on nuclear escalation, according to the NPR.
“Russia has demonstrated its willingness to use force to alter the map of Europe and impose its will on its neighbors, backed by implicit and explicit nuclear first-use threats,” the report says.
Meanwhile, US opposition Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement condemning Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review. “The Trump Administration’s new nuclear policy risks an inconceivable human and moral crisis. Far from making our arsenal ‘so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression,’ the President’s pro-nuclear agenda risks triggering a crisis with North Korea and creating nuclear catastrophe, she said.
Meanwhile, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows poll finds most Americans don’t trust Trump with the power to launch nuclear weapons, and a majority are at least “somewhat” concerned that he’ll launch an unjustified attack.