US

The First Trends of Trump’s Nuclear Policy Emerge: 27 March 2017

As the Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Counter-Proliferation of the National Security Council, Chris Ford plays perhaps the most important role in the US Government for defining the Trump Administration’s upcoming Nuclear Posture Review.

Opening Salvos in the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Debate: 10 Feb 2017

The US President has the authority to launch the US nuclear arsenal at any time and without reference to any other authority. During the Presidential election Democrats attempted to discredit Trump’s ability to handle the grave responsibilities of office that come from control of the country’s thousands of nuclear warheads. US nuclear posture and doctrine is now set to remain a high-profile, contentious issue in the first year of the Trump Administration.

The LRSO: It’s Time for Arms Control

The Pentagon’s plans to acquire a new nuclear air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), known so far as the Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO), remain live. On 16th June, the House of Representatives rejected an amendment to reduce funding for the development of the LRSO. If adopted, the cut would have slowed the development of the new weapon by three years, perhaps buying enough time to reconsider the wisdom behind the programme.

Understanding the new arms race

The stand-off between Russia and the West has prompted triggered fears of a renewed East-West clash. Amidst this climate of confrontation, nuclear weapons have regained some relevance for strategists on both sides, and political leaders have implied veiled nuclear threats. Against this background, the nuclear arsenals of both the US and Russian are undergoing important and costly modernisation programmes.

The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit returns to Washington

NSS2014

 

In his 2009 speech in Prague, President Obama described the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons as the “most immediate and extreme threat to global security”. Setting the bar high, he also announced the start of a global summit process that would focus on the security of nuclear materials from the threat of theft and terrorism in and work “to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years”.

America needs the LRSO... just in case

Lord Salisbury said once that if generals were left to their own devices, they might well decide to put garrisons on the Moon to defend us from Mars. Envisioning worst-case scenarios and drawing up contingency plans for them is part of what the military does to get its job right. The problem with this professional reflex is that it often fails to assess comparative risk effectively, and in particular fully account for the risks of unintended consequences or the impacts on others. When it comes to nuclear policy and procurement decisions, the temptation for overkill is high.

New Nukes, New Missions, New Insecurities: Implications of the Nuclear Posture Review for Europe

The US’ Nuclear Posture Review, to be published early next year, will make decisions on modernising the US nuclear arsenal that could impact on systems operational until the end of the century. Speculation abounds, and many fear the the NPR could expand the size and remit of nuclear operations. It was reported that Congress and US allies were briefed this September on its progress. According to Julian Borger of The Guardian, the NPR is considering:

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