The Pentagon plans to develop two “low-yield” nuclear warheads to be launched from ballistic-missile submarines and warships, to send a message to Moscow who the Trump administration accuses of amassing a stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons, Fox News reports.

“Expanding U.S. tailored response options will raise the nuclear threshold and help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear weapons employment less likely,” the new review said.


The Pentagon says Russia’s buildup of similar “low-yield” nukes is the reason it must match the threat.

“The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan.  “Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” he added without offering specifics.

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Russia and China were briefed by State Department officials this morning about the nuclear posture review.

It’s the first such review in seven years, but much has changed since 2010, when the U.S. unilaterally reduced portions of its nuclear arsenal.


“Over the past decade, while the United States led the world in these reductions every one of our potential nuclear adversaries has been pursuing the exact opposite strategy,” said Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.  “These powers are increasing the numbers and types of nuclear weapons in their arsenal.”

The new plan is outlined in Defense Secretary Mattis’s Nuclear Posture Review, released Friday afternoon.

On January 27, 2017, the President directed the Department of Defense to conduct
a new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) to ensure a safe, secure, and effective nuclear
deterrent that protects the homeland, assures allies and above all, deters adversaries.

This review comes at a critical moment in our nation’s history, for America confronts
an international security situation that is more complex and demanding than any since
the end of the Cold War. In this environment, it is not possible to delay
modernization of our nuclear forces if we are to preserve a credible nuclear
deterrent—ensuring that our diplomats continue to speak from a position of strength
on matters of war and peace.

For decades, the United States led the world in efforts to reduce the role and number
of nuclear weapons. The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) set a
ceiling of 6,000 accountable strategic nuclear warheads – a deep reduction from Cold
War highs. Shorter-range nuclear weapons were almost entirely eliminated from
America’s nuclear arsenal in the early 1990s. The 2002 Strategic Offensive Reduction
Treaty and the 2010 New START Treaty further lowered strategic nuclear force
levels to 1,550 accountable warheads. During this time, the U.S. nuclear weapons
stockpile drew down by more than 85 percent from its Cold War high. Many hoped
conditions had been set for even deeper reductions in global nuclear arsenals, and,
ultimately, for their elimination.


While Russia initially followed America’s lead and made similarly sharp reductions in
its strategic nuclear forces, it retained large numbers of non-strategic nuclear
weapons. Today, Russia is modernizing these weapons as well as its other strategic
systems. Even more troubling has been Russia’s adoption of military strategies and
capabilities that rely on nuclear escalation for their success. These developments,
coupled with Russia’s seizure of Crimea and nuclear threats against our allies, mark
Moscow’s decided return to Great Power competition.

China, too, is modernizing and expanding its already considerable nuclear forces.
Like Russia, China is pursuing entirely new nuclear capabilities tailored to achieve
particular national security objectives while also modernizing its conventional
military, challenging traditional U.S. military superiority in the Western Pacific.

Elsewhere, the strategic picture brings similar concerns. North Korea’s nuclear
provocations threaten regional and global peace, despite universal condemnation in
the United Nations. Iran’s nuclear ambitions remain an unresolved concern.
Globally, nuclear terrorism remains a real danger.

We must look reality in the eye and see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.
This NPR reflects the current, pragmatic assessment of the threats we face and the
uncertainties regarding the future security environment.

Given the range of potential adversaries, their capabilities and strategic objectives,
this review calls foraflexible, tailored nuclear deterrent strategy. This review calls for
the diverse set of nuclear capabilities that provides an American President flexibility
to tailor the approach to deterring one or more potential adversaries in different

For any President, the use of nuclear weapons is contemplated only in the most
extreme circumstances to protect our vital interests and those of our allies.

Nuclear forces, along with our conventional forces and other instruments of national
power, are therefore first and foremost directed towards deterring aggression and
preserving peace. Our goal is to convince adversaries they have nothing to gain and
everything to lose from the use of nuclear weapons.

In no way does this approach lower the nuclear threshold. Rather, by convincing
adversaries that even limited use of nuclear weapons will be more costly than they
can tolerate, it in fact raises that threshold.

To this end, this review confirms the findings of previous NPRs that the nuclear
triad—supported by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) dual-capable
aircraft and a robust nuclear command, control, and communications system—is the
most cost-effective and strategically sound means of ensuring nuclear deterrence. The
triad provides the President flexibility while guarding against technological surprise
orsudden changesin the geopolitical environment. To remain effective, however,we
must recapitalize our Cold War legacy nuclear forces.

By the time we complete the necessary modernization of these forces, they will have
served decades beyond their initial life expectancy. This review affirms the
modernization programs initiated during the previous Administration to replace our
nuclear ballistic missile submarines, strategic bombers, nuclear air-launched cruise
missiles, ICBMs, and associated nuclear command and control. Modernizing our
dual-capable fighter bombers with next-generation F-35 fighter aircraft will maintain
the strength of NATO’s deterrence posture and maintain our ability to forward
deploy nuclear weapons, should the security situation demand it.

Recapitalizing the nuclear weapons complex of laboratories and plants is also long
past due; it is vital we ensure the capability to design, produce, assess, and maintain
these weapons for as long as they are required. Due to consistent underfunding,
significant and sustained investments will be required over the coming decade to
ensure that National Nuclear Security Administration will be able to deliver the nuclear weapons at the needed rate to support the nuclear deterrent into the 2030s
and beyond.

Maintaining an effective nuclear deterrent is much less expensive than fighting a war
that we were unable to deter. Maintenance costs for today’s nuclear deterrent are
approximately three percent of the annual defense budget. Additional funding of
another three to four percent, over more than a decade, will be required to replace
these aging systems. This is a top priority of the Department of Defense. We are
mindful of the sustained financial commitment and gratefully recognize the ongoing
support of the American people and the United States Congress for this important

While we will be relentless in ensuring our nuclear capabilities are effective, the
United States is not turning away from its long-held arms control, non-proliferation,
and nuclear security objectives. Our commitment to the goals of the Treaty on the
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) remains strong. Yet we must
recognize that the current environment makes further progress toward nuclear arms
reductions in the near term extremely challenging. Ensuring our nuclear deterrent
remains strong will provide the best opportunity for convincing other nuclear powers
to engage in meaningful arms control initiatives.

This review rests on a bedrock truth: nuclear weapons have and 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. U.S. nuclear
weapons not only defend our allies against conventional and nuclear threats, they also
help them avoid the need to develop their own nuclear arsenals. This, in turn,
furthers global security.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the vital role our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen,
Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and civilians play in maintaining a safe, secure, and ready
nuclear force. Without their ceaseless and often unheralded efforts, America would
not possess a nuclear deterrent. At the end of the day, deterrence comes down to the
men and women in uniform – in silos, in the air, and beneath the sea.

To each and every one of them, I wish to express my personal respect and that of a
grateful and safe Nation.

Jim Mattis

The Pentagon is hoping history will repeat itself. After the U.S. deployed intermediate-range missiles to Europe, the Soviet Union signed the 1987 INF treaty with the United States.  President Reagan’s secretary of state, George P. Shultz, said if not for the deployment of the American missiles, “there would be no incentive for the Soviets to negotiate seriously for nuclear weapons reductions.”

Asked how the Russians were likely to respond to the Pentagon calling for “low-yield” nukes, Soofer replied, “I am sure they won’t respond well.”



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