WASHINGTON –– Experts lambasted Trump’s plans for nuclear warfare strategy, leaked earlier this month, during a Tuesday event here sponsored by the Arms Control Association. The plans, described in a draft of the Nuclear Posture Review, are an “unnecessary, unexecutable and unsafe overreach,” said Kingston Reif, director of ACA.
Trump’s new plans expand the role of nuclear armaments and make their use more likely, said Joan Rohlfing, president of the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative. For example, she pointed to the fact that the plans mention the use of nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear threats, such as massive cyber-attacks. Rohlfing added that the plans included in the Review wouldn’t improve relations with Russia.
“We should be playing to our own strengths, which is conventional capabilities, cyber capabilities as opposed to recreate some Cold War nuclear capability that doesn’t match up with the threats we face today,” said former White House arms control official Jon Wolfsthal.
“This represents a significant departure from where we’ve been headed in the past four administrations,” Rohlfing said.
The NPR sends dangerous signals to the countries that look to the United States to determine their own policies, Chairman of the Arms Control Association Tom Countryman said. It threatens the safety of the United States, he said, by making nuclear weapons more attractive to countries with small arsenals.
The United States is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, whose members have pledged to reduce their nuclear armaments. By failing to address the United States’ legal obligations, Countryman said, the Trump administration is damaging the country’s credibility.
“The [NPR] would signal to other countries that an agreement with the United States is not meaningful and can be easily reversed on the whim of a different president,” added Countryman. “I fear that the statements contained in this draft NPR will erode the U.S. capability to lead the world in non-proliferation efforts.”
The NPR could be revised by officials in the Pentagon before its planned release next month. Countryman said he hopes lawmakers exercise subsequent oversight to mitigate the “dangerous developments” that the Trump nuclear plans represent.