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In public remarks, contributors to the NPR have emphasized continuity with Obama administration declaratory policy.

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So, in that sense, there is no difference in the declaratory policy. The question of whether the United States would respond to a major cyberattack with nuclear weapons has been the subject of considerable concern and debate. Contradictory public remarks from government officials have only clouded public perception of what US policy actually is. Speaking to reporters after the leaked draft but before the official version was released, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen.

It could be an attack using a non-nuclear weapon against our nuclear command-and-control [or] early-warning satellites. Perhaps predictably, inconsistencies have led to divergent narratives in the press. Is there a gap? Officials and contributors to the NPR have also given contrasting assessments about whether existing US nuclear forces are sufficiently capable, credible, and flexible to deter limited nuclear use. We have everything we need to address the threats of today.

Reports (2012 - 2014)

But it is potentially lacking in the future. Matters are complicated by the fact that many of these officials had in the recent past made statements asserting that the US arsenal was sufficient.


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For more than two decades, there has been asymmetry in the number and type of US and Russian non-strategic nuclear forces; it is only in the last few years that we have seen widespread arguments that this gap is threatening. It is not clear how the strategic balance has changed in the last months and years to open a gap in US response options.

While it is certainly true that the United States must adjust more rapidly to confront hostile Russian actions, it is not clear why US nuclear force structure would be suddenly insufficient. In short, the administration has offered contradictory claims about whether a gap exists and, if so, why. Deciphering proposals for new missiles. Explanations of the military missions of the low-yield sea-launched ballistic missile and the low-yield sea-launched cruise missile have also varied widely.

However, the proposed systems do not exist in the arsenal today, and have been justified as necessary steps to confront a new threat. Administration officials have still not provided a complete and authoritative explanation of the types of targets that these missiles can threaten that existing options cannot. Yet there have been a handful of statements about the mission and purpose of these systems. At the same time, officials and the NPR text justify both new missile systems as necessary options for controlling escalation in limited-use scenarios.

It also undermines the deterrent leverage of the current system. Lowering the nuclear threshold?

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There also seems to be a disconnect in the fact that the NPR advocates for new low-yield nuclear weapons to provide additional options, while criticizing Russia for taking the same approach. In nuclear weapons policy, under the right circumstances, ambiguity can be good, accruing benefits while avoiding costs. The previous two NPRs, in and respectively, were ideological tracts with little policy analysis of the strategic issues facing the United States. This one is different. It does this in two ways.

In This Review

We could get into numbers of missiles, survivability, operating cost, and accidental launch questions. But the choice of going ahead with a new ICBM depends on more than these. It also depends on the strategic context of world order as it is now developing.

This is where the NPR is the most thoughtful in comparison to the previous reviews. The first strategic theme in the NPR is the return to great power rivalry. It is a key point. I believe that any administration, Democrat or Republican, would have come up with this for several reasons. As the United States has focused on counter terrorism and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last fifteen years, it has overlooked the evolution of major power rivals. The annexation of Crimea and the occupation of Ukraine and the artificial islands in the South China Sea are actions that cannot be ignored, even if we are unable to reverse them.

Finally, the military buildups in China and Russia matter. They are upsetting the strategic balance in troubling ways. The United States cannot be sure of the scenarios or pathways to war that this could lead to, but falling behind looks like an even more dangerous choice. Given Russian actions, including its occupation of Crimea, this constructive engagement has declined substantially. The United States looks forward to a new day when Russia engages with the United States, its allies, and partners transparently and constructively, without aggressive actions and coercive nuclear threats.

Despite concerted U. Rather, they have moved decidedly in the opposite direction. As a result, there is an increased potential for regional conflicts involving.

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Figure 1 illustrates the marked difference between U. It has also announced development of a new nuclear-capable strategic bomber, giving China a nuclear triad. China has also deployed a nuclear-capable precision guided DF intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of attacking land and naval targets. As with Russia, despite criticizing U.


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  4. It has adopted an increasingly assertive posture in disputes with its neighbors, many of whom are U. These encompass a variety of historical and border disputes, including over territorial boundaries, claims to contested island territory, and an island-building campaign in the South China Sea. China is developing capabilities to counter U.

    Direct military conflict between China and the United States would have the potential for nuclear escalation. Our tailored strategy for China is designed to prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding that it could secure an advantage through the limited use of its theater nuclear capabilities or that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable.

    What is US nuclear policy, exactly? - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

    The United States will maintain the capability to credibly threaten intolerable damage as Chinese leaders calculate costs and benefits, such that the costs incurred as a result of Chinese nuclear employment, at any level of escalation, would vastly outweigh any benefit. The United States is prepared to respond decisively to Chinese non-nuclear or nuclear aggression. Both steps will strengthen the credibility of our deterrence strategy and improve our capability to respond effectively to Chinese limited nuclear use if deterrence were to fail.

    The United States will also continue to seek a meaningful dialogue with China on our respective nuclear policies, doctrine, and capabilities in pursuit of a peaceful security environment and stable relations.

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