USA — Nuke Review Takes Comprehensive Look at Strategy

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2010 — The Nuclear Pos­ture Review, released today, is the first over­ar­ch­ing look at U.S. nuclear strat­e­gy since the end of the Cold War, a senior defense offi­cial brief­ing reporters on back­ground said yes­ter­day. The review builds on Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s promise to take con­crete steps toward the goal of achiev­ing the safe­ty and secu­ri­ty of a world free of nuclear weapons, the offi­cial said.

A sec­ond ele­ment, the offi­cial added, was to main­tain a nuclear deter­rent as long as those weapons remain, and ensur­ing the safe­ty, secu­ri­ty and effec­tive­ness of that deter­rent while they remain.

The Nuclear Pos­ture Review pro­vides the basis behind many moves in the nuclear are­na in the com­ing months, the offi­cial said. Oba­ma will trav­el to Prague to sign the new strate­gic arms reduc­tion treaty with Rus­sia on April 8. The treaty man­dates fur­ther reduc­tions to the U.S. and Russ­ian arse­nals, and offi­cials looked to the Nuclear Pos­ture Review guid­ance as they nego­ti­at­ed the treaty.

The review also will influ­ence U.S. think­ing in the non­pro­lif­er­a­tion treaty, the nuclear secu­ri­ty sum­mit and the non­pro­lif­er­a­tion review con­fer­ence.

The review is a “con­crete, prag­mat­ic work plan for mov­ing for­ward this agen­da,” the offi­cial said.

Con­gress man­dat­ed the review, and it is the third since the end of the Cold War. The Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion con­duct­ed the first review in 1994, and the Bush admin­is­tra­tion the sec­ond in 2001. The scope of the review is broad­er than in the past, offi­cials said.

That scope includes the roles of mis­sile defense, con­ven­tion­al strike, force lev­els, the weapons com­plex and the role of arms con­trol in shap­ing U.S. nuclear pos­ture, the senior offi­cial said.

Specif­i­cal­ly, Con­gress asked offi­cials to look at sev­en ele­ments per­tain­ing to the role of nuclear forces in U.S. mil­i­tary strat­e­gy, plan­ning and pro­gram­ming. They looked at how the Unit­ed States would main­tain a safe, reli­able and cred­i­ble nuclear deter­rence pos­ture, as well as the rela­tion­ship among U.S. nuclear deter­rence pol­i­cy, tar­get­ing strat­e­gy and arms con­trol objec­tives.

Offi­cials also exam­ined the role mis­sile defense and con­ven­tion­al strike capa­bil­i­ties play in deter­min­ing roles and sizes of nuclear forces. They looked at the lev­els and com­po­si­tion of nuclear deliv­ery sys­tems and what the nuclear com­plex required. Final­ly, offi­cials stud­ied the nuclear stock­pile required to imple­ment U.S. strat­e­gy.

Senior offi­cials said the cur­rent review is Defense Depart­ment-led, but has strong inter­a­gency par­tic­i­pa­tion. Offi­cials worked with inter­na­tion­al part­ners, the State Depart­ment, the Ener­gy Depart­ment and var­i­ous U.S. gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

The review had intense scruti­ny at the high­est lev­el of the gov­ern­ment.

“It’s short­hand in the nuclear busi­ness that nuclear weapons are the president’s weapons,” the offi­cial said. Oba­ma has been direct­ly engaged in the process in a delib­er­a­tive and thought­ful way, he added.

The key objec­tives of U.S. nuclear pol­i­cy are to pre­vent nuclear pro­lif­er­a­tion and nuclear ter­ror­ism, the offi­cial said, and the gov­ern­ment also wants to reduce the role and num­bers of nuclear weapons. An objec­tive, the offi­cial added, is to main­tain effec­tive deter­rence with few­er weapons.

Anoth­er objec­tive, he said, is to strength­en region­al deter­rence and reas­sur­ance of U.S. allies and part­ners. The Unit­ed States pro­vides a nuclear umbrel­la for NATO allies, Japan and South Korea, for exam­ple, and the review looks at changes in those rela­tion­ships.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)