ACTION ALERT: New Trump Nuclear Policy Veers into Dangerous Territory
January 30, 2018
Martin Fleck / Physicians for Social Responsibility
The Huffington Post has leaked a draft of the Trump administration's new Nuclear Posture Review. The NPR, which officially defines the role of US nuclear weapons, dangerously increases reliance on nuclear weapons rather than pursuing diplomacy to prevent conflict and move towards arms reductions. Help PSR hold our government accountable in calling this reckless policy unacceptable.
New Trump Nuke Policy Veers into More Dangerous Territory
Martin Fleck / Physicians for Social Responsibility
(January 19, 2018) – Last week, a HuffPost reporter leaked a draft of the Trump administration's new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The NPR, which officially defines the role of US nuclear weapons, dangerously increases reliance on nuclear weapons rather than pursuing diplomacy to prevent conflict and move towards arms reductions. Help PSR hold our government accountable in calling this reckless policy unacceptable.
The near-final draft, leaked to HuffPost reporter Ashley Feinberg, highlights the core policy principles that will be embedded in the forthcoming official document. The official document is expected to be released on February 2, 2018. Here's what we learned from the leaked draft:
1. The US will shift towards increased reliance on nuclear weapons.
The 2018 NPR augments the role of nuclear weapons in military plans. The document also loosens current restraints on the use of nuclear weapons by expanding the list of situations that could trigger their use. This is a significant departure from the Obama administration's NPR, which included guidelines that the United States would pursue disarmament by working to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in military plans.
2. More usable "mini-nukes."
The Trump administration's NPR calls for the production of additional "tactical" low-yield nuclear weapons to provide the president with new nuclear attack options. Specific proposals are to develop a new sea-launched cruise missile and to equip some of the extremely accurate D-5 ballistic missiles carried by Trident submarines with a single low-yield (Hiroshima-sized) nuclear weapon.
During the presidential election campaign, Trump famously asked: "If you can't use nuclear weapons, why do we have them?" The devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki demonstrates that any use of nuclear weapons, no matter how small, could indiscriminately kill hundreds of thousands of civilians.
3. Unsurprisingly, a massive revamp of the entire US nuclear arsenal. The United States plans to enhance and upgrade the arsenal with new missiles, aircraft and submarines. This plan is estimated to cost $1.2 trillion over 30 years. Clearly, the creators of the NPR didn't get the memo that a growing faction of the international community has declared nuclear weapons illegitimate and illegal.
On July 7, 2017, 122 nations voted to adopt the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. PSR and our partners at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), and the International Red Cross have also risen up and called for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
What You Can Do:
Ask your friends and colleagues to get involved. They can stay informed by signing up for PSR's e-activist list.
Use our NPR talking points to write an op-ed or letter to the editor.
The State of the Union address on January 30 and anticipated release of the NPR on February 2 are both news opportunities that give us a chance to spread our message. (For tips on writing an effective letter to the editor, click here.)
PSR Nuclear Talking Points
Physicians for Social Responsibility
The United States will develop two types of "tactical" low-yield nuclear warheads.
The document claims that building smaller nuclear weapons (Hiroshima-sized) allows the United States to develop a more "credible deterrent" against Russia because smaller nuclear weapons are "more usable." However, the United States already has low-yield nuclear weapons (air-launched cruise missiles and the B61 gravity bombs stationed in Europe).
The new low-yield warheads include: (1) a warhead for the Trident D5 submarine-launched missiles and (2) a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile.
The NPR expands the circumstances in which the United States might use its nuclear arsenal.
New circumstances include a response to a non-nuclear attack that caused mass casualties or aimed at critical infrastructure such as nuclear command and control sites.
This marks a break in policy from the Obama administration’s NPR, which stated that the United States wouldn't threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The NPR sidelines diplomacy and arms control treaties.
There is no mention of Article VI of the NPT in the entire document. The NPT legally obligates the United States to pursue nuclear disarmament.
The document criticizes the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), calling it "unrealistic" and damaging to international security.
The United States will not submit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) for ratification.
The draft NPR dangerously increases reliance on nuclear weapons while sidelining the diplomatic agreements that prevent conflict and keep us safe.
The document signals an increased role of nuclear weapons in military plans and lowers the threshold for using nuclear weapons. The NPR fails to even reference Article VI of the NPT once in the 64-page document.
Ignoring the NPT and rejecting the TPNW shows that the United States is moving in the opposite direction of the rest of the world by rejecting the diplomatic treaties that reduce nuclear weapons dangers. The international community (two-thirds of U.N. nations) have already voted in support of the TPNW, declaring nuclear weapons illegal.
The notion of building "more usable," small nuclear weapons is abhorrent. Using nuclear weapons flattens cities, destroys populations, and causes long-term devastation to environmental health.
Hiroshima demonstrates that using a "small" nuclear weapon has devastating humanitarian consequences. A meaningful medical response would be impossible. An attack on any city would destroy hospitals and clinics, kill many of the city's health professionals, wipe out medical supplies, and paralyze communication and transportation systems. At Hiroshima, 90 percent of physicians and nurses were killed or injured and 42 of the 45 hospitals were destroyed.
A "limited" nuclear war is an oxymoron. Any use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic global health and environmental consequences. Scientific data shows that a regional nuclear war involving less than one percent of the global nuclear arsenal would be ecocidal and cause instant climate change. A nuclear war fought with low-yield nuclear weapons also risks escalating into a large-scale global conflict where higher-yield nuclear weapons are used.