You are here: Home » International » News » Others
Business Standard

North Korea threat: Pentagon sees broader role for nuclear weapons

Critics say strategy takes 'lower-yield' nuclear arms onto battlefields

Anthony Capaccio | Bloomberg 

November 8, 2016, the day US President Donald Trump  won the presidential election, is remembered in India as 'DeMon Day'

Escalating global threats from to mean the U. S. military’s regional commanders must update war plans to incorporate the use — in the most dire circumstances — of weapons, according to the Pentagon’s latest Posture Review. The review responds to what President and military leaders say is an increasingly complex threat environment, and it acknowledges that prospects for further arms reductions in the near future are “extremely challenging.” Military leaders see China and in particular as bolstering their forces, incorporating them into their strategic plans and taking more aggressive actions in outer space and cyber space. The review is intended to “ensure that our diplomats and our negotiators are in a position to be listened to when we say we want to go forward on nonproliferation and arms control,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters Friday. “You do so by having an effective, safe deterrent -- and you have to look at each of those words.” Stockpile The report also calls for development of a wider range of lower-yield weapons that can be launched from submarines and ships. The U. S. currently has about 1,371 weapons, down from a peak of more than 12,000 during the Cold War, and under existing treaties could raise that level to 1,550. Critics who reviewed a leaked copy of the draft published last month in the Huffington Post said the administration’s approach is reckless and makes the use of weapons more likely. “The risk of use for weapons has always been unacceptably high,” Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the Campaign to Abolish Weapons, which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, said in an email. “The new Trump Doctrine is to deliberately increase that risk. It is an all-out attempt to take weapons out of the silos and onto the battlefield.” Under the strategy, regional commanders and military services leaders “will plan, train and exercise to integrate U.

S. and non-forces and operate in the face of adversary threats and attacks.” It also provides momentum to U. S. plans to modernise the “triad,” the capacity to deliver weapons via land-based missile systems, submarines and strategic bombers, an effort that is expected to cost as much as $1.2 trillion through 2046 for development, purchase and long-term support, according to the Congressional Budget Office. While the review suggests there might be a broader range of scenarios in which weapons could be used, “there is no lowering of the threshold in this posture,” according to John Rood, the undersecretary of defense for policy. options Highlighting the perceived threat from Russia, a nation Trump has repeatedly said he’d like to work more closely with, military commanders will also have to develop “response options” against the country’s leaders if they initiate limited tactical strikes against NATO, Greg Weaver, deputy director of strategic capabilities for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday. “There are strong indications that our current strategy, posture and capabilities are perceived by the Russians as potentially inadequate to deter them,” Weaver said. Trump signaled his interest in a broader arsenal soon after his election, when he said on Twitter that, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” About a month after Trump’s election, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his nation should “enhance the combat capability of strategic forces, primarily by strengthening missile complexes that will be guaranteed to penetrate existing and future missile defense systems.” Cyberattacks The review was deliberately ambiguous about whether a debilitating from Russia, China or would trigger a response. The leaked draft had hinted that it could. was singled out as the “most immediate and dire proliferation threat,” ahead of Iran, which the review says could develop a weapon within a year if it abandoned a 2015 accord Trump has long criticised. Weaver and General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, sought to emphasise the new document’s continuity with the 2010 version, with Selva saying it didn’t represent a “sea change.” The officials said the development of more low-yield weapons and clearer elaboration for when weapons might be used were the primary differences between the two documents. “Deterrence and assurance have gone to the top of the agenda,” and there’s no emphasis as in 2010 on de-emphasising weapons, nor is there an effort to boost their importance, according to Rob Soofer, deputy assistant secretary for and missile defense. ‘They failed’ That didn’t assuage the report’s critics. “Even though a lot of the words are the same,” the “fundamental purpose of the 2010 NPR was to reduce the role of the missions and numbers of weapons” and “move together with other countries” to reduce numbers,” said Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, which seeks to reduce and eventually eliminate weapons. “They didn’t get there. They failed.” “I think it’s a significant departure from 2010” and will “be understood and perceived that way by who follow these issues and the community,” Joan Rohlfing, president of the Threat Initiative, told reporters this week. Under the review, the first low-yield weapon to be fielded would be a modification to what Soofer described as a small number of D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles built by Lockheed Martin Corp. Ohio-class submarines now carry as many as 20 of the D-5 missiles.

First Published: Sat, February 03 2018. 22:02 IST