The Trump administration has said it will continue much of the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy, but take a more aggressive stance toward Russia.
It says Russia must be convinced it would face “unacceptably dire costs” if it were to threaten even a limited nuclear attack in Europe.
The sweeping review of U.S. nuclear policy does not call for any net increase in strategic nuclear weapons. That position stands in contrast to President Donald Trump’s statement, in a tweet shortly before he took office, that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
The strategy, described in a 75-page review released by the Pentagon, constitutes one of the most significant revisions of U.S. nuclear strategy since the Cold War, one aimed at aggressively countering nuclear-armed Russia and North Korea as well as terrorist groups seeking to acquire nuclear arms.
Current and former Pentagon officials said that Russian military doctrine increasingly envisions using a limited nuclear strike to win a conflict in Europe, believing the U.S. and its allies might not want to risk large-scale nuclear war under those circumstances.
“We need to figure out how to deter a Russia military, which evidently believes it can use nuclear weapons to end and win a conventional conflict,” said Franklin Miller, a National Security Council official during President George W. Bush’s administration.