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New Trump nuke policy veers us into more dangerous territory

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 U.S. 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 United States 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 U.S. 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 U.N. 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.

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.