Nuclear Posture Review

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The Nuclear Posture Review is a process “to determine what the role of nuclear weapons in United States security strategy should be.”[1]

In his first year in office, President Barack Obama gave a landmark address in Prague in which he famously affirmed “clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The commitment to total nuclear disarmament was a major departure from the George W. Bush administration — the first time, in fact, that the United States had declared a nuclear-free world a major policy goal.

Now, eight years later, it’s the Trump administration’s turn to lay out its nuclear weapons policy. And according to a pre-decisional draft of the 2018 NPR obtained by the Huffington Post, Trump’s Department of Defense has gone a decidedly different route: new nukes, for no good reason:[2]

"The new US nuclear posture is a reckless, irresponsible, and destabilising departure from the previous attitude toward nuclear weapons. The use of even a small part of the existing arsenal of the United States would be sufficient to destroy life on earth. Yet, the posture review calls for more weapons, speaks of nuclear weapons as 'usable', and justifies their use in 'First Strikes' even against countries that do not have nuclear weapons."[3]


The first NPR of 2002 was the second of these quadrennial reviews of United States nuclear forces undertaken by the United States Department of Defense. The first took place in 1994. The final report is National Security Classified and submitted to the US Congress.[4]

The 2002 Nuclear Posture Review also included components requiring the "Pentagon to draft contingency plans for the use of nuclear weapons against at least seven countries, naming not only Russia and the "Axis of Evil" — Iraq, Iran, and North Korea — but also China, Libya and Syria."[5]

Reducing the nuclear stockpile

President Barack Obama's 2010 Nuclear Posture Review was preceded by high expectations because of his 2009 speech in Prague, Czech Republic where he prominently outlined a vision of a world without nuclear weapons. His NPR was hoped by observers to make concrete moves toward this goal.[6] The finished 2010 policy[7][8][9] renounces development of any new nuclear weapons such as the bunker-busters proposed by the Bush administration, and for the first time rules out a nuclear attack against non-nuclear-weapon states who are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This rule pointedly excludes Iran and North Korea.[10][11][12]

As part of the implementation of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the U.S. Government is reviewing its nuclear deterrence requirements and nuclear plans to ensure that they are aligned to address today's threats. Rose Gottemoeller, US Acting Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, said in early June 2012 that the United States was considering what forces the United States needed to maintain for strategic stability and deterrence, including extended deterrence and assurance to US allies and partners. Based on this analysis the United States would develop proposals for potential further reductions in its nuclear stockpile.[13]

External links


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Speech to the European Parliament by Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN7 February 2018Beatrice Fihn"Are you going to support the new Trump Nuclear Doctrine? Join the thinking of Russia, North Korea? Cheer on a new nuclear arms race? Or are you going to support the work for the prohibition and the elimination of nuclear weapons? You cannot do both."
Document:US Nuclear Policy Review: The World Is Our Enemy8 February 2018Christopher Black“We (the United States) will keep you guessing as to when and against whom we will use them (nuclear weapons). We will maintain our role as the greatest state terrorist by keeping the nuclear Damocles sword over the heads of the people of the world constantly to ensure that the world acts in our interest.”


  1. [1] Archived August 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. "Exclusive: Here Is A Draft Of Trump’s Nuclear Review. He Wants A Lot More Nukes."
  3. "The Nuclear Posture Review: The World Will Not Survive the American Neoconservatives’ Doctrine of US World Hegemony"
  4. "Statement by President Barack Obama on the Release of Nuclear Posture Review | The White House". 2010-04-06. Retrieved 2012-08-18.

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  5. WILLIAM M. ARKIN: “Secret Plan Outlines the Unthinkable” - Los Angeles Times of March 10, 2002 (via Internet Archive)
  6. David E. Sanger; Thom Shanker (28 February 2010). "White House Is Rethinking Nuclear Policy". New York Times. New York, NY: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved 8 April 2010.

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  7. Mary Beth Sheridan and Walter Pincus (6 March 2010). "Obama must decide degree to which U.S. swears off nuclear weapons". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 August 2012.

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  8. "Highlights of the Nuclear Posture Review". The Washington Post. 7 April 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2012.

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  9. Mary Beth Sheridan (7 April 2010). "New nuclear arms policy shows limits U.S. faces". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 August 2012.

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  10. "Obama limits US nuclear arms use". BBC News. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2012.

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  11. David E. Sanger; Peter Baker (5 April 2010). "Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms". New York Times. New York, NY: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved 8 April 2010.

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  12. David E. Sanger; Thom Shanker (6 April 2010). "Obama's Nuclear Strategy Intended as a Message". New York Times. New York, NY: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved 8 April 2010.

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  13. "US "Not Developing New Nuclear Weapons, No New Nuclear Missions"". RTT Staff Writer. RTT News. 5 June 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.

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