Step one: cleanse the skin?
A draft of the Trump administration’s nuclear weapons plan obtained by HuffPost calls for the development of two new types of nuclear weapons.
While the plans haven’t yet been approved, the Wall Street Journal reports that they “have strong support in the Pentagon and are expected to go forward, according to people familiar with the review.”
“A major question at the heart of the Pentagon review is how to respond to military strategy and programs in Russia and China, which American officials say provide a more prominent role for nuclear weapons. In effect, the Pentagon argues that since adversaries have failed to follow the U.S. in de-emphasizing the role of nuclear weapons, Washington needs a greater range of nuclear options to counter its potential foes, especially for carrying out limited strikes.
While the United States has continued to reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons, others, including Russia and China, have moved in the opposite direction,” said a draft of the plan. “The United States must be capable of developing and deploying new capabilities, if necessary, to deter, assure, achieve U.S. objectives if deterrence fails, and hedge against uncertainty.”
At the same time, officials from 20 countries are meeting in Canada to discuss diplomatic strategy with North Korea. The country has been testing missiles that would be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and President Donald Trump has threatened the use of the United States’ nuclear arsenal in response.
After a peak in the late 1980s, the number of nuclear weapons in the world was shrinking, even though more countries had them. Former President Barack Obama called for a “world without nuclear weapons,” near the end of his administration. What will the Pentagon’s new plans mean for global disarmament, and for international politics?
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Preet Bharara is the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.