The Role of U.S. Nuclear Weapons: New Doctrine Falls Short of Bush Pledge by Hans M. Kristense

Dandelion Salad

by Hans M. Kristense
Arms Control Today
Arms Control Association

A nuclear draft doctrine written by the Pentagon calls for maintaining an aggressive nuclear posture with weapons on high alert to strike adversaries armed with weapons of mass destruction (WMD), pre-emptively if necessary.

The doctrine, the first formal update since the Bush administration took office, is entitled “Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations”[1] and has been strongly influenced by the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and other directives published by the Bush administration since 2001. A final version is expected later this fall.

The draft doctrine and editing comments were freely available on the Internet until recently, providing a rare glimpse into the secret world of nuclear planning in the post-Cold War era.

Foremost among the doctrine’s new features are the incorporation of pre-emption into U.S. nuclear doctrine and the integration of conventional weapons and missile defenses into strategic planning. The Bush administration claims that it is significantly reducing the role of nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, the updated doctrine falls far short of fulfilling the administration’s claim. Instead of reducing the role of nuclear weapons, the new doctrine reaffirms an aggressive nuclear posture of modernized nuclear weapons maintained on high alert. Conventional forces and missile defenses merely complement—instead of replace—nuclear weapons.

The new doctrine continues the thinking of the previous version from 1995 in its reaffirmation of nuclear deterrence. It differs in three other key elements: the threshold for nuclear use, nuclear targeting and international law, and the role of conventional and defensive forces.


h/t: Global Research

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