Back in October of last year, a report from NBC News suggested that President Donald Trump had told his highest-ranking national security officials that he knew exactly what he wanted when it came to American nuclear forces:
“He wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”
Now, thanks to a draft of the administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) obtained by the Huffington Post, we know that Trump isn’t calling for a tenfold increase. He does want significantly more nukes and a drastic increase in what are known as “low-yield” weapons which would be available for use instead of gigantic weapons intended for a full-scale nuclear response. As the report notes:
“The logic of those pushing for the development of smaller nukes is that our current nuclear weapons are too big and too deadly to ever use; we are effectively self-deterred, and the world knows it. To make sure other countries believe that we’d actually use nuclear force, the thinking goes, we need more low-yield nukes.”
And while that may sound less devastating than what most of us have in mind when we consider a nuclear explosion, keep in mind that the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II were also considered to be of the “low-yield” variety.
Alexandra Bell, a former senior adviser at the State Department and current senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, says the last thing the United States needs is more weapons of mass destruction, no matter the size:
“Making the case that we need more low-yield options is making the case that this president needs more nuclear capabilities at his disposal. Regardless of the fact that we have 4,000 nuclear weapons in our active stockpile, which is more than enough to destroy the world many times over. So I don’t think it makes a convincing case that we somehow lack capabilities. And, in fact, I don’t think you can make the case that this president needs any more capabilities.”
The NPR draft attempts to justify more weapons by using a tactic Republicans have used for decades when it comes to national defense: Fear:
And while the Trump plan calls for smaller nukes, the draft directly contradicts administration goals in the space of two scant paragraphs:
So, if you weren’t already nervous enough about the thought that a man as mentally unstable as Donald Trump controls our nuclear arsenal, just imagine giving him even more weapons and thereby increasing the possibility that he’ll use them.
Sleep tight, America!
Featured Image Via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.