Why Donald Trump Wants His Nukes to Be Smaller

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September 21, 2017
Jeffrey Lewis

The following is an excerpt from Foreign Policy.

So President Donald Trump wants a mini-nuke. At least that is what Politico’s Bryan Bender reports is under consideration in the government’s ongoing Nuclear Posture Review, which may propose “smaller, more tactical nuclear weapons that would cause less damage than traditional thermonuclear bombs — a move that would give military commanders more options but could also make the use of atomic arms more likely.”

This is hardly surprising. As I wrote in February, it was always clear that Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review “will be, like the 2002 version, a quick and dirty affair that is basically the same wish list as the unpublished December 2016 Defense Science Board study,” which emphasized low-yield nuclear weapons.

Nothing freaked out people more than the portion of the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review that leaked to the press calling new “options for variable and reduced yields” one of a series of “desired capabilities” for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.The 2002 NPR, along with George W. Bush administration proposals for “new” nuclear warheads likes the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, met fierce resistance from a number of quarters including Republicans in Congress. When President Barack Obama took office, his NPR stated flatly that the United States would not develop “new” nuclear weapons, a term left undefined.

And nothing was more certain than that once Republicans were back in control there would be new proposals for low-yield nuclear weapons.

But here’s the weird thing: We already have low-yield nuclear weapons. And Obama was developing new ones, no matter what his pretty little Nuclear Posture Review said. The debate in the press isn’t really about tiny nuclear weapons; it is about tiny nuclear weapons in Trump’s tiny hands.

Read the full article at Foreign Policy.

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