The Trump administration has officially rolled out its new Nuclear Posture Review after weeks of commentary and analysis of a leaked version of the review. Much of this pre-release comment focused on the NPR’s call for increased spending on the nuclear arsenal, including on programs that would create new kinds of small nuclear weapons, and on its suggestion that nuclear weapons might be used in response to attacks of a non-nuclear nature, including, specifically, cyber attacks against critical US infrastructure. Administration officials have portrayed the NPR as a required response to changed world security conditions, particularly Russia’s supposed increased reliance on nuclear options in its military doctrine. Many experts outside government have criticized the new NPR as a return to Cold War thinking and budgeting that makes the United States less rather than more secure.
Over the next several weeks, the Bulletin will be publishing a package of expert commentary on the NPR. The commentaries will include analysis of the NPR document itself and informed speculation on how it might or might not be implemented, frustrated, or altered through congressional and executive branch processes in coming years. It is my hope that these commentaries will become a reference point for the policy makers and citizens who will deal with the real-world consequences of a document that proposes major changes in how the United States deals with its nuclear arsenal.