Top Experts Including NTI’s Joan Rohlfing Assess Trump Administration’s Nuclear Strategy

At a briefing for the news media and policy analysts Tuesday, several of Washington’s top nuclear policy experts criticized the Trump Administration’s reported nuclear policy strategy as a dangerous and costly break from decades of U.S. global leadership toward reducing reliance on nuclear weapons.

The administration’s Nuclear Posture Review is expected to be released within the next couple of weeks, but a draft of the 64-page document already has been leaked. In it, the administration calls for expanding the scenarios under which the United States might use nuclear weapons, such as responding to a massive cyber attack, and proposes enhancements to the U.S. arsenal designed to make nuclear weapons more “usable.” 

“This draft posture review represents a significant departure from the direction we’ve been headed for the last four administrations,” said NTI President Joan Rohlfing, one of three expert panelists at the briefing hosted by the independent, nonpartisan Arms Control Association. “It increases our reliance on nuclear weapons, expands their role in our security, and makes nuclear weapons use more likely.”

Rohlfing and the other panelists, former acting undersecretary of State for arms control and international security Tom Countryman and former White House National Security Council senior director for arms control and nonproliferation Jon Wolfsthal, noted that the NPR is not yet final and changes could be made before it is officially released.

All three, however, found it alarming as drafted.

The new nuclear strategy, which also calls for an estimated $1.25 trillion or more over 30 years to replace and upgrade all three legs of the U.S. nuclear triad, has “real implications for our budget, for our leadership role in the world, and for our national security,” Countryman said.

Wolfsthal said the administration has underplayed the enormous cost of its proposals and doesn't explain how they are affordable and sustainable; Countryman said it is crucial for Congress, the news media, and the public to engage on these issues to try to limit such destabilizing policies.

Listen to audio from the event here.

Read news media coverage here and here.

January 23, 2018
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Mimi Hall
Mimi Hall

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