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United States Nuclear Posture Review

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Guest American Forces Press

The Nuclear Posture Review recognizes that nuclear terrorism by violent extremists and nuclear proliferation to more states – not a nuclear exchange between nations – pose the greatest threat to U.S. and global security, President Barack Obama noted in a statement issued today.


Obama called the review, released today, a major step toward fulfilling his pledge to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy while sustaining a safe, secure and effective deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist.


While acknowledging the threat of nuclear weapons getting into the wrong hands, the review recognizes that the national security of the United States and its allies and partners “can be increasingly defended by America’s unsurpassed conventional military capabilities and strong missile defenses,” the president said.


He noted concrete steps the United States has taken to reduce the role of nuclear weapons, while preserving its military superiority, deterring aggression and safeguarding U.S. security:


-- Moving the prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism to the top of its nuclear agenda for the first time, and aligning its policies and funding for programs to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and encourage international cooperation toward that goal.


-- Promoting international responsibility in meeting nonproliferation treaty obligations, and promising not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are parties to the treaty and comply with their nonproliferation obligations.


-- Pledging not to conduct nuclear tests, develop new nuclear warheads or pursue new missions or capabilities for nuclear weapons, and pressing for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.


While reducing the role of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal, Obama said, the Nuclear Posture Review also recognizes their important deterrent value as the United States works to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, prevent nuclear terrorism and pursue the day when these weapons no longer exist.


Meanwhile, he vowed to press for substantial investments to improve the safety and effectiveness of the existing nuclear stockpile while also strengthening conventional capabilities.


“So long as nuclear weapons exist, we will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal that guarantees the defense of the United States, reassures allies and partners, and deters potential adversaries,” he said.


Obama called these measures important steps toward the comprehensive agenda he laid out in Prague last year to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to pursue world peace and security without them.


He said he looks forward to advancing this agenda in Prague on April 8, when he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the new strategic arms reduction treaty that commits both countries to substantial nuclear arms reductions.

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Guest The White House

Op-Ed by Vice President Joe Biden: "A Comprehensive Nuclear Arms Strategy"


The following op-ed by Vice President Joe Biden was published in today’s Los Angeles Times:


A Comprehensive Nuclear Arms Strategy


The administration's Nuclear Posture Review outlines the means to achieve greater security from worldwide nuclear dangers. Nonproliferation and counter-terrorism are central to the strategy.


By Joe Biden

April 7, 2010


When I joined the Senate in 1973, crafting nuclear policy meant mastering arcane issues like nuclear stability and deterrence theory. With the end of the Cold War and a new relationship between our country and Russia, thankfully these subjects no longer dominate public discourse. Today, the danger of deliberate, global nuclear war has all but disappeared, but the nuclear threats we face from terrorists and non-nuclear states seeking to acquire such weapons are graver than ever.


On Tuesday, President Obama took an important step toward addressing these threats by releasing a plan that will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy while ensuring that our nuclear arsenal remains safe, secure and effective for as long as it is needed. The Nuclear Posture Review outlines a strategy, supported unanimously by the national security cabinet, for greater security from nuclear dangers and implements the agenda that President Obama first outlined in Prague just over a year ago to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to pursue the peace and security of a world without them.


This new strategy, a sharp departure from previous Nuclear Posture Reviews released in 2001 and 1994, leaves Cold War thinking behind. It recognizes that the greatest threat to U.S. and global security is no longer a nuclear exchange between nations, but nuclear terrorism by extremists and the spread of nuclear weapons to an increasing number of states. From now on, decisions about the number of weapons we have and how they are deployed will take nonproliferation and counter-terrorism into account, rather than being solely based on the objective of stable deterrence.


The review contains a clear rationale for the reductions called for under the New START treaty -- a 30% reduction from the previous agreement. Because of advances in conventional capabilities and technologies such as missile defense, we need fewer nuclear weapons to deter adversaries and protect our allies than we did even a decade ago. Under the new review, we will retain only those weapons needed for our core requirements.


The plan also establishes a policy that the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, as long as they are party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations. This approach provides additional incentive for countries to fully comply with nonproliferation norms. Those that do not will be more isolated and less secure.


The completion of a Nuclear Posture Review that is grounded in a commitment to American security will better protect us and our allies from nuclear threats. So will the signing of the New START treaty Thursday. And the unprecedented Nuclear Security Summit the president will host next week -- with its focus on securing vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years -- will advance these goals still further.


At the same time, the president is determined to ensure that our nuclear weapons remain absolutely safe, secure and effective. That is why he has asked Congress to increase funding for our nuclear complex by $5 billion over the next five years, allowing us to upgrade aging facilities and recruit and retain the highly skilled scientists and engineers needed to sustain our arsenal. Our plan reverses a decade-long erosion in support for the national laboratories. This commitment will ensure that our arsenal remains ready.


We can achieve these objectives while upholding this country's nearly two-decade moratorium on nuclear tests and continuing our efforts to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. And although we will not develop new warheads or add military capabilities as we manage our arsenal for the future, we will pursue needed life-extension programs so the weapons we retain can be sustained. This approach has broad support, and, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates states in his preface to the Nuclear Posture Review, it is a "credible modernization plan necessary to sustain the nuclear infrastructure and support our nation's deterrent."


The president and I made a promise to the American people to protect them from nuclear risks. We have no higher obligation. Our strategy delivers on that promise and tackles the most immediate threats our planet faces.

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Guest John J. Kruzel

The nation’s second-ranking military officer said today that he’s comfortable with a new U.S. policy that halts future production of nuclear weapons.


The freeze on developing new nuclear platforms, save for extraordinary cases requiring presidential approval, is an element of the Nuclear Posture Review, the first overarching look at U.S. nuclear strategy since the end of the Cold War.


“I don't feel constrained in the least, really,” Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters during the nuclear policy unveiling at the Pentagon today. “I think we have more than enough capacity and capability for any threat that we see today or might emerge in the foreseeable future.”


The Nuclear Posture Review, which culminates a year of Defense Department-led efforts involving top interagency officials, articulates a roadmap for cutting America’s nuclear arsenal, edging the U.S. toward President Barack Obama’s stated long-term goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. The NPR ceases U.S. testing of nuclear weapons and the development of new nuclear weapons platforms.


Asked for the military’s view about the cessation of new nuclear warhead development, Cartwright -- a former commander of U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the country’s global strategy -- said he is comfortable with the current U.S. arsenal, and that Stratcom’s current commander, Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, agrees.


“Both for myself, as a previous commander at Stratcom, and also for General Chilton, we both feel very comfortable with these numbers and with these descriptions of reuse, replace, refurbishment,” the vice chairman said.


Instead of developing new capabilities, the policy states that the United States will attempt to extend the lives of warheads currently in use. Refurbished weapons will use only nuclear components based on previously tested designs and will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities, officials said.


In an effort to rebuild an aging nuclear infrastructure and invest in related facilities and personnel, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates requested that $5 billion be transferred from the Defense Department to the Energy Department over the next several years. On specific nuclear warhead platforms, Gates said, the United States will study options for ensuring their safety, security and reliability on a case-by-case basis.


“In any decision to proceed to engineering development, we will give strong preference to options for refurbishment or reuse,” Gates told Pentagon reporters. “Replacement of any nuclear components, if absolutely necessary, would require specific presidential approval.”


The terms laid out in the Nuclear Posture Review reflect the reality of the current security environment, Cartwright said, noting that the policy does not muzzle military leaders who identify a need for testing or for developing new capabilities pending changes.


“Nobody has ever removed from the commander or anyone else in that chain the ability to stand up and say, ‘I'm uncomfortable; I believe that we're going to have to test, or I believe that we're going to have to build something new,’” he said. “That's not been removed here.”


The provisions engendered in the policy have been embraced by the top uniformed commanders, said Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the nation’s military leaders were allowed to submit their input during the process.


Mullen said even while it precludes nuclear testing and the development of new warheads, the review bolsters regional deterrence by fielding new missile defenses, improving capabilities to counter weapons of mass destruction and revitalizing the nuclear support infrastructure.


“The chiefs and I fully support the findings of this Nuclear Posture Review,” Mullen said, “because we believe it provides us and our field commanders the opportunity to better shape our nuclear weapons posture, policies and force structure to meet an ever-changing security environment.”


Energy Secretary Steven Chu said American laboratory directors and a host of other outside technical reviews have been very clear that life-extension programs can maintain the safety, security and effectiveness of the stockpile without testing.


“In any decision to proceed to the engineering development for warhead life-extension programs, the United States will give strong preference to the options of refurbishment or reuse,” he said, adding that proposals for new developments would be sent to the president “only if critical stockpile-management program goals cannot otherwise be met.”

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Guest Jim Garamone

The Nuclear Posture Review is the first overarching look at U.S. nuclear strategy since the end of the Cold War, a senior defense official briefing reporters on background said yesterday.


The review builds on President Barack Obama’s promise to take concrete steps toward the goal of achieving the safety and security of a world free of nuclear weapons, the official said.


A second element, the official added, was to maintain a nuclear deterrent as long as those weapons remain, and ensuring the safety, security and effectiveness of that deterrent while they remain.


The Nuclear Posture Review provides the basis behind many moves in the nuclear arena in the coming months, the official said. Obama will travel to Prague to sign the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia on April 8. The treaty mandates further reductions to the U.S. and Russian arsenals, and officials looked to the Nuclear Posture Review guidance as they negotiated the treaty.


The review also will influence U.S. thinking in the nonproliferation treaty, the nuclear security summit and the nonproliferation review conference.


The review is a “concrete, pragmatic work plan for moving forward this agenda,” the official said.


Congress mandated the review, and it is the third since the end of the Cold War. The Clinton administration conducted the first review in 1994, and the Bush administration the second in 2001. The scope of the review is broader than in the past, officials said.


That scope includes the roles of missile defense, conventional strike, force levels, the weapons complex and the role of arms control in shaping U.S. nuclear posture, the senior official said.


Specifically, Congress asked officials to look at seven elements pertaining to the role of nuclear forces in U.S. military strategy, planning and programming. They looked at how the United States would maintain a safe, reliable and credible nuclear deterrence posture, as well as the relationship among U.S. nuclear deterrence policy, targeting strategy and arms control objectives.


Officials also examined the role missile defense and conventional strike capabilities play in determining roles and sizes of nuclear forces. They looked at the levels and composition of nuclear delivery systems and what the nuclear complex required. Finally, officials studied the nuclear stockpile required to implement U.S. strategy.


Senior officials said the current review is Defense Department-led, but has strong interagency participation. Officials worked with international partners, the State Department, the Energy Department and various U.S. government agencies.


The review had intense scrutiny at the highest level of the government.


“It’s shorthand in the nuclear business that nuclear weapons are the president’s weapons,” the official said. Obama has been directly engaged in the process in a deliberative and thoughtful way, he added.


The key objectives of U.S. nuclear policy are to prevent nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, the official said, and the government also wants to reduce the role and numbers of nuclear weapons. An objective, the official added, is to maintain effective deterrence with fewer weapons.


Another objective, he said, is to strengthen regional deterrence and reassurance of U.S. allies and partners. The United States provides a nuclear umbrella for NATO allies, Japan and South Korea, for example, and the review looks at changes in those relationships.

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Guest Klune



The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is a legislatively-mandated review of Department of Defense strategy and priorities. The QDR will set a long-term course for DoD as it assesses the threats and challenges that the nation faces and re-balances DoD's strategies, capabilities, and forces to address today's conflicts and tomorrow's threats.

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Guest Klune



The Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR) is a review conducted pursuant to guidance from the President and the Secretary of Defense, while also addressing the legislative requirement to assess U.S. ballistic missile defense policy and strategy. The BMDR will evaluate the threats posed by ballistic missiles and develop a missile defense posture to address current and future challenges.

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Guest Klune



The Space Posture Review (SPR) is a legislatively-mandated review of U.S. national security space policy and objectives, conducted jointly by the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence. The SPR analyzes the relationship between military and national security space strategy and assesses space acquisition programs, future space systems, and technology development.

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The nature of the U.S.-Russia relationship has changed fundamentally since the days of the Cold War. While policy differences continue to arise between the two countries and Russia continues to modernize its still-formidable nuclear forces, Russia and the United States are no longer adversaries, and prospects for military confrontation have declined dramatically. The two have increased their cooperation in areas of shared interest, including preventing nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

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The United States and China’s Asian neighbors remain concerned about China’s current military modernization efforts, including its qualitative and quantitative modernization of its nuclear arsenal. China’s nuclear arsenal remains much smaller than the arsenals of Russia and the United States. But the lack of transparency surrounding its nuclear programs – their pace and scope, as well as the strategy and doctrine that guides them – raises questions about China’s future strategic intentions.



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"The Nuclear Posture Review recognizes that nuclear terrorism by violent extremists and nuclear proliferation to more states – not a nuclear exchange between nations – pose the greatest threat to U.S. and global security, President Barack Obama noted in a statement issued today."


There is NO QUESTION about that! Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated and re-stated!

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