Szilard Advisory Board member Jon Wolfsthal wrote a column in Arms Control Today detailing key questions about the forthcoming nuclear posture review and questioning how President Trump will change nuclear weapons policy.
“President Donald Trump has made a number of sometimes contradictory comments related to nuclear weapons during his political campaign and since his election.
He said he would be the “last to use” nuclear weapons, yet implied first use when he said North Korean threats “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” should it threaten the United States or its allies. As a candidate, he described the U.S. nuclear arsenal as being in “very terrible shape,” while on August 9, 2017, after six months in office and no changes to U.S. nuclear forces, he tweeted that the nuclear arsenal “is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”
Most recently, Trump denied an NBC News report that he told his national security advisers during a July meeting that he wanted what would amount to a tenfold increase in the number of U.S. nuclear weapons, returning to Cold War levels. “I want modernization and I want total rehabilitation” so the current arsenal is “in tip-top shape,” he told reporters October 11 at the White House, suggesting he will continue or accelerate the nuclear stockpile management program begun during the previous administration.
All that has created some uncertainty about how U.S. nuclear policies will change with a new administration led by a president who took office without experience in foreign policy or strategic thinking, let alone the complexities of nuclear weapons and deterrence.” Read more