The Trump administration is looking to develop new nuclear weapons that may make it easier to deter threats to European, according to a new policy review. The new policy looks to put the U.S. in a generally more forward-leaning nuclear stance. It is the first “nuclear posture review,” as they’re known, since 2010 and are among several new security studies commissioned by the Trump administration.
The document says the U.S. will remain a part of existing arms control agreements, but expresses doubt that it will enter into new ones in the future. The Trump administration would use nuclear weapons only in “extreme circumstances,” the document says, a stance consistent with past administrations, but foresees an increased deterrent role played by our nuclear arsenal.
The administration describes a strategy they believe is being used by Russia called “escalate to de-escalate.” Under that strategy Russia would use, or threaten to use, smaller nuclear weapons in limited, conventional conflicts in Europe with the belief that it would cause the U.S. and NATO to back down.
To combat this strategy, the U.S. would retrofit some existing long-range ballistic missiles with smaller-yield nuclear warheads. They would also redevelop nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles. Those weapons had been a part of the U.S.’ arsenal during the Cold War but were retired at the beginning of this decade.
The plan has not yet been approved by President Trump. The full Trump nuclear doctrine is expected to be published in early February. That should be followed by a policy position on U.S defenses against ballistic missiles.