THE NEW U.S. NUCLEAR POSTURE
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Friday, June 6, 2003
Noah T. Winer, Editor
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1. Introduction: The Nuclear Future
2. One Link
3. No More Hawks and Doves
4. Reviewing the Nuclear Posture
5. The Direction Since Sept. 11
6. The Bush-Putin Treaty
8. Nuclear Weapons Go Underground
10. About the Bulletin
INTRODUCTION: THE NUCLEAR FUTURE
For years, the threat of nuclear catastrophe consumed the energies of
many activists. Washington and Moscow both seemed willing to risk the
lives of millions of human beings in order to maintain nuclear
superiority. And then the Cold War ended.
Once rhetoric shifted to understanding the post-Cold War strategic
environment, talk of nuclear expansion subsided. The assumption was that
the weapons were no longer necessary and would be cooperatively
dismantled by the now-friendly nuclear powers. This was, after all, in
Yet de-escalation has not ruled the day. The focus has shifted from
communists to terrorists and while there is no evidence that terrorists
have nuclear weapons, there is evidence they are trying to procure them.
Precisely because dismantling never occurred, Russia still possesses
nuclear weapons in great numbers, but they are now less securely
protected. Once again, nuclear weapons must be preserved as a deterrent.
More frighteningly, smaller nuclear weapons must be developed which
would serve not as a deterrent, but as a usable complement to
conventional weapons. These changes are immediate history -- the Bush-Putin
nuclear arms treaty signed this week, the ban on developing small nukes
lifted only last month -- and that history continues to unfold. This
week's bulletin will prepare you to participate in the history to come.
If you read nothing else in this week's bulletin, read this article from
the Union of Concerned Scientists:
"[President Bush] should ask whether adopting a military posture
right now to counter aggressive 'peer competitors' that might arise in
the invisible future could create a self-fulfilling prophecy, while also
aggravating the dangers that exist today.Ê He should, instead, move
towards an unambiguous and whole-hearted endorsement of the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty, and demonstrate this commitment by asking the
Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty."
NO MORE HAWKS AND DOVES
"Forget hawks and doves. The post-Cold War political struggle is
between 'dominators' and 'conciliators.' Right now, thanks especially to
Osama bin Laden, those who believe U.S. national security lies in raw
military power, not cooperative agreements, are in control."
REVIEWING THE NUCLEAR POSTURE
The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is a military planning document
Congress mandated in 2000. The Bush administration delivered the NPR in
2002, but its contents were classified. Leaked versions reveal the NPR
recommends a greater role for nuclear weapons and missile defense.
The Natural Resources Defense Council published an analysis of the
NPR called "Faking Nuclear Restraint."
Analysis from the engineering organization IEEE describes how the NPR
conflicts with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the
Or maybe we're just "nuclear alarmists." So say two
research fellows at the National Defense University's Institute for
National Strategic Studies.
THE DIRECTION SINCE SEPT. 11
"While there is much the Bush administration might have done to
make nuclear terrorism less likely, the path they have chosen increases
the risks of nuclear terrorism. It also undermines our relationship with
countries we need in the fight against terrorism in general and nuclear
terrorism in particular."
THE BUSH-PUTIN TREATY
In 2002, President Bush met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to
discuss reducing deployable nuclear warheads. They drafted the Treaty of
Moscow which has since been ratified by the U.S. Senate and Russian
parliament. On Sunday, Bush and Putin signed the treaty in St.
Petersburg, bringing it into full effect.
Questions remain as to the seriousness of this arms reduction. This
Chicago Tribune op-ed challenges Bush's claim that the treaty will
"liquidate the legacy of the Cold War":
"Moving [nuclear] weapons from silos, where they are extremely
secure, to warehouses, where they may not be, would be a gift to Al
Qaeda and every other outlaw group that lusts after Russia's 'loose
nukes.' If we want to reduce the danger, we have to persuade the
Russians to destroy nuclear weapons so that no one can ever use them.
But they won't do that unless we agree to do the same."
LINK NOT WORKING 02.03.08
The Bush administration has lobbied for the repeal of a 10-year ban on
research and development of "low-yield" nuclear weapons.
Opponents have argued these smaller nukes would blur the distinction
between nuclear and non-nuclear weaponry, making nuclear warfare more
In a late May vote, Senators Edward Kennedy and Dianne Feinstein were
unable to preserve the ban. On the Senate floor, Kennedy asked: "Is
half a Hiroshima OK? Is a quarter Hiroshima OK? Is a little mushroom
cloud OK? That's absurd. The issue is too important. If we build it,
we'll use it."
Senator Feinstein on low-yield nuclear weapons:
"The political effects of U.S. pursuit of new nuclear weapons could
well be to legitimize nuclear weapons, and U.S. nuclear planning could
serve as a pretext for other countries and, worse, terrorist groups such
as al-Qaeda, to build or acquire their own bombs."
Slate magazine on the Pentagon's Dr. Strangelove, Keith Payne, whose
nuclear infatuation is now making policy. Of nuclear war, Payne once
wrote: "an intelligent United States offensive [nuclear] strategy,
wedded to homeland defenses, should reduce U.S. casualties to
approximately 20 million ... a level compatible with national survival
NUCLEAR WEAPONS GO UNDERGROUND
From Popular Science magazine:
"[T]he Pentagon has begun to consider the previously unthinkable:
developing specially designed nuclear weapons for attacking buried caves
and tunnels.... Such a move would represent the most significant
rewriting of U.S. nuclear strategy in decades, because its intended
purpose violates the two cornerstones of current policy: to use nuclear
weapons only as a last resort and never to use them against non-nuclear
Leah Appet, Russ Juskalian, Janelle Miau, Kim Plofker, and Bland
David Taub Bancroft, Melinda Coyle, Eileen Gillan, Judy Green, Mary Anne
Henry, and Rita A. Weinstein.
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