A major review of the U.S. nuclear weapons policy has been kicked off by the Pentagon. The military announced on Monday that the review was underway, the first of its kind in seven years.
The nuclear posture review is expected to take six months. The review is an evaluation of both the state of the U.S. nuclear arsenals, and the threat from potential nuclear-armed adversary.
President Donald Trump ordered the review in a memorandum he signed shortly after taking office. The review will be headed by the deputy secretary of defense and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
The presidential memorandum which is dated Jan. 27, revealed that the president directs the Pentagon to examine whether the U.S. nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, effective, reliable and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure the U.S. allies.
In a statement made by Gen. John Hyten, who is the U.S. commander in charge of nuclear weapons, Hyten told Congress that the review will begin this month with a revised assessment of the dangers posed by America's nuclear rivals.
Hyten said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 4th that the first thing that will be assessed is the threat scenario. He also emphasized that countries such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran in particular will be evaluated to make sure that the U.S. understands its threats.
The review is a major concern to Trump’s administration. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who is also a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee made a statement saying that he hopes this review gets it right.
Smith emphasized that he hopes the review will include a thorough assessment of policy options that would allow the U.S. to avoid a costly and dangerous nuclear arms race.
Rep. Adam Smith also called for the review to properly analyze the enormous risks inherent in lowering the threshold for using nuclear weapons. Smith pointed out that the U.S. has over 4,000 nuclear weapons, adding that it is enough destructive power in our arsenal to destroy the world several times over.
Smith urged the committee to rethink what the priorities should be for a strong yet affordable nuclear arsenal, instead of embarking on a trillion-dollar modernization plan that will drag the U.S. into perilous nuclear competition and drain much-needed resources from conventional weapon systems and nondefense programs.