US arms control groups have condemned the new nuclear weapons strategy announced by the administration of President Donald Trump, saying it could raise the risk of nuclear war.
The latest policy was revealed on Friday in a Pentagon policy statement known as the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
The new policy, which came largely to counter Russia, effectively ends Obama-era efforts to reduce the size and scope of the US arsenal and minimize the role of nuclear weapons in defense planning.
It also cast China as a potential nuclear adversary, saying the US arsenal is tailored to “prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding” that it could gain advantage by using its nuclear weapons in Asia, or that “any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable.”
The report drew blistering criticism from arms control groups, who said the strategy will reduce US and global security.
“President Trump is embarking on a reckless path — one that will reduce US security both now and in the longer term,” said Lisbeth Gronlund, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
She said the Trump administration is blurring the line between nuclear and conventional war-fighting.
The science advocacy organization also said the new report misrepresents the status of China’s nuclear forces.
“The gap between China and the United States is too wide to argue that the United States is lagging behind in any meaningful way. In fact, the exact opposite is true. By any measure, the US arsenal is far superior,” the group said in a statement on its website.
“If the Trump administration were truly concerned about limiting the size and capability of China’s nuclear forces,” he added, “it would ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which China signed in 1996, and negotiate a fissile material control treaty, which China supports. Doing so would cap the size of China’s nuclear arsenal.”
Barry Blechman, co-founder of the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan anti-nuclear proliferation think tank in Washington, has warned that the US is "on the cusp of a new era of nuclear proliferation."
"This is the great nuclear danger raised by the new" nuclear policy, Blechman added.