THE NUCLEAR THREAT ENVIRONMENT FACING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

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From War on the RocksWar on the Rocks:

“With Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, the American people can expect the new administration to author a Nuclear Posture Review that is likely to differ significantly from the Obama administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review. This is primarily because the two men have fundamentally different worldviews. Whatever direction the new administration takes, one thing is certain: The nation’s adversaries pose an increasingly daunting challenge when it comes to nuclear weapons.

While Obama deserves considerable credit for spending more time thinking about nuclear deterrence than any post-Cold War president, competing budgetary priorities have left the United States’ nuclear arsenal older than it has ever been. Both delivery vehicles and warheads are in need of replacement as system components and technology age out. At present, the Long Range Stand-off Cruise Missile (LRSO), B-21 stealth bomber, and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) are planned as replacements for existing delivery systems, but these new systems are at least a decade out.

To make matters worse, our adversaries spent the past decade expanding (China and North Korea) and modernizing (Russia, China, North Korea) their nuclear forces. They are fielding both new warheads and new delivery systems that incorporate a number of developments that make their weapons harder to target by, for example, American ballistic missile defenses. Because the United States did not do the same, the American advantage in both weapons science and engineering and delivery vehicle technology has shrunk while other countries – China and Russia in particular – continued to advance the science and technology of their nuclear weapons programs.”

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