Pentagon has no plans to boost size of nuclear arsenal

Thursday, 12 October 2017, 08:06:51 PM. The Pentagon has no current plans to increase the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In fact, it can barely sustain the existing force, which is decades old and is in some respects almost decrepit.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon has no current plans to increase the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In fact, it can barely sustain the existing force, which is decades old and is in some respects almost decrepit.

The arsenal is far from being in the “perfect shape” that President Donald Trump said Wednesday he wants to see under his watch. That is why the government is planning to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a top-to-bottom “modernization,” or replacement of the three major categories of nuclear weapons - as well as their command and control systems - in coming decades.

Those new weapons would replace, not add to, currently deployed forces such as the 400 Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles that stand ready for short-notice launch in underground silos in North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

Trump was asked during an Oval Office photo shoot whether he sought a big increase in the size of the nuclear force, as NBC News reported.

“No, I never discussed increasing it,” he said. “I want it in perfect shape.” He suggested he thinks the U.S. already has enough weapons. “We don’t need an increase, but I want modernization and I want total rehabilitation,” he said, apparently referring to replacing weapons and support systems that have grown old.

“I want to have absolutely perfectly maintained - which we are in the process of doing - nuclear force,” he said. “But when they said I want 10 times what we have right now, it’s totally unnecessary.”

An in-depth review of the U.S. nuclear force and the strategies and polices that underpin it has been under way since April. The study, ordered by Trump and known as a nuclear “posture” review, is unlikely to be completed and made public before the end of the year, but it already is steering away from any major buildup in the size of the arsenal, officials familiar with the discussions say.

Instead, the focus is on maintaining the basic shape of a modernization plan Trump inherited from President Barack Obama, with possible adjustments, and on ways to reverse a long decline in the Energy Department’s ability to build and sustain nuclear warheads, according to several officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The Pentagon review also is looking at the possibility of developing lower-yield nuclear weapons that proponents say would give the president additional options for responding to nuclear threats. Others say such weapons would make nuclear escalation more likely.

The U.S. has an estimated 4,000 nuclear weapons, of which about 1,800 are deployed on missiles and at bomber and fighter bases, according to Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists. The others are held in reserve. The exact number of active and reserve weapons is an official secret.

The U.S. is constrained by a 2010 arms deal with Russia known as New START, which limits each country to a maximum of 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads. As of Sept. 1, the U.S. reported that it had 1,393 and Russia had 1,561; both are required to be at or below the 1,550 mark by February 2018. That limitation will expire in 2021, however, unless an extension is negotiated.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis took the unusual step Wednesday of issuing a public statement saying the NBC report that Trump had called for an increase in the nuclear arsenal was “absolutely false.”

Public expectations about the direction of U.S. nuclear weapons policy are important because they can affect the credibility of U.S. commitments to arms control treaties and the durability of promises to U.S. allies like South Korea and Japan who count on protection under an American nuclear “umbrella.” Some would argue that it also could influence the thinking of leaders like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who sees his country as under siege from the United States and threatened by its long nuclear reach.

Trump’s previous comments about nuclear weapons have caused confusion and concern in some quarters. Last December, for example, he suggested he favored expanding the nuclear arsenal.

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he said then.

Trump has threatened to destroy North Korea should it attack the U.S. with a nuclear weapon.

The U.S. has no shortage of nuclear firepower, even if it has suffered recently from too few resources and in some cases a decline in morale among those responsible for operating and securing the weapons.

“I know the capability that we have, believe me, and it is awesome. It is massive,” Trump said.

HIDE COMMENTS

blog comments powered by Disqus

Click to Read More

Click to Hide

Top Stories

A U.S. Capitol Police Officer checks a car at a security checkpoint at the U.S. Capitol Building after last week's car chase that ended in a shootout at 1st Street and Constitution Ave. NE in front of the Hart Office Building, Washington, D.C., Monday, October 7, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

How a ‘baffling’ backdoor D.C. gun ban thwarts concealed-carry permit holders

Harvey Weinstein

Weinstein’s sexual harassment scandal tarnishes Hollywood, Democratic Party

obj.0.content_object.caption

Quiz: US Citizenship Test - Could You Pass?

In this Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones speaks after an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, in Glendale, Ariz. Dallas owner Jerry Jones said the NFL can't leave the impression that it tolerates players disrespecting the flag and that any of his Cowboys making such displays won't play. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

ESPN host compares Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to a slave owner

This Feb. 23, 2017, file photo, Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, speaks to the Utah Senate, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Rep. Mia Love slams Michelle Obama’s ‘divisive’ GOP comments: ‘I am not white and I am not a male’

obj.0.content_object.caption

Quiz: Test Your Civil War Knowledge

President Donald Trump poses for a portrait in the Oval Office in Washington in this Friday, April 21, 2017, file photo. Trump will mark the end of his first 100 days in office with a flurry of executive orders as he looks to fulfill campaign promises and rack up victories ahead of that milestone. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

In light of Trump’s IQ challenge, who is the smartest president? Researchers have an idea

People stand in line to go into the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, for the first day of the new term. The Supreme Court term that, by law, begins on the first Monday in October includes several high-profile cases dealing with controversial social issues or with the potential to affect millions of Americans. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Supreme Court scraps one challenge to Trump’s travel ban

A "bump" stock is displayed next to a disassembled .22-caliber rifle at North Raleigh Guns in Raleigh, North Carolina, Feb. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Allen Breed) ** FILE **

YouTube changes rules for firearms videos in response to Las Vegas massacre

President Donald Trump with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, speaking to members of the media following their meeting at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Friday, Aug. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Trump says U.S. nuclear arsenal ‘awesome’ but needs upgrade

ap090421032401_primary_image.jpg

Conservatives in Hollywood: Celebrities who lean right

In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before leaving the White House in Washington for a brief stop at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., on his way to Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Liberal watchdog says Trump should face obstruction of justice charges

Congressional Democrats such as Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois say they still see willing partners among some Republicans on immigration reform. (Associated Press/File)

Lawmakers dismiss Trump’s strict immigration plan: ‘It’s the job of Congress’

converted 1911.jpg

21 best guns for home protection

FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, the Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones, center, take a knee prior to the national anthem and an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, in Glendale, Ariz. ESPN anchor Jemele Hill has been suspended by the network for two weeks for making political statements on social media. Hill, who is African-American, received criticism from the network last month after referring to President Donald Trump as a "white supremacist." On Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, Hill targeted Jerry Jones, after the Dallas Cowboys owner stated that players who disrespect the flag would not play for his team. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Two NFL teams crack down on take-a-knee protests after Trump flipped the script

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon takes part in an interview with host Sean Hannity, on the set of Fox News Channel's Hannity, in New York Monday, Oct 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Steve Bannon plans to challenge ‘every Republican incumbent,’ except for Ted Cruz

AP26539704575

Christians in Hollywood

ESPN host Stephen A. Smith told his "First Take" audience on Oct. 9, 2017, that President Trump is "winning" in the court of public opinion over the NFL's ongoing national anthem protests. (Image: ESPN "First Take" screenshot)

Stephen A. Smith warns NFL on national anthem protests: Trump is ‘winning’

Newsletters

  •  Daily
  •  Weekly
  •  Pruden on Politics
  •  Charles Hurt

Find us on Facebook

Find us on Twitter

All site contents © Copyright 2017 The Washington Times, LLC|3600 New York Avenue NE | Washington, DC 20002 |202-636-3000

Share this
Article Pentagon has no plans to boost size of nuclear arsenal compiled by www.washingtontimes.com