Just as the White House is caught in a political minefield over the Russia investigation, the Pentagon is taking its toughest line yet against Russia’s resurgent nuclear forces.
In its newly released Nuclear Posture Review, the Defense Department has focused much of its multibillion nuclear effort on an updated nuclear deterrence focused on Russia.
“Russia considers the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to be the principal threats to its contemporary geopolitical ambitions,” the report says.
“The Defense Intelligence Agency currently estimates Russia has a stockpile of 2,000 “non-strategic” nuclear weapons including short-range ballistic missiles, gravity bombs and depth charges that can go on medium range bomber aircraft,” according to the report.
“DIA also estimates Russia has nuclear armed anti-ship, anti-submarine missiles and torpedoes. What do they need nuclear depth charges for?” one US official asked.
President Donald Trump highlighted the importance of the review’s conclusions Friday in a written statement.
“Over the past decade, despite United States efforts to reduce the roles and numbers of nuclear weapons, other nuclear nations grew their stockpiles, increased the prominence of nuclear weapons in their security strategies, and — in some cases — pursued the development of new nuclear capabilities to threaten other nations,” Trump said.
“The strategy develops capabilities aimed at making use of nuclear weapons less likely. It enhances deterrence of strategic attacks against our nation, and our allies and partners, that may not come in the form of nuclear weapons. And, importantly, it reaffirms our commitment to arms control and nuclear non-proliferation, maintains the moratorium on nuclear testing, and commits to improving efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism,” he added.
The Pentagon is adamant the Nuclear Posture Review walks the line between maintaining a nuclear deterrence and encouraging controls on nuclear weapons.
“It reaffirms that the fundamental role of US nuclear policy is deterrence and continues our clear commitment to nonproliferation and arms control,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.