The Pentagon's new Nuclear Posture Review may be one small step for U.S. strategic posture, but it is one giant leap for any Cold War hawks.
“These investments, and the NPR’s strategy for warhead life extension, represent a credible modernization plan necessary to sustain the nuclear infrastructure and support our nation’s deterrent,” writes Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his introduction to the NPR. The 2010 NPR outlines President Barack Obama’s agenda for “reducing nuclear dangers and pursuing the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”
True, President Ronald Reagan had a similar dream, and he took bold strides with the Soviets to move in that direction with earlier Start-related efforts. But President Barack Obama's NPR comes after the Cold war and while the country, and the whole world, face a new landscape of challenges - some of them similar to the arms race against the Soviet Union, but others disturbingly unknown, like weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-state actors who can reach out and touch your local Main Street.
Obama wants to dramatically throttle back on the inherent danger that a world with nuclear weapons presents; this much is already well known since his campaign for the White House. But the goal of scaling back does not mean curtailing investments. The U.S.’s current arsenal must remain “safe, secure and effective,” according to the NPR. To that end, the administration will increase funding to $2.7 billion, a 25 percent increase, in the 2011 budget for DOE non-proliferation programs.
And the NPR lists numerous near-term plans, some of which are already in progress, including seeking the ratification and implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which would substantially reduce deployed U.S. and Russian nuclear forces and the elimination from U.S. stores of the Tomahawk, a nuclear-equipped, sea-launched cruise missile.
Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen will conduct a press briefing at noon EDT in the Pentagon, and it will be broadcast by C-Span and the Pentagon Channel. Immediately following, there will be a press briefing by Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Jim Miller, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher and National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Thomas D'Agostino to discuss further detail.