Pentagon acknowledges Russian Federation is developing a 'doomsday' nuclear-armed torpedo

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin

By clarifying potential scenarios when the president might authorize a nuclear attack, officials said, the US was seeking to deter adversaries from conducting large-scale cyber warfare and other non-nuclear but potentially devastating attacks on the USA and its allies, a controversial idea that critics said could make nuclear war more likely.

With respect to United States nuclear weapons assuring allies, the 2018 NPR assumes that it is USA extended nuclear deterrence (not plain old conventional weapons) that gives allies and partners their confidence. It argues that potential USA adversaries such as China, North Korea, and Russian Federation are rapidly improving their nuclear capabilities and gaining an edge over the United States.

The United States' so-called nuclear triad - the military's ability to launch and defend nuclear attacks with land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and air-launched cruise missiles - will remain critical to its nuclear deterrence strategy.

The document argues that by developing USA nuclear responses, it raises the Russian threshold for using the weapons, rather than lowering the United States threshold.

Leonid Ivashov, former head of the Russian Defense Ministry's global cooperation department, told Interfax that, in light of the USA document, Russia should initiate consultations with China on jointly monitoring nuclear forces and studying "ways of responding". They will also create even greater pressure on the United States to actually use nuclear weapons should Moscow take some of the steps listed in the NPR as potentially warranting a nuclear response.

The Pentagon's nuclear review concluded that while arms control can advance American interests, "further progress is hard to envision", in light of what the US considers Russia's aggression in Ukraine and violations of existing arms deals. For example, the NPR seems to suggest nuclear weapons should deter all attacks (nuclear and non-nuclear), but it then specifies just strategic attacks, regardless of the weapons used.

Creating options for the president to be able to appropriately address what adversaries say is an exploitable gap in USA capability is not lowering the threshold for nuclear weapons use, it's good national security policy. "Washington's de facto "unlimited" approach to the use of nuclear weapons is alarming: they declare a possibility of the employment of nuclear weapons "in extreme circumstances" which authors of the doctrine do not limit to merely military scenarios", the commentary said.

Nuclear submarine
GETTY DANGER Russian nuclear submarine on manoeuvres

In a statement Friday afternoon, Trump said that the conclusions of the NPR "are grounded in a realistic assessment of the global security environment, the need to deter the use of the most destructive weapons on earth, and our nation's long-standing commitment to nuclear non-proliferation". She said the administration is blurring the line between nuclear and conventional war-fighting.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said the NPR will allow the U.S.to remain "flexible and well-prepared for the unique threats we face today".

"We can not afford to let [the USA nuclear arsenal] become obsolete", Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon.

Raising the profile of nuclear weapons in our defense plans comes at a time when the disastrous consequences of even limited nuclear use is becoming even more apparent.

John Blaxland, Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies and director of ANU's Southeast Asia Institute, said the mistake was embarrassing but wasn't worth reading too much into.

Longer-range missiles could come over the next decade, and the USA would plan to develop and field sea-launched cruise missiles also with lower-yield warheads.

"Obviously, I would highly discourage any nation from considering such an attack on the United States or our allies - that would not be in your interest to do so, to state the obvious", Rood said.

Dow drops more than 650 points, logs worst week in two years
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