The Obama administration is formulating a new nuclear weapons policy that would include the elimination of thousands of warheads and the possible withdrawal of all tactical warheads from Europe.
Obama is also under pressure to abandon the Bush Doctrine allowing preemptive action, including the use of nuclear weapons, against any nation threatening American security, The New York Times reported on Monday. The new strategy will be included in a document called the Nuclear Posture Review, which every president must complete.
“It will be clear in the document that there will be very dramatic reductions — in the thousands — as related to the stockpile,” a senior administration official told the Times. Many of those warheads are in storage.
The administration is also discussing whether to withdraw American nuclear weapons from Europe, “where they provide more political reassurance than actual defense,” according to the Times.
A number of influential Democrats, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, are urging Obama to declare that the “sole purpose” of America’s nuclear arsenal is to deter a nuclear attack.
But some officials in the Pentagon and the White House want Obama to declare that deterring a nuclear attack is the primary, but not the only, purpose of the arsenal.
“Any compromise wording that leaves in place elements of the Bush-era preemption policy, or suggests the United States could use nuclear weapons against a nonnuclear adversary, would disappoint many on the left wing of his party, and some arms control advocates,” the Times disclosed.
In describing what became known as the "Bush Doctrine," President George W. Bush asserted in a June 1, 2002, speech that the United States has a unilateral right to act against any government or organization that is deemed a threat to America.
"If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long," he declared.
The new strategy will include a heavier focus on missile defenses, especially near the Persian Gulf.
Obama last year ended financing for a new nuclear warhead sought by the Bush administration — bunker-busting weapons that could be used to strike buried targets such as the nuclear facilities in Iran and North Korea.
But Obama’s recently published Quadrennial Defense Review supports the development of new nonnuclear weapons, called “Prompt Global Strike” missiles, that could be fired from the United States and strike targets anywhere within an hour.
The weapons could provide a new form of deterrence against nations that possess or are working to develop nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, without the United States' using the nuclear option.
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