A recently released Pentagon report warns of "increased potential" for nuclear war as the chief enemies of the U.S. are stockpiling nuclear weapons.
"No potential adversary has reduced either the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy or the number of nuclear weapons it fields," according to the 2020 Pentagon report.
"Rather, they have moved decidedly in the opposite direction. As a result, there is an increased potential for regional conflicts involving nuclear-armed adversaries in several parts of the world and the potential for adversary nuclear escalation in crisis or conflict."
The report, delivering "fundamental principles and guidance to plan, execute, and assess nuclear operations," was finished in April 2020, but released publicly Tuesday, the U.K.'s Daily Mail reported.
Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are highlighted as the chief threats to nuclear war.
"Russia considers the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to be the principal threats to its contemporary geopolitical ambitions. Russian strategy and doctrine emphasize the potential coercive and military uses of nuclear weapons. Russia's strategic nuclear modernization has increased, and will continue to increase, its warhead delivery capability, which provides Russia with the ability to rapidly expand its deployed warhead numbers. In addition to modernizing 'legacy' Soviet nuclear systems, Russia is developing and employing new nuclear warheads and launchers. It is also developing three new intercontinental-range nuclear weapon systems; a hypersonic glide vehicle; a nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered ground-launched cruise missile; and a nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo."
"China continues to increase the number, capabilities, and protection of its nuclear forces. China has developed a new road-mobile, strategic, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM); a new multi-warhead version of its DF-5 silo-based ICBM; and its most advanced ballistic missile submarine armed with new submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). It has also announced development of a new nuclear-capable strategic bomber, giving China a nuclear triad."
"Iran poses proliferation threats. Iran retains the technological capability and much of the capacity necessary to develop a nuclear weapon within one year of a decision to do so. Iran's development of increasingly long-range ballistic missile capabilities, and its aggressive strategy and activities to destabilize neighboring governments, raises questions about its long-term commitment to forgoing nuclear weapons capability."
"North Korea has accelerated its provocative pursuit of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities and expressed explicit threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States and its allies in the region. North Korean officials insist they will not give up nuclear weapons. In the past few years, North Korea has dramatically increased its missile flight testing, most recently including the testing of intercontinental-range missiles capable of reaching the US homeland. North Korea 's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities poses the most immediate and dire proliferation threat to international security and stability."
The report pointed out that the U.S. nuclear weapons program is designed as a deterrent, noting the goal will be "effectively assuring allies regarding the credibility of U.S. nuclear deterrence enables most to eschew possession of nuclear weapons, thereby contributing to U.S. nonproliferation goals."
Failing deterrence of an attack on the U.S. or its allies, U.S. nuclear weapons will be reserved for "extreme circumstances," according to the report.
"The United States would only consider the employment of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend U.S., allied, and partner vital interests," the report concludes. "Flexible and limited U.S. nuclear response options can play an important role in restoring deterrence following limited adversary nuclear escalation."
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