United States Nuclear Forces
"The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capabilities until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."
Donald Trump, 22 December 2016
"Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass. And outlast them all."
Donald Trump, 23 December 2016
" ... we're never going to fall behind any country even if it's a friendly country, we're never going to fall behind on nuclear power.... It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack..."
Donald Trump, 23 February 2017
Katrina Pierson, spokeswoman for GOP front-runner Donald Trump, asked what the point of having nuclear weapons is if the United States is “afraid" to use them during a 19 December 2015 appearance on Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor." What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?" she asked. Fellow guest Kurt Schlichter was blown away by Pierson’s comment. “The point of the nuclear triad is to be afraid to use the damn thing. You want to scare the hell out of the other side," he said. “And frankly, my side’ll be more scared if Donald Trump gets his finger on the button."
Trump was criticized for fumbling a question about the country’s nuclear triad during the 15 December 2015 Republican debate. “For me, nuclear, the power, the devastation, is very important to me," Donald Trump replied. “I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible, who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important...."
Some in the Trump administration would like to abandon Obama’s stated goal of a world without nuclear weapons and lift the moratorium on U.S nuclear weapons testing.
On 27 January 2017, Trump ordered Secretary of Defense Mattis to "initiate a new Nuclear Posture Review to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies." Trump directed a new Nuclear Posture Review to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st century threats and reassure our allies.
The Department of Defense announced 08 April 2014 the United States' Strategic Force Structure to comply with the New START Treaty (NST). The treaty limits the total number of deployed and non-deployed strategic delivery vehicles to 800. By Feb. 5, 2018, the total deployed and non-deployed force will consist of 454 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, 280 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and 66 heavy bombers. U.S. deployed forces will consist of 400 deployed ICBMs. There will also be 240 deployed SLBMs. DoD will also maintain 60 deployed nuclear capable heavy bombers, for a total of 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles, the treaty limit.
This force supports the president's national security strategy and nuclear weapons employment strategy and maintains strategic stability and deterrence, extended deterrence, and allied assurance. This force structure maintains the commitments set forth in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the report to Congress on the president's new nuclear employment guidance, and the most recent Quadrennial Defense Review that the United States will maintain a triad of ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear-capable heavy bombers within the central NST limits.
As set forth in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the United States will maintain a Triad of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and nuclear-capable heavy bombers within the New START Treaty central limits. Specifically, the Administration will retain a mix of silo-based Minuteman III ICBMs (down-loaded to carry a single warhead), Trident II SLBMs carried on Ohio-class strategic ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBNs), and B-2A and B-52H nuclear-capable heavy bombers.
The Department of Defense (DOD) informed Congress in May 2012 that it intended to invest at least $118.5 billion to sustain and modernize nuclear delivery systems between fiscal year 2013 and fiscal year 2022, while the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a separately organized agency within the Department of Energy (DOE), informed Congress in February 2011 that it had identified about $90 billion in nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure costs over roughly the same period.
The New START Treaty establishes central limits on the number of nuclear delivery platforms and warheads associated with them: 700 for deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers; 800 for deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, deployed and non-deployed SLBM launchers, and deployed and non-deployed heavy bombers; and 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, warheads on deployed SLBMs, and nuclear warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers. By February 5, 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) will transition today’s triad to the Treaty-compliant force structure below which fully supports the President’s National Security Strategy and Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy.
Existing Types of ICBMs, SLBMs,
and heavy bombers
|Minuteman III ICBMs [note 1]||454||400||454|
|Trident II SLBMs||336||240||280|
|B-2A/B-52H Bombers [note 2]||96||60||66|
1 Does not include 53 non-operational ICBM launchers (52 Minutemen III and one Peacekeeper) being eliminated as of 2014.
2 Does not include 13 non-operational B-52H bombers scheduled to be converted or eliminated.
- 400 deployed ICBMs. In early this year, the US Air Force removed 50 nuclear missiles from their silos, bringing the total number of launch ready land-based ICBM’s to about 400, the lowest level since the Cold War. DoD placed 50 currently deployed ICBM launchers into a non-deployed status by removing the ICBMs from these silos. Non-deployed ICBM launchers include four non-deployed test launchers.
- 240 deployed SLBMs on 14 SSBNs. DoD will convert four SSBN launch tubes on each of the 14 SSBNs, removing 56 launch tubes from accountability under the Treaty. This will result in a maximum of 12 SSBNs with 20 missiles loaded at any given time, providing 240 deployed SLBMs and SLBM launchers accountable under the New START Treaty.
- 60 deployed heavy bombers. DoD will retain 19 B-2As and 41 B-52Hs as nuclear capable heavy bombers, and will convert 30 B-52H bombers to a conventional only role, thereby removing them from accountability under the New START Treaty. Non-deployed bombers include three non-deployed test bombers.
- Limit of 1,550 accountable warheads. DoD will manage the overall accountable warheads under this force structure to meet the New START Treaty central limit of 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, warheads on deployed SLBMs, and nuclear warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (accurately) called Donald Trump a "fucking moron". This came at a 20 July 2017 Pentagon meeting that was a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. NBC News reported that "Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room. Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s."
The Draft 2018 Nuclear Posture Review stated that " .... in the near-term, the United States will modify a small number of existing SLBM warheads to provide a low-yield option, and in the longer term, pursue a modern nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM). Unlike DCA [dual capable aircraft], a low-yield SLBM warhead and SLCM will not require or rely on host nation support to provide deterrent effect. They will provide ·additional diversity in platforms, range, and survivability, and a valuable hedge against future nuclear "break out" scenarios.
"DoD and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will develop for deployment a low-yield SLBM warhead to ensure a prompt response option that is able to penetrate adversary defenses. This is a comparatively low-cost and near term modification to an existing capability that will help counter any mistaken perception of an exploitable "gap" in U.S. regional deterrence capabilities."
"In addition to this near-term step, for the longer term the United States will pursue a nuclear-armed SLCM, leveraging existing technologies to help ensure its cost effectiveness. SLCM will provide a needed non-strategic regional presence, an assured response capability, and an INF-Treaty compliant response to Russia's continuing Treaty violation.
"In the 2010 NPR, the United States announced the retirement of its previous nuclear-armed SLCM, which for decades had contributed to deterrence and the assurance of allies, particularly in Asia. We will immediately begin efforts to restore this capability by initiating a requirements study leading to an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) for the rapid development of a modem SLCM.
"These supplements to the planned nuclear force replacement program are prudent options for enhancing the flexibility and diversity of U.S. nuclear capabilities. They are compliant with all treaties and agreements, and together, they will: provide a diverse set of characteristics enhancing our ability to tailor deterrence and assurance; expand the range of credible U.S. options for responding to nuclear or non-nuclear strategic attack; and, enhance deterrence by signaling to potential adversaries that their limited nuclear escalation offers no exploitable advantage."