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Trump, Clinton – neither of them have a safe nuclear weapons policy

Trump, Clinton and our nuclear wake-up call By Kingston Reif, August 13, 2016 (CNN) The possibility of Donald Trump winning the presidential election this November has renewed media and public interest in one of the most important responsibilities of the president: commanding America’s massive nuclear arsenal and averting nuclear war.


Yet what has been lost in the angst that Mr. Trump might soon have the authority to launch nuclear weapons is the equally unnerving reality that the U.S. nuclear posture is already unnecessarily dangerous and redundant. Neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton have explained how they would seek to put U.S. doctrine on a safer footing and reduce global nuclear weapons risks……

What kind of destructive power would a President Trump have at his fingertips?
At any moment, there are roughly 900 U.S. nuclear warheads — all of which are far more powerful than the weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 — that can be launched within minutes of an order by the president. (The United States is estimated to possess a total arsenal of approximately 7,100 nuclear warheads.)
The president has the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons, and in some scenarios would only have minutes to confirm an incoming nuclear attack and give the order to strike. To date, every president has retained the option to use nuclear weapons first — even if the United States or an ally has not suffered a nuclear attack.
Most Americans are learning these mind-boggling facts for the first time. Put simply, the fate of tens of millions depends on the good judgment and stability of a single person.
All of which makes Trump’s erratic behavior and loose talk on nuclear weapons deeply concerning. Responsible leaders understand that the use of nuclear weapons would be a terrible and likely catastrophic game changer. There can be no winners in a nuclear war.
Yet the reality is that U.S. nuclear strategy is based on a Faustian bargain: In the name of deterring nuclear attack, the United States sustains thousands of nuclear warheads; a diverse array of sea-, land-, and air-based delivery systems; and detailed plans to use the weapons — including the capability to use them first and at a moment’s notice…….
The odds of a catastrophic accident or uncontrolled nuclear escalation would be greatly reduced if the United States built its nuclear strategy more heavily on retaliation instead of prompt launch and the option for first use. This would entail eliminating any requirement to promptly launch a massive nuclear strike and a declaration that the president would only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack against the United States or its allies. The costs and risks of the current approach are significant, while the benefits are slim to none…….
In fact, nearly every one of the world’s nine nuclear-armed states is engaged in a costly, multi-decade effort to modernize and improve the capability of their nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
The United States alone is projected to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to sustain and rebuild its nuclear arsenal — despite concerns the plans are unsustainable and would leave in place force levels that exceed what President Barack Obama has said is required for deterrence.
And while the international community has put the brakes on Iran’s nuclear program, an unconstrained North Korea continues to test and perfect nuclear explosive devices and the ballistic missiles to carry them.
How would the candidates for president address these problems?…..

August 15, 2016 - Posted by | USA elections 2016

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