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Donald Trump’s dangerous nuclear legacy

Donald Trump Is A Nuclear President—His Legacy Is More Nukes, Fewer Controls
David Axe, Forbes Staff  In his single term in the White House, Donald Trump expanded America’s nuclear arsenal and undermined decades of arms-control efforts. While President-elect Joe Biden could reverse some of Trump’s atomic initiatives, it’s highly unlikely he can undo all of them.And it’s impossible for Biden to travel back in time and seize opportunities for nuclear arms-reduction that Trump squandered—with North Korea, in particular.

For that reason alone, Trump’s atomic legacy will be a meaningful one. “He drove the final few nails in the coffin for the first era of arms-control,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California.

Kingston Reif, a missile expert at the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C., neatly summarized Trump’s nuclear initiatives on Twitter in mid-December. To paraphrase:

1. Trump nudged the Pentagon to double the number of low-yield nuclear weapons, which according to experts raise the risk of nuclear war by making nukes seemingly more “useable” in an armed clash between major powers. At the same time, Trump’s nuclear doctrine expanded the list of external threats that officially justify nuclear retaliation. Perhaps most notably, the list of threats now includes a major hacking event. The U.S. Navy subsequently deployed the low-yield W76-2 variant of its Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile.

2. At the opposite end of the yield spectrum, the billionaire president accelerated development of high-yield SLBMs and canceled a Pentagon plan to decommission the megaton-class B83-1 gravity bomb.

3. To arm these new weapons, Trump took steps to restart production of plutonium cores for nuclear warheads, despite arguments that the United States already possesses plenty of cores. The core-production falls under a roughly $9-billion budgetary boost that Trump helped push through for the U.S. National Nuclear Security Agency, which oversees America’s nukes.

4. Citing Russian development of banned weapons, Trump withdrew the United States from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, which limited ground-launched nukes in Europe. The former reality TV star also pulled America out of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, which allows the United States, Russia and many European states to monitor each other’s atomic arsenals via photographic-reconnaissance flights. Finally, Trump has been reluctant to approve an extension—due in February—of the 2010 New START, a U.S.-Russian accord that puts a cap on nuclear weapons and helped both countries reduce their atomic arsenals in the years prior to Trump’s presidency. It’s possible Biden could bring the USA back into Open Skies while also scrambling to extend New START, but the INF Treaty almost certainly is dead, as both the United States and Russia now openly are developing intermediate-range nukes.

5. After failing several times to negotiate any kind of enforceable arms limitations with North Korea, Trump became the first president since the 1960s not to negotiate any new nuclear arms-control agreement. Instead, he did the very opposite—loosened controls, encouraged proliferation and, as a result, is “the first post-Cold War president not to reduce the size of the nuclear warhead stockpile,” according to Reif.

“The Trump administration’s nuclear legacy is one of failure,” Reif said. “The administration inherited several nuclear challenges, to be sure, but it has made nearly all of them worse.”

December 28, 2020 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war


  1. This madman, and its cohorts have set the world, very close to the edge again. SMRs, nuke weapons, nuke reactors ready to explode.
    If biden does nothing, there will be a bloodbathe
    In america. Murica on the edge of nuclear power and nuclear war disaster. The country is starvine. They blow money on this mess. Hopefully some nazis will be eliminated if things do go to hell.

    The australians are pending more massive wildfires. The uk is collapsing from covid and an incompetent nazi boob, wasting money on nuke weapons and more nuke industrial poisoning.

    The australians will have to riseup and rid themselves of their incompetent, fascist-boob rulers, that have no interest in governing. Boobs that are trashing australia country while pushing for nuclear industrial poison, and waste everywhere and fossils, that are leading to more wildfires.

    The human monkey- world is at the precipice of insanely, destroying itself and burning the earth to a cinder.

    Comment by Hojo Evans | December 28, 2020 | Reply

  2. He is continuing the foreign policy initially objectives set by Obama, I’m sad to say. You’re right though. We urgently need to establish a multilateral arms control treaty and stop nuclear proliferation. I’m terrified at the possibilities of accidental nuclear war. Chomsky calls this one of the three most existential threats to mankind. The trouble is that the Deep State headed by CIA, NSA, GCHQ are running things and they are sabotaging peace. Putin, who is calling for resumption of SALT treaty talks, calls them the “permanent bureaucracy” that resists peace efforts, is influenced by the MIC Dems, and wants perpetual wars. Presidents come and presidents go. So it’s not only Trump. Trump’s worst sin is climate change denial and sacking the EPA at a time when we were just starting to make progress with Mass v. EPA and need a crash program to lower CO2.

    Comment by jeffgolin1 | December 30, 2020 | Reply

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