STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Pentagon considers changing nuclear retaliation rules

The Pentagon is considering recommending a change in policy regarding the use of nuclear weapons that could potential...

Posted: Jan 18, 2018 11:15 PM
Updated: Jan 18, 2018 11:15 PM

The Pentagon is considering recommending a change in policy regarding the use of nuclear weapons that could potentially open the door to a US nuclear response to a massive cyberattack, according to a defense official familiar with a draft of the Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review who cautions it is not final.

Previously, a nuclear response has not been on the table for responding to most non-nuclear threats against the US.

This change could potentially allow for a nuclear response to a cyberattack on US infrastructure

Current US policy requires a lawful order by any President to use nuclear weapons

But the language in this particular draft of the review could potentially allow for a nuclear response to a cyberattack on US infrastructure, the official noted.

While cyberattacks on the US are downplayed in the report, the official said, the implication is that there could be a US nuclear response if there was a devastating cyberattack on US infrastructure such as power grids, although that specific scenario is not mentioned.

Current US policy requires a lawful order by the President to use nuclear weapons.

A lawful order is generally understood by the US military to mean any counterattack would have to be proportional to the threat in terms of damage and casualties of that attack against the US.

The story was first reported by The New York Times.

President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis have not yet signed off on a final version of what will be the first comprehensive review of US nuclear forces in nearly eight years.

The review, which would allow Trump to put his mark on the nuclear inventory for decades to come, could lead to more than $1 trillion in spending over nearly 30 years, according to an October 2017 report from the Congressional Budget Office.

There have been three such reviews since the end of the Cold War, the most recent in 2010 under President Barack Obama.

Several US Defense officials have told CNN that the final draft -- expected to be unveiled just after Trump's State of the Union address on January 30 -- will likely focus on deterrence and reflect the greater threat from North Korea, which has stepped up its testing of missiles and nuclear devices over the last year, as well as an increased focus by Russia on its nuclear inventory.

The review is looking at current needs and capabilities across the US nuclear enterprise, including nuclear laboratories, stockpiles and manufacturing facilities. It is also studying future needs for modernizing aging nuclear weapons, including missiles, submarines and bomber aircraft.

The Pentagon's position is that without increased spending the government will be unable to produce and maintain a stockpile for land, sea, and air-launched nuclear weapons. Operations, interim upgrades and full modernization could cost $1.2 trillion, according the Congressional Budget Office report. The report estimates the fiscal needs could include:

  • $313 billion for a new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine that can fire nuclear missiles from beneath the ocean's surface.

  • $149 billion for a new silo-based intercontinental ballistic missile and upgraded launch facilities.

  • $266 billion for the new B-21 stealth bomber aircraft.

  • Additional funding for weapons laboratories and command-and-control facilities.

The review could also recommend efficiencies and changes aimed at saving money, officials said.

Defense officials have told CNN that Trump is not expected to call for increases or modernization of the nuclear arsenal that would take the US beyond current arms control agreements.

However, experts say things to watch for in the review include possible recommendations to deploy small nuclear bombs abroad closer to anticipated conflict, or to develop more lower-yield nuclear weapons.

Experts, however, have worried that these kinds of developments could make the decision by a US president to use nuclear weapons easier.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Columbus
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 61°
Oxford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 64°
While some cool mornings are again in store for the weekend, afternoons start to warm up a bit, so plan on dressing in layers if you're heading to the MSU or Bama games, because you'll need to utilize them in different ways.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather