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: 295675

Reported Deaths: 6743
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19690230
Hinds18812389
Harrison16722280
Rankin12725265
Jackson12603228
Lee9691160
Madison9466203
Jones7978147
Forrest7217138
Lauderdale6836226
Lowndes6031140
Lamar588480
Lafayette5736113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4612123
Oktibbeha441493
Panola430894
Pearl River4174130
Warren4130115
Pontotoc409771
Marshall403392
Monroe3990126
Union395674
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3544103
Hancock347975
Leflore3376118
Sunflower318986
Tate302974
Pike300796
Scott293970
Alcorn291862
Itawamba290075
Yazoo289963
Tippah278965
Coahoma278668
Copiah278158
Simpson275879
Prentiss269858
Wayne254241
Marion252778
Leake252671
Covington248980
Grenada247578
Adams234678
George231845
Newton229952
Winston221777
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201152
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170939
Clarke169371
Calhoun157928
Smith152832
Yalobusha144836
Greene127733
Walthall124240
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry121734
Lawrence120421
Carroll118425
Amite111734
Webster110631
Jefferson Davis101931
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93524
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77214
Franklin76119
Choctaw69617
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48917
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 494421

Reported Deaths: 9991
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson711451374
Mobile36184735
Madison32457458
Tuscaloosa24213412
Montgomery22636517
Shelby22020214
Baldwin19790284
Lee14980154
Morgan13693251
Calhoun13307287
Etowah13192320
Marshall11269209
Houston10102261
Elmore9408185
Limestone9376134
Cullman8903181
St. Clair8839224
Lauderdale8601212
DeKalb8465175
Talladega7552164
Walker6538258
Jackson6503103
Autauga630391
Blount6106127
Colbert5993119
Coffee5254102
Dale4648107
Russell405233
Franklin399478
Covington3970106
Chilton3883100
Escambia378172
Tallapoosa3596143
Clarke343753
Chambers3421111
Dallas3412141
Pike293372
Lawrence283684
Marion283495
Winston247368
Bibb245460
Geneva240270
Marengo236557
Pickens224555
Barbour212451
Hale210668
Fayette200957
Butler197566
Henry182641
Cherokee177139
Monroe166339
Randolph163840
Washington156635
Crenshaw145254
Clay145054
Macon142343
Cleburne137841
Lamar133133
Lowndes131251
Wilcox122525
Bullock117136
Conecuh106724
Perry105827
Sumter98632
Coosa89224
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 58°
Columbus
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 55°
Oxford
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 54°
Starkville
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 54°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather