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: 147382

Reported Deaths: 3763
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto973199
Hinds9668197
Harrison6898109
Jackson6178119
Rankin5319100
Lee487695
Madison4666106
Forrest371386
Jones346788
Lauderdale3355144
Lafayette317549
Washington3122107
Lamar283449
Oktibbeha240861
Bolivar240184
Lowndes229763
Neshoba2177115
Panola215849
Marshall209650
Leflore201490
Pontotoc196128
Monroe191477
Sunflower190555
Lincoln186865
Warren172657
Tate165451
Union163925
Pike160658
Copiah159540
Yazoo152039
Scott150729
Coahoma148743
Itawamba148234
Pearl River146567
Alcorn146327
Simpson145153
Prentiss141230
Adams137949
Grenada137745
Leake131943
Holmes126561
Tippah123030
George122324
Covington119737
Winston119124
Wayne116223
Hancock115939
Marion111646
Attala109833
Tishomingo106542
Chickasaw104132
Newton103629
Tallahatchie96327
Clarke88853
Clay87127
Jasper81222
Walthall75328
Stone73114
Calhoun72913
Montgomery72125
Carroll70614
Lawrence70314
Yalobusha70027
Noxubee69717
Smith69616
Perry65426
Tunica59619
Greene58422
Claiborne57616
Jefferson Davis55017
Humphreys52918
Amite51814
Benton48717
Quitman4816
Webster42114
Kemper41918
Wilkinson38722
Jefferson34211
Franklin3265
Choctaw3117
Sharkey30717
Issaquena1124
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 239318

Reported Deaths: 3532
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31391491
Mobile19562361
Tuscaloosa12813154
Madison12741146
Montgomery12198235
Shelby1000577
Baldwin847398
Lee764466
Morgan634348
Calhoun6112115
Marshall607954
Etowah606565
Houston517038
DeKalb474736
Cullman428038
Limestone413744
St. Clair409055
Elmore400762
Lauderdale393653
Walker3588108
Talladega343453
Jackson307624
Colbert301941
Blount285539
Autauga268641
Franklin247833
Coffee239715
Dale230354
Dallas224531
Russell22053
Chilton219638
Covington216833
Escambia197431
Chambers173749
Tallapoosa173391
Pike157514
Clarke156319
Marion136535
Winston129923
Lawrence124836
Geneva12028
Pickens119418
Marengo119124
Barbour117010
Bibb116217
Butler114441
Randolph100921
Cherokee100824
Hale94531
Clay90223
Washington90219
Fayette87316
Henry8496
Lowndes79129
Monroe78111
Cleburne75714
Macon72321
Crenshaw70730
Bullock69119
Conecuh68314
Perry6756
Lamar6508
Wilcox63118
Sumter57122
Choctaw41913
Greene41418
Coosa3374
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 40°
Columbus
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 41°
Oxford
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 37°
Starkville
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 37°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather