In a recent review of nuclear policy, the Trump White House said that it had “clarified” previous policy by permitting the use of nuclear weapons in “extreme circumstances,” and not only as a response to nuclear attack.
Alexandra Bell at the Centre for Arms Control and a former non-proliferation official at the state department said: “I think it’s a dangerous and destabilizing break with 40 years of bipartisan efforts to reduce nuclear threats around the world.”
In conjunction with this new “clarification,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis talked up the use of tactical small-yield nukes, and the White House reportedly plans to re-introduce nuclear sea-launched cruise missiles that were retired under Obama.
DOJ officials said the new policy would further deter enemies from using nuclear weapons.
But many, like Bell, noted that the most credible large-scale threats at present are conventional military action or massive cyber attacks by either Russia or China.
And Trump has given himself permission to use nukes in either of those cases, too.