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PacNet #17 – The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review: Moving Toward ‘No First Use’

I have attended a number of discussions in recent years about US nuclear weapons strategy and policy. All invariably begin with a presentation by a US official or expert who proclaims that the United States, in the past decade, has significantly reduced the role and importance of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy and will continue to do so. This is then followed by a foreign (normally Chinese) expert who states with equal conviction and assurance that US national security strategy has placed increased importance on the role of nuclear weapons and that the Pentagon is determined to develop new and more lethal types of nuclear weapons. While one should never underestimate the ability of critics to see what they want to see in any US statement, one hopes that the Pentagon’s just-released Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) will help to settle this debate.