President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to consider cutting U.S. strategic nuclear forces to as low as 300 deployed warheads—below the number believed to be in China’s arsenal and far fewer than current Russian strategic warhead stocks.
Pentagon and military planners were asked to develop three force levels for the U.S. arsenal of deployed strategic nuclear warheads: a force of 1,100 to 1,000 warheads; a second scenario of between 700 and 800 warheads; and the lowest level of between 300 and 400 warheads.
A congressional official said no president in the past ever told the Pentagon to conduct a review based on specific numbers of warheads.
“In the past, the way it worked was, ‘tell me what the world is like and then tell me what the force should be,’” the official said. “That is not happening in this review.”
The plan for a radical cut in warheads is contained in a review of nuclear weapons ordered by the president in an August directive. The review called the Nuclear Posture Review Implementation Study is nearing completion and could be presented to the president as early as next month.
The plan has come under fire from senior military officers in charge of maintaining nuclear deterrence against Russia, China, and future nuclear rogue states.
Asked about the opposition, a senior officer involved in strategic arms declined to comment.
Critics of the nuclear force cuts in Congress and the national security community said the force structure is being studied without matching the need for nuclear forces to combat growing threats, as was done in past strategic nuclear reviews.
Currently, the U.S. arsenal includes about 5,000 warheads, many of them slated for dismantlement. Russia has between 4,000 and 6,500 warheads and China is believed to have more than 300.
Pentagon spokesman George Little declined to comment on the specific force levels being examined in the review.
“While the details are classified, the president asked DoD to develop several alternative approaches to deterrence and stability, to include illustrative force size and postures to best support those alternatives,” Little said. “As part of the NPR implementation study, DOD is evaluating these alternatives using policy criteria outlined in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.”
John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador and undersecretary of state for international security during the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview that the administration’s plan to cut nuclear force to as low as 300 “alone is sufficient to vote against Obama in November.”
“Congress should urgently adopt a resolution rejecting the idea that any of these levels is consistent with American national security,” Bolton said. “Let’s just see who is prepared to support Obama.”
Many of us have been saying for more than three years that this guy’s a radical.
Can there be any doubts now?