Enlarging the United States arsenal will certainly lead other countries to seek equivalent arsenals of their own, while also raising the odds that weapons fall into terrorists' hands and heightening the risk of accidental war.
A leaked draft of the Pentagon's forthcoming nuclear weapons review shows that senior defense officials are keen to not only modernize the aging USA arsenal, but add new ways to wage nuclear war as Russia, China and other adversaries bolster their own arsenals.
Nuclear weapons are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks that could have "catastrophic" consequences due to their reliance on new technology, a report warns today.
In many ways it reaffirms the nuclear policy of President Barack Obama, including his commitment to replace all key elements of the nuclear arsenal with new, more modern weapons over the coming two decades.
"Russia possesses significant advantages in its nuclear weapons production capacity and non-strategic nuclear forces over the U.S. and its allies", the document says. It would expand the range of scenarios under which the president could decide to use nuclear weapons. Negotiations on further reductions have stalled in recent years as Russian Federation, threatened by America's superior conventional arsenal, became more reliant on nuclear weapons, and there is no serious sign that Mr. Trump wants to revive the talks.
Just one year ago, Vice President Joe Biden delivered an address touting the progress achieved during the Obama years to reduce the salience and number of nuclear weapons and curb their spread.
Malicious programs to sabotage or damage the deterrent could also be secretly hidden in nuclear systems when new parts are being designed and made.
But according to, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, the belief that more weapons is the answer to perceived challenges misses the point.
A Department of Defense document obtained by HuffPost calls for adding "low-yield" nuclear weapons to the United States arsenal in order to counter Russia, Iran, North Korea, and other countries. It also calls for tighter integration of USA nuclear and conventional forces, which deliberately blurs the line between them and eliminates a clear nuclear firewall.
It follows a similar letter calling for restrictions on the nuclear chain of command written while Trump was on the campaign trail.
Anthony Wier, a former deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's Bureau of Legislative Affairs, told the Huffington Post that the idea behind the weapons is that the U.S.is itself deterred from using its more powerful bombs because they are too deadly. But Mr. Trump has so shaken this orthodoxy that Congress has begun debating limits on his unilateral authority to launch nuclear weapons.
Their report warned: "The potential impacts of a cyberattack on nuclear weapons systems are enormous". Instead, the goal is to make nuclear conflict less likely by ensuring that "potential adversaries" see no possible advantage in escalating a conventional conflict to the nuclear level.