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The Nuclear Posture Review: Challenges and Considerations

The Obama administration recently released its first Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), a comprehensive assessment of U.S. nuclear forces and doctrine. The document synthesized the administration’s goals related to nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and revitalizing the U.S. nuclear infrastructure.

Hudson Institute and the Partnership for a Secure America held a bipartisan panel of former officials that assessed the new NPR and answered questions about its implications for U.S. security. How will the NPR affect the challenges of Iran and North Korea to the global nuclear nonproliferation regime? What does it tell us about the future of ballistic missile defense and the direction of U.S.-Russian arms control? What implications will Congress and foreign governments draw from the NPR as they look for indications of future U.S. nuclear policies?

The panelists discussed the basic principles of the most recent NPR as well as some challenges toward realizing its objectives. According to the Obama administration, the main goals in its NPR include preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism; reducing the role of nuclear weapons; maintaining effective strategic deterrence and stability at lower nuclear force levels; strengthening reassurance of U.S. allies and
partners; and sustaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal. In essence, the Obama NPR reduces the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security strategy, strengthens U.S. negative security assurances for countries that comply with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations, and commits the United States not to test nuclear weapons,
not to develop new nuclear weapons, and not to seek new missions or capabilities for existing nuclear weapons. The NPR states that the United States will maintain a safe secure, and effective nuclear deterrent for as long as nuclear weapons exist in the world, but it identifies arms control measures that could help achieve further reductions in global
nuclear weapons stockpiles and ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again.

Richard Weitz, Co-chair

Hudson Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Political-Military Analysis

Andrew Semmel, Co-chair

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear Nonproliferation, 2003-2008

Morton Halperin, Panelist

Commissioner, Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, 2008-2009

Walter Slocombe, Panelist

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, 1994-2001

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