Nuclear deterrence may remain the top priority set out by the Trump administration’s “Nuclear Posture Review”. However, this article highlights that the administration’s nuclear policy has turned away from the Obama-era policy of reducing the salience of nuclear arms and renouncing new nuclear capability development. Further, as President Trump is dismissive of the concept of arms control, also there is an increasing danger that the return of great-power rivalry with Russia and China could result in a nuclear arms race.
There is a longstanding tradition for newly elected US presidents to develop a dedicated government paper on the future of the country’s nuclear arsenal, known as the “Nuclear Posture Review” (NPR). The first NPR was carried out on the orders of then US president Bill Clinton ; later, Congress requested that presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama publish NPRs of their own. Donald Trump delegated the NPR to his defense minister, James Mattis. It calls for the US nuclear arsenal to be modern, robust, flexible, resilient, and ready to deter the threats of the 21st century and to offer reassurance to Washington’s allies.