Op-Ed: How the nuclear weapons taboo is fading
By The Associated Press
Friday, August 30, 2017
The United States has a set of rules for its nuclear weapons system, and they are set to expire in the next two decades.
These are the rules that the president can’t violate:
• The United States possesses no more than 500 nuclear warheads.
• Only the president can order the deployment of such warheads.
• Nuclear weapons “beyond nuclear capability” must be kept in a “secure and hair-trigger” state.
• The United States doesn’t launch nuclear weapons, and it only uses nuclear weapons in response to a first use of nuclear weapons.
The administration has said it would be willing to negotiate to extend the limits of the rules. That would only happen if its allies agreed to the limits as well.
There are many reasons to believe nuclear war would continue, but the United States doesn’t have any. Nuclear weapons are a nonproliferation principle that the United States has repeatedly stated.
“What we need to do is to ensure that they don’t have a nuclear arsenal, and then we can discuss other things,” Trump told reporters at a nuclear summit in the Philippines in June.
On Monday, Trump said he is open to changing the limits, and the president has the authority to do so.
What about Russia?
The president has a different view.
“We don’t have any nuclear weapons,” Trump said, adding that his administration “is looking at a lot of the things, and not just the nuclear part, which frankly we’re not allowed to do, is we can’t talk.”
In response to a question about Russia, Trump said that he believes Russia is the state that has the most nuclear weapons, not even the United States.
But that’s not the reality, and that’s not what would come to pass in an actual nuclear exchange.
In the event of war on the scale of modern warfare, about 80% of the United States’ nuclear arsenal would be unavailable. The Pentagon’s own estimates are that such an exchange