Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Government The Military Technology

Obama Unveils New Nuclear Doctrine 526

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that under Obama's new 'Nuclear Posture Review,' released today, the US will foreswear the use of the nuclear weapons against nonnuclear countries, in contrast to previous administrations, which indicated they might use nuclear arms against nonnuclear states in retaliation for a biological or chemical attack. But the new policy included a major caveat: The countries must be in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations under international treaties. The problem for Iran and North Korea is that the pledge does not cover them because the US regards them as in non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The new policy will also describe the purpose of US weapons as being fundamentally for deterrence. Some Democratic legislators had urged Obama to go further and declare that the United States would not use nuclear weapons first in a conflict, but officials worried that such a change could unnerve allies protected by the US nuclear 'umbrella.' The president of the Ploughshares Fund said of the new stance, 'It orients US policy towards dramatically fewer weapons and greatly reduced roles.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Obama Unveils New Nuclear Doctrine

Comments Filter:
  • by pwnies ( 1034518 ) <> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:04PM (#31753968) Homepage Journal
    ...but to be honest it really doesn't limit the options of available targets. If we want to nuke someone, you'd best be sure we'll find a way to show that they're in "non-compliance".
    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:21PM (#31754230) Journal

      If we want to nuke someone, you'd best be sure we'll find a way to show that they're in "non-compliance".

      Nuclear weapons have turned into something of a penis waving contest.
      The people most likey to use a nuke (small states and non-state actors) are the least likely to have more than one nuclear weapon.
      For those people, a US nuclear arsenal of 2,500 is no more intimidating than an arsenal of 25.
      More importantly, the USA is easily capable of using amazingly overpowered "conventional" munitions to respond to such threats.

      Nowadays, about the only reason we need nuclear weapons is if someone says "Bin Laden is in those mountains" and we decide to level the mountains.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:39PM (#31754504)

        Nuclear weapons have turned into something of a penis waving contest.

        Hence why we need more women in leadership. Just think what they'd wave.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Trench warfare? Very ugly...

      • by maillemaker ( 924053 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:30PM (#31755188)

        >Nuclear weapons have turned into something of a penis waving contest.

        It would seem to me that you are completely incorrect. Having nuclear weapons is basically your best way to keep the US from interfering overtly with your country.

      • by maeka ( 518272 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:54PM (#31755490) Journal

        More importantly, the USA is easily capable of using amazingly overpowered "conventional" munitions to respond to such threats.

        While I agree strongly with most of what you have said, I think you're a bit mistaken here.

        If North Korea were to start shelling Seoul, little in our arsenal short of nuclear weapons would be capable of taking out their heavily entrenched artillery before the south suffered horrific losses. (And I mean horrific. NK is believed to have 10,000 tubes aimed at Seoul. "Optimistic" losses start at numbers never seen before in history.)

        Conventional weapons have largely met their match against fixed fortified positions. Pouring another few feet of reinforced concrete is a very cheap countermeasure and will always be so. Many of Iraq's bunkers needed round after round of bunker-busters to penetrate - dropping N+1 down N's hole. This takes a significant amount of time. One needs to wait for the dust to clear, to assess exactly where the penetration took place, and then to attempt the second strike. Time is not on the US's side in most the standing nuclear scenarios.

  • As much as we reduce our nuclear weapons arsenel, there remain many a crazy nation that will gladly blow us to oblivion. A monkey who is throwing up a peace sign is not exempt from a skull bashing by the other monkeys.

    The question is, which of the monkeys is the US?
    • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:06PM (#31753996)

      The US is crazy dynamite monkey.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:15PM (#31754132)

      Russia and possibly China are the only countries that could blow America to oblivion and it wouldn't do them much good. Apart from anything else, the US could comfortably scrap 1000 nuclear weapons and still have enough to reduce any and all aggressors to dust. Obama's moves on weapons reduction just take America on it's first steps away from Strangelove country. There's still a hell of a long way to go before you need to start worrying about what the other monkeys are doing*.

      *(but, FYI, it rhymes with plaster slating)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        China's arsenal isn't large enough to blow the US to oblivion. Only Russia really has that. China has enough to act as an effective deterrent (that happens somewhere between five and 25 warheads, depending on delivery capability and ease of defense of those warheads), as do India, France, Britain, and Israel.

        North Korea is moving in that direction, but because of its significant conventional forces (1.2 million active plus 3.5 million to 4.7 million reserves out of 24 million population), it has a deterre

    • there remain many a crazy nation that will gladly blow us to oblivion.

      With nukes? That might be why he reserved the right to nuke countries with nukes of their own.

    • by Onymous Coward ( 97719 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:27PM (#31754330) Homepage

      The world really isn't as evil a place as some think it is. And it's not really the "evil" monkeys we need to be afraid of, it's the fearful ones.

      The world would be a less dangerous place if folks could stop being such hair-trigger fearmonkeys.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by roystgnr ( 4015 )

        The world really isn't as evil a place as some think it is.

        For the most part, no, but surely you admit there's a few big exceptions []? But on the bright side, maybe the last genocide ended this spring, knock on wood, in which case the greatest evil around is a measly few million women and children enslaved and forced to work as prostitutes. Things are definitely looking up now that only a third of the world is ruled by totalitarianism, but perhaps it's not time to beat all the swords into plowshares yet?

        • We can't let ourselves fear. When we do, it exacerbates our tendency towards dividing. Fear causes us to think of people as "other" and to care less for them. When that happens "big exceptions" are more likely. This is the crux -- those big exceptions, those instances of people being evil, they were fostered by the fearfulness of the perpetrators.

          There are other factors that promote dividing, but fear is perhaps the biggest.

          Sure, I carry a knife, though I expect not to need it. The difference between m

  • Cold war is over! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:08PM (#31754018)

    The Mutually Assured Destruction plans of the Cold War are outdated... we're no longer fighting states with a homeland, we're fighting a mobile group that will go wherever lawlessness is tolerated and don't care what happens to innocents around them. Scorched Earth isn't the idea, it's really just a question of law enforcement. Gotta use different tactics for a different enemy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      we're no longer fighting states with a homeland, we're fighting a mobile group

      Who are you to say who we're fighting? Maybe we're also in conflict with states that have homelands, and nuclear deterrence is one of the reasons those conflicts have been so undramatic.

    • So when WWII was over, we scrapped our conventional armies, sunk our battle cruisers, and scrapped our tanks. Oh wait...

      Just because they aren't useful at the moment doesn't they won't be useful again. History Repeats Itself, we will need nukes again.
  • I mean, the idea is, don't let your guard down against those countries that are obviously against your ideologies. However, for everyone else who has sworn the non-proliferation, this would help diplomatic relations. Perhaps when the rest of the world starts seeing the U.S. in better light, countries like Iran and North Korea will be a little more amicable to joining these kinds of treaties proposed by the U.N.

    In the event that they are stubborn about nuclear domination, the U.S. can still be the standing p

  • But, But, I thought we had to nuke them all from orbit to be sure? Now international politics are getting really confusing. =/
  • by Anonymous Coward

    since Iran is in fact fully in compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the NPT, regardless of what the US tries to say. NPT signatories have full right to develop and implement the complete nuclear fuel cycle for the purposes of generating power. NPT signatories are not obligated to submit to inspection of their nuclear facilities at the whim of anyone else. The fact that Iran has repeatedly done so demonstrates a remarkable tolerance on their part.

    • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:23PM (#31755112)

      Signatories to the NPT are required to sign a "safeguards agreement" with the IAEA, which lays out how the IAEA will monitor the country's compliance with the NPT. Iran did so, and then in 2005 the IAEA, after several warnings, concluded [] that Iran was not in compliance with its safeguards agreement.

      According [] to the Chairman of IAEA Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation, this is in effect a declaration of NPT violation:

      Formally IAEA Board of Governors (BOG) decisions concern compliance with safeguards agreements, rather than the NPT as such, but in practical terms non-compliance with a safeguards agreement constitutes non-compliance with the NPT.

      Iran was then referred to the UN Security Council for the violation, as provided for in the NPT. Incidentally, as a signatory of the UN Charter, Iran also agrees to abide by all decisions of the UN Security Council. Security Council resolution 1696 demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment program; resolutions 1737 and 1747 have followed up and imposed sanctions for noncompliance (the two follow-up resolutions passed unanimously). Iran has so far violated all three resolutions.

  • It's a false "news" (Score:3, Informative)

    by rarel ( 697734 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @05:42PM (#31754544) Homepage
    Unless I'm mistaken, this is a handwave. The US already took that same engagement in April 1995 []. It was a condition posed by non-nuclear states for their approval of nonproliferation treaty.

    So what's new here?

  • Irrelevant words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guspasho ( 941623 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:05PM (#31755630)

    The US won't nuke you unless you aren't in compliance with nuclear agreements. How many of our enemies *are* in compliance? Is the US in compliance? Who gets to determine who is in non-compliance anyway? Why should anyone believe the US wouldn't nuke someone it that it really wanted to anyway?

    These are meaningless words from a belligerent rogue state.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.