Donald J. Trump, the President-Elect of the United States of America, said on December 23 that the US should expand nuclear capability. His statement was made through Twitter and perhaps was a response to President Putin of Russia. The Russian President has earlier promised to strengthen the country’s nuclear missile armory. Whatever the cause of the US President-Elect’s outburst, he has, in one stroke, ended many years of efforts done by both Democratic and Republican Presidents to reduce nuclear weapons role when it came to US strategy and defense.
Return of the Cold War arms race
Both Russia and the United States are moving forward to modernize the existing nuclear arsenals. They have replaced legacy missile systems with modern and smaller weapons. These weapons are much more precise and much harder to stop. This new behavior among the two nuclear armed nations, while permitted by present arms control treaties, has resulted in renewing fears of Cold War era style arms race between the US and Russia. Both countries want technological dominance. It did not help that the US is moving to deploy missile defenses in European soil. This step has angered the Russians, who roundly rejected arguments that such protection is focused only towards Iran.
If this happens, it could be a total reversal of the approach adopted by President Barack Obama. The outgoing US President, gave a speech to a cheering crowd in 2009 that the US would take the lead in the effort to pursue the treaties and rules which will result in a nuclear weapon free world. For President Obama, it can be said that he has achieved a modicum of success when it comes to pursuing this vision during his eight year term in office. The president had convened a summit meeting concerned with nuclear nonproliferation. The meeting aimed to stop distribution of nuclear material. There were special concerns that terror groups could gain access to such materials.
US military modernization
Even though President Obama has publicly adopted a conciliatory stand, and has subsequently taken a series of steps towards that aim, his administration has also set to modernize the US nuclear arsenal. Such a modernization drive will cost approximately $1 trillion over the coming three decades. Such modernization efforts comprise the setting up of factories and refurbished nuclear arms. It also includes new generation weapon carriers. The new bombers set to be built as part of this program will reputedly carry a super stealthy missile which are engineered to slip past air defenses mounted by the enemy.
Putin reiterated words from his traditional year-end press conference, “We are stronger than any potential aggressor.” “Why did I say that? Because of the modernization of our armed forces, because of our history and geography, because of today’s domestic situation in Russian society,” Putin said. “It means that there is a range of reasons. The modernization of the armed forces, both the conventional component and the nuclear triad, is playing a major role.