The Obama administration released its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) on April 6 which is designed to reduce the number and types of nuclear weapons in the US arsenal.
The review will see the US continue to strengthen its conventional capabilities and reduce the role of its nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks, with the administration saying it would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the US’s vital interests or those of a key ally. It added that the US will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states that are signatories to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and which are in compliance with NPT obligations.
Whilst the NPR pledges to maintain the US’s ‘nuclear triad’ of ICBMs, SLBMs, and land based bombers, it also says ICBM and SLBM Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) warheads and nuclear tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles (TLAM-N) will be phased out, and no new nuclear weapons will be developed, with current stocks to be refurbished or enhanced.
Tactical nuclear free-fall bombs such as the B-61 carried by forward-deployed fighters in Europe, and US or forward deployed B-52H and B-2 bombers will continue to be maintained in service.