The Wall Street Journal reports the Defense Department is exploring plans for two new types of nuclear weapons in response to developing Russian and Chinese threats. The first weapon is a low-yield nuclear warhead that could be delivered by the Trident missiles carried by U.S. submarines. The second is a cruise missile with a nuclear warhead that can be launched at sea.
Development of the weapons is recommended in the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, which was commissioned by President Trump last year and is expected to be made public next month.
Some critics are already worried that low-yield nuclear weapons could lower the threshold for use, making nuclear conflict more likely.
There are also questions about the cost of a new nuclear weapons program.
According to the Journal, “Paying for all of the missile and bomber programs may be a challenge. The review says carrying out the nuclear modernization and operating the systems will require, at most, 6.4% of the Defense Department budget, up from 2% to 3% today. If the Pentagon doesn’t secure the spending increases it anticipates, this could heighten the competition between nuclear and nonnuclear programs for budgetary resources. The development of nuclear warheads is funded by the Energy Department.”