U.S. announces new guidance for nuclear weapons employment

U.S. President Barack Obama announced new guidance on Wednesday to align U.S. nuclear policies to the current security environment, according to the White House.

The updated guidance represents the latest step toward President Obama's long-term goal of achieving a world without nuclear weapons. The President based the new guidance on a detailed analysis by the Department of State, Department of Defense, Department of Energy and the intelligence community of U.S. nuclear deterrence requirements and policy. The resulting guidance will impact future nuclear employment planning, structure and decisions.

The President's guidance affirms that the U.S. will maintain a credible deterrent that is able to convince potential adversaries of the negative consequences of attacking the U.S. and its allies, directs the DoD to align military plans with the policies of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review and directs the DoD to improve non-nuclear capabilities to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks.

The guidance also codifies an alternative approach to hedging against geopolitical or technical risk, directs the DoD to examine and reduce the role of launch under attack in contingency planning and reaffirms that as long as nuclear weapons exist, the U.S. will maintain a secure, safe and effective arsenal to protect the U.S. and its allies.

President Obama determined that the U.S. can maintain a credible deterrent while pursuing a one-third reduction in deployed strategic nuclear weapons from the level established in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

The White House said the guidance will strengthen regional deterrence, maintain strategic stability with China and Russia and lay the foundation for negotiations with Russia on ways to mutually and verifiably reduce strategic and nonstrategic nuclear stockpiles to live up to obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

President Obama directed the DoD to use the new guidance to start updating and aligning its contingency plans and directives to implement the policy during the next year.