Reference Material on U.S. Nuclear Weapons

October 15, 2006

(Excerpted from The Worker, 5/24/05)

Current U.S. policy on the development and use of nuclear weapons is outlined in a number of official government documents, including the "Nuclear Posture Review" (2002), the "National Security Strategy of the U.S.A" (2002), and the "Quadrennial Defense Review" (2001). . . .

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) emphasizes:

- a "first-strike" nuclear strategy and capability i.e., using nuclear weapons against an enemy, including even non-nuclear states;

- the targeting of non-nuclear countries with nuclear weapons, listing North Korea, Iran, and Syria among the targets. For example, on November 7, 2004 the UPI reported on a newly declassified U.S. government document which admitted that since 1998 the U.S. has had an active contingency plan to drop as many as 30 nuclear warheads on North Korea.

- the rejection of arms control agreements, such as the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT);

- vigorous pursuit of new uses and missions for nuclear weapons, the production of new missiles, bombers and submarines, design of new types of nuclear weapons and major investments in weapons production facilities;

- the need for "renewed nuclear testing."

In addition to the global nuclear war plan, known as "Operations Plan (OPLAN) 8044, the U.S. has drawn up official regional nuclear war plans, including "OPLAN 5030," and "OPLAN" 5027-04 which are designed to wage nuclear war on the Korean peninsula. Commenting on the plan and U.S. aims against North Korea, a senior U.S. official is reported to have said: "When we're done, they will not be able to mount any military activity of any kind. We will kill them all." The goal of the revised plan was to "abolish North Korea as a functioning state, end the rule of its leader, Kim Jong Il, and reorganize the country under South Korean control." (quoted from globalsecurity.com)

The use of nuclear weapons also remains the official doctrine of the aggressive NATO alliance, headed by the U.S. NATO doctrine considers nuclear weapons as "the supreme guarantee of alliance security." The United States has deployed an estimated 150 to 180 nuclear weapons on seven European NATO states, six of which are non-nuclear weapon states. ...

As of January 2005 there are approximately 5,300 operational nuclear warheads in the U.S. stockpile, including 4,530 strategic warheads and 780 non-strategic warheads. Almost 5,000 additional warheads have been retained in the "responsive reserve force" or are in an inactive status with their tritium removed. . . .

The United States currently has 336 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) on 14 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). The missiles are armed with some 2,016 warheads, about 48 percent of U.S. operational strategic weapons. A new, nine-strong nuclear submarine Pacific force, the largest since 1979, reflects "increased nuclear targeting requirements against China and possibly North Korea" according to Pentagon documents.