On Wednesday, Trump’s Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said in a confirmation hearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations committee that no one was advocating for more nuclear weapons. The comment allayed fears among some who were concerned by Trump’s statement in late December suggesting that Washington should greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.
“Casual talk about nuclear weapons is not recommended,” Schirach said. “Tough remarks about not being outspent on nuclear weapons procurement and deployments may create anxiety and fear within the general public, but they do not amount to a clearly delineated new nuclear strategy.”
Schirach cautioned against over-interpreting Trump’s general comments on the arms race issue as they were not accompanied by any specific new nuclear policy agenda.
He also predicted that certain core elements of US nuclear policy would be upheld by the incoming Trump administration.
“In order to ensure continued reliability of its nuclear deterrence under any scenarios, the United States will continue to invest in all aspects of Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence regarding US nuclear weapons,” Schirach suggested.
The goal of this policy was to convey to any potential adversaries that the US nuclear deterrent would remain a viable option in any and all situations, Schirach explained.
“There will always be a legitimate Commander in Chief in full control of all US nuclear weapons. Even if the president and vice president were killed by terror attacks, a legitimate National Command Authority will always survive, fully prepared to retaliate massively against any aggressor,” he stated.
Massive retaliation would always remain US policy, Schirach noted. “Disastrous losses will be inflicted on any attacker. Swift and devastating retaliation will always follow any attack against America,” he said.
However, Schirach acknowledged that while the strategic doctrine of guaranteed overwhelming retaliation would likely work to prevent nuclear attacks by rational state actors, it could not be predicted to do so against the unpredictable and possibly irrational rulers of smaller nations.
Modernizing the US and Russian nuclear arsenals might not cause instability but instead help ensure the capability of the major nuclear deterrent forces to preserve peace for future generations, Schirach suggested.
“This ability to deter through an always credible pledge of massive retaliation against an attacker should ultimately strengthen peace,” he said.
A robust Command, Control and Communications system, capable of withstanding the shock of a massive surprise attack would guarantee that under any scenarios Washington will always be in full control over America’s nuclear forces, Schirach concluded.