A group of senators on Wednesday encouraged the U.S. secretaries of state, defense, and energy to implement a set of actions in the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) process meant to increase transparency and reinforce national nuclear policy positions.
In a July 19 letter, Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and 20 of their colleagues, urged the Trump administration to include “broad interagency input” into preparation of the Nuclear Posture Review, produce a document for public review , and reaffirm U.S. policy on eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. No Republicans signed the letter.
The NPR will set U.S. nuclear policy for up to a decade, including an examination of all three legs of the nuclear triad and the status of existing arms control agreements.
The lawmakers specifically asked that State Department arms control negotiation and verification personnel be equal partners with the Defense and Energy departments in crafting the NPR, and that the final document be made public to avoid suspicions about U.S. nuclear intentions among both allies and adversaries.
Moreover, the review should maintain the United States’ commitments under existing arms control treaties, the lawmakers said. This includes adhering to the deployed strategic warhead and launcher limits under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, and maintaining Washington’s commitment to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, in particular the stipulation that parties pursue “good faith” negotiations toward nuclear disarmament.
The letter also recommended against development of new nuclear weapons and missions to avoid “inadvertent nuclear war” and cautioned against abandoning the U.S. moratorium on nuclear explosive testing, arguing that the Energy Department’s stockpile stewardship program already maintains the security and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Last month, more than 40 Democrats in the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Donald Trump calling for his administration to reinforce its role in arms control and bolster nonproliferation efforts during the Nuclear Posture Review process. That letter encouraged the administration to work to extend the New START Treaty, which expires in 2021.
Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday on Capitol Hill that the review will be completed in “several more months.”