The Trump administration outlined sweeping changes in US nuclear strategy Friday, calling for two new types of nuclear weapons and warning for the first time that in "extreme circumstances" the USA could use nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear attacks on infrastructure and civilians. In his State of the Union address Tuesday, he made no mention of expansion, though he said the arsenal must deter acts of aggression.
The 74-page NPR summary that was released Friday called North Korea a "clear and grave threat", and stated that any attack by the Kim Jong-un regime against the US or its allies will bring about "the end of that regime".
It warned the regime would end if it ever launched a nuclear attack against the USA or its allies.
"The bellicose and anti-Russian nature of this document is obvious", the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that it was "deeply disappointed".
"Our strategy will ensure Russian Federation understands that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is unacceptable", the document states.
At the briefing, DoD Undersecretary for Policy John Rood declined to speculate on "hypotheticals" on when the USA would use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear attack, such as a massive cyber attack that knocked out the power grid.
Arms control groups have responded with alarm to the review, claiming that it will blur the lines between nuclear and conventional warfare.
"President Trump is embarking on a reckless path - one that will reduce US security both now and in the longer term", she said.
"There is no indication from public information that Russian Federation is actively developing the system, but it is alarming to see it in a Pentagon document", Mount said, adding that while the program is referenced in the Nuclear Posture Review, it is not mentioned in other government reports.
"In a broader context, Russian Federation is either rejecting or avoiding its obligations and commitments under numerous agreements, and has rebuffed US efforts to follow the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with another round of negotiated reductions and to pursue reductions in non-strategic nuclear forces", it added.
The submarine-launch capability would also make the weapons effective against North Korea and could be a reassurance to Japan and South Korea.
The treaty, negotiated under President Barack Obama, entered into force on February 5, 2011, and its weapons limits must be met by Monday.
The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki separately issued statements protesting the US policy shift.
The US accusations against Moscow set out in the latest Nuclear Posture Review "have nothing do with reality", the ministry said in a statement on Saturday as it expressed its "deep disappointment" with the document.
US officials insisted that these changes will make its deterrents more credible and raise the nuclear threshold.
My view is that the use of or the threatened use of nuclear weapons in these circumstances simply aren't credible.
The document argues that by developing United States nuclear responses, it raises the Russian threshold for using the weapons, rather than lowering the U.S. threshold.
The recommendations in the review, if implemented, will result in a safer world.
Modifying "a small number" of existing long-range ballistic missiles carried by Trident strategic submarines to fit them with smaller-yield nuclear warheads would be a first step.
John Blaxland, Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies and director of ANU's Southeast Asia Institute, said the mistake was embarrassing but wasn't worth reading too much into.
The report was the first public mention that Russian Federation is developing a new "intercontinental, nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo".
Under these definitions, the desire to pursue two new US nuclear systems-low-yield penetrating SLBMs and nuclear-tipped SLCMs-could further undermine strategic and crisis stability.
Moscow also said the move was "an attempt to put into question (Russia's) right to legitimate defence".