Report: Ten Big Nuclear Ideas for President-elect Trump

November 16, 2016

Washington, DC – A new report released today by the global security foundation, Ploughshares Fund, calls on the Trump administration to take bold steps to reduce the risks posed by nuclear weapons.

The report, "Ten Big Nuclear Ideas for the Next President," features essays by some of America's most respected national security thinkers including: former Secretary of Defense William Perry, former commander of US nuclear forces General James Cartwright, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Ed Markey, Representative Adam Smith, former CIA operative Valerie Plame, University of Chicago’s Dr. Kennette Benedict, Princeton University’s Dr. Frank von Hippel, and more.

"The incoming Trump administration must approach nuclear policy as it did the election—by upending the status quo," said Ploughshares Fund Policy Director Tom Collina. "Current nuclear policy is not working. It is time for new thinking at the highest levels."
 Despite diverse backgrounds and perspectives, the contributors agreed on one basic point: the nation is facing serious challenges on nuclear weapons, and our current nuclear policy must change. Fresh ideas and major course corrections are needed. 
 The report recommendations include:

  • Don’t hand Russia a veto over US nuclear policy. General Cartwright, states that, “there is no reason to retain unneeded weapons just because Russia does.” Secretary Perry argues that, “our levels of nuclear forces should be determined by what we need, not by a misguided desire to match Moscow missile for missile.”
  • Don’t waste money on unneeded nukes. President Trump should downsize the Obama administration’s unsustainable, trillion-dollar plans to rebuild the nuclear force. For example, he could phase out intercontinental ballistic missiles, as proposed by Cartwright and Perry, and cancel the new air-launched cruise missile, as proposed by Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Smith. The two members of Congress argue that the Obama administration’s plan to rebuild the arsenal is “neither affordable, executable nor advisable in order to maintain an effective and reliable nuclear deterrent.”
  • Fix North Korea, don’t unfix Iran. The success of the Iran nuclear agreement in blocking Iran’s paths to the bomb is a model for engaging North Korea, which continues its dangerous march to develop smaller weapons and larger missiles. Suzanne DiMaggio, senior fellow at New America, argues that, “diplomacy in the absence of trust is hard, but it’s not impossible."
  • Disconnect the nuclear button. Dr. Kennette Benedict with the University of Chicago argues that, “we have no voice in the most significant decision the United States government can make—whether to destroy another society with weapons of mass destruction.” Trump could allay the public’s fears by working with Congress to expand decision time and involve lawmakers in the decision-making process.
  • Reduce nuclear investments in NATO. Bringing US nuclear bombs back from Europe and delaying the next phase of European missile defense would save scarce defense dollars. Neither program is needed for NATO’s security, and both increase tensions with Russia.  NATO should shift to a “more credible nuclear deterrent—without basing US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe,” write Steve Andreasen and Isabelle William of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

 The full report, “Ten Big Nuclear Ideas for the Next President,” is available online here.

Ploughshares Fund is a publicly supported foundation that funds, organizes and innovates projects to realize a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons.