Passing the ‘Football’: The Future of U.S. Nuclear Policy

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At 12:00PM on Friday, Jan. 20, the nuclear “football,” a briefcase containing the launch codes for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, was passed to a new Commander-in-Chief. Donald Trump enters the Oval Office at a time of dual necessity: U.S. nuclear forces, which include 6,800 nuclear weapons, are in need of modernization, but U.S. nuclear policy for the last 40 years has overseen a decreasing U.S. nuclear stockpile.

Nuclear weapons continue to play an essential role in U.S. security. According to a Senate Armed Services Committee report released last week, “The essential requirement of U.S. nuclear policy is to deter nuclear attack against the United States and its allies. U.S. nuclear weapons also play an important role in assuring U.S. allies, preserving peace, and preventing nuclear coercion. This is done by maintaining a highly survivable, fully exercised, and ready nuclear force that can withstand a surprise attack and carry out presidential orders.”

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