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National Security Considerations
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Congress and the President make decisions on whether the United States should possess nuclear weapons and the type and number of those weapons. To aid in public understanding, the Air Force notes that several principal national security policies and treaties contribute to the framework for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) Proposed Action.
Nuclear Posture Review
This legislatively mandated, comprehensive review of the United States’ nuclear deterrence policy, strategy, and force posture contains the Department of Defense’s primary statement of nuclear policy. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review includes modernizing the launch facilities and missile alert facilities, as well as replacing the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with the GBSD ICBMs beginning in 2029.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is viewed as the cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation and provides a foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. Article VI of the treaty requires the parties “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” The Proposed Action is consistent with the NPT.
New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
The 1991 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was a bilateral treaty between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms. The treaty limited the number of ICBMs and nuclear warheads either country could possess. The 2010 New START further lowered strategic nuclear force levels of accountable warheads. The Proposed Action is consistent with the New START.
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
This 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) prohibits “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion” anywhere in the world. Nothing in the GBSD Proposed Action requires or assumes that the United States would resume nuclear explosive testing; therefore, the Proposed Action is consistent with the existing moratorium on testing and the CTBT.