Donald Trump Administration Plans to Develop More Usable Nuclear Weapons, Loosen Restrictions

The plans for America's new nuclear policy propose the creation of new submarine launched missiles. US Navy

"Recent cases of cyber attacks indicate that nuclear weapons systems could also be subject to interference, hacking and sabotage through the use of malware or viruses, which could infect digital components of a system at any time", the research paper said.

The researchers said the digitisation of systems and the use of emerging technologies increase nuclear weapons systems' vulnerabilities to cyber attacks.

Arms control advocates have voiced alarm at the new proposal to make smaller, more "usable" nuclear weapons, arguing it makes a nuclear war more likely, especially in view of what they see as Donald Trump's volatility and readiness to brandish the USA arsenal in showdowns with the nation's adversaries.

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"The likelihood of attempted cyber-attacks on nuclear weapons systems is relatively high and increasing from advanced persistent threats from states and non-state groups".

Mr Wolfsthal told the newspaper that he had seen a copy of the final draft of the NPR which proposed the creation of the new weapon as well as revising the terms of use for weapons which would include attacks against national infrastructure or nuclear sites. This is a hostile and provocative development and will be understood as such by other states.

Some of the known methods that would affect the decision-making process for launching a nuclear weapon include data manipulation, cyber jamming communication channels or cyber spoofing, according to the authors of the report, worldwide security researchers Beyza Unal and Patricia Lewis.

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He said that the was told by the people who wrote the policy draft that they were sending out a deterrent message to the Russians, the North Korean and the Chinese. "And there is pretty good, moderate but strong language that makes clear that any attempt by Russian Federation or North Korea to use nuclear weapons would result in a massive effect for them and I think that is actually moderate, centrist and probably very much needed".

'Where (the administration) go overboard, is where they say... the United States needs to develop two new types of nuclear weapons, ' Wolfsthal said. He said it was unwarranted as the country already had low-yield weapons like gravity bombs and air-launched cruise missiles.

The ex-Obama adviser called the strategy 'pretty dumb, ' pointing out that launching an attack with a significantly smaller nuclear pay-load would inflict negligible damage while giving away a submarine's position. If systems went down, then a country believing it is under attack, when it isn't, could launch deadly nuclear warheads by mistake. The Russians, the argument goes, would count on USA reluctance to use the massive warheads on its existing weapons, leading Washington to back down.

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Will Trump kill the Iran nuclear deal this week? All nuclear wars - in an age where there are a number of states armed to the teeth with nukes - would be absolutely cataclysmic. We have never, ever heard anyone say that is so'.

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