PONI Debates the Issues: The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review Report

April 22, 2010 • 9:30 – 11:45 pm EDT

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Oelrich, Murdock and Feith on the Substance and Implications

The PONI Debates the Issues live debate series returned on Thursday, April 22nd with a three-way debate on the content and implications of the recently released Nuclear Posture Review Report, which outlined the Obama Administration's position on the full range of nuclear weapons strategy and policy issues and continues to generate considerable debate within the nuclear policy community. The participants will include three experts from different points in the political spectrum: Ivan Oelrich, Vice President for Strategic Security Programs at the Federation of American Scientists; Clark Murdock, PONI Director and Senior Adviser at CSIS; and Doug Feith, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institution.

The 2010 nuclear posture review is the third that the U.S. has completed; previous reviews were completed in 1994 and 2001. The 2010 version is the product of the largest, most thorough interagency review of nuclear strategy and policy to-date. Among a few of the report's signifcant conclusions are the following: 

  • Unlike previous reports, the 2010 report is unclassified (though there will be implementation directives that will remain classified) .
  • It is the first nuclear posture review the prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism at the top of the priority list for U.S. nuclear strategy, and calls for aggressive action to secure nuclear materials and develop capabilities to disrupt proliferation networks.
  • It refines U.S. declaratory policy limiting the range of scenarios in which the U.S. has made explicit that it will consider the use of nuclear weapons.

The report has been met with both praise and criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike; some thinking that it represents a prudent approach to nuclear security, others believing that it goes either too far or not far enough in pursuing the President's vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

Because nuclear policy decisions generally have long-term implications, the debate will be moderated by a junior expert in the field. John Warden, a Research Assistant at CSIS and former recipient of the Copeland Award as a member of the top college debate team in the country, will serve in this capacity for the evening.

Clark A. Murdock

Clark A. Murdock

Former Senior Adviser (Non-resident), International Security Program