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U.S. had the chance in the Nuclear Posture Review but didn’t take it via St. Petersburg Times

Updated: Thursday, August 11th, 2011 | By Louis Jacobson

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to “take our nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert — something that George W. Bush promised to do when he was campaigning for president in 2000. Maintaining this Cold War stance today is unnecessary and increases the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear launch. As president, Obama will work with Russia to find common ground and bring significantly more weapons off hair-trigger alert.”

In analyzing this promise, we”ll first note that the term “hair-trigger” alert is more informal than official (and subject to some confusion). However, it is generally understood to mean something along the lines of how Mohamed El Baradei, the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, defined it — that the leader tasked with deciding whether to launch has “only 15 to 30 minutes to decide on the authenticity of a nuclear attack and whether to launch a counterattack.”

Periodically, the U.S. military undertakes a wide-ranging reassessment of its nuclear-weapons policies. This study, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, was most recently completed in April 2010 under Obama.

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