The Pentagon wrote the draft document, which calls the strategic situation facing the US bleak due to advances in nuclear technology by Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. It would take about two years to produce.
The Pentagon therefore proposes to develop new types of nuclear weapons with limited power, including tactical weapons, sometimes called "mini-nuclear weapons", which have a high penetration rate and are able to destroy bunkers or buried facilities.
The Pentagon and the National Nuclear Security Agency must develop a sea-ground ballistic missile for this objective, the document says.
It emphasizes that the proposed new weapons are "low-yield" compared to standard nuclear weapons, though that hardly means they can not cause tremendous destruction.
"Expanding flexible US nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression", the draft of the NPR states. The weapon was detailed in a draft of Nuclear Posture Review, obtained and published by the Huffington Post.
Jon Wolfsthal, who served as a senior official for arms control on President Barack Obama's National Security Council, described the NPR as a "schizophrenic document". The first weapon is a low-yield nuclear warhead that could be delivered by the Trident missiles carried by US submarines. "That's not really the problem", Wolfsthal told Newsweek.
This is something some in the U.S. military brass have been pushing for years, with an eye toward the acquisition of "low-yield" nuclear weapons that officials could readily use in situations where they would now be unthinkable. "The second thing at the core is a desire to achieve to deterrence by making America's threat to use nuclear weapons first more credible".
Guterres said "global anxieties about nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War", and warned of "unimaginable consequences" from "the growing risk of military confrontation".