The Mystery of the Missing Nuclear Posture Review

One of the most important national security policy statements any U.S. administration issues sets forth its nuclear deterrence policy. Yet, 18 months after taking office, the Biden administration has failed to accomplish this vital task.  The key document, the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), has been completed: A classified version was sent to the Congress last March, and shortly afterward the Defense Department published a five paragraph, largely substance-free, “fact sheet” acknowledging that. But the unclassified version of the NPR has not yet been released. It is crucial that allies covered by our nuclear shield understand what our policy is; equally, potential enemies, particularly nuclear-armed ones, must comprehend our deterrence policy. Inexplicably, the administration remains silent.

What we do know about the Biden nuclear policy, largely inferred from congressional testimony, is that the fundamental tenets of longstanding U.S. policy appear unchanged:

  • Deterrence rests on the ability to convince an enemy leadership that our retaliation will impose costs that will outweigh any gains they hope to make through aggression;

  • To be credible, we must have a modern retaliatory force that can clearly impose the costs our policy requires—even under the worst-case conditions of a surprise attack;

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