During a meeting in the U.S. Senate, which was broadcasted on the website of the Senate Committee on Armed Forces, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff committee, Joseph Dunford, was asked to clarify his opinion about Washington’s right to attack first with a nuclear strike.
“It seems to me that our current policy (which allows such a right in the field of defense) complicates the adversary’s decision-making process. I would not recommend making a decision that will make this process easier, “said Dunford.
“I can also imagine several situations in the future in which we don’t want the president to have such an opportunity,” he said, adding that he is ready to present the details only in a closed meeting.
The next question concerned whether Dunford agrees with the opinion that now the United States has enough non-nuclear methods of deterring opponents, in particular, in the field of cyberspace.
“Senator, I do not think that opportunities in cyberspace can replace nuclear potential. We need to maintain a safe but effective nuclear deterrent,” said the general. Having worked in several administrations, Dunford has more than once participated in discussions about effective methods of deterrence. He told the senators that in each case, every administration concluded that the current configuration of the nuclear triad (ICBMs, submarines and strategic aviation) makes it possible to most effectively prevent a nuclear war.
According to the United States Department of State, in October 2017, the United States had 660 deployed ICBMs, missiles on submarines and strategic bombers and Russia had 501 of them. The number of nuclear warheads was 1,393 and 1,561, respectively.