As has been reported since last summer, the Trump regime seeks to build two new nuclear weapons, one of which—a low-yield warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles—could make nuclear war more likely, say critics. The other warhead would be developed to be carried by submarine-launched cruise missiles, which haven’t been equipped with nukes since 2010.
Developing and building these new nukes are elements included in the not-yet-finalized 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. The last NPR was released in 2010. If approved by Pr*sident Trump, a move which is expected later this month, it would mark a significant change from the Obama era when the emphasis on nukes as part of U.S. strategy was reduced.
That white dot shows the Hiroshima blast, and the red surrounding it is the explosive power of the W78 workhorse bomb that is currently fitted on 149 of the 399 land-based U.S. ICBMS. The Union of Concerned Scientists that created the image note that the W78 has a yield of at least 335 kilotons; Hiroshima was 14-15kt. In addition to the ICBMs, the U.S. has hundreds of missiles equipped with the W76 warhead at 100 kilotons, and the W88 at 475kt (31 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb).
Advocates of installing the lower-yield warhead on the submarine-launched Trident ballistic missile say it is a good thing specifically because it would mean the warhead would be more usable. Currently they complain, there is reluctance to actually launch any nuclear-tipped missiles because their yields make them so incredibly destructive. In other words, having a lower-yield weapon at hand would make it easier to “push the button.”