Introduction: Reviewing the Nuclear Posture Review


The Obama administration has argued that its efforts to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in US defense policy and work toward “a world free of nuclear weapons” will encourage other governments to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime and support global nuclear disarmament. Does the evidence support this assertion? This essay describes the changes in US nuclear weapons and disarmament policies initiated by the Obama administration and outlines four potential pathways through which the United States might influence other governments' policies: by reducing nuclear threat perceptions, by changing global beliefs about what constitutes “responsible” nuclear behavior, by impacting domestic debates about disarmament in foreign capitals, and by creating new diplomatic negotiation dynamics.