The Obama administration's new strategy for its nuclear arsenal is making headlines around the world, and deservedly so. But although the new plan rightly places nuclear terrorism and proliferation at the core of U.S. policy, the tools it emphasizes--primarily those relating to the United States' own nuclear arsenal--are of secondary importance in confronting those threats. Successfully reducing nuclear dangers will depend on efforts largely beyond the new strategy's scope.
This new plan is fundamentally different from those of previous administrations. Preventing terrorism and proliferation, not boosting deterrence and warfighting, are its touchstone goals. This change in priorities, combined with the Obama administration's belief that U.S. nuclear restraint begets international cooperation on those fronts, results in a markedly different set of policies.