Russia, Iran, and China have strongly criticized Washington's newly revealed policy plan to expand U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities in order to deter other countries.
The plan, which calls for the U.S. nuclear arsenal to be revamped with the development of new low-yield atomic weapons, was announced in a policy statement by President Donald Trump's administration released on February 2.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani on February 4 accused the United States of "shamelessly threatening Russia with a new atomic weapon."
Speaking in a televised speech from Tehran, Rohani said that "the same people who supposedly believe that using weapons of mass destruction is a crime against humanity...are talking about new weapons to threaten or use against rivals."
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned in a Twitter message that the U.S. policy document risked "bringing humankind closer to annihilation."
China on February 4 criticized the U.S. government for portraying Beijing as a potential nuclear adversary after the nuclear-policy review said Washington wanted to prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable.
China also called on Washington to honor its commitments to reduce its own nuclear arsenal.
China's Defense Ministry said its military activities were defensive and its nuclear arsenal was the "minimum level" required for its security.
In a statement, the ministry expressed hope that the United States would "abandon a Cold War mentality" and "shoulder its special and prior responsibility for its own nuclear disarmament."
On February 3, Russia's Foreign Ministry characterized the Trump administration’s policy statement as both "confrontational" and "anti-Russian."
The statement dismissed the document as "an unscrupulous attempt to shift onto others one's own responsibility for the degrading situation in the field of international and regional security."
It particularly condemned the development of low-yield nuclear weapons, which Moscow said can significantly lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons and "lead to a nuclear-missile war even in low-intensity conflicts."
The Nuclear Posture Review, a report customarily done at the outset of a new U.S. administration, outlines the Pentagon's nuclear goals under Trump.
It is the first time since 2010 that the U.S. military has enunciated how it foresees nuclear threats in the coming decades.
It says Russia must be persuaded it would face "unacceptably dire costs" if it were to threaten even a limited nuclear attack in Europe.
"This is a response to Russian expansion of their capability and the nature of their strategy and doctrine," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote in the 75-page summary of the review, which also highlights the U.S. concerns about North Korea, Iran, and China.
The document specifically points to a Russian doctrine known as "escalate to de-escalate," in which Moscow would use or threaten to use smaller-yield nuclear weapons in a limited conventional conflict in Europe to compel the United States and NATO to back down.