Jeffrey LewisNSPD 28: Nuclear Weapons Command, Control, Safety, and Security

I think that I’ve discovered a previously undisclosed National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) relating to nuclear weapons.

Moreover, I worry that it lays the groundwork to build new nuclear weapons and resume nuclear testing.

The source? National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) Policy Planning Director John Harvey’s biography! Prepared for a recent CISAC conference, Harvey’s biography lists his role as “point for NNSA … on the drafting and implementation of National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD)-28 on Nuclear Weapons Command, Control, Safety, and Security.”

I’ve never seen another reference to NSPD 28. Steven Aftergood doesn’t have it on his comprehensive list of NSPDs. [He just put it up, with a very generous link to ACW.]

So, what’s in it?

The directive must have been signed sometime between June 2003-April 2004. That would exclude the classified stockpile plan reduction plan which, again according to John Harvey, was signed in May 2004.

The timing is just right, however, to be a ringing endorsment of NNSA’s Advanced Concepts Initiative. U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) hosted an August 2003 meeting “to discuss what new nuclear weapons to build, how they might be tested, how these weapons might be mated to new delivery systems, and even how the process for granting authority to build small quantities of new nuclear weapons might be changed.” John Harvey, during his CISAC talk, described such changes in terms of potential enhancements to command, control, safety and security.

According to minutes from a planning meeting for August 2003 conference, revealed by the Los Alamos Study Group, the final product from the conference was to be “a decision briefing to frame the issues and provide a recommendation on the way-ahead would be most useful to the Secretaries” of Defense and Energy.

If my guess is correct, the “way-ahead” ended up an NSPD that fulfilled the Nuclear Posture Review’s call to “reestablish advanced warhead concepts teams at each of the national laboratories and at headquarters in Washington [and] review potential programs to provide nuclear capabilities, and identify opportunities for further study, including assessments of whether nuclear testing would be required to field such warheads.”