The US Defense Department was forced to correct several mistakes in its Nuclear Posture Review after an initial version of the report released last week labeled Taiwan as part of China and included the disputed Kuril islands in a chart depicting Russia.
A copy of the report was temporarily removed from the DOD website over the weekend after the Taiwan error was pointed out by the Japan Times.
“There was an error printed in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review,” a Pentagon spokesperson told the Times on Saturday.
An earlier draft version of the report – which was not released to the public – included a graphic that superimposed the North Korean flag over an image of the entire Korean peninsula.
That mistake was caught and fixed before public release and the Pentagon has said that the graphics went into the report two weeks before the release.
“Though an honest mistake, it will add to friction with Asian allies,” according to Adam Mount, a senior fellow and the director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists.
“After a year in which the President has insulted and antagonized South Korea, it’s just one more log on the fire. I imagine it led to a very awkward phone call with our Asian allies,” said Mount, one of several nuclear experts who noticed the error in the preliminary draft.
In its newly released Nuclear Posture Review, the Defense Department has focused much of its multibillion nuclear effort on an updated nuclear deterrence focused on Russia.
“Russia considers the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to be the principal threats to its contemporary geopolitical ambitions,” the report said.
President Donald Trump highlighted the importance of the review’s conclusions Friday in a written statement.
“Over the past decade, despite United States efforts to reduce the roles and numbers of nuclear weapons, other nuclear nations grew their stockpiles, increased the prominence of nuclear weapons in their security strategies, and – in some cases – pursued the development of new nuclear capabilities to threaten other nations,” Trump said.
“The strategy develops capabilities aimed at making use of nuclear weapons less likely. It enhances deterrence of strategic attacks against our nation, and our allies and partners, that may not come in the form of nuclear weapons. And, importantly, it reaffirms our commitment to arms control and nuclear non-proliferation, maintains the moratorium on nuclear testing, and commits to improving efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism,” he added.
The Pentagon is adamant the Nuclear Posture Review walks the line between maintaining a nuclear deterrence and encouraging controls on nuclear weapons.