The US Defense Ministry has officially started a review of the country's nuclear posture and will submit a final report to President Donald Trump at the end of this year, the Pentagon announced Monday.
"Today, Secretary (James) Mattis directed the commencement of the review, which will be led by the deputy secretary of defence and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and include interagency partners," Xinhua news agency quoted a Pentagon spokeswoman as saying.
"The process will culminate in a final report to the president by the end of the year," said the statement.
The nuclear posture review was ordered by Trump in a January executive action on military readiness.
The January memo called for a review "to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies."
Democratic lawmaker Adam Smith, a ranking member of the House Armed Services committee, said he hopes the review includes a "thoughtful assessment" to "rethink what the priorities should be for a strong yet affordable nuclear arsenal."
"In the past, nuclear posture reviews have considered in depth the crucial role played by efforts to enhance strategic stability and prevent nuclear proliferation," Mr Smith said in a statement.
"It is important that this review do the same. I hope that it includes a thorough assessment of policy options that would allow us to avoid a costly and dangerous nuclear arms race and that it properly analyses the enormous risks inherent in lowering the threshold for using nuclear weapons," Mr Smith said.
Though planned since January under Trump's order, the start of the nuclear review comes at a time of high anxiety over increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The last time the Pentagon conducted a nuclear posture review was in 2010.