If the 2010 nuclear posture review (NPR) reflected a left-of-center compromise, probably to the right of President Obama’s preferences, the 2018 NPR is right-of-center, yet falls to the left of many of President Trump’s statements. While staying within the policy mainstream and containing considerable continuity with its predecessor, Trump's review does make a few notable departures.

Some key changes:

  • Consideration of additional sea-launched capabilities with lower-yield warheads
  • Inclusion of more than 30 references to nuclear weapons deterring non-nuclear attacks
  • Decreased emphasis on U.S. global leadership of the nuclear nonproliferation regime

Yes, but: The most important difference may not be in the report’s pages, but in Trump's increasing emphasis on nuclear weapons as an instrument of national power, particularly in a more complicated international threat environment.

Why it matters: Trump’s heated rhetoric bears little resemblance to the more measured declaratory policies in the formal documents. The president commands the nuclear forces and bears the sole burden of authorizing their use should deterrence fail. In communicating U.S. policy, it's his words that matter most.

Go deeper: An extended take at Defense360.

Rebecca Hersman is the director of the Project on Nuclear Issues and a senior adviser in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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Biden releases 2019 tax returns ahead of debate

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign released his 2019 tax returns on Tuesday, showing that he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes last year.

Why it matters: The release, timed just hours before the first presidential debate, comes days after a bombshell New York Times report said that President Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017. Biden's team is hoping to make the tax contrast a sticking point during their showdown.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City's coronavirus positivity rate has ticked up to 3.25%, its highest since June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The jump — from 1.93% on Monday — came on the first day that public elementary classrooms reopened in the city after months of closures, but guidelines state that all public schools will have to shut if the citywide seven-day positivity rate stays above 3%.