USA deploys 'survivable' nuclear weapon in efforts to deter Russian Federation

05 Février, 2020, 12:56 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Pentagon confirms fielding of new nuclear weapon

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima had a yield of about 15 kilotons.

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood said in the statement that potential adversaries, like Russian Federation, believe that employment of low-yield nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the US. The National Nuclear Security Administration announced in January 2019 that production of the first W76-2 had begun.

The U.S. military has deployed its first new nuclear weapon in decades, officials said Tuesday, with the Navy's fielding of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead seen as critical to countering any future Russian aggression.

The U.S. Department of Defense has officially confirmed that U.S. Navy has fielded the new W76-2 low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead.

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review called for the weapon to "help counter any mistaken perception of an exploitable "gap" in US regional deterrence capabilities".

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The argument for these weapons is that larger nuclear bombs are so catastrophic that they would never be used, meaning they are not an effective deterrent. Until the introduction of the W76-2, American SLBMs carried either the W76-1, a 90 kiloton nuclear warhead, or the W88, a 455 kiloton nuclear warhead.

The Pentagon view was that the Russians, if they found themselves struggling in a conventional war, might use a small nuclear weapon if they thought the U.S. military, with only large nukes at hand, would not retaliate with them.

It also "demonstrates to potential adversaries that there is no advantage to limited nuclear employment because the United States can credibly and decisively respond to any threat scenario".

Arms control advocates and some lawmakers have argued that such low-yield weapons reduce the threshold for potentially using nuclear weapons and could make a nuclear conflict more likely.

"While some argue that this warhead is a response to Russia's so-called "escalate to de-escalate" strategy that will strengthen deterrence and raise the nuclear threshold, others contend that it will lower the threshold for USA use and increase the risk of nuclear war", the Congressional Research service said in a report last month.

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