USA considers use of first-strike nuclear weapons

07 February, 2018, 01:47 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis speaks at Naval Base Kitsap in Kitsap County in August

The United States and Russian Federation are pledging to abide by a treaty limiting strategic nuclear weapons, which took effect Monday, but foreign leaders and experts fear a new arms race may be looming.

Washington also "arbitrarily converted" some underground missile launch sites into training facilities, which wasn't spelled out in the treaty, the ministry said. "This new policy deliberately blurs the line between nuclear and conventional forces and eliminates a clear firewall", she warned. The last time there was such a review was in 2010 under President Barack Obama, when traditional nuclear rivals United States and Russian Federation agreed to steadily reduce their nuclear stockpiles and the Cold War came to an end.

But those twin objectives appear distant, and President Donald Trump has little room for maneuver with Moscow as he grapples with allegations his campaign may have colluded with the Kremlin to get him elected.

It asserts that Russian strategy and doctrine emphasize the potential coercive and military uses of nuclear weapons, and calls for two new US capabilities in response - a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile and a "low-yield" warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The Pentagon document released on Friday, known as the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), argues that developing smaller nuclear weapons would challenge that assumption.

Russian Federation is questioning USA compliance with the treaty, whose limitations on long-range nuclear weapons took effect Monday.

The defence ministry in Beijing said Washington had played up the threat of China's nuclear threat, adding that its own policy was defensive in nature.

"Progress in arms control is not an end in and of itself", page 73 of the 74-page strategy says, adding that new advances in arms control are "difficult to envision".

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Consequently, the review said the USA would modify "a small number" of existing long-range ballistic missiles carried by Trident strategic submarines to fit them with smaller-yield nuclear warheads.

The United States and Russian Federation signed The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in 2010 that requires both the countries to limit their nuclear weapons to 1,550 each.

"Signs that Russian Federation is re-arming, not only conventionally but with nuclear weapons, are obvious", Gabriel said.

"If you believe that nuclear weapons deter and bring peace and stability, then we should welcome North Korea", Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said mockingly.

"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".

Nuclear weapons have been a fear and deterrent in full escalations occurring up to this point as the result of just one can cause severe damage of buildings, but nuclear fallout could affect both sides, not to mention the retaliation from the other side would be problematic.

Besides the ominous threat to retaliate against perceived enemies with nuclear weapons, the latest NPR underlines several frightening scenarios, including a major upgrading of the USA nuclear arsenal; the development of two new sea-based nuclear weapons; a proposal to develop at least 12 new Columbia class submarines to be operational in 2031; and the development and deployment of 100 new land-based missiles to replace the Minute-man missile force.

The White House last week dropped its nominee to be ambassador to South Korea, Victor Cha, after he publicly criticized a potential preemptive strike on North Korea. What we in this part of the world are now concerned with is North Korea, which seems to be openly challenging the US.


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