US Deploys 'Low Yield' Nuclear Weapon in Response to Russian Tests
(Source: Voice of America News; issued Feb 04, 2020)
The Pentagon says it is deploying long-range missiles armed with low-yield nuclear warheads of reduced destructive power in response to Russia testing similar weapons.
A U.S. Defense Department statement issued Tuesday asserted it will increase the security of the United States.
According to the statement, the ‘low-yield’ weapon, known as the W76-2, will “address the conclusion that potential adversaries, like Russia, believe that employment of low-yield nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the United States and its allies and partners.”
This debut deployment of the weapon on long-range submarines comes during a reassessment of the U.S.-Russia strategic relationship. It is unclear whether the Trump administration will accept Moscow’s offer to extend the New START arms control treaty before it expires next February.
Russia also is believed to have a supply of “tactical” nuclear weapons that are less destructive than American weapons, inciting fears the W76-2 will increase the possibility of a nuclear conflict because it lowers the threshold of the use of nuclear weapons and might represent a miscalculation of Russia’s intentions.
It is suspected that Russia’s focus has shifted to non-nuclear means, such as undermining Western cybersecurity.
“I maintain that this is one weapon that will not add to our national security but would only increase the risk of miscalculation with dire consequences,” Democratic U.S. Senator Jack Reed said in a Senate floor speech in December
Statement on the Fielding of the W76-2 Low-Yield Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Warhead
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued Feb 04, 2020)
The following statement is attributable to Mr. John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
The U.S. Navy has fielded the W76-2 low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead. In the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, the department identified the requirement to “modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads” to address the conclusion that potential adversaries, like Russia, believe that employment of low-yield nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the United States and its allies and partners.
This supplemental capability strengthens deterrence and provides the United States a prompt, more survivable low-yield strategic weapon; supports our commitment to extended deterrence; and 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.
Smith Criticizes the Administration's Deployment of W76-2 Low-Yield Nuclear Warheads
(Source: House Armed Services Committee; issued Feb. 04, 2020)
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement after the Department of Defense announced the deployment of the W76-2, "low-yield," nuclear warhead.
"The Administration's decision to deploy the W76-2 warhead remains a misguided and dangerous one. The deployment of this warhead does nothing to make Americans safer. Instead, this destabilizing deployment further increases the potential for miscalculation during a crisis. Validating the utility of so-called 'low-yield' nuclear weapons in 'winning' a nuclear war adds to the growing pressures of a nuclear arms race.
"DOD's inability and unwillingness to answer congressional questions about the weapon over the past few months has only raised more concerns and uncertainty. The Administration must have an open and continuous dialogue with Congress so we can fully understand the decisions, long-term strategy, and rationale related to this significant shift in U.S. nuclear strategy.
"The stewardship of our nuclear arsenal is one of the government's gravest responsibilities. Without an effective dialogue between Congress and the Administration, it will become increasingly difficult to work together to modernize our nuclear arsenal in a responsible way."
Thornberry on Deployment of New Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons
(Source HASC Minority; issued Feb 04, 2020)
WASHINGTON, DC --- Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following statement on the Department of Defense's fielding of the W76-2 low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead.
"The greatest national security imperative is to deter any adversary from using a nuclear weapon in any circumstance. This deployment enhances U.S. deterrence and tells Russia that any attempt to use nuclear weapons as part of an 'escalate to deescalate' approach will not be successful.
“This action, which was called for in the latest Nuclear Posture Review and was also recommended by President Obama's Defense Science Board, is a needed, prudent step to strengthen the security of the U.S. and our allies."