USA reviews nuclear arsenal in wake of Nokor threats

07 February, 2018, 01:47 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon left Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette lead a news conference on the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review

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 2018 USA nuclear posture review (NPR) has drawn nearly universal condemnation, as it redirects the United States toward a path of nuclear expansion.

Mattis linked the cruise missile to Washington's charge that Russian Federation has been violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty by developing and deploying a ground-based cruise missile that is banned by the treaty.

The US readiness to use its nuclear arsenal against Russia pre-emptively is nothing but an "attempt to question [Moscow's] right for self-defense against an aggression in a situation that is critical for the very existence of the Russian state", the statement concluded. For starters, Russian Federation already has the capability to strike the United States.

"On the contrary", Mattis said, the nuclear strategy reaffirms the role of nuclear weapons in national defence "while underscoring continued US commitment to non-proliferation, to counter nuclear terrorism and to arms control".

Alicia Sanders-Zakre of the Arms Control Association said she was anxious by "a president who repeatedly boasts about the size of his nuclear button on Twitter" and his "loose talk about nuclear weapons".

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Russia was quick to assail what it deemed an "anti-Russian" nuclear strategy.

When the Obama administration did its own reset of the strategy in 2010, it argued the world could be made safer if the USA reduced the role of nuclear weapons in defence strategy.

China has urged the U.S. to drop its "Cold War mentality" after Washington said it planned to diversify its nuclear armoury with smaller bombs. In a statement Monday, its Foreign Ministry called the review's assertions frightening, "utterly hypocritical" and unsafe.

"It is also a doubling-down on the announced willingness of the United States to be the first to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear-armed foe", he said.

Efforts would also be made to start a development program aimed at redeploying nuclear cruise missiles for warships and submarines.

Rick Wayman, Director of Programs at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, stated: "The review does not contain a single reference to Article VI of the UN Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which obligates the USA and the other nuclear-armed nations signatories to the treaty to negotiate in good faith for nuclear disarmament".

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James Acton, a nuclear weapons specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that offer seems disingenuous.

While the document underscored the administration's concerns about North Korea, Iran and China, the focus fell largely on Russian Federation.

China foreign ministry says U.S. should focus on promoting regional stability instead of diversifying its nuclear arsenal.

A 74-page summary of the strategy says new advances in arms control are "difficult to envision".

The ministry took note of a State Department statement saying the US reached the treaty limits last August, but it suggested the USA may have cheated by "reconfiguring" some B-52 bomber aircraft and missile launchers aboard Ohio-class submarines to non-nuclear status. The U.S. reported it has been in compliance with the limits since August. The Foreign Ministry said it doesn't have a way to confirm the reconfigured hardware was rendered incapable of carrying nuclear weapons.

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