The Pentagon Has Plans for New Nuclear Weapons

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The draft review states that President Obama's policy of cutting nuclear forces and reducing reliance on strategic weapons did not lead to cutbacks by Russia, China or North Korea. "The United States must be capable of developing and deploying new capabilities, if necessary, to deter, assure, achieve USA objectives if deterrence fails, and hedge against uncertainty".

The other is a nuclear-tipped cruise missile, a revival of a system that had been dropped from the arsenal in 2010.

"In addition to modernising "legacy" Soviet nuclear systems, Russian Federation is developing and deploying new nuclear warheads and launchers". It would take about two years to produce.

The use of nuclear weapons has been reserved for only the most extreme scenarios under typical USA policy.

"Expanding flexible US nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression", the draft of the NPR states.

This proposal appears in a preliminary version of the new "Nuclear Posture Review" that the Pentagon is due to publish in February.

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Critics of the plan contend it has contradictory goals by aiming to increase nuclear first-use options for deterrence while also endorsing ambiguity as a nuclear strategy. "Cyber poses a similar quandary", former senior National Security Council official Kori Schake told the New York Times.

One of the weapons is a warhead that could be used in conjunction with a Trident missile, a rocket deployed on U.S. Navy submarines.

These experts warn that such smaller arms could be more tempting to use because they can blur the distinction between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons.

This is something some in the USA military brass have been pushing for years, with an eye toward the acquisition of "low-yield" nuclear weapons that officials could readily use in situations where they would now be unthinkable.

Guterres said "global anxieties about nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War", and warned of "unimaginable consequences" from "the growing risk of military confrontation".

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