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Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons: The Ultimate Weapon Coming to the U.S. Navy or Bad Idea?

December 18, 2018 Topic: Security Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: NavyMilitaryTechnologyWorldU.S. NavyNuclear Weapons

Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons: The Ultimate Weapon Coming to the U.S. Navy or Bad Idea?

The Pentagon has completed initial draft plans for several emerging low-yield sea-launched nuclear weapons.

“We have an ongoing Russian violation of the INF. We want our negotiators to have something to negotiate with because we want Russia back in compliance,” Mattis told lawmakers earlier this year.

Furthermore, Russia’s recently announced new nuclear cruise missile is of course not lost on anyone at the Pentagon.

“A nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile and the modification of a small number of existing submarine launched ballistic missile warheads to provide a low-yield option – will enhance deterrence by ensuring no adversary under any circumstances can perceive an advantage through limited nuclear escalation or other strategic attack,” Gen. Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters earlier this year, according to a DoD transcript.

Deterring Russia is a specific focus outlined in the NPR. While many observers see adding low-yield weapons as an "escalate to de-escalate" type of approach, the Federation of American Scientists writes that Russia's nuclear posture is potentially more aggressive - something which can be described as "escalate to win."

From the Nuclear Posture Review:

Russia’s belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage is based, in part, on Moscow’s perception that its greater number and variety of non-strategic nuclear systems provide a coercive advantage in crises and at lower levels of conflict. Recent Russian statements on this evolving nuclear weapons doctrine appear to lower the threshold for Moscow’s first-use of nuclear weapons.

Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army - Acquisition, Logistics& Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has a Masters degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

This first appeared in Warrior Maven here