The US military has proposed diversifying its nuclear arsenal and developing new, smaller atomic bombs, largely to counter Russia.
The latest thinking was revealed in a Pentagon policy statement known as the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).The US military is concerned Moscow sees US nuclear weapons as too big to be used – meaning they are no longer an effective deterrent.Developing smaller nukes would challenge that assumption, it argues.
Low-yield weapons are smaller, less powerful bombs with a strength below 20 kilotons.They are still devastating, however. The atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki at the end of World War Two had about the same explosive power, and killed more than 70,000 people.
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“Our strategy will ensure Russia understands that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is unacceptable,” the document said.
US Deputy Secretary of Defence, Patrick Shanahan, said the country’s nuclear arsenal had kept it safe for over 70 years.
“We cannot afford to let it become obsolete,” he told a media briefing in Washington.
It is the first time since 2010 that the US military has outlined its perception of future nuclear threats.