Why the Pentagon proposed to develop sea-based nuclear cruise missiles

This post was published in RT. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


MOSCOW, (BM) – The United States must develop and deploy new sea-launched nuclear cruise missiles to contain Russia, the Pentagon said. The US military believes that such missiles, which are not technically a “strategic” weapon, will deter the US’s nuclear-armed rivals – Russia and China.

Experts note that Washington by such actions lowers the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, while blaming Moscow for this. Russia has repeatedly dismissed such attacks as unfounded. At the same time, the Russian Federation has the means to defend against sea-based cruise missiles, analysts say.

The United States needs to develop and deploy new nuclear-powered sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) to contain Russia. This statement was published on the official website of the Pentagon.

It claims that in 2010 the United States decommissioned its last sea-launched nuclear cruise missile, one of the two remaining “non-strategic” types of nuclear weapons at the US disposal.

“Russia, on the contrary, continued a comprehensive program of modernization and build-up of low-power tactical nuclear weapons. More worrisome, officials say, is that the Russian strategy actually envisions the use of this nuclear potential in conflicts,” the statement said.

In its statement, the Pentagon refers to the findings of a US Department of State report that the new nuclear-powered sea-launched cruise missile “would address the alarming changes in the forces and doctrines of nuclear-armed rivals.”

“Moreover, Russia and China are investing heavily in improving and expanding their nuclear forces, and there is no clear understanding of when this expansion will stop,” the US defense department said.

New naval nuclear weapons are needed by the United States in order to demonstrate to the leaders of the “rival nuclear powers” that Washington has “options for nuclear deterrence of aggression.”

“The presence of such a potential in the United States would make any adversary think twice about using nuclear weapons. While the SLCM does not require nuclear tests and does not violate any treaties, it “will reduce the risk of nuclear conflict, strengthen the confidence of allies and restore a certain balance in non-strategic nuclear weapons, which could create more favorable conditions for solving the problem of this category of forces through control over weapons “ says the US Defense Department

As military expert Viktor Litovkin noted in a conversation with RT, the Pentagon is disingenuous, declaring the need to develop a sea-launched cruise missile with a nuclear charge, since the United States can manufacture SLCMs based on weapons already in service.

“For example, all the missiles of the Tomahawk family that are in service with the US Army, cruise missiles, including sea-based ones, can already carry nuclear warheads. The American military has already tested these missiles, so it is not very difficult for them,” the expert noted.

However, added Viktor Litovkin, the production of new SLCMs from scratch will undoubtedly be a more profitable enterprise for American defense concerns.

“The huge funds that are allocated to the US military budget must be spent somewhere, so projects of this kind appear,” the military expert noted.

Russia’s position

Recall that Moscow, both through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and through the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, has repeatedly indicated that accusations by Washington of building up its arsenal of non-strategic nuclear weapons are unfounded.

Russian officials have repeatedly noted that such statements are a way to divert attention from US own actions to build up an arsenal of weapons (including nuclear), which were previously prohibited by the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty).

The United States unilaterally withdrew from the INF Treaty on August 2, 2019. The formal pretext for the exit was the characteristics of the 9M729 cruise missile of the Iskander complex, which allegedly violated the provisions of the treaty.

So, the Russian defense department in early 2019 reported that the United States began to prepare the production of prohibited missiles two years before Washington announced its intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty.

“In Washington, two years before the public unsubstantiated accusations of Russia of allegedly violating the INF Treaty, they not only made a decision, but also began the preparation and production of intermediate and shorter-range missiles prohibited by the treaty,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

In turn, in March 2019, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, responding to further accusations from NATO, said that the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons in the world is decreasing solely due to the actions of the United States.

“The threshold for the use of nuclear weapons is being reduced as a result of the adoption of a new strategy in the United States, which effectively blurs the line between national conflict and conflict with the use of nuclear weapons. In the fundamental documents of the Russian Federation, the possibility of using nuclear weapons is associated only with the presence or emergence of a threat to the very existence of the state,” RIA Novosti quoted the diplomat as saying.

Viktor Litovkin noted that the Russian nuclear doctrine, in contrast to the American one, is exclusively defensive, while the Pentagon’s program documents and similar statements in a justifying form prepare the ground for lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.

“At the heart of the nuclear policy, which was recently approved by Vladimir Putin, is clearly defined in what cases Russia will use its nuclear weapons: for example, after the enemy uses nuclear weapons in the Russian Federation and aggression against it with conventional weapons, when the existence of the state is threatened. The distortion of the Pentagon is designed for ordinary people,” the military expert explained.

In 2010, the United States removed from service cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons as part of the START-3 treaty, military expert Alexei Leonkov recalled in an interview with RT.

“Russia did not have cruise missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, so the Pentagon’s assertion that Russia was building up its arsenal of such weapons is not true” the military expert said.

Proactive acceptance

The fact that the United States is going to equip cruise missiles with nuclear warheads was reflected in the nuclear doctrine, which was adopted in 2018 together with the doctrine of national security, Alexei Leonkov recalled in a conversation with RT.

“Undoubtedly, cruise missiles will be equipped with nuclear warheads, because in the spending that the Pentagon spends on nuclear renewal of the arsenal, this is included. In addition, about 1,000 nuclear warheads were waiting in the wings for conservation, so a return to such weapons is predictable. Now Washington is actually trying to justify itself, to disguise what it had for a long time in its defense programs,” the expert noted.

He also stressed that cruise missiles are part of the arsenal of air attack weapons, regardless of whether they are launched from the sea, land or air. However, Russia, Alexei Leonkov noted, has both means of protection against sea-based cruise missiles and its own missiles, including hypersonic ones.

“Russia already has anti-aircraft missile systems that work on air targets, including cruise missiles, as well as complexes armed with anti-ship missiles and coastal defense systems. The next missile to be adopted by the Russian Federation is the Zircon, which has an increased range. Not a single air defense system located on ships can stop it,” the expert noted.


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