U.S. adds weaker war­head to arse­nal

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By ROBERT BURNS AP Na­tional Se­cu­rity Writer

WASHINGTON — The U.S. mil­i­tary has de­ployed a new ad­di­tion to its nu­clear arse­nal — a long-range mis­sile armed with a nu­clear war­head of re­duced de­struc­tive power. The so-called low-yield mis­sile joins other, more pow­er­ful weapons aboard stealthy sub­marines prowl­ing the oceans.

The de­but de­ploy­ment aboard long-range sub­marines, known as boomers, is a land­mark in U.S. nu­clear weapons pol­icy. It is the first ma­jor ad­di­tion to the strate­gic nu­clear arse­nal in re­cent decades and is a de­par­ture from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy of less­en­ing de­pen­dence on nu­clear weapons in pur­suit of a nu­clear-free world.

In con­firm­ing the mis­sile de­ploy­ment to The As­so­ci­ated Press, the Pen­tagon’s top pol­icy of­fi­cial as­serted that the weapon makes Amer­i­cans safer by mak­ing nu­clear war less likely. Crit­ics, in­clud­ing some Democrats in Congress, call it a dan­ger­ous ex­cess that in­creases the risk of war.

John Rood, the un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for pol­icy, said in an AP in­ter­view Mon­day that adding the “low-yield” war­head, known as the W762, to sub­marines which tote Tri­dent II bal­lis­tic mis­siles low­ers the risk of nu­clear war. He said the United States will con­tinue its stated pol­icy of us­ing nu­clear weapons only in “ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances.” He also said the war­head will help the United States dis­suade Rus­sia from risk­ing launch­ing a lim­ited nu­clear con­flict.

“This sup­ple­men­tal ca­pa­bil­ity strength­ens deter­rence and pro­vides the United States a prompt, more sur­viv­able low-yield strate­gic weapon,” Rood said, adding that it sup­ports the U.S. com­mit­ment to de­ter at­tacks against al­lies, and “demon­strates to po­ten­tial ad­ver­saries that there is no ad­van­tage to lim­ited nu­clear em­ploy­ment be­cause the United States can cred­i­bly and de­ci­sively re­spond to any threat sce­nario.”

Rood de­clined to pro­vide de­tails about the de­ploy­ment, in­clud­ing when or where the de­ploy­ment be­gan; all de­tails, he said, are clas­si­fied se­cret. The de­ploy­ment was re­ported last week by the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Sci­en­tists, cit­ing anony­mous sources and re­port­ing that it was be­lieved to have be­gun in the fi­nal weeks of 2019 with an At­lantic de­ploy­ment of the USS Ten­nessee.

Adding the W76-2 fits Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s stated in­ter­est in beef­ing up the nu­clear arse­nal, al­though he has not com­mented on this spe­cific weapon. His ad­min­is­tra­tion is com­mit­ted to a broader, costly mod­ern­iza­tion of the nu­clear force.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this Jan. 9, 2008 photo re­leased by the U.S. Navy, The Ohio-class bal­lis­tic-mis­sile sub­ma­rine USS Wy­oming ap­proaches Naval Sub­ma­rine Base Kings Bay, Ga.

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