The U.S. And Russia Are Stocking Up On Missiles And Nukes For A Different Kind Of War
The US has begun production of a new nuclear weapon supporters of the weapons they it's needed to counter Russia, but critics worry it's taking America back to a time when nuclear weapons were more likely to be used NPR's, Jeff Brumfield has more. It wasn't that long ago with the military had plans to use nuclear weapons all over the place July nineteen sixty two these troops were the first hour army's history to engage in tactical exercise supported by live nuclear firepower. That's our KYW footage from the Nevada. Desert. Hundreds of troops rehearsed to the tech. But before they went in they fired a tiny nuclear weapon at a simulated enemy position it detonated perfectly releasing its lethal radiation back, then that was how some thought nuclear war would look nukes small enough to knock out just a couple of city blocks used together with conventional weapons like tanks and troops. Of course, that's not what happened radiation and other factors may nuclear weapons of bad fit for the battlefield, and as the US's conventional strength through battlefield nuclear weapons became less important and the end of the Cold War, the United States said well that was kind of stupid. Why did we have all the? Stuff. Let's get rid of it. Matthew crane is at the Atlantic Council. He also worked on nuclear strategy in the Pentagon, the US dismantled nearly all of its battlefield nuclear weapons. But Russia took a different path. It has kept thousands of battlefield nukes in storage. So today Russia has nuclear landmines nuclear torpedoes, nuclear depth charges nuclear artillery, nuclear short range missiles, and the Trump administration believes Russia would be tempted to use some of these weapons in conflict. If that happened chronic says, the US wouldn't be able to responding kind though only nukes it has left are big weapons designed to fight an apocalyptic nuclear war. So the administration has begun converting an existing larger warhead into a new smaller low-yield weapon. More like the old battlefield nukes. What the low yield nuclear weapons do say, no actually we have a range of options. If you use a low you'll nuke. Earlier weapon we can respond with one two or three of our own. I mean, well, it's insane. That's Jeffrey Lewis a scholar at the Middlebury institute of international studies, who's not a fan of battlefield nukes. The Trump administration's new warheads sits on the same missile that now carries a much more powerful nuclear weapon. So if the US did use it for some reason, all the Russians are going to see is that a missile that only carries nuclear warheads is heading toward Russia and Russian policy as Flannery. Putin has said many times is not to wait for it to land. In other words, Russia could unleash an attack on the US just to be safe or go ole occur is with the International Crisis Group. She says just the existence of smaller US weapons could cost the Russians to take battlefield nukes out of storage. They think wow, we need to deter that. No way are conventional weapons deter that. We have to emphasize the nuclear capability, she says that could end. Up countering the vastly superior conventional forces of the US, they're throwing away advantage. The Trump administration says several of these new smaller weapons will be ready to enter service later this year, but the administration's long-term plans for more battlefield nukes. Face a bigger obstacle. Newly elected Democrats have vowed to block them. Jeff Brumfield NPR news, Washington. This message comes from NPR sponsor. Comcast business. Business has always been driven by innovators. That's why Comcast business is helping you with technology that provides better experiences. Comcast business beyond fast.