Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons


Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

U.S. Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

Finally, in 2010, the Obama administration’s NPR decided to unilaterally retire the

nuclear TLAM/N, a weapon that had provided extended nuclear deterrence to allies in

Europe and the Pacific.

Russia has responded to these initiatives by withdrawing non-strategic nuclear weapons

from Eastern Europe, offloading weapons from ships and attack submarines and

eliminating half of the warheads, eliminating warheads for artillery shells, mines, and

nearly all for ground-launched tactical missiles, eliminating almost two-thirds of warheads

for air defense weapons, and eliminating half of air-delivered weapons. Most of the

remaining warheads are in excess of the capacity of its non-strategic nuclear delivery vehicles

and are slated for destruction. The remaining non-strategic warheads are not deployed

but in central storage and retained, not because of U.S. non-strategic nuclear

weapons, but to compensate for inferior conventional forces. And even those remaining

Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons are likely to be reduced significantly over the next

decade – with or without negotiations.

But according to one senior NATO official, “countries that have argued for or espoused

the idea of removing nuclear weapons from Europe have done so in the context of

an arms control process, a process of working with Russia to get an agreement to remove

all of tactical nuclear weapons out of Europe. That should be done as part of an arms control

process. In that way we can enhance our security. But unilateral reductions most nations

see as putting our security at jeopardy.” 104

Yet the record is overwhelming: it is unilateral initiatives – not negotiations – that

have produced results in the efforts to reduce non-strategic nuclear forces. Rather than

putting NATO security at jeopardy, these unilateral initiatives have significantly increased

the security of the alliance. That doesn’t mean that negotiations should be rejected, but

neither should unilateral cuts.

104 Guy Roberts, “How do nuclear changes look to NATO?,” NATO Review 2010: Nuclear proliferation – about to mushroom?,

available online at

Federation of American Scientists 44

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