Magazine article National Defense

STRATCOM: U.S. Not in a Nuclear Arms Race

Magazine article National Defense

STRATCOM: U.S. Not in a Nuclear Arms Race

Article excerpt

Contrary to what some observers have claimed, the United States is not in a nuclear arms race with Russia, said Adm. Cecil Haney, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command.

Despite destabilizing acts by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his signing of a new national security strategy containing anti-Western sentiment, the United States continues to make strides to achieve goals set forth in the "Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms," or New START Treaty, Haney said.

The treaty is a nuclear arms reduction agreement between the United States and Russia. It was invoked in February 2011 and the countries must meet the agreed upon limits by February 2018.

"The United States has reduced its stockpile by 85 percent relative to its Cold War peak," Haney said during a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 'We are retaining and modernizing only those systems needed to sustain a stable and effective deterrent capability."

Given continued funding and authority, the nation is on track to achieve New START limits of 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed delivery systems by 2018, he said. "That is not what I would define as an arms race."

To date, the U.S. Air Force has eliminated all non-operational intercontinental ballistic missile silos and is in the process of placing 50 ICBMs into non-deployed status, he noted. Additionally, all intercontinental missiles have been "deMIRVed," which means reducing the number of warheads on each missile to one. MIRV stands for multiple independendy targetable reentry vehicle.

The Air Force has also eliminated its non-operational B-52 G-series heavy bombers and is transitioning 42 B-52 H-series to conventional-only bomber missions, Haney said.

At the same time, the Navy is converting four launch tubes on each of its Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines to non-nuclear roles, which will remove 56 launch tubes from accountability under the treaty, he said.

"The benefit of New START is that it engenders stability by maintaining rough equivalency in size and capability and, more importandy, transparency via inspections," Haney said. "Furthermore, it helps assure our non-nuclear allies [that] they do not require their own nuclear deterrent capabilities."

However, while this reduction is taking place, the United States needs to ensure its warheads are "safe, secure, effective and ready" in order to convince adversaries like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran that "they cannot escalate their way out of a failed conflict," Haney stressed. …

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