The new generation of US tactical nuclear weapons has been officially commissioned in the US Navy. According to the US Navy’s Technical Network report on January 30, this low-equivalent nuclear warhead, code-named W76-2, has been deployed to the “Ohio” class strategic nuclear submarine, which can be used for deterrence or tactical nuclear strike in the future. Russian media bluntly stated, “The United States has begun to threaten Russia with new tactical nuclear weapons.”
New nuclear bombs are listed
The earliest disclosure of the installation of the W76-2 nuclear warhead was the website of the American Federation of Scientists. The think tank’s assessment report states that the US Navy’s “Tennessee” strategic nuclear submarine carried a “new weapon”, the legendary new W76-2 low-yield nuclear warhead, when it made a strategic cruise to Georgian waters at the end of 2019.
In the “Nuclear Posture Assessment Report” released by the United States in February 2018, the Trump administration put forward the need to develop low-equivalent tactical nuclear weapons and announced plans to produce W76-2, which will be mainly used to replace active “Ohio” -class nuclear submarines The W76-1 nuclear warhead of the “Trident II” submarine-launched missile. Beginning in February 2019, the first batch of W76-2 nuclear warheads will be put into production at the Pantex plant in Texas, with the first batch of about 50. In November of that year, the US Department of Energy confirmed that the nuclear warheads had been produced and transferred to the US Navy. It is reported that the W76-2 carried by the “Tennessee” belongs to the first batch of new nuclear warheads.
In an interview with the British “Guardian”, Hans Christensen, director of the American Scientists Alliance ’s nuclear weapons information program, said that US government officials have confirmed this and agreed to make the deployment of the W76-2 nuclear warhead to a certain extent. This conveys the deterrent message of new US tactical nuclear weapons. The Pentagon declined to comment formally on the report. “It is the policy of the United States to neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any general or specific location.”
“Decreased power can deter opponents”
The U.S. Navy Technology Network claims that, on the surface, the W76-2 is no different from the nuclear warhead on an active nuclear submarine, but its power and design are completely different. The active W76-1 nuclear warhead explodes with a power of 100,000 tons of TNT equivalent, which is a strategic nuclear warhead. The W76-2 nuclear warhead is not only relatively light in weight, but also has an explosive equivalent of only 5,000 tons of TNT. 1/3.
The US National Public Radio stated that the first W76-2 nuclear warhead participated in the cruise along with the strategic nuclear submarine and is currently patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. It is expected to return in February this year. The second US nuclear submarine carrying the weapon may also patrol the Pacific Ocean. The information itself has a strong deterrent meaning.
The installation of the W76-2 nuclear warhead marks a further reduction in the threshold for US nuclear weapons use. Christensen believes that “the installation of the W76-2 nuclear warhead is a reduction of the dimensionality of the active nuclear warhead in the United States, which means that a very drastic change in thinking has occurred in the US nuclear weapons policy.”
According to US government officials, the installation of the W76-2 nuclear warhead is not only a deterrent to Russia, but also has a significant impact on Iran, North Korea and other countries. This means that under certain conditions, the United States does not rule out the use of such low-equivalent nuclear weapons against Iran or North Korea.
Danger of nuclear arms race
“The United States began to use submarine-launched tactical nuclear weapons to threaten Russia.” Russian TASS news agency said on January 31 that the low-equivalent W76-2 warhead gave the United States a weapon that was easier to use and more effective in deterrence. In fact, the use of low-yield nuclear warheads and strategic nuclear warheads are essentially the same, and the consequences of a nuclear strike against Russia will be unimaginable.
According to the Russian Communist Youth League Pravda, Russian military analyst Victor Baranets believes that Americans believe that such nuclear weapons are more “humane” and that the damage caused by nuclear strikes against other countries will not be as great as strategic nuclear weapons. But the United States is well aware that Russia has the ability to retaliate against this US strike, and Russia has similar tactical nuclear weapons.
Russian military expert Leonid Nelsey said that when the United States launches a tactical nuclear warhead, the Russian missile warning system will not be able to distinguish between a tactical nuclear warhead and a strategic nuclear warhead. Therefore, the result of such a risky US operation may cause the Russian army to launch a large-scale retaliatory counterattack against strategic nuclear weapons in the United States.
An anonymous nuclear expert told that the view that “low-equivalent nuclear weapons are more deterrent” is a false proposition, which cannot change the huge destructiveness and danger of nuclear weapons. In the early 1950s, the United States began to develop nuclear artillery shells, nuclear mines, short-range nuclear missiles, nuclear rockets, and nuclear bombs, but these tactical nuclear weapons did not bring security to the United States, because the Soviet Union followed closely and developed a large number of Tactical nuclear weapons. The United States today’s recovery of low-yield nuclear weapons is essentially an irrational act of nuclear blackmail and nuclear deterrence, which is likely to trigger a new round of nuclear arms race.