Nuclear war WARNING: Creation of US’ ‘low-yield’ nukes makes conflict MORE likely
THE US has begun manufacturing ‘low-yield’ nuclear warheads which, while not as powerful as the main weapon, are far more likely to be used by the Trump administration.
By Sean Martin 12:35, Tue, Jan 29, 2019 | UPDATED: 12:42, Tue, Jan 29, 2019
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President Donald Trump ordered the creation of low-yield nuclear warhead for its Trident missiles last year, and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced the process has now begun at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant in Texas. The first batch of an unspecified number of warheads, called the W76-2, will be ready by the end of September. A spokesman for the NNSA said: “NNSA is on track to complete the W76-2 Initial Operational Capability warhead quantity and deliver the units to the Navy by the end of Fiscal Year 2019.”
W76-2 is a modification of the existing nuclear weapon, the W76, but with a reduced amount of tritium.
This will reduce its explosive power from 100 kilotons of TNT to just five kilotons, making it around a third as powerful as the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
A 2018 nuclear posture review said that low-yield weapons “help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear employment less likely”.
However, others disagree with this sentiment.
The move has been met with criticism, with claims the missiles could lower the threshold for nuclear war, which has been simmering through President Trump’s tenure.
Stephen Young, a senior Washington representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “As best we can tell, the only requirement is to replace the existing secondary, or second stage, with a dummy version, which is what they do every time they test fly a missile.
The missiles could lower the threshold for nuclear war some claim (Image: GETTY)
“There are many other scenarios, especially with a president who takes pride in his unpredictability and has literally asked: ‘Why can’t we use our nuclear weapons?’”
Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists told the Guardian: “Frankly, mission creep is my greatest worry.
“To what extent does this signal a new willingness on the part of the U.S. to start using strategic nuclear weapons in a tactical and very limited way early in a potential conflict?”