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19 January 2018, 01:52 | Cedric Leonard
Most of the time this rule is ignored. | Chip Somodevilla Getty Images
Continuing, the officials said, "For example, Russia's belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage is based, in part, on Moscow's perception that its greater number and variety of non-strategic nuclear systems provide a coercive advantage in crises and at lower levels of conflict".
Development of the weapons is recommended in the Pentagon's Nuclear Posture Review, which was commissioned by President Trump a year ago and is expected to be made public next month. The second is a cruise missile with a nuclear warhead that can be launched at sea. It breaks with the vision of former President Barack Obama who, in 2009 in Prague, called for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. "Answering that with a conventional weapon is likely not going to have the kind of deterrent value as saying, 'Even if you use a low-yield weapon, we have options to respond, '" he said.
The HuffPost last week was the first to publish a draft of the document.
The Pentagon's program may encounter one major hurdle: cost.
"Expanding flexible USA nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression", the document states.
Such a capability would ensure "a prompt response option that is able to penetrate adversary defenses".
"Nuclear ideologues maintain that the United States has to match the adversary's arsenal, weapon for weapon, yield for yield, to deter nuclear use", Blechman said in a statement to AFP.
A Defense Department spokesperson declined to comment until the final version of the report is released in February. "This opinion has no empirical basis but is widely shared by civilians appointed to government positions by President Donald Trump".
"At the core of the strategy in this NPR are two elements: First is deter countries that are threatening to use nuclear weapons against the USA, such as Russian Federation and North Korea".
"If all you have is high-yield weapons to answer a low-yield attack, it's still a nuclear attack".
Blechman said this goes against the spirit of the 1968 global non-proliferation treaty aimed at curtailing the spread of nuclear weapons.
No strategy has been approved by Trump yet, but he has not been shy in the past about his enthusiasm for more nuclear weapons.
"Additionally, a decision to use nuclear weapons would not be made haphazardly", she told AFP.
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