4 Things to Know About the U.S. Nuclear Deterrence Strategy

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The U.S. military further seeks to strengthen deterrence by addressing an imbalance in its nonstrategic, or low-yield, nuclear weapons without matching Russia system for system, a defense official said. The official added that these supplemental capabilities will help ensure Russia, China and others do not believe they can benefit from using low-yield nuclear weapons on the battlefield against the U.S. or its allies and partners.

The defense official said these capabilities do not require nuclear testing, do not violate arms control treaties, and in the end will reduce the likelihood that Russia will use its large number of non-strategic nuclear weapons, thereby strengthening deterrence and helping prevent conflict in the first place.

The U.S. recently suspended its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and gave notice of its intent to withdraw after long-term violations of the treaty by Russia, a defense official said, adding that U.S. allies fully support the decision.

“Russia is in material breach of the INF Treaty and must use the next six months to return to full and verifiable compliance or bear sole responsibility for its demise,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter, Feb. 1.

The United States is now examining options for its conventional ground-based intermediate strike missiles, a defense official said. The official noted that the initial developmental work is designed to be reversible should Russia resume complying with the INF Treaty before the six-month period expires.

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