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Washington deploys low-powered nuclear weapon launched from submarines

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The Navy has deployed a low-powered nuclear weapon launched from submarines, something it sees necessary to deter adversaries, but some criticize it, saying it eases restrictions on the use of nuclear weapons, the Pentagon said.

Low-power nuclear weapons have devastating effects, although their strength is less than 20 kilos. The atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima in August 1945 had almost the same detonation force.

“This complementary capability enhances deterrence and provides the United States with a rapid, strategic, low-strength, and most durable strategic weapon,” John Rood, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, said in a statement on Tuesday.

He added that this weapon “supports our commitment to expand the scope of deterrence and shows potential adversaries that there is no advantage in limited nuclear deployment because the United States can easily respond with confidence and decisiveness to any threat.”

A document released by the Pentagon in 2018 called on the military to expand its low-power nuclear capabilities, saying that the United States will amend a limited number of warheads placed on submarine-launched ballistic missiles with low-power options.

“The administration’s decision to deploy warheads W76-2 remains a misleading and dangerous decision,” said Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee in a statement. Deploying this warhead will not make Americans more secure.”

Supporters of arms control and some members of Congress say such low-power weapons boost the use of nuclear weapons and could make nuclear conflict more likely. The United States already has low-power nuclear weapons released from the air and some say this was enough.

“President Trump now has an easier-to-use nuclear weapon but represents a dangerous solution to the problems,” said Kingston Reeve, director of disarmament and risk reduction policy at the Arms Control Association.

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