News

    Next Arms Talks Between US, Russia Might Involve Tactical Weapons

    US President Barack Obama signs the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [START] in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, February 2, 2011.
    US President Barack Obama signs the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [START] in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, February 2, 2011.

    The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START [in force since February 5] , deals only with U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear weapons. There's a question about whether Washington and Moscow will now focus their attention on short-range, or tactical, nuclear weapons.

    The New START Treaty sets a limit of 1,550 deployed strategic, or long-range, nuclear weapons on each side. What the new treaty does not address is the issue of tactical, or short-range, nuclear weapons.

    Joseph Cirincione is the president of the Ploughshares Fund, a foundation focusing on nuclear weapons policy.

    “There is no difference in the explosive power of tactical versus strategic nuclear weapons. They are both hydrogen bombs. They are both weapons that are 10, 20, 50 times more powerful than the bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. The difference is the range," said Cirincione. "What’s the purpose of the weapons? So we consider strategic weapons bombs that are placed as warheads on long-range missiles or carried by bombers that can span the oceans. Tactical weapons are considered useful in battlefield fighting - so this would be short-range artillery, short-range aircraft, short-range missiles.”

    Experts say neither the United States nor Russia has provided detailed information about their stockpiles of tactical nuclear weapons.

    Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, a private research organization, described what is known about the U.S. arsenal.

    “The United States has a number of tactical nuclear weapons stored in the United States - but it also has about 180 gravity bombs, nuclear gravity bombs, at five bases in European NATO allies: Italy, Turkey, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. And these weapons are, generally speaking, stored in bunkers. They are not deployed on the F-16 fighters or the Tornado fighter bomber jets that can deliver them,” Kimball.

    Russia's tactical nuclear weapons supply

    Analysts say Russia has between 2,000 and 4,000 tactical nuclear weapons - but not all available for operational use. Many are awaiting dismantlement and others are in deep storage bunkers.

    David Holloway, Russia and arms control expert at Stanford University, gives one reason for Moscow’s vast superiority in tactical nuclear weapons.

    “In the 1990s, when their conventional forces - the army, basically - fell apart, they made the argument that tactical nuclear weapons would compensate for the weakness in conventional forces, just in the way that NATO did during the Cold War. NATO took the position that tactical nuclear weapons would compensate for its inferiority in conventional forces,” said Holloway.

    Kimball said another reason has to do with China.

    “They [the Russians] see tactical nuclear weapons as a way to counterbalance China’s larger number of conventional forces on their eastern border. So the Russians have retained, since the Cold War, a relatively larger number of deployed tactical nuclear weapons than the United States,” he said.

    Cold War mentality


    Many analysts, including Joseph Cirincione, say the tactical nuclear weapons are a throwback to the Cold War.

    “Absolutely. These weapons have no military utility. It’s inconceivable that NATO would face a military mission that would require the use of a nuclear bomb. Just think about it - the U.S. hasn’t used a nuclear weapon in 67 years and it has fought the Korean war, the Vietnam war, two Iraq wars, the Afghanistan war. It has faced threats from a wide variety of countries - never, never did it seriously consider using a nuclear weapon. And now, with the end of the Cold War, it’s hard to imagine a requirement for one nuclear weapon, let alone 10 nuclear weapons or 200 nuclear weapons.”

    Many experts say the next round of arms control negotiations between Washington and Moscow might involve the issue of tactical nuclear weapons. Analysts say that is not expected to happen anytime soon, though, given the presidential election year in the United States.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Optimist
    April 03, 2012 7:43 PM
    The most important negotiations this administration has done in the past three years is the reduction of nuclear arms. It MUCT be followed with encouraging every nation to join US-Russia and reduce their weapons of mass destruction, so the world can breath a sigh of relief. Iran needs to stop the attainment of nuclear weapon, by the same token nations around the ME need to let their nuclear facilities be visited by IAEA.

    by: Franco Cotta
    April 03, 2012 4:03 PM
    I praise André de Nesnera for having written a very useful article informing many people of the realities regarding "tactical" nuclear weapons. I hope that many more peoples will write many more articles involving public opinions in many countries to openly discuss how our security is guaranteed. I believe very irresponsible the "habit" to discuss these issues in secrecy. Democracy requires full transparency on decision processes concerning the security of all !

    by: Cha Cha Cohen
    April 03, 2012 11:58 AM
    Why always Israel is the target? No body attacks nobody without any reason unless they are lunatics! Lets look at ourselves and decipher whats wrong? Attacking any one does not finish there, it lingers on and creates terror & anti-peace. On the whole general public are peace loving, they are happy with daily needs,a happy family and a secured future. Lets read Torah, Bible or Koran they all mentioned same thing and has the answer for achieving a happy contended life!

    by: NVO
    April 03, 2012 9:08 AM
    Hussein Obama wants to reduce our military and nuclear stockpile, yet The King of The North (Russia) continues to make more and harbor more so they can attack Israel during the tribulation, followed by Egypt and the Arab Federation, followed by The Kings of The East (China), then ALL nations will come against Israel. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem=Psalm 122:6

    by: Cobber Campbell
    April 03, 2012 5:29 AM
    Reading the stories of your elected President Obama over the past 3 years it looks like you have all become mesmerised with what he wants you to do and has no qualms or shows no emotions about the affects he has on the once freedom loving people of the USA.
    He may be a clone or like Mazzuli said on Sidroth show last night that microchips are being found in peoples bodies that alter their DNA.
    A US doctor is or has removed 16 so far from people who said they had encounters with UFOs

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora