US Actively Upgrading Tactical Nuclear Arsenal, Russian Defence Minister Says
© AP Photo / Senior Airman Hanah AbercormbieAn Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:21 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
© AP Photo / Senior Airman Hanah Abercormbie
Earlier, Washington withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which banned short and medium-range nuclear-capable missiles, which could carry tactical nuclear weapons – small fission-based devices that can be used to obliterate a small territory killing all enemy forces in it.
The US is actively upgrading its arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has said. He added that, along with weapons, Washington is upgrading the storage sites in Europe.
"The US, with the full support of NATO allies, has intensified efforts to modernise tactical nuclear weapons and their storage sites in Europe."
Shoigu also revealed that the US is employing pilots from non-nuclear states to train them in landing strikes with tactical nuclear weapons. The minister added that this has caused great consternation in Russia.
"We see this as a direct violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [signed in 1968, including by the US]"
The Pentagon said it had no comment at the moment in answer to the Russian defence minister's statements.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on 13 October that the arms race between Russia and the United States was on the rise, citing Washington's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as the trigger. He earlier reached an understanding with his US opposite number, President Joe Biden, that the two countries should make efforts to curb the arms race.
5 October, 16:25 GMT
The Kremlin earlier warned of the possibility of the revival of this Cold War practice, which drained the budgets of both the US and the USSR. These warnings became even more urgent after the Trump administration withdrew the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019 citing alleged and unproved violations by Moscow.
Russia repeatedly warned against such a course of action, which resulted in the lifting of the ban on short and medium-range missiles, as well as launchers for them. The Kremlin proposed to Washington that the two countries mutually abstain from deploying such armaments near borders, but the US ignored the call.