"These new novel systems that Russia announced, I think, about a year ago… an underwater nuclear torpedo, or nuclear cruise missile - that does not provide Russia per se a strategic advantage over what they have today", the official said. "What really kept us awake at night when we conducted a nuclear posture review was not these few novel systems but was a huge inventory of non-strategic nuclear weapons... And it’s not just the numbers, it’s the different types."
For example, the official said, the underwater nuclear torpedo which is meant to obliterate coastal targets does not add any additional capability because the Russians can already do that with nuclear sea launch cruise missiles, submarine launch ballistic missiles, and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Pentagon is more concerned with Russia’s 2,000 ground, air and sea tactical nuclear weapons, the official said. Russia’s tactical systems or conventional systems, he added, are dual capable.
Russia has nuclear and conventional depth charges, the official continued, and torpedoes that they fire from surface ships and submarines along with surface-to-air missiles. The official also alleged that Russia has ground launch cruise missiles in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) commander Charles Richard predicted during congressional testimony last week that Russia would engage in a significant build-up of nuclear weapons in the coming years and lamented the diminishing transparency of the country’s non-conventional capabilities.
Last year, the United States withdrew from the INF with Russia that had for decades restricted the development and deployment of intermediate and shorter-range ballistic and land-based cruise missiles.
Richard estimated that Russia had recapitalized 76 percent of its strategic nuclear forces with modern weapons and equipment.
The two countries account for almost 95 percent of the world’s nuclear stockpile.
The last major arms control pact, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), expires in early 2021. US President Donald Trump repeatedly indicated he would let it come to an end unless a new deal was signed to include other nations, mainly China. Beijing has rejected the idea.