01:52 GMT +327 April 2018
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    Despite Trump's Tough Talk, US Quietly Slashing Nuke Numbers

    © AP Photo / Alex Brandon
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    Seemingly at odds with US President Donald Trump's insistence that the United States must "greatly strengthen and expand" its nuclear arsenal to avoid giving Russia an unfair advantage, the country's Air Force is in fact cutting the number of its deployed land-based nuclear missiles down to record lows.

    Nuclear weapons test at Enewetak in 1952
    © Flickr / International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
    The cuts are in line with an Obama-era commitment to the New START accord, agreed with Russia in 2010.

    The US' arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles — ICBMs — has been reduced from 450 to 400 for the first time in a decade, when it was reduced from 500. The USAF reports that, with the latest cuts, the ICBM arsenal will be at its lowest point since the early 1960s, the height of the Cold War.

    Following his election to the presidency, Trump tweeted in December that the US must "greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

    ​The US president has said he thinks the New START commitment, the limits of which both countries must meet by February 2018, is a bad deal for the US.

    After entering the White House, Trump ordered the Pentagon to review US nuclear forces, a process that includes a consideration of possible withdrawal from New START, the Associated Press reported. Russia is strongly opposed to a suspension of the accord.

    Experts are divided as to whether abandoning the accord would be wise for Washington. Michaela Dodge, analyst at the Heritage Foundation think tank, told AP the US should get out.

    "There should be a way to reverse those decreases," she said about the most recent cuts.

    But Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, pointed to Russia honoring its commitment as reason to stay in. 

    "It's important for the United States to stay on schedule," Kimball said, adding that Washington staying true to its word will help ensure Moscow does the same.

    Critics of Trump's rhetoric say expanding the US nuclear capabilities is unnecessary and would drain funds needed in other, non-nuclear arenas.


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    new start, nuclear, US Air Force, Donald Trump, Washington, D.C, Moscow, United States, Russia
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