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America Must Keep Its Nuclear Deterrent

Thursday, 17 January 2002 12:00 AM

This week, U.S. and Russian diplomats are meeting in Washington to discuss the details of cuts in both countries' strategic nuclear arsenals.

According to press reports, a Russian delegation will seek American agreement on an accord formalizing the two countries' respective nuclear reductions, with a view to a signing ceremony when President Bush visits Moscow later this year.

In November, after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bush pledged to cut U.S. long-range nuclear weapons by two-thirds, to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads. Putin has promised to cut the number of Russian warheads to as few as 1,500 weapons. He has also pushed to have the cuts written into a formal treaty, something Bush opposes.

Last week, a top Pentagon planner said the reduction plan called for some warheads to be destroyed – how many was not announced – while others would be rendered inactive, meaning it would take several months to get them ready to fire if the necessity arose.

J.D. Crouch, assistant secretary of defense for international security, said the U.S. needs to keep the warheads in reserve in case the world situation changes. According to Crouch, most of the previous arms-control treaties do not require warheads to be destroyed.

In a recent proposal to Congress, the administration recognized that new global threats in a post-Cold War environment demand a restructuring of American nuclear forces. The proposal commits the U.S. to keep the array of weapons currently in the arsenal into "2020 and beyond"; to not seek the removal of congressional bans on designing or developing new weapons; to reduce the nuclear fleet of Trident submarines from 18 to 14; and to destroy 50 Peacekeeper ICBM silos, as previously announced.

The plan also calls for increased spending for preparation for future underground nuclear weapons tests, should they be needed, although it reiterates that the administration has no immediate plans to resume testing.

In other words, the administration proposal seeks unilateral reductions in the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal on the assumption that Russia will follow the American initiative.

As NewsMax previously reported, new cuts are good for Moscow, which could use the savings from reducing its present nuclear arsenal to develop and deploy new generations of nuclear warheads.

Moscow is so interested in the new cuts that it would like to include them in a special arms-control treaty.

"Russian-American agreements on reductions in nuclear arsenals," said a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, "must be irreversible, so that strategic offensive weapons aren't just reduced on paper."

It's important to remember that the Russians have never accounted for the total number of nuclear weapons in their stockpile and have large numbers of these weapons in their strategic reserve.

Even if Moscow agreed to destroy some number of their warheads currently deployed, the U.S. would never know how many others remain in an undeclared stockpile.

Moreover, it would be very difficult to believe that the new cuts are good for America, because all the savings from reductions in nuclear warheads will not make up for the decrease in the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

After all, it is not treaties but U.S. nuclear deterrent capabilities that have kept the peace for about half a century and still keep our foes from attacking the democratic world with nuclear missiles.

As the U.S. seeks unilateral reductions in its nuclear arsenal, some of the world's rogue nations are developing weapons of mass destruction, which are directed against America. Up to 20 such nations could have nuclear weapons in their stockpiles in the next decade, and America will need more weapons, not fewer, to keep potential aggressors from attacking us.

Under these circumstances, it would not be smart to destroy large quantities of nuclear weapons or render inactive and store some of them in stockpiles, where it will take several months to get them ready to fire.

There is no doubt that until we have created and deployed a nuclear missile defense system, America needs to make reasonable increases in its deterrent capabilities, not reduce them.

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This week, U.S. and Russian diplomats are meeting in Washington to discuss the details of cuts in both countries' strategic nuclear arsenals. According to press reports, a Russian delegation will seek American agreement on an accord formalizing the two countries'...
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2002-00-17
Thursday, 17 January 2002 12:00 AM
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