President Trump and the Pentagon have completed an initial draft proposal for the emergence of low-yield sea-launched nuclear weapons intended to increase deterrence programs throughout the world and allow new precision capabilities on the modern battlefield.
Pentagon officials told Warrior Maven, “final requirements for both a low-yield sea-launched nuclear cruise missile and long-range sub-launched low-yield warhead are still in development,” adding that, “the process has taken several substantial new steps forward.”
“The Nuclear Weapons Council has met and approved the draft plan moving forward. The NWC agreed to allow the National Nuclear Security Administration to begin developing scope, schedule and costs for this activity,” Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza, Pentagon spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.
Citing the Trump administration’s “Nuclear Posture Review” (NPR) geared towards combating Russia, Baldanza said a new set of identified “low yield requirements” is “currently being used as the basis for initial study work and as the baseline for the program.”
In February, we explained, how the Trump administration and the Pentagon believe that Russian policies and actions can lead to an uncontrolled escalation of conflict in Europe. The NPR points to a Russian military doctrine known as “escalate to de-escalate,” in which Moscow would use or threaten to use low-yield nuclear weapons in a limited, conventional conflict in Europe.
The next-generation of low-yield nuclear weapons are designed to provide naval commanders with a broader range of attack possibilities should they be needed, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress earlier this year.
Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists, told the Warrior Maven, “technical configurations are still to be determined,” though Pentagon officials have developed a schematic diagram of what this next-generation weapon might include.
Kristensen explained how the first-of-its-kind low-yield warhead could be configured onto existing nuclear-armed Trident II D5 submarine-launched nuclear missiles. The Warrior Maven describes low-yield as it sounds – smaller, “more surgical and less destructive than most nuclear weapons.” Instead of decimating an entire city, the Trump administration would instead nuke a city block.
The Warrior Maven points out that sea-launched low-yield nuclear weapons would enable the Pentagon to strike targets anywhere in the world in stealth without endangering traditional aircrews.
Kristensen said the nuclear missile potentially fired from a submarine or ship, can bring even more precision than a Trident configured with a low yield weapon.
“A nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile and the modification of a small number of existing submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads to provide a low-yield option – will enhance deterrence by ensuring no adversary under any circumstances can perceive an advantage through limited nuclear escalation or other strategic attack,” Gen. Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters earlier this year, according to a DoD transcript.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration could run into resistance via a group of House Democrats this week, who plan to halt Trump and the Pentagon from developing low-yield nuclear weapons.
House Democrats are planning to defund the new warhead program by $65 million in the coming year under an amendment to a Department of Energy appropriations bill proposed by Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Dan Kildee, D-Mich.
According to The Washington Examiner, the bill could land on the House floor this week following Rules Committee meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday to decide if their amendment will get a vote.
“While I’m disappointed the bill includes unnecessary funding for new nuclear weapons, this bill is the result of a truly bipartisan process and I look forward to bringing it to the Senate floor,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member of the energy and water subcommittee, said in a statement for the Democrat minority.
U.S. Representative Blumenauer wrote a “Dear Colleague” letter to House lawmakers urging support to defund the Trump administration and Pentagon’s attempt to fund more nuclear weapons. The letter read: “To pretend that we can control nuclear war — and that a “small-scale” nuclear war can stay small — flies in the face of common sense.”
As the Trump administration and Pentagon have completed the initial draft proposal and have shifted the program several steps forward, it seems as the Democrats sounded the alarm that this administration does not need any more nuclear weapons. Stay tuned; more developments are coming.