Gertz: Russia Doubling Nuclear Warheads – New multiple-warhead missiles to break arms treaty limit

Russia is doubling the number of its strategic nuclear warheads on new missiles by deploying multiple reentry vehicles that have put Moscow over the limit set by the New START arms treaty, according to Pentagon officials. A recent intelligence assessment of the Russian strategic warhead buildup shows that the increase is the result of the addition of multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, on recently deployed road-mobile SS-27 and submarine-launched SS-N-32 missiles, said officials familiar with reports of the buildup. “The Russians are doubling their warhead output,” said one official. “They will be exceeding the New START [arms treaty] levels because of MIRVing these new systems.” The 2010 treaty requires the United States and Russia to reduce deployed warheads to 1,550 warheads by February 2018. The United States has cut its warhead stockpiles significantly in recent years. Moscow, however, has increased its numbers of deployed warheads and new weapons. The State Department revealed in January that Russia currently has exceeded the New START warhead limit by 98 warheads, deploying a total number of 1,648 warheads. The U.S. level currently is below the treaty level at 1,538 warheads. Officials said that in addition to adding warheads to the new missiles, Russian officials have sought to prevent U.S. weapons inspectors from checking warheads as part of the 2010 treaty. The State Department, however, said it can inspect the new MIRVed missiles. Disclosure of the doubling of Moscow’s warhead force comes as world leaders gather in Washington this week to discus nuclear security—but without Russian President Vladimir Putin, who skipped the conclave in an apparent snub of the United States. The Nuclear Security Summit is the latest meeting of world leaders seeking to pursue President Obama’s 2009 declaration of a world without nuclear arms. Russia, however, is embarked on a major strategic nuclear forces build-up under Putin. Moscow is building new road-mobile, rail-mobile, and silo-based intercontinental-range missiles, along with new submarines equipped with modernized missiles. A new long-range bomber is also being built. “Russia’s modernization program and their nuclear deterrent force is of concern,” Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, which is in charge of nuclear forces, told Congress March 10. “When you look at what they’ve been modernizing, it didn’t just start,” Haney said. “They’ve been doing this quite frankly for some time with a lot of crescendo of activity over the last decade and a half.” By contrast, the Pentagon is scrambling to find funds to pay for modernizing aging U.S. nuclear forces after seven years of sharp defense spending cuts under Obama. Earlier this month, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that Russia continues to pose the greatest threat to the United States. “The one that has the greatest capability and poses the greatest threat to the United States is Russia because of its capabilities—its nuclear capability, its cyber capability, and clearly because of some of the things we have seen in its leadership behavior over the last couple of years,” Dunford said. In addition to a large-scale nuclear buildup, Russia has upgraded its nuclear doctrine and its leaders and officials have issued numerous threats to use nuclear arms against the United States in recent months, compounding fears of a renewed Russian threat.

Gee…ya think?  Veteran defense journalist Bill Gertz is the author of this outstanding piece.  To read the rest, click on the text above.

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