Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Russian Naval Tactical Nukes

The tactical nuclear limitation agreements are not a formal treaty, and no compliance verification mechanism ever existed. Despite statements to the contrary, questions about Russian compliance with non-strategic nuclear disarmament have been raised. Unlike U.S. naval-based, long-range cruise missiles, their Russian (Soviet) equivalents -- the Granat and Granit -- were not designed or ever tested to carry conventional warheads. Still Russian attack subs continued to deploy these missiles at sea, which did not make sense if only their nuclear tips continued to be in place despite official pledges.

However, now the time for speculation is over. Ivanov’s statement, made in front of reporters and President Putin reveals unequivocally that Russian attack subs are being deployed "on combat patrols" against NATO ships with battle-ready non-strategic nukes onboard. Russia is clearly cheating now and may have been cheating on its signed tactical nuclear arms control promises all along.


The collapse of the existing tactical nuclear limitation regime is not in Russia’s national interests, since the United States and Great Britain have the capability to deploy tens of times more naval nuclear long-range cruise missiles and other non-strategic nukes than does Russia. But it would seem that the Kremlin is still ready to risk drastically worsening relations. Increased military tension may facilitate a nationalistic anti-U.S., anti-NATO surge of public opinion in Russia that might help carry someone like Ivanov (or whomever Putin chooses) into the Kremlin as the new president.

What game is the Kremlin playing?!

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