Stratcom wants nuclear torpedo, advanced missiles covered if New START extended
The general in charge of U.S. nuclear forces warned Tuesday that Russia is building three new strategic weapons that circumvent the limits of the New START arms treaty.
Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the Omaha-based Strategic Command, told Congress he favors requiring limits on the new weapons in any extension of the 2010 strategic arms accord.
The new arms Moscow is building outside New START include a nuclear-tipped drone submarine, an intercontinental-range cruise missile, and a hypersonic missile. The arms currently are not limited under New START, which will expire in two years.
The testimony by the commander is a blow to arms control advocates, many of whom favor ignoring Russian treaty violations.
Hyten, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, defended plans to spend tens of billions of dollars annually to modernize the aging U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Nuclear threats are increasing and Hyten said all three legs of the nuclear triad need to be modernized to deter adversaries in the future.
“I believe in peace through strength, not peace through unilateral disarmament,” he said, echoing the Trump administration’s Reagan-era defense strategy.
Congress estimates the cost of modernizing and replacing nuclear arms and delivery systems will cost $1.2 trillion through 2046. New systems include Columbia-class missile submarines, a new ground-based ICBM, and the new B-21 stealth bomber.
The four-star general said Russia is 80 percent complete with its strategic modernization while the U.S. modernization program is lagging behind.
A major worry is that the United States has “lost the ability to go fast” in modernizing forces, Hyten said.
On New START, Hyten said the treaty contains a provision requiring Russia to notify a bilateral consultative committee of all new strategic weapons, but Russia so far has failed to do so.
“We see them developing capabilities outside of that treaty which is concerning to me,” Hyten said.
Russia announced plans last year to deploy new strategic weapons, including a long-range underwater nuclear drone code-named Kanyon by the Pentagon. The drone will be armed with megaton-sized warhead capable of destroying an entire port.
Moscow also is building a long-range cruise missile powered by a nuclear reactor that was tested at least twice. The missile is designed to evade missile defenses and provide a long-range strike capability.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this week a “breakthrough” in development of a new Avangard hypersonic missile capable of traveling up to 20,000 miles per hour. The missile will be deployed this year, he added.
Hyten said continued U.S. compliance with INF in the face of the Russian violation would be “tying our hands” in the face of the violations, and because China is not a party to the treaty that bans missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles.
“I want Russia in that treaty, but if they won’t comply, you don’t really have a treaty,” he said, adding that he does not think it likely Moscow will return to compliance.
Full article: Russian Weapons Circumvent New START Arms Pact (Washington Free Beacon)