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Russia: US use of low-yield nukes would still be nuclear attack, draw retaliation

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A file photo of the USS Tennessee submarine

Russia has warned that any attack by the United States involving its low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missiles would still be construed as nuclear aggression and would draw all-out nuclear retaliation.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that any attack with the use of the submarine-launched ballistic missiles, regardless of their characteristics, would be viewed by the Kremlin as nuclear aggression and, therefore, a basis for a retaliatory strike.

Zakharova made the comments following the United States’ deployment of its low-yield nuclear warheads, saying the move was a dangerous step that would lead to destabilization.

“We noted the article, published by the US Department of State’s official website on April 24 and devoted to the issue of creating W76-2 low-yield nuclear warheads and deploy it on some of its Trident submarines,” she said. “As we have already said many times, we view this as a dangerous step. We believe that it carries a certain element of destabilization.”

The US State Department argued in a paper released last week that the new warhead “reduces the risk of nuclear war by reinforcing extended deterrence and assurance.”

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the US’s production of W76-2 missiles lowered the nuclear threshold and increased the risk of a nuclear conflict.

Back in February, the United States announced the deployment of a new long-range nuclear missile aboard its stealth submarines to deter what it called Washington’s potential adversaries.

The US Department of Defense claimed in a statement at the time that the low-yield warheads were deployed on the USS Tennessee submarine patrolling in the Atlantic Ocean to deter “potential adversaries, like Russia,” and in response to Russian tests of similar weapons.

Low-yield nuclear weapons have less than 20 kilotons of destructive power but still have devastating effect. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, in August 1945, had about the same explosive power.

Washington has been deploying missiles in Eastern Europe and near Russia’s western borders, a provocative move denounced by the Kremlin.

Moscow has repeatedly warned Washington not to deploy weapons systems in the vicinity of Russia.

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