Russia has advantages over the United States and its allies in the production of nuclear weapons, the unclassified part of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) obtained by Huffington Post reads.
“Russia possesses significant advantages in its nuclear weapons production capacity and non-strategic nuclear forces over the US and its allies,” the document says.
According to the review, Russia is building a “large, diverse, and modern set of non-strategic systems” that may be armed with nuclear or conventional weapons. The document states that these systems are not accountable under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).
The document also says that Russia is developing and deploying new nuclear warheads and launchers, which include “multiple upgrades” of strategic bombers, sea-based missiles and land-based missiles. “Russia is also developing at least two new intercontinental range systems, a hypersonic glide vehicle, and a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, undersea autonomous torpedo,” the review says.
According to the document, despite its criticism of US missile defense, Russia is also modernizing its long-standing nuclear-armed ballistic missile defense system and developing a new ballistic missile defense interceptor.
The Huffington Post said that the disclosed document is a pre-decisional draft of the 2018 NPR. Commenting on the publication, the Pentagon did not deny the authenticity of the draft, but said several drafts have been written.
“However, the Nuclear Posture Review has not been completed and will ultimately be reviewed and approved by the President and the Secretary of Defense. As a general practice, we do not discuss pre-decisional, draft copies of strategies and reviews,” the statement read.
In addition to Russia’s nuclear capabilities, the draft also mentions China, North Korea and Iran as the main challenges for Washington. The review also calls for modernizing the US nuclear triad, including the development of low-yield weapons that will “enhance deterrence.”
In particular, the document presumes the completion of the W76 thermonuclear warhead extension program by fiscal year 2019. By 2024, the Pentagon plans to receive the B61-12 guided missile bomb that can be used on both strategic bombers and tactical aircraft. The Pentagon is also pushing for the development of the Long Range Stand-Off (LSRO) cruise missile program.
Modernization of the W88 thermonuclear warhead for the Trident II submarine-based missile is planned to be completed by 2024. Earlier, Jon Wolfsthal, who was special assistant to Barack Obama on arms control and nonproliferation, told The Guardian that the Trident II D5 missile will be equipped with a low-yield warhead.
The document also emphasizes an increased need for ballistic missiles that could be used by both the Air Force and the Navy.
In November, Defense News reported that the US planned to spend nearly $1.2 trillion on modernization and maintenance of its nuclear arsenal by 2046.
The final version of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review is expected to be submitted to President Donald Trump by February.