Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons
Congressional research rept.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union both deployed thousands of nonstrategic nuclear weapons that were intended to be used in support of troops in the field during a conflict. These included nuclear mines artillery short, medium, and long-range ballistic missiles cruise missiles and gravity bombs. In contrast with the longer-range strategic nuclear weapons, these weapons had a lower profile in policy debates and arms control negotiations. At the end of the 1980s, before the demise of the Soviet Union, each nation still had thousands of these weapons deployed with their troops in the field, aboard naval vessels, and on aircraft. In 1991, both the United States and Soviet Union announced that they would withdraw most and eliminate many of their nonstrategic nuclear weapons. The United States now retains approximately 1,100 nonstrategic nuclear weapons, with a few hundred deployed with aircraft in Europe and the remaining stored in the United States. Estimates vary, but experts believe Russia still has between 3,000 and 8,000 warheads for nonstrategic nuclear weapons in its arsenal. The Bush Administration it indicated that nuclear weapons remained essential to U.S. national security interests, but it did quietly redeploy and remove some of the nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. In addition, Russia has increased its reliance on nuclear weapons in its national security concept. Some analysts argue that Russia has backed away from its commitments from 1991 and may develop and deploy new types of nonstrategic nuclear weapons. Analysts have identified a number of issues with the continued deployment of U.S. and Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons. These include questions about the safety and security of Russias weapons and the possibility that some might be lost, stolen, or sold to another nation or group.
- Nuclear Weapons