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STRATCOM Commander Wants Low Yield Nuclear Missiles on Subs

CAPITOL HILL – If the U.S. opts to develop low-yield nuclear missiles, expect the Navy to deploy these weapons as part of the nation’s undersea nuclear deterrent, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command told lawmakers Thursday.

If developed, the U.S. low-yield nuclear weapons would fall within limits set by the New START nuclear arms treaty, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee. New START, signed in 2010 by the U.S. and the Russian Federation, caps the number of nuclear warheads each nation deploys.

“We’ll actually remove big weapons from the submarines and put small ones in,” Hyten said. “We’re going to have still the same number weapons, they just going to give us a smaller yield. But we think that smaller yield actually gives us a better chance to deter our primary adversary.”

Pentagon leaders and members of Congress worry Russia, China and others already are developing low-yield nuclear weapons in an attempt to gain an advantage over the U.S. or allied nations protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella, said the subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio).

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