United States defends controversial new nuclear policy at UN

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Washington's new nuclear policy was'in violation of the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty. John Thys  AFP

A 74-page summary of the strategy says new advances in arms control are "difficult to envision".

Russian Federation has violated another treaty, the United States argues, that covers intermediate-range missiles, and is "building a large, diverse and modern" set of shorter-range weapons with less powerful warheads that "are not accountable under the New START treaty treaty".

Russian Federation for its part said it was committed to the treaty and would provide Washington with data on its strategic nuclear arsenal in "the near future". The Russian statement went on to call the document "an unscrupulous attempt to shift onto others one's own responsibility for the degrading situation in the field of global and regional security".

But those twin objectives appear distant and President Donald Trump has little room for maneuver with Moscow as he grapples with allegations his campaign may have colluded with the Kremlin to get him elected.

The US military wants to revamp its nuclear arsenal and develop new low-yield atomic weapons, largely in response to Russian actions in recent years, the Pentagon said. The document further calls for the USA to tackle "an unprecedented range and mix of threats" posed by foreign powers, such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

Moscow denounced what it called the "bellicose" and "anti-Russian" nature of the new USA nuclear policy, warning that it would take the necessary measures to ensure its own security.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has urged Europe to take charge in achieving a nuclear disarmament after the United States suggested its nuclear weapons to be advanced.

It also explicitly rejects Obama's commitment to make nuclear weapons a diminishing part of American defenses.

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The new US Nuclear Posture Review prepares the way for the United States to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, seriously escalating tensions in Europe, former Assistant Secretary of State Chas Freeman told Sputnik.

But instead of developing new weapons, Germany's top diplomat called for "existing arms control treaties to be upheld unconditionally".

"President Trump's Nuclear Posture Review is deeply troubling and is a risky departure from past reviews".

A 74-page report summarizing the review's findings calls North Korea a "clear and grave threat" to the US and its allies.

The wording of the review indicated that current United States policymakers would be more ready to authorize first use of nuclear weapons, even against non-nuclear armed enemies, Freeman observed. The data also revealed that Israel, which has never denied or confirmed having nuclear weapons, has 80 warheads in its nuclear arsenal and North Korea was predicted to have at least 20 of the weapons of mass destruction.

"Low-yield" weapons, commonly referred to those with a yield of less than 20 kilotons, are mostly made for tactical use, and now are mainly carried on strategic bombers with gravity bombs.

Thomas Karako, a specialist on nuclear issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said many people - including Obama - enter government sympathetic to disarmament but moderate their ambitions when confronted with threat intelligence.

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