US deploys low-yield nuclear war-head; experts worry further tension in the seas

The US deployment of W76-2 into the waters with the Ohio Class submarines is causing the critics to ask about the nuclear deterrence policy

The US military has recently deployed a low yield nuclear warhead. The new addition to the arsenal has reduced destructive power and will be joining other powerful weapons. The deployment of the nuclear warhead aboard the boomers is a landmark for the weapons policy for the country. It is being seen as a major addition to the strategic weapons arsenal in recent decades. The new addition is also an indication of the change in policy from the Obama administration.

The new warhead was first produced in February last year. It is going to be supported in the Ohio-class USS Tennessee ballistic missile submarine. The experts believe that the new deployment can cause tension in the seas.

Pentagon talks about deterrence of a war

Ballistic missile submarine YouTube Grab/US Navy

In a statement with the Associated Press Pentagon said that with the deployment of the new warhead, America will be safer because this would mean that a nuclear war would be less likely. But critics and some from the Congress believes that there are chances of a war with this deployment. This was also the first-strike policy in a scenario where the adversary decided on a direct attack with the country.

The warhead known as W76-2 was first discussed in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. In the review, it was said that the warhead was not intended to enable, nor does it enable, 'nuclear war-fighting.'

In an interview with the media the undersecretary of defence for policy, John Rood said that the country will stick to the policy that the warhead will only be used under extraordinary circumstances. He also mentioned that this can be a deterrence policy against Russia.

The deployment of the weapon is a classified secret, which means that when or where it is deployed to will not be revealed. Submarines are usually used for stealth fights and keeping the maritime boundaries safe.

Why critics believe that there is no need for the low-yield weapon

The critics believe that the deployment of the new warhead would make the world unsafe. The availability of the option could lead the world leaders to use the weapons against a country which could cause a full-blown nuclear war.

The critics also believe that the ones available in the US's inventory would also make the W76-2 redundant. The counter-argument placed detailed that the Russian belief of a gap in the two countries' nuclear capabilities could be answered with the launch of W76-2. Rood said that the submarine launches could penetrate air defences easier than the aircraft carrying nuclear weapons.

Information on the W76-2

Much of the information on the W76-2 is classified including its destructive power, but the critics and analysts believe that the power could be around one-third of the power of the 'Little Boy', the nuclear weapon launched by the US during the last days of the World War II. For decades the nuclear weapons deployed in submarines carried 90-kiloton W76 and the 475-kiloton W88.

It is said to be fixed with the Ohio class submarines. The deployment is also coming during an important turning point in the relationship between the US and Russia. The countries have just withdrawn from the INF treaty and they are also changing the arms race.