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Feinstein Calls on Pentagon to Stop Deploying ‘Low-Yield’ Nuclear Weapons

            Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement following news from the Pentagon that the Navy has fielded the W76-2 “low-yield” submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead:

            “The U.S. Navy’s deployment of so-called ‘low-yield’ submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads is a major step backward in our efforts to reduce nuclear proliferation and prevent nuclear war.

            “The only role for nuclear weapons is to deter their use by others, and I am aware of no evidence demonstrating that new nuclear weapons are needed to preserve or enhance deterrence. Further, the United States has been a global leader in combating nuclear proliferation. It is inconsistent for us to field new nuclear weapons while we urge other countries not to do so.

            “I am also concerned that deploying low-yield nuclear warheads will not reduce the number but instead encourage the development of more. . The administration has argued that it needs new nuclear weapons to be able to respond to a Russian first-use of a low-yield weapon. This argument makes it clear that the administration is contemplating actually using nuclear weapons to fight ‘limited’ nuclear wars. There are enough nuclear weapons to destroy the Earth as we know it.

            “Rather than deploying new nuclear weapons that would increase the risk of another arms race, we should be working to extend New START, our only nuclear nonproliferation treaty still in effect with Russia. The deployment of a new nuclear weapon, combined with the administration’s abandonment of international arms control treaties, puts us on a dangerous path.

            “Instead of blurring the line between nuclear deterrent and actual use, I urge the administration to work toward nonproliferation and the reduction of nuclear stockpiles.”

Background:

  • Senator Feinstein has long called against the deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons and consistently opposed funding for the research, development and purchase of additional low-yield warheads.
  • In November 2017, Feinstein also joined her colleagues to call on President Trump to exclude the development of new low-yield warheads from the Nuclear Posture Review.
  • In June 2016, Feinstein wrote a joint op-ed with former Under Secretary Ellen Tauscher in The New York Times opposing the development of a new nuclear cruise missile.

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