The United States has resumed the production of nuclear warheads after a 32-year hiatus, according to Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. Gerashchenko cited a report by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to Congress.
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The Ukrainian politician highlighted this change in U.S. policy on his Telegram channel, stating that the production of nuclear warheads in the U.S. had been “frozen” since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which occurred 32 years ago. The production of plutonium cores for warheads was halted in 1989, even before the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in 1991, as a reminder by the Ukrainian official.
This year, the United States plans to produce dozens of new nuclear missiles. Additionally, preventive measures are planned to extend the operational life of the B61-12 nuclear bombs deployed in Europe and to modernize the Trident II ballistic missiles carried by submarines.
The resumption of the U.S. nuclear program has been approved by President Joe Biden and is estimated to cost Washington USD 634 bn by 2031, according to the NNSA report cited by Gerashchenko.
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The advisor to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs explained that the change in U.S. nuclear weapons policy is a response to Russia’s actions. Russia deviated from its previous doctrine, which allowed for a nuclear response to a similar move by an adversary, in December 2022. At the end of last year, Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow could also consider a “preemptive strike.”
In February 2023, the Kremlin withdrew from the New START treaty, the last remaining U.S.-Russian agreement on the limitation of strategic nuclear weapons at the time. In response, the Pentagon conducted exercises involving its nuclear forces, Gerashchenko said.
“The United States is soberly assessing the situation, which is why they have moved away from diplomatic language in favor of direct warnings,” said the Ukrainian government representative.
According to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) from June 2022, Russia possesses approximately 5,977 nuclear warheads, while the United States has around 5,428. Together, these two countries’ nuclear arsenals account for nearly 90 percent of the world’s total stockpile of atomic weapons.