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US Weapon Plans Threaten Missile Proliferation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Jun 09, 2006
US plans to develop low-yield nuclear weapons and to use ballistic missiles for carrying conventional warheads are threatening the world's nuclear non-proliferation regime, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov charged Wednesday.

"American plans for deploying low-power nuclear weapons (and) plans to equip ballistic missiles on Trident submarines and inter-continental missiles in general with conventional warheads raise concern," Lavrov told the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.

The Pentagon wants a new generation of weapons to use in what it calls the "war on terror."

Low-yield nuclear bombs could be deployed against fortified bunkers deep underground, while putting conventional charges on ballistic missiles would allow surprise attacks within minutes against targets anywhere in the world.

However, critics in the United States and elsewhere warn that the launch of any ballistic missile would trigger missile early-warning systems, possibly provoking a false alarm of nuclear attack.

Critics also believe that both low-yield bombs, or mini-nukes, and conventionally tipped long-range missiles would prompt a new arms race and raise the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used for the first time since World War II.

Lavrov said Russia was also concerned by US plans to deploy a network of anti-missile defence systems in central Europe. "There is a danger here for the stealth deployment of ballistic weapons not far from Russia's border," he was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS news agency.

Lavrov accused Washington of backtracking on disarmament efforts, saying that the United States was trying "not only to remove the question of disarmament from the world agenda, but also from the public view," ITAR-TASS reported.

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which entered force in 1970, is the keystone of international attempts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, and to promote nuclear disarmament.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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