United States considers use of first-strike nuclear weapons

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"Our strategy will ensure Russian Federation understands that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is unacceptable", the document states.

The State Department said Monday the United States has lived up to the deal and it has "no reason to believe" Russian Federation has done otherwise.

His comments came after the Defense Department on Friday unveiled a new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), its first in eight years, which calls for developing smaller nukes in a bid to counter Russian Federation.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) signed in 2010 requires the United States and Russian Federation to have reduced the number of their deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550 each by February 5, 2018.

"On the contrary", Mattis said, the nuclear strategy reaffirms the role of nuclear weapons in national defence "while underscoring continued US commitment to non-proliferation, to counter nuclear terrorism and to arms control".

But the diminution of arms control as a central part of the nuclear strategy may be just as striking.

"This is therefore the first move in a return to levels of nuclear tension not seen since the height of the Cold War", he said.

Joan Rohlfing, president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, said the NPR makes no mention of a US vision of a world without nuclear weapons, as Washington has previously stated for decades. In a statement Monday, its Foreign Ministry called the review's assertions frightening, "utterly hypocritical" and risky.

"The idea that you can have a battlefield nuclear weapon is very attractive to generals who want to win battles, but they are not going to win a war", he added. Such a weapon existed for years but was withdrawn from active service by the administration of President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s and retired by the Obama administration. Within the treaty, both the nations are bound to share their nuclear details with each other to assure the compliance.

"That is a proposal that is very clearly created to look like an arms control proposal, but to guarantee that it won't be accepted", Acton said.

The Pentagon's nuclear review concluded that while arms control can advance American interests, "further progress is hard to envision", in light of what the USA considers Russia's aggression in Ukraine and violations of existing arms deals. The deal is scheduled to expire in 2021.

"The document's statement that Russia allegedly refuses to further reduce its nuclear capabilities is yet another example of the blatant "falsification", the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"The country that owns the world's largest nuclear arsenal, should take the initiative to follow the trend instead of going against it", China's defence ministry said on Sunday.

U.S. Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine USS Hawaii is berthed at a dock at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, August 22, 2014.

In public appearances last fall, Burroughs said, the present and former commanders of Strategic Command stated that orders to use nuclear weapons in violation of the law of armed conflict would be refused.

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