STRATCOM Commander Predicts Russia's 'Significant' Nuclear Build-Up Over Next Decade

STRATCOM Commander Predicts Russia's 'Significant' Nuclear Build-Up Over Next Decade

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 14th February, 2020) US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) commander Charles Richard predicted during a congressional testimony on Thursday that Russia would engage in a significant build-up of nuclear weapons in the coming years and lamented the diminishing transparency of the country's non-conventional capabilities.

"Russia's overall nuclear stockpile is likely to grow significantly over the next decade - growth driven primarily by a projected increase in Russia's non-strategic nuclear weapons," Richard told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Due to Russia's refusal to submit these... systems to arms control limits or transparency initiatives, a considerable level of uncertainty clouds judgments on the scope and disposition of Russia's stockpile."

Last year, the United States withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia that had restricted for decades the development and deployment of intermediate and shorter range ballistic and land-based cruise missiles.

Richard estimated that Russia had recapitalized 76 percent of its strategic nuclear forces with modern weapons and equipment.

"Russia's aggressive and robust military and nuclear modernization campaign across its strategic triad and dual-use systems is close to completion," Richard said. "It is easier to list the nuclear weapons and equipment Russia has not modernized, than it is to describe their all new equipment and capabilities."

Richard mentioned upgraded strategic bombers, new submarines, an array of novel ballistic and cruise missiles, including those with hypersonic speed and intercontinental reach.

"These advanced... systems are specifically designed to challenge US and allied deterrent structures and target our capabilities," he said.

Richard accused Russia of "a troubling readiness" to resort to nuclear weapons early in a crisis and, possibly, even under conventional warfare circumstances.

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