Putin Eyes ‘High-Precision’ Arms as Partial Nuclear-Weapons Alternative

Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown last month, has called for Moscow to heighten its focus on conventional arms that he describes as emerging as an "equal" to nuclear arms in their deterrent capacity.
National Journal
Diane Barnes, Global Security Newswire
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Diane Barnes, Global Security Newswire
Dec. 3, 2013, 4:02 a.m.

WASH­ING­TON — Ad­vanced con­ven­tion­al weapons are emer­ging as an “equal” to atom­ic arms in their ca­pa­city to ward off ag­gres­sion, un­der­lin­ing a need for Mo­scow to bol­ster its fo­cus on their de­vel­op­ment, Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin told seni­or of­fi­cials in com­ments re­leased last week.

Putin’s re­marks — is­sued to a Krem­lin gath­er­ing on the pre­par­a­tion of “long-range high-pre­ci­sion weapons” — might partly refer to con­ven­tion­al “hy­per­son­ic” arms un­der de­vel­op­ment in Rus­sia as a re­sponse to a “prompt glob­al strike” cap­ab­il­ity sought by the United States. However, the gov­ern­ment-re­leased tran­script does not spe­cific­ally identi­fy which weapons he be­lieves are in need of “an ad­ded boost” in de­vel­op­ment ef­forts by Mo­scow.

“High-pre­ci­sion weapons are be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly im­port­ant factor in non-nuc­le­ar de­terrence, and per­haps even one of the most de­cis­ive factors,” Putin said in a meet­ing tran­script pub­lished last Fri­day.

“The de­gree of pre­ci­sion and power of today’s high-pre­ci­sion weapons makes them es­sen­tially an al­tern­at­ive to nuc­le­ar weapons,” he con­tin­ued. “In some of their para­met­ers they are quite simply equal to nuc­le­ar weapons in their ef­fect­ive­ness.”

A fu­ture long-range, rap­id-strike cap­ab­il­ity has been seen by some in the United States as a par­tial al­tern­at­ive to nuc­le­ar weapons for hit­ting im­port­ant time-sens­it­ive tar­gets. The cap­ab­il­ity sought by Wash­ing­ton could al­low U.S. forces to con­duct a non-nuc­le­ar strike against any loc­a­tion in the world in one hour or less.

In Ju­ly, a deputy Rus­si­an de­fense min­is­ter sug­ges­ted that his na­tion’s mil­it­ary would not be­gin to re­ceive hy­per­son­ic de­liv­ery sys­tems — a pos­sible ana­logue to the U.S. prompt glob­al strike tech­no­logy — un­til 2018 at the earli­est.

In Fri­day’s tran­script, though, Putin said his na­tion had already star­ted sup­ply­ing its mil­it­ary with the “high-pre­ci­sion weapons” un­der dis­cus­sion.

Fri­day’s ex­change came on the heels of tran­scripts re­leased earli­er in the week from Krem­lin meet­ings that ad­dressed land-, sea- and air-based ele­ments of the Rus­si­an nuc­le­ar de­terrent.

This art­icle was pub­lished in Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire, which is pro­duced in­de­pend­ently by Na­tion­al Journ­al Group un­der con­tract with the Nuc­le­ar Threat Ini­ti­at­ive. NTI is a non­profit, non­par­tis­an group work­ing to re­duce glob­al threats from nuc­le­ar, bio­lo­gic­al, and chem­ic­al weapons.

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