As tensions continue to build between Russia and the United States, it has been reported that the former is building a drone submarine to deliver large-scale nuclear weapons. It is suggested by the Pentagon that this vessel will have the capability of striking U.S. harbors and coastal cities, complicating what is already a strained and historically tense relationship between the two superpowers.
Russian nuclear plans
According to reports on the subject, the so-called developmental unmanned underwater vehicle will be armed with megaton-class warheads capable of destroying ports on the US coastline. It is thought that Russia will look to particularly target ports utilized by United States nuclear missile submarines, among them Kings Bay, Georgia and Puget Sound in Washington state.
Details of the plans are rather hard to come by at present, as this is top secret information closely guarded by the United States government. But it is suggested by leaks from close to the United States military establishment that the Pentagon has already codenamed the nuclear drone “Kanyon”; giving indication that the weapon is part of an overarching and structured Russian arms program.
US-Russian relations critical
As the geopolitical situation of the 21st century develops, the relationship between Russia and the United States is clearly central to the zeitgeist. Although tensions between Russia and the United States were supposed to have ended when the Cold War reached its conclusion and the Soviet Union disbanded, recent years have seen the two nations resume their suspicions of one another. Russia has risen from the ashes of the Soviet collapse, and rebuilt itself into a major power, not least owing to the rich mineral resources it has at its disposal.
Although the collapse of oil prices has undoubtedly weakened Russian’s position – and some have suggested that oil was targeted quite deliberately by US investors with this aim in mind – in the longer-term there is no doubt that the vast nation will retain a position of prominence in the world. Russian oil and gas is simply too important to too many nations for the country to be in the doldrums for a significant period of time, with Russian exports particularly vital for the European continent.
So as Russia becomes more prominent in the world, so the United States military infrastructure retains an ever keener interest in monitoring its strategic manoeuvres. And US officials stated that the supposed production of this nuclear drone submarine is further evidence of the aggressive strategic nuclear forces modernization that is taking place under President Vladimir Putin.
Nuclear non-proliferation complicated
This also goes directly against US foreign policy on this matter, as the Obama administration has explicitly sought to reduce the role of nuclear arms in US defences, instead of relying on a smaller nuclear force for deterrents. This is part of an overall nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which has been a defining element of nuclear policy among the world’s great powers in the early years of the 21st century.
The picture with regard to American nuclear defences could also have been influenced this week by events in Britain. The UK is, of course, the United States’ greatest ally, and the political situation in the country has just complicated its relationship with the United States, at least potentially.
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With the election to the position of the leader of the Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn, Britain’s major opposition party is now headed by someone who has explicitly derided the existence of the Trident nuclear program in the UK. The UK Trident programme encompasses the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of British nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, but Corbyn has stated that this program will be discontinued should he ever elevate to the position of Prime Minister.
Should this eventuality occurr, then the position of the United States with regard to strengthening its nuclear defences in line with Russian plans would be seriously weakened. This may be hypothetical at the moment, but the election of Corbyn in Britain could have a significant effect on US policy over a period of time.
Russian nuclear offensive
In the meantime, the opinion among the United States military establishment is that the Kanyon program should certainly be viewed as an offensive initiative. This is considered by the Pentagon to be an autonomous submarine strike vessel that will ultimately be armed with a nuclear warhead equal to approximately tens of megatons in yield. There is no doubt that such a vehicle would be capable of creating a nuclear weapon blast causing considerable damage over wide areas.
As the geopolitical picture continues to develop in the 21st century, this latest attempt by Russia is clearly intended to give the government a stronger hand in negotiation. It is now absolutely inevitable that Russia and the United States will be on opposite sides in geopolitical disputes for the foreseeable future, and it seems that this nuclear vessel is part of attempts to provide Moscow with the ability to counteract the US.
Obama will now come under increasing pressure to delay and possibly eliminate plans to seek further reductions in both US and Russian nuclear forces, following the signing of the recent New START arms treaty. Once again, the relationship between the United States and Russia has been complicated, and the tawdry and terrifying possibility of nuclear conflict must have increased slightly.