Nuclear-Armed Cruise Missiles to be Scrapped, U.S. Says

A forthcoming U.S. nuclear strategy review is likely to call for elimination of the country's nuclear-tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles, Japanese officials told Kyodo News today (see GSN, July 31, 2009).

Plans to slowly phase out the missiles, unofficially communicated to Tokyo earlier this year, were prompted in part by the expense of caring for the weapons. The United States pulled the missiles from its submarines as the Cold War ended, but the weapons were maintained in case they again became necessary, U.S. nuclear experts said.

The matter is expected to be addressed in the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (see GSN, Jan. 6). Washington assured Tokyo that the move would not alter U.S. extended deterrence guarantees to Japan.

A policy shift ruling out the possibility of nuclear Tomahawk-equipped submarines docking in Japan could affect a probe into a secret agreement that allowed nuclear-armed U.S. military vessels and aircraft to make such stopovers, according to Kyodo News (see GSN, Jan. 29; Kyodo News/Breitbart.com, Feb. 21).

U.S. Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Bradley Roberts met Thursday with Japanese diplomatic and defense officials to address nuclear deterrence policy, the Daily Yomiuri reported. The encounter marked the first consultation on the topic between the two powers.

The Japanese officials reportedly asked how the the United States would compensate for eliminating nuclear weapons used to protect their nation. In addition, the representatives addressed the ongoing investigations of alleged secret deals between the countries.

The sides intend to prepare a report in November outlining the outcome of the discussions, Japanese officials indicated (Satoshi Ogawa, Daily Yomiuri, Feb. 21).

February 22, 2010
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A forthcoming U.S. nuclear strategy review is likely to call for elimination of the country's nuclear-tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles, Japanese officials told Kyodo News today (see GSN, July 31, 2009).