Moscow Says It Will
Now Use Nukes In
"Smaller Scale" Wars

Russia has announced it wants opponents to understand it has changed its military policy and will now use nuclear weapons in "smaller-scale conflicts." It was a clear-cut warning to the United States and European nations that if they intervene in its war in Chechnya they may expect nuclear war in return.
At the same time, Russia announced it is also increasing its capability - by three-fold - to engage in strategic intercontinental ballistic-missile nuclear warfare with America.
This news came out of Moscow in conjunction with celebration of the 40th anniversary of its nuclear-missile forces.
In carefully timed interviews in Krasnaya Zvezda and the weekly Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, the chief of the missile force, Col.-Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, said Russia had been compelled to rethink dramatically its nuclear-deterrent program.
"Russia, for objective reasons, is forced to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons, extend the nuclear deterrent to smaller-scale conflicts and openly warn potential opponents about this," Yakovlev said.
Those reasons, he said, were the under-funding of Russia's rocket forces, due to the country's financial crisis, and the emergence of regional powers armed with missiles and nuclear technology.
Yakovlev made it clear Moscow will use its nuclear arms if attacked with chemical or biological weapons or outnumbered by conventional forces, Reuters news agency reported.
He told Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye that Russia will continue to replace its existing intercontinental ballistic missiles with its new Topol-M ICBMs.
Topol-M is a highly mobile rocket with a multiple nuclear warhead that the Russian military has boasted can penetrate any missile-defense shield the United States can create.
Yakovlev forecast that Russia will also produce an aircraft-based cruise version of the Topol-M and place greater emphasis on space technology, Reuters said.
Although not the superpower the old Soviet Union was during the Cold War, Russia still has the world's second-largest nuclear arsenal of hundreds of missiles based on land, in prowling submarines and aboard long-range aircraft.
The newspaper Izvestiya reported Russia will double Topol-M production from the rate of 10 a year, as in 1998 and 1999, to 20 in 2000 and 30 in 2001 - giving it a total of 70 by 2002.
Izvestiya said Russia will use the new Topol-Ms to replace its aging, almost-obsolete ICBMs as fast as the new models come off the production line.
This would deprive Russia of millions of dollars of U.S. tax funds, conditioned on being used only to help it dismantle and destroy, but not replace, its old ICBM fleet.
Those funds were appropriated under the 1992 Nunn-Lugar Act, steered through Congress by former senators Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind.


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