Russia Warns US Against Using Low-Yield Nukes, Threatens Full Nuclear Retaliation

State Dept argues low-yield nukes needed to counter Russia, China

Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday warning the US against putting low-yield nuclear weapons on their submarines and using them, saying any use of a low-yield weapon against Russia would yield to a very full retaliation.

The US State Department has been pushing arguments to deploy such missiles as a way to counter Russia and China at sea, arguing that the submarines need low-yield nuclear options. They argue that having such weapons makes nuclear war less likely.

Russian officials, however, say that’s only the case if the US isn’t attacking people with those nuclear weapons, noting that Russia has a long-standing nuclear retaliation policy that would prescribe retaliation against a low-yield nuclear strike like any other nuclear strike.

That’s been the criticism since the US went down the path of developing new low-yield options. While officials argue that the lower yield lowers the threshold for use, many have warned all along that more usable nuclear arms will just make nuclear strikes more routine, and nuclear exchanges far more risky.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.