I kind of figured that the Wikileaks cables would reveal a lot about so-called tactical nuclear weapons — like how many the US has in Europe or the current US estimates of the Russian stockpile.
One cable, drafted by Ivo Daalder, that details a briefing by PUSD(P) Jim Miller to NATO Permreps and Milreps on 16 July 2009 contains both, as well as other goodies.
It’s 180 NATO nuclear weapons and 3,000-5,000 Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons. Oh, and the US can go as low as 1300 warheads against current Russian (and Chinese) strategic forces. Really, it was a great briefing. I am glad that we all have acceess to Ivo’s notes, even if Ivo isn’t. (It is a very well-written cable.)
The juicy bits are below the jump.
On current and projected strategic and non-strategic forces:
He then reviewed some of the first-stage negotiating numbers for warheads and delivery vehicles which have been the subject of uninformed media discussion: Strategic warhead limits proposed by the U.S. (1500) and Russia (1675), down from a current range of 1700-2200; and SDV limits of 1100 (U.S) and 500 (Russia), down from the START-mandated level of 1600. Dr. Miller expected further negotiations to narrow these ranges considerably. He added that engaging with NATO Allies on the second stage reduction talks would be at least as important as discussions on the first stage, given the importance to the Alliance of extended deterrence, nuclear sharing, and related issues. The large disparity in numbers of sub-strategic nuclear weapons — some estimates put Russian totals at 3,000-5,000 plus — will make this a difficult process.
On the disparity between NATO and Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons:
Norway asked Dr. Miller to expand on his remarks about sub-strategic nuclear weapons. In response, Dr. Miller pointed to the difficulty of bringing Russia to the bargaining table with 180 NATO sub-strategic warheads on offer against the estimated 3-5 thousand Russian warheads in that category. However, for Russia the issue was not merely European; it had to consider China as well, and tactical nuclear weapons were an attractive proposition compared with ramping up conventional forces in the current economic climate.
On requirements for deterrence.
In addition, the conclusion had been reached during the first phase that 1500-1700 warheads represented a militarily sufficient level at present, but that at or below 1300, additional risks to military sufficiency and to robustness had to be assumed. He said that future warhead reductions by the Russians would allow the U.S. to consider going lower.