Washington, Apr.8 (ANI): As the White House pushes for cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the Pentagon is developing missiles armed with conventional warheads that could strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour.
According to the Washington Post, American military officials say the intercontinental ballistic missiles, known as Prompt Global Strike weapons, are a necessary new form of deterrence against terrorist networks and other adversaries.
As envisioned, the conventional missiles would give the White House a fresh military option to consider in a crisis that would not result in a radioactive mushroom cloud.
The Prompt Global Strike program, which the Pentagon has been developing for several years, is already raising hackles in Moscow, where Russian officials predict it could trigger a non-nuclear arms race and complicate President Obama's long-term vision of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
U.S. military officials are also struggling to solve a separate major obstacle: the risk that Russia or China could mistake the launch of a conventional Prompt Global Strike missile for a nuclear one.
The White House says that development of Prompt Global Strike is not affected by the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are scheduled to sign Thursday in Prague.
Analysts say, however, that any conventional ballistic missiles would count the same as nuclear ones under the treaty, which places new limits on each country's stockpile.
Deployment of a conventional ballistic missile is not expected until 2015 at the earliest. (ANI)