Four days into the war in Ukraine, with the Russian advance slowed by unexpected Ukrainian resistance, Vladimir Putin made his first threat of escalation, implying the use of tactical nuclear weapons if NATO became heavily involved in supporting Ukraine. Since then, the threat of escalation has always been in the background – and has occasionally come to the fore.
The most recent example of this is the announcement from Moscow that Russian nuclear weapons will be forward-based in Belarus. These will mainly be nuclear-armed versions of the Iskander missile, which will be placed close to Belarus’s western border with NATO states. Russia will also train Belarusian pilots in flying planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
The world’s stockpile of nuclear warheads is expected to expand in the coming years for the first time since the 1980s and the catastrophic threat of those weapons being used is escalating, a leading arms watchdog said Monday.
“If the nuclear-armed states take no immediate and concrete action on disarmament, then the global inventory of nuclear warheads could soon begin to increase for the first time since the Cold War,” Matt Korda, an associate researcher with the Weapons of Mass Destruction Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said in a statement released alongside SIPRI’s annual report. Continue reading →
Just 24 hours after claiming he isn’t seeking war with Iran, President Donald Trump Saturday night threatened that the U.S. is prepared to strike “52 Iranian sites” if Tehran retaliates for the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani.
“Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets. “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!” Continue reading →
Already seven of the 10 countries in the world with the highest military budgets are in the Middle East. The development of nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia has many speculating that it could mark the beginning of an even more dangerous era for the war-torn region.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s energy secretary, Rick Perry, has secretly approved the sale of nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, Reutersrevealed this week. Saudi Arabia is reportedly attempting to construct at least two nuclear power plants as part of its effort to diversify its energy sector and its economy as a whole. As part of this plan it has accepted bids from Russia, South Korea and the U.S. for the lucrative contract. Perry’s approval is known as a Part 810 authorization, which allows energy companies to begin the process of planning and starting preliminary work in anticipation of the closing of a formal deal in the future.
While the Saudi proposals are presented as civilian and do not mention nuclear weaponry, U.S. approval and sale of nuclear technology has been seen by many as a prelude to the development of a Saudi nuclear weapon, which could potentially spark a nuclear arms race in the region. Riyadh has long coveted atomic weaponry and has considered developing its own in its quest to maintain military dominance in the region. “If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit” Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi ambassador to the United States, told the Guardian in 2011, noting that the kingdom may feel “compelled” to pursue the option in the future, if tensions with Iran remain high. Continue reading →
Elected officials and experts from more than 40 countries have sent an open letter to U.S. President Donald, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and various other world leaders imploring them to preserve the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, from which the Trump administration has said it plans to withdraw, despite warnings that doing so “would be stupid and reckless.”
While welcoming progress on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, the letter (pdf) emphasizes alarm over the “erosion” of the INF Treaty; war games and nuclear weapons development the United States ditching the Iran nuclear deal; and “unresolved conflicts between Russia and the West including over Crimea and Syria and between nuclear armed states in other regions including South Asia and the South China Sea.” Continue reading →
Miguel Arias Canete, the EU’s top energy official, announced Saturday that the EU will attempt to salvage the Iran nuclear deal without the U.S.(Photo: Union Europea en Peru/Flickr/cc)
The European Union and Iran signaled on Saturday that they would not permit President Donald Trump’s deeply unpopular decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal to deteriorate their own involvement in the agreement.
“We have sent a message to our Iranian friends that as long as they are sticking to the agreement the Europeans will…fulfill their commitment. And they said the same thing on the other side,” Miguel Arias Canete, the EU’s top energy official, told reporters in Tehran. Continue reading →
An ethics expert is declaring the Trump team “out of control” following a bombshell report by the UK’s Observer that aides for the sitting president hired Israeli spies to dig up dirt on two officials in the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal.
“The idea,” said an unnamed source familiar the campaign, “was that people acting for Trump would discredit those who were pivotal in selling the deal, making it easier to pull out of it.” Continue reading →
Earlier this week, Donald Trump tapped a charter member of the Tea Party to lead the State Department and an established torturer to head the CIA. Both appointments were perfectly monstrous, but if there is a governing law of this administration, it’s that things can always get worse. Consider the president’s rumored replacement for national security adviser H.R. McMaster: According to multipleoutlets, Trump has met with John Bolton at the White House and could offer him the position as early as next week.
That the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has the president’s ear at all should be a cause for concern. Over the course of his checkered career, Bolton has proven himself a hawk of the first order, enthusiastically endorsing the war in Iraq and more recently calling for a first strike on North Korea. He’d almost certainly encourage Trump to flex his military might, and with the president’s approval numbers floundering and a wave election looming, there’s every reason to believe Trump could take his advice. Continue reading →
South Koreans gathered in front of the U.S. embassy in Seoul. Photo: Reddit
The Pentagon is afraid to give President Donald Trump “too many” options for a preemptive military strike on North Korea because officials believe he might act on one of them.
That’s according to an article published Friday by the New York Times, which quotes anonymous administration officials as saying the Pentagon “is worried that the White House is moving too hastily toward military action on the Korean Peninsula that could escalate catastrophically.” Continue reading →