Pentagon document warns the world is moving closer to a nuclear war because Russia and China are developing new nuclear missiles, bombers and submarines
The US says there is an ‘increased potential’ for nuclear conflict with the country’s main enemies because they are stockpiling nuclear weapons.
Russia and China have been modernizing and expanding their respective arsenals over the last decade, according to a recently disclosed 2020 report from the Pentagon on nuclear operations.
And North Korea has accelerated testing of missiles capable of reaching America’s homeland, and Iran has the technology to create a nuclear weapon within a year of deciding to do so.
It says the US has tried to negotiate reductions in nuclear weapons capabilities since since 2010, but ‘no potential adversary has reduced either the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy or the number of nuclear weapons it fields.’
‘Rather, they have moved decidedly in the opposite direction,’ according to the report, which was released on Tuesday and specifically mentions Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.
‘As a result, there is an increased potential for regional conflicts involving nuclear-armed adversaries in several parts of the world and the potential for adversary nuclear escalation in crisis or conflict.’
Russia and China are the most serious threats to the United States because of the technology and arsenals they already possess.
In 2019, Russia and the US withdrew from their 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which required the US and Soviet Union to eliminate all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
The two counties extended the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for five years in 2021.
The agreement – dubbed the New START – enhances U.S. national security by placing verifiable limits on all Russian deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons.
Russia, which considers the US and NATO ‘principal threats to its contemporary geopolitical ambitions,’ modernized its Soviet warhead delivery capabilities, is employing new nuclear warheads and launchers, and developing three new intercontinental-range nuclear weapon systems.
The weapon systems include high-tech planes, ground-launched cruise missiles and underwater autonomous torpedoes.
China has increased its number and capabilities of nuclear weapons, including its ‘most advanced’ submarine-launched missiles.
China is also developing a bomber, which would allow China to fire weapons by land, sea and air.
North Korea has ‘accelerated’ its pursuit of nuclear weapons and dramatically increased its missile flight testing, most recently including the testing of intercontinental-range missiles capable of reaching the US homeland, according to the US report.
‘North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities poses the most immediate and dire proliferation threat to international security and stability.’
Iran has the technology and capacity to develop a nuclear weapon within a year of when it decides to do so, the Pentagon report says.
Iran’s ‘aggressive strategy and activities to destabilize neighboring governments, raises questions about its long-term commitment to forgoing nuclear weapons capability.’
Meanwhile, the 2020 report says the US’s nuclear weapons program is a deterrent and only to be used in ‘extreme circumstances’ to defend the country or its allies against attacks on civilians or major infrastructure.
The 2020 update softened its language and removed mentions of using nuclear weapons to ‘prevail in conflict.’
For example, the 2019 report says, ‘Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.’
The updated 2020 version says, ‘Flexible and limited US nuclear response options can play an important role in restoring deterrence following limited adversary nuclear escalation. Limited nuclear use will create conditions that affect how commanders conduct operations.’