Russia says U.S. lowering ‘nuclear threshold’ with newer bombs in Europe

  • Russia warns US about new B61s
  • The Pentagon: a long-planned modernization
  • Russia says NATO is boosting its nuclear plans
  • Pentagon: B61 updates not related to Ukraine
  • Russia: Newer bombs have strategic importance

Russia said on Saturday that the accelerated deployment of upgraded US B61 tactical nuclear weapons to NATO bases in Europe would lower the “nuclear threshold” and that Russia would factor the move into its military planning.

Russia has about 2,000 operational tactical nuclear weapons, while the United States has about 200, half of which are based in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In the wake of the Ukraine crisis, “Politico” on October 26 reported that the US announced at a closed NATO meeting this month that it would accelerate the deployment of the B61-12, an upgraded version of the B61, with the new weapons arriving at European bases in December, several months earlier than planned.

“We cannot ignore the plans to modernize nuclear weapons, those free-fall bombs that are in Europe,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told state news agency RIA.

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Based on 2014 According to research published by the Federation of American Scientists, the 12-foot B61-12 gravity bomb has a lower-powered nuclear warhead than many previous versions, but is more accurate and capable of penetrating underground.

“The US is modernizing them, increasing their accuracy and reducing the power of the nuclear warhead, that is, they are turning these weapons into ‘battlefield weapons’, thus reducing the nuclear threshold,” G. Grushko said.

The Pentagon said it was not going to discuss the details of the US nuclear arsenal and that the premise of the Politico article was false because the United States had long planned to modernize its B61 nuclear weapons.

“The modernization of the US’s B61 nuclear weapons has been underway for many years, and plans to safely and responsibly replace older weapons with updated versions of the B61-12 are part of a long-planned and planned modernization effort,” said Pentagon spokesman Oscar Seara.

“This is in no way related to the current events in Ukraine and was not expedited in any way,” Seara said in an email. in a mailed message.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when the two Cold War superpowers came close to nuclear war.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that Russia will defend its territory with all available means, including nuclear weapons, if attacked.

The comments caused particular concern in the West after Moscow announced last month that it had annexed four regions of Ukraine, some of which are under the control of its forces. Putin says the West has resorted to nuclear blackmail against Russia.

“STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE”

US President Joe Biden on October 6. declared that Putin had brought the world closer to “Armageddon” than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, although Biden later said he did not think Putin would use a tactical nuclear weapon.

Putin has not hinted at using a tactical nuclear weapon, but has said he suspects Ukraine may detonate a “dirty bomb,” a claim both Ukraine and the West say is false.

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The US nuclear bomb B61 was first tested in Nevada shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Under Barack Obama, 2009-2017 to the President of the United States, the development of a new version of the B61-12 bomb was approved.

Russia’s Grushko said Moscow would also have to consider Lockheed Martin’s F-35 to drop such a bomb. NATO has already strengthened the nuclear parts of its military planning, he said.

NATO “has already made decisions to strengthen the nuclear component in the Alliance’s military plans,” G. Grushko said.

Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, said on Telegram on Saturday that the new B61 bombs had “strategic significance” because Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons were in storage, but the US bombs would be just a short flight from Russia’s borders.

According to the U.S. 2022 released Thursday. nuclear posture review, the United States will strengthen its nuclear deterrent with F-35s, B61-12 bombers, and a nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile.

Edited by Frances Kerry and Helen Popper

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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