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Under the public radar, NATO is modernising its tactical nuclear arsenal.

NATO’s nuclear relapse Under the public radar, NATO is modernising its tactical nuclear arsenal. Aljazeera  Ian Klinke  1 Dec 15  Ian Klinke is a researcher at the University of Oxford.Moscow’s latest tests of intercontinental missiles and its parading of nuclear capable strategic bombers have rightly prompted international concern. In December 2014, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov implied that Russia might be moving nuclear weapons to Crimea.

From violations of airspace to near mid-air collisions, the number of incidents between Russia and NATO has soared dramatically, increasing the danger of an unintended escalation. Yet, it is rarely mentioned that NATO, too, is back in the game of nuclear deterrence.

Washington has recently sent its nuclear capable B-2 and B-52 to Europe for training missions with its NATO partners. It also continues to test intercontinental ballistic missiles. Most problematically, the western military alliance is currently modernising the air-launched nuclear gravity bombs that fall under NATO’s nuclear sharing initiative………..

nuclear-missile-ready

Tactical nukes are particularly problematic because their short range provides the missing link between a localised conventional war and a highly improbable global exchange of strategic nuclear missiles between Moscow and Washington.

Tactical nuclear weapons are no status quo weapons. Their battlefield purpose increases the chance of a nuclear escalation, which is why the superpowers removed most of them from Central Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

If everything goes to plan, the controversial B61 weapons will be modernised by around 2020. This “life extension programme” is not simply an initiative to replace rusty old nukes with shiny new ones, but an attempt to increase their accuracy, to replace free fall with precision guided bombs.

Ultimately, this will transform the B61 into a new kind of weapon and undermine any pretence that the West is still in the game of denuclearisation.

Interestingly, plans to modernise the B61 were initiated in April 2010, only shortly after NATO decided to scrap its nuclear missile shield in Eastern Europe and in the same month that the two largest nuclear powers signed a new Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty.

How does NATO explain this nuclear relapse precisely at a time when the alliance had just “reset” its relations with Russia? And what role does the B61 play in the Ukrainian proxy war?……..http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/12/nato-nuclear-relapse-2014123161917509924.html

 

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January 2, 2015 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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