Friday, 25 May, 2018

How Mattis changed his mind on nuclear weapons

The New START treaty calls for US and Russia to exchange data on their arsenals The New START treaty calls for US and Russia to exchange data on their arsenals
Lillian Steele | 07 February, 2018, 01:03

Tehran accused Washington of flexing its muscles and threatening Russian Federation with new atomic weapons after the Trump administration published a document suggesting an antagonistic stance against Moscow over nuclear proliferation.

"Recent Russian statements on this evolving nuclear weapons doctrine appear to lower the threshold for Moscow's first-use of nuclear weapons", the review said. What we in this part of the world are now concerned with is North Korea, which seems to be openly challenging the US.

The Pentagon's so-called Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), unveiled last week, outlined USA plans to revamp its nuclear arsenal by developing new low-yield atomic weapons.

"I found it disappointing that this document includes misguided framing and ideas that have always been on the wish list of conservative nuclear policy analysts and government officials", said Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association.

The document first came under fire from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday, when he tweeted that the USA policy document posed the risk of "bringing humankind closer to annihilation." .

The US military has put countering China and Russian Federation at the centre of a new national defence strategy unveiled earlier this month, shifting priorities away from fighting Islamist militants.

There is no need to build new nuclear weapons or to expand their objective beyond deterrence.

Russia's foreign ministry said on Saturday it was very disappointed by the content of the document, which, it said, has a confrontational feel and anti-Russian orientation.

Although there has been a significant decline in the stockpile of nuclear weapons across the world since the end of Cold War, there are growing fears that a new and reformed arms race might be in place.

It says Russian Federation must be persuaded it would face "unacceptably dire costs" if it were to threaten even a limited nuclear attack in Europe.

But instead of developing new weapons, Germany's top diplomat called for "existing arms control treaties to be upheld unconditionally". Berlin would press "with its allies and partners" for further worldwide disarmament, he said.

A senior administration official, who would discuss the policy only on the condition of anonymity, said Trump had been briefed on the new nuclear approach but was leaving the details to Mattis and to his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. HR McMaster. In a report issued last Friday, the U.S. made the rather unexpected observation that China should not mistakenly conclude that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable.

China also called on Washington to honor its commitments to reduce its own nuclear arsenal.

Donald Trump had pledged in his election campaign that his first priority would be to tear the JCPOA apart, but such thing has not happened after a year since he took the office as the United States president, Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a television talk show on Monday. "Trump's obduracy in killing the JCPOA [Iran nuclear deal] stems from the same unsafe imprudence".

It is the first time since 2010 that the U.S. military has outlined its perception of future nuclear threats.

He said he would waive sanctions against Iran that were lifted as part of the worldwide deal for the last time unless his conditions were met.

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