World

Invasion of Ukraine revives nuclear warfare nightmare


PARIS: Expelled from the public consciousness for decades, nightmare belong to nuclear war rose back to prominence with the invasion of Russia Ukrainehighlights the erosion of the global security architecture of the Cold War.
With Moscow on the defensive in its offensive, the military standoff has raised concerns that Russia could use its nuclear arsenal to achieve a breakthrough.
Russia with EnglandChina, France and the United States, are five recognized nuclear weapons powers and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
“This is the first time that a nuclear power has used its position to wage a conventional war in the shadow of a nuclear weapon,” said Camille Grand, former deputy secretary-general of NATO.
“One might imagine that rogue states would have such an attitude, but suddenly it’s one of two nuclear powers, a member of the United Nations Security Council,” he told reporters. AFP, stressing that the use of weapons is practically “impossible”.
To this day, the moral and strategic nuclear “taboo” that emerged after the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II in 1945 remains valid.
But the rhetoric has escalated massively.
Russian television programs since the invasion of Ukraine have repeatedly discussed nuclear attacks on Western cities such as Paris or New York.
A former Russian diplomat, who asked not to be named, warned that if President Vladimir Putin felt Russia’s existence was threatened, “he would push the button”.
The events of the year were a harsh wake-up call for Europe, which has spent decades in a relatively comfortable state of nuclear security, enjoying the so-called “peace dividend” in Cold War.
Across the Atlantic, US President Joe Biden in October warned of a potential “Armageddon” hanging over the world.
“The most spectacular event of the past half century is one that did not happen,” wrote Nobel Prize-winning economist and strategist Thomas Schelling in 2007.
But the framework that prevented world leaders from taking power after 1945 had collapsed years before Putin ordered the invasion.
In 2002, the United States withdrew from the important Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty it signed with the Soviet Union in 1972, the treaty maintaining the balance of nuclear power.
Other key agreements were scrapped in the years that followed, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which Washington scrapped in 2019, blaming Russia for non-compliance.
“In terms of disarmament, all is ruined, except New Start,” Grand said, referring to the Barack Obama-era deal with Russia to reduce the number of warheads, missiles, bombers and launchers.
India, North Korea and Pakistan, along with the five recognized powers, also have nuclear weapons, while Israel is believed to possess nuclear weapons but has never officially acknowledged it.
North Korea has ramped up missile testing this year, continuing its pursuit of an independent nuclear deterrent that began when it withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo all believe a seventh nuclear weapons test by Pyongyang is imminent.
The isolated dictatorship announced in September a new nuclear doctrine, making it clear that it will never give up its weapons and that they can be used first.
“We are going to see a very dangerous crisis in Asia,” Chung Min Lee, a researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recently told a conference in Paris.
Non-nuclear states in the region fear that the protection offered by the US nuclear umbrella is fraying.
“If you imagine the deterrent as expanding as a water balloon, today the water balloon has some serious holes and the water is spilling out,” he added.
China’s nuclear arsenal is also growing, with Pentagon estimates putting it at 1,000 warheads – the equivalent of US bombs – within a decade.
And in the Middle East, the struggle to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, stymied by a brutal crackdown on recent protests at home, has raised fears that Tehran could soon return to power. into a “threshold country” on the verge of making bombs.
In August, a United Nations conference on the future of the NPT saw a joint declaration of 191 countries blocked by Russia at the last minute.
A French diplomat reported on “extremely belligerent nuclear rhetoric” from Moscow and “disdain” for the treaty.
The diplomat added: “We see a rift in the attitude of Russia, which previously supported the NPT.
The diplomat said China was “very vocal”, making a “very crude accusation” that the US-UK-Australia AUKUS Pacific alliance would supply nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra.
Beijing claims that the alliance risks further nuclear proliferation, while not “removing doubts about the opacity of its own nuclear doctrine or the rate at which its arsenals are growing.” .
The invasion of a country willing to give up its nuclear weapons, Ukraine, by its nuclear-armed neighbor has raised concerns about nuclear proliferation.
“Today, countries like Japan or South Korea can legitimately ask ‘if they need a bomb of their own,’ said Jean-Louis Lozier, the former head of France’s nuclear force. No.
“The same is true in the Middle East of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt,” he added.

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