nuclear arms race redoubled

Andy Coates esquincle at capital.net
Sun May 25 04:24:55 MDT 2003


(posted on Portside)

Radio Netherlands
May 23, 2003
http://www.rnw.nl/hotspots/html/cold030523.html

Cold War revisited
by Hans de Vreij

[Mushroom cloud photo with this caption:] 
Disturbing: While the US builds nuclear `bunker-
busters´, Russia is working on bombs to take out entire
cities

For those who miss the "good old days" of the Cold War,
despair no longer. The United States is planning the
development of low-yield nuclear weapons, meant both as
bunker-busters and instant vaporizers of hostile stocks
of chemical or biological weapons. While this is
perfectly permissible within the limits imposed by
international arms control agreements, "low-yield" has
a dangerous implication; it could also lower the
threshold for the first use of a nuclear weapon since
the bomb on Nagasaki in the summer of 1945.

As if to match the US plans, Russia in recent days has
gone out of its way to remind the world it is still a
formidable nuclear power, lest someone had forgotten
about that. And it is planning to become even more
formidable. In his May 16th "state of the nation"
address to parliament in Moscow, Russian President
Vladimir Putin said his country will "strengthen and
modernize" its nuclear arsenal.

Strategic destruction

In addition, Mr Putin said that work on the 
development of a new generation of weapons is now in 
"the practical implementation stage". The president 
added these new weapons include strategicones, a 
term used for weapons that can take out entire
cities in a single big bang. These and other new
government initiatives are, to quote the president,
meant to ensure the defence capability of Russia and
its allies in the long term.

Just days before this speech, the Russian daily
"Nezavisimaya Gazata" ("The Independent") published an
article which must have made alarm bells go off in
Western capitals, but which has so far been ignored by
most Western media. The article told of a planned
Russian military exercise focussing on "delivering
hypothetical nuclear strikes on the US and Britain,
while locating and destroying aircraft-carrier groups
of the US Navy". The exercise was said to include the
complete destruction of all US navigation and spy
satellites in order to blind the "hypothetical" enemy

Reliable source 

When asked for details, the Russian
Defence Ministry has gone out of its way to play down
the actual scope of these exercises. But the author of
the article told Radio Netherlands his paper sticks to
the story that is said to come straight from a highly
placed source in the Russian military command
structure.

This Doomsday exercise and much of what President Putin
told Parliament might well be meant primarily for
internal consumption, in order to placate conservative
(i.e. communist and nationalist) political forces and
the Russian military. But the "strengthening and
modernization of the nuclear deterrent" certainly is a
matter of international concern.

Leeway 

It is rather ironical that Russia has sought and
received billions of dollars in Western financial
assistance, including funds meant to help Russia get
rid of its chemical weapons and old nuclear submarines.
Cynics might surmise that the financial leeway thus
provided is now being used by Russia to deploy more and
more modern nuclear weapons.

No doubt the subject will be raised in discussions
between US president George Bush and his Russian
counterpart Vladimir Putin when the two men meet face
to face on June 1st in St Petersburg and immediately
afterwards at the G8 meeting in the French spa resort
of Evian.










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