The West is skeptical of Russia’s plan to deploy nuclear in Belarus

The United States says it has not found any signs that Russia will soon deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Interview with the Rossiya-24 TV channel on March 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “We have delivered to Belarus the famous and very effective Iskander system, which can carry their nuclear weapons. On April 3, we will begin training the operational teams, and on July 1, we will complete the construction of a special tactical nuclear weapons depot on the territory of Belarus.”.

The Kremlin owner said that this decision of Moscow was motivated by the possibility that Britain would supply uranium-poor ammunition to Ukraine.

NATO has criticized Moscow’s move as “dangerous and irresponsible”, while Ukraine has asked for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

However, the White House said there is no sign that Russia will soon deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

“We have not seen any indication that Putin will fulfill that commitment or move nuclear weapons,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on March 26. He added that Washington closely monitors the situation on a daily basis and so far “has not detected any changes that force the US to change its strategic deterrence status”.

Last February, President Putin announced that he had requested a state of high alert for the country’s nuclear arsenal, but there had been no discernible change in status or any Moscow unusual move on nuclear weapons.

Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko signaled an agreement to establish a nuclear base. More than a year ago, the Belarusian leader held a referendum to change the constitution to pave the way for the plan.

However, experts are skeptical of the plan that Putin recently revealed. They point out that Russia has spent at least seven years building a nuclear weapons storage facility in Kaliningrad and it is not clear whether the bombs have actually been delivered there. To date, no satellite images have shown that something similar is under construction in Belarus.

“I’ve looked at several potential nuclear sites, and there’s not been any indication of one,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists. nuclear storage facilities are under construction. However, the possibility cannot be ruled out. There could be a lot of people doing preparations around their country at the moment.”

Earlier this week, President Putin threatened to retaliate if Britain provided Ukraine with armor-piercing uranium-poor ammunition. However, in his speech on March 25, Putin did not focus on this issue. Instead, he emphasized criticism of the nuclear sharing agreement between the US and five allies including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Turkey. Under the agreement, the US is allowed to store B61 gravity bombs (about 100 in total) in allied countries and their crews are trained to fly planes carrying them in the event of a nuclear war.

Russia argues that the agreement violates the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). In a joint statement issued at a meeting last week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Putin said: “All countries possessing nuclear weapons should refrain from deploying nuclear weapons abroad and withdrawal of nuclear weapons deployed abroad”.

The US nuclear sharing agreement with its allies and the proposed deal between Russia and Belarus bypasses NPT restrictions by informally transferring stored weapons to the host government until the conflict. sudden start. However, for non-arms states and arms control advocates, it goes against the spirit of the NPT.

The Obama administration has contemplated withdrawing the B61 from Europe as a move toward disarmament, but some European allies have opposed any move that would result in a shrinking nuclear arsenal, leading to Relations with Moscow deteriorating after that. Instead of being scrapped, these bombs have been modernized with the new version B61-12, which is in the process of being delivered to Europe.

 Susi Snyder, program coordinator for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said: “New bombs mean a whole new wave of weapons is emerging and that is of paramount concern. to the people of Europe”.

Tactical nuclear weapons are also known as non-strategic weapons. This is a weapon that uses small nuclear warheads and targeting systems to serve a limited attack. They are designed to destroy enemy targets in a specific area without spreading the fallout.

The smallest tactical nuclear weapon can have an explosive equivalent of 1 kiloton or less. One kiloton is equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT. The largest can be up to 100 kilotons. Meanwhile, strategic nuclear weapons are more destructive (up to 1,000 kilotons) and are launched from longer ranges.

Tactical weapons can be mounted on missiles, air-dropped bombs, or even short-range artillery shells.

Many nuclear countries in the world possess this type of weapon. For example, a US report in March said that the US possessed about 230 non-strategic nuclear weapons, including 100 B61 bombs.

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