NEW YORK IS 40 YEARS OVERDUE A MAJOR EARTHQUAKE AND AMERICA ISN’T PROPERLY PREPARED, ‘QUAKELAND’ AUTHOR KATHRYN MILES TELLS TREVOR NOAH BY TUFAYEL AHMED ON 9/27/17 AT 9:28 AM Updated | An earthquake is long overdue to hit New York and America isn’t prepared, author and environmental theorist Kathryn Miles told Trevor Noah on Tuesday’s Daily Show. Miles is the author of a new book, Quakeland, which investigates how imminently an earthquake is expected in the U.S. and how well-prepared the country is to handle it. The answer to those questions: Very soon and not very well. “We know it will, that’s inevitable, but we don’t know when,” said Miles when asked when to expect another earthquake in the U.S. She warned that New York is in serious danger of being the site of the next one, surprising considering that the West Coast sits along the San Andreas fault line. “New York is 40 years overdue for a significant earthquake…Memphis, Seattle, Washington D.C.—it’s a national problem,” said Miles. Miles told Noah that though the U.S. is “really good at responding to natural disasters,” like the rapid response to the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, the country and its government is, in fact, lagging behind in its ability to safeguard citizens before an earthquake hits. “We’re really bad at the preparedness side,” Miles responded when Noah asked how the infrastructure in the U.S. compares to Mexico’s national warning system, for example. “Whether it’s the literal infrastructure, like our roads and bridges, or the metaphoric infrastructure, like forecasting, prediction, early warning systems. Historically, we’ve underfunded those and as a result we’re way behind even developing nations on those fronts.” Part of the problem, Miles says, is that President Donald Trump and his White House are not concerned with warning systems that could prevent the devastation of natural disasters. “We can invest in an early warning system. That’s one thing we can definitely do. We can invest in better infrastructures, so that when the quake happens, the damage is less,” said the author. “The scientists, the emergency managers, they have great plans in place. We have the technology for an early warning system, we have the technology for tsunami monitoring. But we don’t have a president that is currently interested in funding that, and that’s a problem.” This article has been updated to reflect that Miles said New York is the possible site of an upcoming earthquake, and not the likeliest place to be next hit by one.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans on Saturday to station tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, a warning to the West as it steps up military support for Ukraine.
Putin said the move was triggered by Britain’s decision this past week to provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.
Tactical nuclear weapons are intended for use on the battlefield and have a short range and a low yield compared with much more powerful nuclear warheads fitted to long-range missiles. Russia plans to maintain control over those it sends to Belarus, and construction of storage facilities for them will be completed by July 1, Putin said.
Putin argued that by deploying its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russia was following the lead of the United States, noting that the U.S. has nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
“We are doing what they have been doing for decades, stationing them in certain allied countries, preparing the launch platforms and training their crews,” Putin said, speaking in an interview on state television that aired Saturday night. “We are going to do the same thing.”
Russia has stored its tactical nuclear weapons at dedicated depots on its territory, and moving part of the arsenal to a storage facility in Belarus would up the ante in the Ukrainian conflict by placing them closer to the Russian aircraft and missiles already stationed there.
Some hawkish commentators in Russia long have urged the Kremlin to put the tactical nuclear weapons close to the weapons to send a signal to the West about the readiness to use them.
The U.S. said it would “monitor the implications” of Putin’s announcement.
“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said. “We remain committed to the collective defense of the NATO alliance.”
Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine had Soviet nuclear weapons stationed on their territory but handed them over to Russia after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Putin said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has long asked to have nuclear weapons in his country again as a counter to NATO. Belarus shares borders with three NATO members — Latvia, Lithuania and Poland — and Russia used its territory as a staging ground to send troops into neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
Putin noted that Russia helped modernize Belarusian military aircraft last year to make them capable of carrying nuclear warheads. He said 10 such planes were ready to go. He said nuclear weapons also could be launched by the Iskander short-range missiles that Russia provided to Belarus last year.
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who is living in exile, said the agreement to transfer the tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus “underlines the threat to regional security” from Lukashenko’s regime.
“Europe won’t be safe until Belarus dictator is removed & brought before tribunal to face justice for crimes against our country & Ukraine,” Tsikhanouskaya wrote in English on Twitter.
Lukashenko’s support of the war has drawn international criticism and sanctions. But he has publicly stood by Russia, which has pumped billions of dollars into shoring up his Soviet-style, state-controlled economy with cheap energy and loans.
Putin had initially objected to the depleted uranium rounds that Britain promised to ship to Ukraine by making the false claim that they have nuclear components.
He subsequently toned down his language, but insisted Saturday that the ammunition posed an additional danger to both troops and civilians in Ukraine by leaving a radioactive trace and contaminating agricultural land.
“Those weapons are harmful not just for combatants, but also for the people living in those territories and for the environment,” he said.
Putin added that Russia has vast stockpiles of similar ammunition but so far has refrained from using it.
Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process needed to create nuclear weapons. The rounds can’t generate a nuclear reaction but they do emit low levels of radiation. The U.N. nuclear watchdog has warned of the possible dangers of exposure.
Such rounds were developed by the U.S. during the Cold War to destroy Soviet tanks, including the same T-72 tanks that Ukraine now faces in its push to break through a stalemate in the east.
Washington [US], March 25 (ANI): The US administration is increasingly alarmed over the possibility that Russia is supporting China’s build-up of nuclear weapons by supplying it with highly enriched uranium, Nikkei Asia reported. During a congressional hearing on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that China’s political and to some extent material support for Russia goes against the interests of the US in bringing an end to the war.
“Their diplomatic support, their political support and to some extent material support for Russia certainly goes against our interests in bringing this war to an end,” Nikkei Asia quoted Antony Blinken as saying. Blinken said that China is not providing deadly weapons to Russia. However, he underscored that the two nations are partners. He said, “They talked about a partnership with no limits.”
Further, as per the news report, the new area of concern expressed by the Biden administration stems from the nuclear cooperation between Russia and China. At a hearing in March, John Plumb, the assistant secretary of defence who oversees space and nuclear policy, called it “very troubling” to see Russia and China cooperating on this, the report stated further.
Plumb said, “They may have talking points around it, but there’s no getting around the fact that breeder reactors are plutonium, and plutonium is for weapons.”
Speaking to Nikkei Asia, a senior State Department official said, “Responsible nuclear states should not be feeding into [China’s] nuclear programs with fissile material without understanding the escalatory potential, without understanding the destabilizing nature, without understanding the consequences of that transfer.”
The US official said Washington has made little to no progress in establishing a dialogue with China over nuclear capabilities and urged Beijing to offer greater transparency on its nuclear programs, as per the news report.
In US Congress, House Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Representative Mike Turner and two other senior Republicans sent a letter to the White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. They warned him that Russia and China’s “nuclear cooperation goes much farther than just civilian projects.”
The US administration has found that China is expanding its nuclear capabilities. In an annual report released in November last year, the US Department of Defence estimated that China will triple its stockpile to 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035.
Jacob Stokes, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for a New American Security think tank said that the constraint on China’s arsenal has been a lack of fissile material to create new weapons, as per the news report.
Stokes further said, “Russian shipments provide China with uranium that, with additional processing, could go into new nuclear warheads, thereby alleviating that constraint.”
Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Moscow and held a meeting with their Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The two leaders issued a joint statement on deepening their comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation.
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping also released a joint statement on plans for economic cooperation between the two nations until 2030. (ANI)
This report is auto-generated from ANI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.
Russia will station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, President Vladimir Putin has said.
President Putin said the move would not violate nuclear non-proliferation agreements and compared it to the US stationing its weapons in Europe, according to Russian state media.
Moscow would not be transferring control of its arms to Minsk, he added.
The US said it did not believe Russia was preparing to use the nuclear weapons after the announcement.
“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture,” the US Defense Department said in a statement.
“We remain committed to the collective defense of the Nato alliance.”
The Belarusian regime is a firm Kremlin ally and supporter of the invasion of Ukraine.
President Putin told Russian state television on Saturday that Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko had long raised the issue of stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
“There is nothing unusual here either,” he said. “Firstly, the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries.”
Russia will have completed the construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by 1 July, President Putin added.
A small number of Iskander tactical missile systems, which can be used to launch nuclear weapons, have already been transferred to Belarus, President Putin said.
He did not specify when the weapons would be transferred to Belarus. It will be the first time since the mid-1990s that Moscow will have based nuclear arms outside the country.
The Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 meant weapons became based in four newly-independent states – Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan – with the transfer of all warheads to Russia completed in 1996.
President Putin’s comments come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed his plea for more military support from his Western allies.
Pakistan nuclear warheads may fall into wrong hands. Reuters
Sometimes a denial can be more convincing than an assent. That’s what happened when the Finance Minister of Pakistan Ishaq Dar and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asserted that there would be ‘no compromise’ on the country’s nuclear and missile programe and that they are ‘jealously guarded’ by the State. This at a time when both are among those with whom the public has the least confidence. While Dar seems to have no control over the precipitous slide into economic chaos, Sharif seems to have been swept aside by the Imran Khan political tornado. When these officials assert one thing, the public is likely to believe the opposite.
Those nuclear headshakes
True, Finance Minister Dar was responding to questions raised by Senator Raza Rabbani on whether the unusually delayed loan from the International Monetary Fund had anything to do with the pressure on the country’s nuclear programme or its strategic relationship with China or because an “imperialist power” wanted its presence in the region. To which the finance minister replied in a statement typical of a man from the Punjabi heartland, that Pakistan had not lost its ‘nuclear prowess’, and that no one had the right to decide what range of missiles it needed to have and how many warheads it could field. The prime minister followed it up with a tweet and a statement that “stringent, foolproof and multi-layered security safeguards, duly testified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, are in place….”. That statement was called out immediately. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has no role at all in the oversight of Pakistan’s nuclear armoury. Its statutory mandate is “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world”. A Prime Minister should be better briefed.
The IMF takes a break
It is true however that the IMF has taken an inordinate amount of time to provide its much-awaited tranche, even as the country has just enough foreign exchange reserves for – months of imports. True also that (unattributed) reports suggest that the fund managers are waiting for Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE to fulfil prior commitments before the fund review to bail out Pakistan for providing financial assistance including additional deposits and investments to the tune of about $6 billion. It’s all very questionable. No wonder then that social media is rife with speculation about whether the country is being forced, step by step to relinquish its nuclear weapons, an expensive toy for a country that is shaky at the best of times, and downright dangerous at the worst, which is now. What Pakistan actually spends on its nuclear armoury is unknown, given that the defence budget itself is incredibly opaque, covering just a few lines. India’s budget figures run into several pages. The 2022-23 allocation of Rs 1,523 billion for defence, came to 17.5 per cent of the total current expenditure and is 11.16 per cent higher than last year. That the IMF would want this cutdown was inevitable.
Fears of Pakistani nuclear safety from day one
Much of the sensible world, has long been alarmed at Pakistan’s ability to retain control over its nuclear weapons or its materials. In the 1980s, the spectre of a nuclear scientist selling sensitive nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya – and another suspected ‘fourth customer – long believed to be the Saudis – shocked the non-proliferation community, and led to a focus on Pakistan’s underground networks. After 9/11, that fear was turned into an asset, with the Obama Administration providing generous aid to Pakistan for ‘nuclear safety’ and screening programmes for nuclear personnel, against a supposed threat from Al Qaeda, and fears that it could infiltrate the Pakistani nuclear establishment. That was also tied to Pakistan’s ‘cooperation’ on Taliban sanctuaries, which of course, never fructified.
In 2008, then Vice-President Joe Biden was telling a stunned president Hamid Karzai that “Pakistan is fifty times more important than Afghanistan for the United States due to its nuclear weapon status. In 2013, The Washington Post revealed the ‘intense concern’ among the US intelligence community about terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programs and worry about poor information on nuclear weapons storage and safeguards; there were also apprehensions that individual Pakistani nuclear weapons handlers could go rogue. All this was pushed by an academic industry that made its money predicting just such threats, even as Islamabad raked in dollars. Even during the Trump Presidency, Senator Lindsey Graham was able to convince President Trump to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, just after meeting the Pakistan Ambassador, with his tweet noting, “We all must remember Pakistan is a nuclear-armed nation, and there is a Pakistan version of the Taliban who wishes topple the Pakistani government and military”. There isn’t. That was a Pakistani army line. It was not any ‘Taliban’ which was the threat. As attacks against General Musharraf indicated, the threat was from serving army personnel radicalised by the Jihadi Tablighi Ijtima. While an attempted attempt to hijack a Pakistani ship PNS Zulfikar, was by radicalised navy personnel. The threat has always been from within.
The real threat
It is President Biden – who has dealt with Pakistan and Afghanistan for years – who actually got it right when he remarked that Pakistan was one of the most dangerous countries in the world as it had ‘nuclear weapons without cohesion’. Someone briefed that president well. Political parties on a collision course, violence on the streets, terror attacks almost every other day, and an army divided and shamed by Imran Khan is not the best climate for any kind of stability. Consider the nuclear command and control system. The country has always had a diffused authority – to put it mildly – between the President, the Prime Minister and the Army, and these together with the scientific heads formed a loose ‘nuclear authority’.
In reality, all nuclear decisions were made by the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) at the Joint Service Headquarters. It was General Musharraf who streamlined the system to create the National Command Authority (NCA) in February 2000, with SPD as the secretariat of the NCA, and Strategic Force Commands (SFCs). That was nice for him because he was the head of the army and president. The Prime Minister was the Vice Chairman, and Foreign, Defense, Finance, and Interior ministers were made part of the NCA, as well as four military commanders (Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), the Army Chief, the Naval and Air Force chiefs and DG SPD (three-star Army General) were ex-officio members of the NCA. In 2010, President Zardari handed over NCA command to a (puppet) prime minister. When Nawaz Sharif came in as prime minister, he tried to get matters more under his control, but there is nothing to indicate that he succeeded. Imran Khan seems to have attended no meeting of the NCA at all.
Now look at the current NCA. To think that the prime minister has control is laughable. He doesn’t even have the support of his own coalition partners. External Affairs Minister Bilawal Bhutto seems only intent on currying favour with the army. The finance minister is being laughed at publicly. The Army Chief General Asim Munir is the first army chief in the history of Pakistan who is a ‘Hafiz-e-Quran’. He belongs to a well-known religious and scholarly family of Rawalpindi and he memorised the Holy Quran from the Madrassah Darul Tajweedul Quran. His father was principal of Tariqabad school in Rawalpindi Cantt, and also a ‘Hafiz-e-Quran’. Nothing wrong in that. It’s just that its not the best qualification to head an army. General Shamshad Mirza is the one who should have become chief, but has been ‘kicked upstairs’ as CJCSC, and has nominal control over nukes. The Pakistani Air Force and Naval chiefs have little say in anything military. And nothing at all is known about the present head of SPD as to where his loyalities lie. That there are strong divisions within the army on the Imran Khan fiasco is now well known.
This then is the background of a State that has 165 warheads (to India’s 156), on air, sea and land, including tactical nuclear weapons, whose command and control chain is unclear. It’s enough to make anyone’s blood freeze. Does Pakistan need nuclear weapons? Frankly no. As its own scholars have pointed out, every single one of the wars against India were started by Islamabad. In simple terms, India does not covet Pakistani territory, and wouldn’t know what to do with it if it did. Adding several million Pakistanis to Indian territory is hardly the stuff of Indian ambitions. This is the sum and size of it. Pakistan’s only threat arises from itself, and that’s how it has always been. Now all that remains is for its managers to accept this.
The author is a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi. She tweets @kartha_tara. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication
The Russian despot raged against Britain’s decision to provide Kyiv’s troops with Challenger 2 battle tanks and depleted uranium ammunition, arguing it marked a step towards using weapons with a ‘nuclear component’.
Tank shells containing the radioactive material are more dense, enhancing their capability to penetrate thick layers of armour.
But depleted uranium can cause serious radiation damage if it enters the body – for example through shrapnel or inhalation from explosions – and is linked to increased instances of cancer and other illnesses in warzones.
Speaking after talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Russian capital, Putin said he will be ‘forced to react’ if the UK goes ahead with its delivery of 14 next-generation battle tanks.
‘The United Kingdom announced not only the supply of tanks to Ukraine, but also shells with depleted uranium,’ Putin seethed.
‘If this happens, Russia will be forced to respond accordingly, given that the West collectively is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component. It looks like the West indeed intends to fight Russia until the last Ukrainian,’ added.
Britain in kind accused Putin of peddling deliberate disinformation regarding his ‘nuclear component’ claims, with the MoD pointing out that ‘the British Army has used depleted uranium in its armour piercing shells for decades. It is a standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities’.
Putin also joined XI in condemning the security pact known as AUKUS that will see Australia develop a nuclear-powered submarine program with the United States and Britain.
Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reiterated Putin’s point today and warned the world is just mere ‘steps’ away from nuclear disaster.
‘Another step has been taken, and there are fewer and fewer left,’ Shoigu said. When asked whether this meant that the world was closer to a nuclear collision, he replied: ‘It was not by chance that I told you about steps. There are fewer and fewer.’
But Conservative MP and British army veteran Bob Seely dismissed Putin and Shoigu’s statements as a simple intimidation tactic.
‘Putin’s primary political aim is to undermine the link between Ukraine and its Western allies that are supplying Kyiv with funding and arms. If he can break that link, he believes he could eventually grind Ukraine down and win a victory that his troops have not been able to win on the battlefields in southern and eastern Ukraine.
‘What’s worrying is that Russia is now increasing the level of nuclear threat rhetoric. Is this because President Xi has left Moscow, or because he is giving his blessing to it? China’s role here is important.
‘Putin’s rhetoric is likely to be just that, but we do not know that he is bluffing and therefore we need to assume he may use nuclear weapons. If we take his threat seriously, and everything we can to deter him, we make it less likely that he will use them, but for sure we live in dangerous times and we need to be honest about that. We cannot just assume he is bluffing.
‘What is also clear is that the longer this war goes on, the more dangerous it will become. Therefore, the least dangerous option is to arm Ukraine to win this war this year, or at least push Russia onto the defensive… Arming Ukraine remains the least bad option.’
Depleted uranium is used in weapons because it can penetrate tanks and armour more easily due to its density and other physical properties.
It is a by-product of the nuclear enriching process used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons. It is around 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium.
Depleted uranium is a particular health risk around impact sites, where dust can get into people’s lungs and vital organs. The use of tank shells containing the radioactive material has been linked to increased cancer risk and increased rates of birth defects in warzones.
Despite this, many countries have stockpiles of depleted uranium ammunition including Russia, the US and the UK.
On Monday, UK junior Defence Minister Annabel Goldie wrote: ‘Alongside our granting of a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, we will be providing ammunition, including armor-piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium. Such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armored vehicles.’
‘The Russian side positively assesses the objective and unbiased position of the Chinese side on the Ukrainian question.
The parties are opposed to any states and their blocs damaging the legitimate security interests of other states in order to obtain military, political and other advantages.
The Chinese side positively assesses the willingness of the Russian side to make efforts to restart peace talks as soon as possible.
Russia welcomes China’s readiness to play a positive role in a political-diplomatic settlement of the Ukrainian crisis and the constructive ideas set forth in the document drawn up by the Chinese side ‘On China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukrainian Crisis.’
The parties note that in order to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, it is necessary to respect the legitimate concerns of all countries in the field of security and prevent the formation of bloc confrontation, and halt actions that further fuel the conflict.
The parties stress that responsible dialogue is the best way for a sustainable resolution of the Ukrainian crisis, and the international community should support constructive efforts in this regard.
The parties call for an end to all steps that contribute to the escalation of tension and prolongation of hostilities, to avoid further degradation of the crisis to the point where it could cross over into an uncontrollable phase.
The parties oppose all unilateral sanctions imposed in circumvention of the U.N. Security Council.’
Weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commander of Britain’s Royal Tank Regiment, said it was ‘reckless’ of Putin ‘to try and suggest Britain is sending nuclear material’ to Ukraine.
He said depleted uranium is a common component of tank rounds, possibly even used by Russia.
‘Putin insinuating that they are some sort of nuclear weapon is bonkers,’ de Bretton-Gordon said.
‘Depleted uranium is completely inert. There is no way that you could create a nuclear reaction or a nuclear explosion with depleted uranium.’
‘Naturally, Russia has something to answer this with,’ Shoigu told reporters when asked about the ammunition.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the plan the ‘Yugoslavia scenario’, saying the ammunition caused cancer and infected the environment.
It comes as Xi said on Tuesday he had signed an agreement with Putin bringing their ties into a ‘new era’ – in a move that will be met with apprehension in Ukraine as Kyiv fears China may ultimately decide to supply its strategic ally with arms, influencing the outcome of the war.
‘We signed a statement on deepening the strategic partnership and bilateral ties which are entering a new era,’ Xi said following talks with Putin in the Kremlin.
‘The parties express great concern over the ongoing strengthening of NATO’s ties with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region on military and security issues,’ China and Russia said.
Putin also claimed that China’s 12-point ‘peace plan’ could provide a basis for the end to the Ukraine war – a move that has been met with scepticism in Kyiv and the West, with world leaders questioning the real motive behind Beijing’s plan for peace.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said today that Kyiv has invited China to talks and is waiting for an answer from Beijing.
‘We offered China to become a partner in the implementation of the peace formula. We passed over our formula across all channels. We invite you to dialogue. We are waiting for your answer,’ Zelensky told a press conference, adding that: ‘We are receiving some signals, but there are no specifics yet’.
China has not offered any concrete proposals to end the war other than its 12-point ‘peace plan’ which included calling for an end to Western sanctions, negotiations that would see Ukraine ceding territory, a NATO pull-back from its eastern borders and reconstruction efforts that are likely to benefit Chinese contractors.
Beijing insists it is a neutral broker in Ukraine, and Xi said Tuesday after his talks with Putin: ‘We adhere to a principled and objective position on the Ukrainian crisis based on the goals and principles of the UN Charter.’
But despite its calls for peace, Beijing has continued to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Russia and parroted the Kremlin’s talking points about NATO expansionism.
In a scathing speech on Monday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also voiced scepticism over Xi’s ‘peace’ proposals aimed at ending the war in Ukraine, warning they could be a ‘stalling tactic’ to help Russian troops on the ground.
‘The world should not be fooled by any tactical move by Russia, supported by China or any other country, to freeze the war on its own terms,’ Blinken said.
Blinken added that Xi’s trip suggests that Beijing does not think that Putin should not be held accountable for atrocities committed in Ukraine by Russian forces.
It came after the International Criminal Court on Friday called for Putin’s arrest and accused the despot of committing war crimes by abducting Ukrainian children from their homes and deporting them to Russia to be given to Russian families.
Putin warmly welcomed Xi on Monday for a three-day visit the two major powers described as an opportunity to deepen their ‘no-limits friendship’. Putin is keen to show he has a heavyweight ally and also find a market for Russian energy products under western sanctions.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov accused NATO of wanting to become the world’s dominant military force and said Moscow is trying to prevent it.
‘That is why we are expanding our cooperation with China, including in the security sphere,’ he said.
From Seoul to Warsaw, Belarus and beyond, more nations are looking to acquire or host nuclear arms from the US, Russia and possibly Iran down the road
The post-Cold War non-proliferation movement is reversing – and our world is in peril
China’s new foreign minister, Qin Gang, recently warned that his country and the United States were on a course towards “conflict and confrontation“. The warning, from one nuclear power to another, comes as a new danger spreads around the globe.
From the Indo-Pacific to Europe, the possibility that nuclear weapons will be used preemptively is growing. But something else is also taking place. A handful of countries, each with their geopolitical dilemmas, are opening up to the idea of hosting nuclear weapons. Suddenly, geopolitical flashpoints risk becoming nuclear flashpoints.
With North Korea issuing more threats, South Korea now wants nuclear weapons. One possibility is that Seoul makes a deal with the US to maintain its nuclear arms, though the power to use them would remain with Washington. That Seoul would want this is a sign the conflict on the Korean peninsula has entered a new phase.
Any such deal would suggest an acceptance by Seoul and Washington that peace and reconciliation with Pyongyang are next to impossible – and that a new kind of “war footing” is being explored.
But what happens if Australia or the Philippines also wants similar treatment? Suddenly, Asia could have more nuclear-capable countries than just China, India and North Korea.
And, if the US refuses to give nuclear weapons to some allies in the Indo-Pacific, it could upend the geopolitical alignment of these countries.
In the Middle East, it’s a different dynamic. As Iran moves closer to building a nuclear bomb, Israel has warned that it’s “now or never” to stop Tehran. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it will give rise to two big changes.
First, Iran might use them geopolitically, and share them with a host of nations from Venezuela to Syria. Such a status quo, where Caracas or Damascus could acquire nuclear weapons, would put the West in the geopolitical hot seat. Second, a nuclear-armed Iran will generate a “survival crisis” for its adversaries.
Saudi Arabia and Iran may have restarted their relationship through China, but an Iranian nuclear bomb would change things. Saudi Arabia has cautioned that “all bets are off” if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon. Does this mean Saudi Arabia will also develop nuclear weapons to defend itself?
And, as the Ukraine conflict enters its second year, a new game of “nuclear chess” has started in Europe. Just days after the war began, people in Belarus voted to host Russian nuclear weapons. A few months later, Poland signalled its willingness to host American nuclear weapons.
Who is next? Should nuclear weapons begin to surface in Eastern Europe, the balance of power between the two poles of the continent could be affected.
The world is entering an era when more countries could have nuclear weapons than at any point in history. This is a massive shift. Since the end of the Cold War, the world has been focused on nuclear non-proliferation.
As the club of nuclear powers threatens to expand, there are seismic implications for the world.
First, much of America’s power comes from other nations’ reliance on it. Whether Poland, Japan or Saudi Arabia, a “glue” connecting these nations with America is defence. If America’s allies start taking defence into their own hands, say with nuclear weapons, it would massively erode Washington’s power.
Second, the threat of nuclear weapons could lead to war. Could Israel take action against Iran? Will North Korea attack the South before Seoul gets its nuclear weapons? The beginning of another war, over nuclear arms, will threaten the global stability just as the effects of the Ukraine war are still snowballing. Can the international community effectively manage two major wars at a time?
Third, as more countries aspire to become nuclear powers, who will they turn to? Indonesia might turn to India. Brazil might ask Russia and China. Suddenly, a decision by the US to hand over nuclear weapons might open the door for other nuclear powers to do the same.
Lastly, how countries use their nuclear weapons could generate the next Cuban missile crisis. If the Philippines were to acquire nuclear weapons, it might station them on South China Sea islands that Beijing claims. Will this lead to a nuclear showdown in Asia? This situation could replicate globally as nuclear weapons spread, creating a permanent state of crisis for governments.
For many years, the threat of nuclear war seemed to be fading away. The idea that nuclear weapons would be used seemed close to impossible. There was just too much at stake.
Today, however, a new kind of thinking has taken over in nations. Because of the Ukraine conflict, the most pressing need for many governments is to defend the longevity of their nations against invasion and destruction. Suddenly, it feels like nuclear weapons are no longer so taboo – they just might be the best way to ensure survival.
A new nuclear arms race has begun. Of course, many will try to impose rules and moratoriums to stop its spread. But this will fail.
Little can be done to change the new thinking of these countries. Everybody must accept that, as nuclear weapons spread, a nuclear strike becomes a realistic possibility. And with this, everybody must adapt and start figuring out how to operate under the shadow of a constant and growing threat.
Abishur Prakash is a co-founder and geopolitical futurist at the Center for Innovating the Future (CIF), an advisory firm based in Toronto, Canada