Russia Says US Lowering “Nuclear Barrel” with New Bombs in Europe | World

By Guy Faulconbridge LONDON (Reuters) – Russia said on Saturday that the accelerated deployment of modernized U.S. B61 tactical nuclear weapons at NATO bases in Europe would reduce the “nuclear bar” and that Russia would take the measure. into account in their military planning.

Russia has around 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons in operation, while the US has around 200 such weapons, half of which are at bases in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Amid the Ukraine crisis, Politico reported on October 26 that the US said at a closed NATO meeting this month that it would accelerate the deployment of the modernized version of the B61, the B61-12, with new weapons arriving at European bases in December. , many months earlier than planned.

“We cannot ignore the plans to modernize nuclear weapons, those free-falling bombs that are in Europe,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Gurshko told the state news agency RIA.

The B61-12 gravity bomb, about 3.5 meters tall, carries a lower-yield nuclear warhead than many previous versions, but is more accurate and can penetrate the ground, according to research by the Federation of American Scientists. published in 2014. “The US is modernizing them, increasing their accuracy and reducing the power of the nuclear charge, that is, they transform these weapons into ‘battlefield weapons,’ thus reducing the nuclear batten,” Grushko said.

The Pentagon said it would not discuss the details of the US nuclear arsenal and that the premise of the Politico article was wrong because the US had long been planning to modernize its B61 nuclear weapons. “The modernization of the B61 nuclear weapons has been underway for years, and plans to safely and responsibly exchange older weapons for the updated B61-12 versions are part of a long-scheduled and planned modernization effort,” the statement said. Pentagon spokesperson Oscar Seara. “It is in no way linked to current events in Ukraine and has not been accelerated in any way,” Seara said in an emailed statement.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spawned the most serious conflict between Moscow and the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the two Cold War superpowers came closest to nuclear war. President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that Russia will defend its territory by any means available, including nuclear weapons, if attacked.

The comments raised particular concern in the West after Moscow declared last month that it had annexed four regions of Ukraine whose parts its forces control. Putin says the West is doing nuclear blackmail against Russia. The US B61 nuclear bomb was initially tested in Nevada, shortly after the Cuban missile crisis. Development of a new version of the bomb, the B61-12, was approved under the presidency of Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017.

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