Nuclear threats outlined in new U.S. military policy documents

In a newly released Defense Strategic Plan, the Biden administration says China remains the most dangerous security threat to the US, but that Washington is “for the first time” faced with two possible nuclear conflicts with that country and Russia. The review released Thursday will guide the future size and shape of the US armed forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly raised the specter of launching a nuclear attack on Ukraine, the neighboring country into which his forces invaded eight months ago.

While the threat has alerted governments around the world, US defense officials say they have seen no signs that Putin is about to deploy a nuclear device. But the threat is being taken seriously at a time when global tensions are at boiling point, senior Pentagon officials said Thursday.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a stark reminder of the nuclear risk in current conflicts, and China’s nuclear modernization and rapid expansion present us with new risks and uncertainties,” a senior Defense Ministry official said.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and other Department officials spoke to reporters about the release of new key documents that form the backbone of US military policy: the National Defense Strategy, the Nuclear Posture Review and the Missile Defense Review.

China remains the most dangerous adversary because it is a powerful country that can systematically challenge the US on the military, economic, technological and diplomatic fronts, the assessments conclude. Russia, though a nation in decline, has compounded the risks it poses by building up its nuclear program and reportedly obtaining arms from Iran.

“For the first time, we have to deter two major nuclear weapons competitors, both China and Russia,” the defense official said anonymously in a briefing ahead of the reports’ official release. “This presents new dilemmas for both strategic deterrence and regional warfare.”

While officials didn’t reveal many details about what enhanced deterrence would look like, they are expected to cover the “forward” placement of more US troops in eastern NATO countries, enhanced cybersecurity measures, the development of a hypersonic program, and modernization of includes the aging US fleet of long-range bombers and ground and submarine missile-launching systems.

“It can’t be a solution where we need 2,000 when China has 1,000 and Russia has 1,000,” the official said. “Because this is an arms race that no one should want to be a part of.”

The review also officially canceled the sea-based cruise missile program as it was deemed no longer necessary.

In the strategy documents, the US refers to China as “the evolving threat” and cites its “compelling and increasingly aggressive quest to reshape the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to suit its interests and authoritarian preferences.” These include bellicose actions and territorial claims in the South China Sea and threats to conquer the self-governing island of Taiwan.

China is also an ally of another nuclear-weapons menace, North Korea, which has conducted numerous ballistic missile tests in recent months.

But it was Putin who continued to shake nerves – or at least sabers – on Thursday. In a three-and-a-half-hour speech and question-and-answer session, he expressed confidence about the war in Ukraine and the need to defeat the West.

“The historic period of the West’s undivided dominance over world affairs is coming to an end,” Putin said, according to news reports. “We are standing at a historical boundary: Ahead of us lies what is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and at the same time most important decade since the end of the Second World War.”

Putin has also insisted, without evidence, that Ukraine is preparing to launch a “dirty bomb” that would spread radioactive material across its territory and then blame Russia for the attack. Western leaders warn that Russia is more likely to use a dirty bomb in a false flag operation.

At a press conference at the Pentagon, Austin said he hoped open channels of communication would help avoid an escalation, but warned that if Russia does use a nuclear weapon — including a slightly less destructive “tactical nuclear weapon” — “a very significant one.” Answer” from the rest of the world.

“We will continue to communicate that any manner of using such a weapon, or even talking about using such a weapon, is dangerous and irresponsible,” Austin said.

https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-10-27/china-biggest-security-challenge-to-u-s-but-russia-a-potential-nuclear-threat Nuclear threats outlined in new U.S. military policy documents

Alley Einstein

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