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NATO should flex its nuclear muscles, Stoltenberg says

NATO should flex its nuclear muscles, Stoltenberg says

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NATO should flex its nuclear muscles, Stoltenberg says

NATO is considering deploying more of its nuclear weapons in the face of threats from Russia, China and North Korea, the defense alliance’s leader said.

It is important that NATO “communicate the direct message that we, of course, are a nuclear alliance” by taking more of its warheads out of storage, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with the Telegraph published on Sunday.

“I won’t go into operational details about how many nuclear warheads should be operational and which should be stored, but we need to consult on these issues,” he said. “That’s exactly what we’re doing,” he added.

Of the alliance’s 32 member countries, three — the United States, France and the United Kingdom — have nuclear weapons. Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey also host American tactical nuclear weapons on their soil.

The U.S. said it had 1,419 deployed strategic nuclear warheads in its arsenal in March 2023. Russia opted not to release its own figures for 2023, but reported it had 1,549 in 2022. Together, the two countries account for about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear arms inventory.

Though NATO’s goal is nonproliferation, “a world where Russia, China and North Korea have nuclear weapons, and NATO does not, is a more dangerous world,” Stoltenberg said.

Moscow criticized Stoltenberg’s comments, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov labeling them “nothing else but an escalation.” Russian President Vladimir Putin never talks about nuclear weapons “at his own initiative as he takes the issue seriously,” Peskov added.

Moscow launched joint nuclear drills last week with Belarus, where it began storing some of its nuclear warheads in 2023 in a move widely interpreted as a warning to the West not to interfere in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Stoltenberg also raised the alarm about China’s burgeoning nuclear program, cautioning that before long, “NATO may face something that it has never faced before, and that is two nuclear-powered potential adversaries — China and Russia.”

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a Swedish think tank, said on Monday that China has around 500 warheads and may have deployed a small number of them for the first time.

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