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NATO chief's nuclear saber-rattling threatens mankind

By Chen Weihua | | Updated: 2024-06-20 16:55
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The flag of NATO. [Photo/Agencies]

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has always been known as a warmonger. But just weeks before his scheduled retirement after the NATO summit in Washington, he wants to add the nomenclature of a nuclear warmonger to his sordid legacy.

Stoltenberg told The Telegraph on Sunday that NATO is mulling the increasing number of available nuclear weapons to counter the alleged threat from Russia and China. "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. That's exactly what we're doing," he said.

Such irresponsible, belligerent remarks coming from a NATO chief is shocking, because it is an invitation to a nuclear arms race and even a nuclear war which would wipe out the entire human race.

According to the estimates of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which was released on Monday, global spending on nuclear weapons is estimated to have jumped to a record $91.4 billion in 2023. The United States' share of the total spending, $51.5 billion, is more than all the other nuclear-armed states put together and accounts for 80 percent of the increase in nuclear weapons spending last year. The global increase of $10.7 billion from the previous year was largely driven by the rapid increase in the US military budget.

The US has 1,770 nuclear warheads fitted to missiles or located in bases with operational forces, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Monday, while Russia has 1,710. Together, the two countries account for 90 percent of the global nuclear arsenal.

Besides, three of the world's top five nuclear powers are NATO members — the US, the United Kingdom and France. It is absurd for Stoltenberg and some in Washington to try to spread fear across the world by claiming that China, whose nuclear arsenal is a fraction of that of the US, poses a nuclear threat to NATO.

More importantly, China has long maintained a minimum deterrence strategy of nuclear weapons. China is the first country to pledge no first use of nuclear weapons; it has also promised not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states.

For decades, China has been urging the US and other countries to make the same pledge but its pleas have fallen on deaf ears in Washington and other capitals.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian reiterated this week that China's strategy is one of maintaining a high level of stability, continuity and predictability, and asked reporters to pay attention to the huge US investment in upgrading its nuclear arsenal.

Moreover, in December, the Scientific American, in its editorial, warned of the dire consequences of the US' plan to modernize its unwanted, unneeded and unsafe nuclear triad of land-, sea- and air-based weapons.

"Perfectly poised to refight the cold war, these overhauled bombs will waste $1.5 trillion and threaten life on Earth for the century to come. We should rethink this miserable folly rather than once again squandering our wealth while driving a new arms race," the editorial said.

As for Stoltenberg's saber-rattling, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a UK-based organization, condemned him for conjuring up the phantom of a nuclear war. CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said "Stoltenberg's suggestion that NATO make more of its nuclear weapons operationally available is a further step towards nuclear war. The latest NATO insanity must be opposed."

The lack of public endorsement for Stoltenberg's nuclear warmongering by European leaders of NATO shows that he may have been echoing the voices of certain Pentagon officials.

NATO has been sabotaging global efforts to promote nuclear disarmament since it bombed and invaded Libya to effect a regime change by abusing a United Nations resolution on no-fly-zone in 2011, years after Muammar Gaddafi had abandoned his nuclear program. NATO has made it much harder, if not impossible, for countries feeling threatened by the transatlantic military alliance to shelve their nuclear programs. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a case in point.

The whole world, including European Union leaders, should denounce Stoltenberg's nuclear saber-rattling because he has just pushed the world a step closer to nuclear annihilation.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

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