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Lavrov accuses US of psyching up EU armies for use of nukes against Russia

Nuclear disarmament is being hindered by the remaining presence of US non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe, the Russian top diplomat stresses
NATO units in Lithuania AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis
NATO units in Lithuania
© AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

GENEVA, February 28. /TASS/. US military specialists are making European countries’ armed forces ready for using tactical nuclear weapons against Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the disarmament conference on Wednesday.

"Nuclear disarmament is hindered by the remaining presence of US non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe and the accompanying destabilizing practice of ‘joint nuclear missions’. Within the framework of these missions NATO’s non-nuclear members in crude violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty participate in planning the use of US non-strategic nuclear weapons and are involved in mastering the corresponding skills. It should be clear to one and all that the US military thereby prepares the European countries for using tactical nuclear weapons against Russia," Lavrov said.

"Russia has no deployed tactical nuclear weapons. Nor does it hold any training to practice methods of how to use it. We have accumulated the available warheads at central storage facilities in our national territory," Lavrov said. "In this situation the existence in Europe of US tactical nuclear weapons ready for use is not just a Cold War rudiment, but an outspokenly aggressive stance."

"I hope that the European citizens will manage to say a firm ‘NO’ to the deployment in their territory of weapons of mass destruction that belong to a country that had already used them once against the population of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," Lavrov said.

Russia has cut its nuclear arsenal under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms by over 85% compared to its stockpiles at the height of the Cold War, he said. "The issues of nuclear disarmament undoubtedly remain the central theme of the international agenda," Russia’s top diplomat said at a Conference on Disarmament.

"As a responsible and consistent supporter of this process, Russia is making special contribution to further cuts in strategic offensive armaments. On February 5, we confirmed that we had reached the ultimate limits on carriers and warheads under the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. Therefore, Russia’s nuclear arsenal has in fact been cut by more than 85% compared to the Cold War peak," Lavrov pointed out.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed by the presidents of Russia and the United States on April 8, 2010 in Prague and entered into force on February 5, 2011 after it was ratified by Russia’s parliament and the US Congress.

The Treaty stipulates cutting deployed strategic carriers to 700 units and to 1,550 nuclear warheads on each side.

US nuclear strategy

Russia is concerned over the considerable changes the United States has made to its updated nuclear strategy, Lavrov said. "Alongside some impressive achievements in implementing the Russian-US treaty [on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms] we have to say that quite a few questions to our counterparts in Washington remain," he said. This applies to the "unilateral removal of a considerable number of delivery vehicles from the total count, which, in fact circumvents the procedures established under the treaty that imply the other party should have a clear understanding of the methods used for such an exclusion."

"Also, there are certain concerns over considerable changes in US approaches in the context of its revised nuclear strategy, which enhances the role of nuclear weapons in different ways, including the creation and deployment of low-yield warheads, thus lowering the threshold of using nuclear weapons," Lavrov said.

US President Donald Trump issued orders to draft a new nuclear doctrine on January 27, 2018. The previous document was approved under Barack Obama in 2010. Trump said the new strategy should ease the risk of nuclear weapons ever being used. At the same time the Pentagon did not rule out the possibility of using nuclear weapons should the United States be attacked with conventional weapons.