Why Europe was scared of a nuclear audit in the United States

The analyzes were made by Mihail Moshkin for Vzglyad. Their assessments, opinions and comments on the topic do not reflect the position of BulgarianMilitary.com

MOSCOW, ($1=71.13 Russian Rubles) – Washington is revising its nuclear policy in close coordination with its allies. This message sounded against the backdrop of requests from Europeans and Japanese to the United States not to abandon the doctrine of a preemptive nuclear strike against Russia. Why did the American satellites turn out to be more belligerent than their senior partner, and how can Moscow respond to these threats?

Several of the United States’ European NATO allies [notably Britain, Germany, and France], as well as Japan and Australia, have asked the United States to review its nuclear military policy, the Financial Times reported. The American partners believe that Washington should abandon the principle of non-use of nuclear weapons first.

In other words, not the United States itself, but its allies believe that the Americans should retain the right to preemptive strike – that is, the right to attack another nuclear power. Among the countries of the world nuclear club, only two countries are recognized as potential adversaries of the United States – Russia and China.

The Joe Biden administration is now reviewing United States policy on the terms of use of nuclear weapons. The review is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, the Financial Times notes. The United States sent out a questionnaire to allies to find out how they feel about changes in their nuclear policy, according to sources familiar with the matter. And then most of the respondents said no to the abandonment of the Americans from the right of the first strike.

At the same time, a spokesman for the Biden administration confirmed that the United States is indeed carrying out some kind of revision of its military nuclear policy in close coordination with its allies. True, at the same time, the White House official called the mentioned revision a routine procedure that any new US administration carries out after the presidential elections.

“Nuclear policy audits are indeed routine. The reasons for this are usually technical – for example, the state of the nuclear triad park. We can say that several commas will change in the doctrine. But serious revisions have taken place in the history of the United States,” the American political scientist Dmitry Drobnitsky explained to the VZGLYAD newspaper. According to him, the last such revision happened in the mid-2000s after the United States withdrew from the 1972 ABM Treaty – and thereby annulled this document.

“Serious changes have taken place both under Barack Obama and under Donald Trump. Despite the differences in the views of these presidents, the audits have begun under Obama continued under Trump,” Drobnitsky said. In turn, military expert Alexei Leonkov recalled that the “Fundamentals of Nuclear Policy”, which was adopted by the Trump administration in 2018, implied the US’s right to a preemptive nuclear strike if the enemy acts against the United States with conventional, non-nuclear weapons. It is assumed that the strike may follow in response, for example, to cyberattacks on vital US targets.

We add that the “Trump strategy” implies a reaffirmation by the United States of its commitment to expanded nuclear deterrence of potential adversaries. This means that the Americans are covering all 29 NATO partners with an “atomic umbrella”, as well as Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

“We do not have accurate data on what is happening within the Biden administration on the issue of the audit. I think no radical steps to revise the strategy are foreseen,” Drobnitsky noted. But the Europeans were seized by the fear of being left without the American “nuclear umbrella”.

“There is a phobia that the Americans will curtail their presence in the Old World – just as they are leaving Afghanistan and beyond. Including from the Middle East. For example, the budget does not include $ 1 billion to re-equip Israel’s Iron Dome system and to supply Patriot installations for Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the allies “raised the wave” with the help of lobbying groups,” said Drobnitsky. “Everyone knows that the United States does not have enough resources to be present in different regions of the world. Now there is serious controversy about whether to shift the military balance towards the Pacific region to confront China.”

Note that in the global defense plan of the North Atlantic Alliance, which the NATO countries approved last Thursday, the lion’s share of attention was paid to the Chinese threat: the modernization of the PRC army, the acquisition of new nuclear and cybernetic capabilities by Beijing.

Significantly, it was at this moment that German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer decided to recall another “threat” – from Russia. The head of the German military department stated that NATO, if necessary, is ready to use military means, including atomic weapons, to contain Russia. In addition, Berlin fears the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Germany to Poland.

Therefore, we are not talking about the fact that the Europeans are afraid that “tomorrow Russia will attack with nuclear weapons or tanks,” Drobnitsky noted. “The fact is that since the 80s of the last century, the American“ strategic umbrella ”has always come complete with an“ emission umbrella, ”and the euro currency has been a supplement to the dollar economy. Since then, it has become clear that the United States is taking its resources from the region,” the expert said.

Be that as it may, American nuclear weapons are physically present in the Old World, including in Germany. At the Büchel Air Force Base in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, about 20 American nuclear warheads are deployed. We are talking about tactical [non-strategic] air bombs B61. These weapons, if necessary, can be used by the combat aircraft of the Bundeswehr in the framework of joint NATO actions. The deployment of this arsenal is part of NATO’s nuclear sharing strategy.

You should also remember what Moscow has repeatedly pointed out – we are talking about the American Mk41 anti-missile systems, which from defensive weapons are easily converted into installations for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. Complexes Aegis Ashore with installations Mk41, as you know, deployed in Romania and Poland.

“We now see the following: work on the US nuclear arsenal is getting more expensive, but they are not successful. Because of this, the Americans are beginning to expand the possibilities for a nuclear strike at the expense of their allies,” Leonkov said. “At the expense of Great Britain and Australia, which can be made a nuclear power (within the framework of the agreements on the new AUKUS agreement), as well as France. Although there is a quarrel between Washington and Paris, Biden tried to settle it. That is, the United States wants to compensate for the threat posed by the renewed nuclear arsenal of Russia and China not with quality, but with quantity.”

However, the possibility of the United States delivering a first disarming strike, fortunately, is unlikely, the expert is sure. “Russia has renewed its nuclear triad by 80%,” Leonkov explained. “The RS-28 Sarmat will soon enter service, and then the re-equipment of Russia’s nuclear triad will be completed.” The expert also recalled that Russia is overtaking the West in terms of the development of hypersonic weapons. “We are talking about high-quality re-equipment. As for the quantitative equipment, we have not chosen the limit that is limited by the START-3 treaty,” Leonkov said.

“Therefore, the Americans understand that in the event of a preemptive strike against Russia or China, the retaliatory strike will be crushing,” the military expert emphasized and added: “Perhaps when it comes to the right to a preemptive strike, it is not so much Russia and China that is meant as other countries.” … According to the interlocutor, we can talk about states with which, according to the American nuclear doctrine, a local nuclear war is possible. Recall that countries such as Iran and North Korea are outside the legal nuclear club. Most likely, it is precise because of this that the performance with a military nuclear revision was started,” Leonkov admitted.

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