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20 Dec, 2018 09:45

Lowering arms-control threshold could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe – Putin

Lowering arms-control threshold could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe – Putin

International arms-control mechanisms are breaking up, Vladimir Putin said, warning that lowering a threshold for using weapons of mass destruction may eventually lead to “a global nuclear catastrophe.”

Mutual arms-control measures that have been in place for decades are now falling apart, Putin warned during an annual Q&A session in Moscow. In the meantime, there’s a growing trend of underestimating a threat of nuclear war around the world.

“The danger of such developments coming true is being blurred or is going away, it is deemed impossible or unimportant,” Putin said. “Meanwhile, if, God forbid, something like that happens, it would see an entire civilization – or even the planet – perish.”

READ MORE: Putin’s 14th annual Q&A marathon as it happened

Nevertheless, the threshold for deploying nuclear weapons is being lowered, as “there are ideas to create low-velocity nuclear munitions,” the President noted. Another dangerous development is the use of non-nuclear ballistic missiles. While the US had abandoned attempts to build these projectiles, the technology is still there.

“This is horrible, it shouldn’t come to this. Nevertheless, an idea to use ballistic missiles armed with non-nuclear warheads still persists.”

Putin regretted that “the international arms-control system is effectively breaking down now.” In 2021, the New START – a key US-Russia treaty that greatly reduced their respective nuclear arsenals – is due to expire, but there’s no viable alternative to it.

“There are no talks on it so far,” the Russian leader said. “Not interested? Don’t need it? Well, alright then. We’ll survive with that, we will ensure our security. We know how to do that.”

Putin then touched upon the upcoming US withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It is hard to foresee what the future will bring, but Russia will do its utmost to protect itself, he said.

“Right now [the US] is making one more step pulling out from the INF. It’s very hard to imagine how the situation will develop. What if those [American short- and intermediate-range] missiles are deployed in Europe, what shall we do?”

He continued: “Of course, we’ll strengthen our security. They shouldn’t squeal about advantages we’re trying to have. We aren’t winning some advantages, we’re keeping the balance, ensuring our security.”

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