According to the Russian Deputy Defense Minister, a recent nuclear test reveals U.S. plans for nuclear weapons deployment in Europe.
Bomb test provokes fierce criticism from Russia
The U.S. Air Force and National Nuclear Security Administration recently undertook a nuclear test in Nevada, which Antonov called “irresponsible” and “openly provocative.” Although the successful test of the B61-12 gravity bomb was non-nuclear, Russian politicians were still alarmed.
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“It turns out that under the disguise of a notorious and invented threat coming from the Russian side, the United States was not only increasing the military potential and activity of NATO member states, but was upgrading its nuclear potential as well,” he said.
The test marked the first time that the B61-12 had made a development flight test. Two more development flight tests are scheduled to take place later this year.
Choice of aircraft raises suspicions
“The atomic bomb, which was tested, is a dual purpose device. It can be both an element of strategic offensive weapons – when delivered by heavy bombers – and an element of non-strategic nuclear weapons when delivered by tactical aircraft,” he said.
Antonov also criticized the choice of aircraft which was used the test the bomb, which raised suspicions that the U.S. may have been testing whether the bomb could be used by NATO bombers based in Europe.
“The special feature of the conducted the test was the fact that the F-15E fighter-bomber was used as a carrier for a nuclear weapon. This gives grounds to believe that the test was conducted in order to examine the possibility of using the B61-12 atomic bomb by NATO fighter-bombers stationed in Europe.”
Nuclear tensions continue to worse
The U.S. and Russia are engaged in a game of military brinkmanship in Eastern Europe, where military exercises and increasingly aggressive rhetoric are contributing to a growing sense of a return to the Cold War. Official pronouncements from both sides have raised the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons in a potential conflict, an alarming development.
Both Moscow and Washington have criticized the other concerning violations of existing treaties governing the deployment of nuclear weapons. The testing of the B61-12 raises the specter of the renewed presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe, which would break previous agreements.
This latest test may not have anything to do with the deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe, but its timing is unfortunate. If escalation is to be avoided, then an open dialogue must be established between the two sides in order to prevent the misinterpretation of military activities.