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Moscow is expressing outrage after finding that portions of a U.S. military contingency plan, leaked to the U.S. news media, include Russia as a “plausible” but “not expected” nuclear adversary.
Moscow sardonically stated that “Russia can expect a friendly nuclear strike,” according to official Russian sources, and bitterly contrasted the plan’s revelations with earlier statements of friendship between the U.S. and Russia made by the Bush administration.
“Many countries see the report as an outright threat,” Moscow declared, adding that some believe “the U.S. intends to use nuclear weapons to establish world domination.”
The remarks were broadcast over the Voice of Russia World Service, the official broadcasting service of the Russian government.
Moscow’s concerns stem from leaked portions of a still-secret Pentagon report entitled “Nuclear Posture Review.” The Los Angeles Times first published an article on Sunday, based upon excerpts from the NPR.
Russia, China, Syria, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Libya are mentioned in the NPR report, according to the Times article.
The Pentagon, according to Moscow’s assessment of the leaked excerpts, “is prepared to make no difference between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons,” and is turning American nuclear capability into a “Damocles sword suspended above other countries to guarantee America’s geostrategic interests.”
The reference to “Damocles sword,” or more typically in English “the sword of Damocles,” refers to the Greek story of a tyrant named Dionysius and his overly enthusiastic admirer, Damocles. When Damocles proclaimed Dionysius as the happiest of all men, the tyrant hung a sword by a single hair above Damocles’ head, indicating the precarious nature of political rule in that era.
Moscow was reacting to Pentagon plans of developing so-called “bunker-busters” or, as quoted from the NPR, “earth penetrating” weaponry.
The Los Angeles Times report states that the NPR “reverses an almost two-decade-long trend of relegating nuclear weapons to the category of weapons of last resort.”
Despite assurances from Bush administration officials following the release of portions of the NPR, Moscow questioned if “the statements [are to] be trusted fully,” citing purported Bush administration “inconsistent and unpredictable” policies.
“Is it possible that … the Pentagon may be tempted to use nuclear weapons against Russia?” asked Moscow.
According to the Los Angeles Times article, however, the NPR considers Russia a threat only “in the event that U.S. relations with Russia significantly worsen in the future.”
China is mentioned in the report in reference to a possible attack against Taiwan, an island off the Chinese mainland claimed by the government in Beijing. After the victory of communist forces on the mainland, the defeated Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek took refuge on the island, and a representative democracy and free-market economy developed on Taiwan.
Much of the report deals with the possible development of small scale nuclear weapons designed for use against terrorist chemical or biological supply bases, as well as the penetration of well-constructed, deep underground fortifications.
While reports of nuclear, biological, and chemical capabilities of the nations mentioned in the NPR report have circulated for some time, North Korea and Libya are also known to have poured very considerable resources into developing vast underground facilities.
Observers note that while Moscow is not a focus for the NPR report, each of the other states mentioned has a close relationship with Moscow, and the possible targeting of its terrorism prone allies may be the real reason behind Moscow’s bluster.
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