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Nuclear disbalance: fears of Macron

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron offered European countries to develop a new mechanism for controlling conventional and nuclear weapons and to conclude a new treaty to ban intermediate and shorter-range missiles. The owner of the Champs Elysees is afraid that by 2021 the world’s largest arms race since the Cold War will begin. Macron stressed that France has reduced its nuclear arsenal to 300 warheads and therefore requires the same from other nuclear powers.
14:29, 11 February 2020

112 Agency

There is no multilateral world agreement regulating the number of nuclear warheads in the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea nowadays. The arms control mechanism which was formed by the United States and the USSR during the Cold War collapses like a house of cards. At the same time, France plans to spend $ 41 billion by 2025 to modernize its nuclear arsenal and increase the effectiveness of its policy of deterrence. The ambivalent standpoint of Paris is driven by the changed geopolitical situation in Europe after Brexit.

 

The world's nuclear disbalance

Macron’s rhetoric is addressed primarily to the United States and Russia, as they have more nuclear warheads than France and other countries. In February 2021, the US-Russian Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms (START-3) expires. In 2010, then US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev pledged to reduce the number of nuclear charges to 1,550 units, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine ballistic missiles and heavy bombers to 700 units.

The signing of the START-4 treaty and a further reduction in nuclear warheads are unlikely. Relations between Moscow and Washington have been in the worst condition since the end of the Cold War amid the ongoing aggression of Russia in Ukraine since 2014 and the policy of anti-Russian sanctions of the West, Russian counter-sanctions. After all in 2019, the United States and Russia ceased their participation in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (with a range of 500-5500 km), which was considered one of the most important elements of the arms control mechanism in relations between the White House and the Kremlin.

At best, Moscow and Washington will extend START-3 until 2026 and upgrade their nuclear arsenals. In 2019, the United States was armed with 1,750 deployed nuclear weapons mounted on intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine ballistic missiles and bombers (the "nuclear triad"). The Americans are planning to equip B-21 bombers with supersonic long-range cruise missiles, replace 450 Minuteman missile silos, and to since 2031.

1,600 nuclear warheads, mainly with multiple warheads, are now on combat duty in Russia. Moscow is introducing a Vanguard hypersonic cruise missile system and RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles.

At best, Moscow and Washington will extend START-3 until 2026 and upgrade their nuclear arsenals. In 2019, the United States was armed with 1,750 deployed nuclear weapons mounted on intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine ballistic missiles and bombers (the "nuclear triad"). The Americans are planning to equip B-21 bombers with supersonic long-range cruise missiles, replace 450 Minuteman missile silos, and to since 2031.
1,600 nuclear warheads, mainly with multiple warheads, are now on combat duty in Russia. Moscow is introducing a Vanguard hypersonic cruise missile system and RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Another issue worth mentioning is tactical nuclear weapons, which is not regulated by any of the international treaties. It is intended for delivering targeted strikes, as an option, against large military formations, accumulations of tanks and armored vehicles. There are about 2000 units in the operational service of Russia. These tactical nuclear weapons designed to deter NATO. The missiles of the Russian Iskander-M tactical complexes, which the Russian Federation deployed in the Kaliningrad Region, can be equipped with nuclear weapons and have a range of up to 500 km. US tactical nuclear weapons are much more unpretending - 500 warheads, mostly free-falling airbombs. By 2026, Russia's tactical nuclear stockpile may reach 8,000 pieces.

Related: U.S. to turn town near Kyiv into repository for its nuclear waste, - media

The countries of Asia are actively developing their nuclear arsenals. From 2012 to 2019, China increased the number of nuclear warheads from 240 to 290 units, India from 100 to 140 units, and Pakistan from 100 to 150 units. Beijing plans to increase the number of nuclear warheads to 606 by 2029. There are approximately 25 nuclear charges in the arsenal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Also, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, the DPRK do not want to abandon medium and shorter-range missiles.

 

France interests

After Brexit, France remained the only country in the EU with nuclear weapons. France has four submarines with ballistic missiles onboard and 40 aircraft equipped with cruise missiles. France can adopt the role of guarantor of the EU security, a deterrence factor. Based on Art. 42 of the Lisbon Agreement, the EU member states provide each other with mutual assistance in the field of security and defense. Macron wants to turn the European Union into one of the global centers of power. However, France’s nuclear arsenal requires modernization, and its maintenance is expensive - $ 3.4 billion per year.

Macron’s rhetorics about the arms race and the importance of nuclear deterrence policies to ensure the security of France and Europe is designed and voiced for the ears of French taxpayers. Macron is not particularly popular in French society with strong protest moods. His intention to invest $ 41 billion to modernize the nuclear arsenal may simply not be understood. The plans of the French leader are Napoleonic. It is planned to replace the Mirage-2000N fighter-bomber with Rafal F.3 multi-functional fighters as carriers for cruise missiles. Until 2035, it is planned to create a hypersonic missile ASN-4G with a nuclear warhead.

Macron is not so much afraid of the threat of an arms race in the near future as Europe’s dependence on the United States and NATO in the field of security. There are American tactical nuclear weapons at military bases in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy, and Turkey. In the context of difficult relations with the United States, Macron talked about global nuclear arms control in order to create an occasion for talk about the withdrawal of American tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. Generally speaking, American warheads are not only a deterrent in ensuring European security but also a reason for the constant military presence of the US military in Europe, a factor in keeping it in its orbit of influence.

Related: Iran states it does not leave nuclear deal

Germany shares Macron's ideas. Johann Wadephul, a member of the ruling German Christian Democratic Union party, said Germany should participate in nuclear deterrence as much as possible. Since 2019, Germany has been assisting France in its development of a sixth generation aircraft capable of carrying nuclear missiles. Although in 2007 German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected Nicolas Sarkozy’s offer to share responsibility for a nuclear deterrence policy in Europe.

It seems that some European NATO members are do not mind the withdrawal of US tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. In July 2019, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels leaked confidential information that there were 150 units of American tactical nuclear weapons in European countries. The information was published as a report, which then became viral due to the European media. Two-thirds of the population of those European countries with American tactical nuclear weapons deployed see no point in them.

 

Trump and Putin Factor

Macron articulates the same thing that Trump said earlier. The American president proposed concluding a “big treaty” for all nuclear powers, extending START-3 to tactical nuclear weapons and abandoning medium and short-range missiles. Also, the owner of the Oval Office mentioned in passing about the withdrawal of the American military from Europe, criticizing the European countries - members of NATO for the insufficient contribution to the organization’s budget and defense spending. Trump's ideas did not cause enthusiasm either in China or in Russia. The United States offered that the Russian Federation reduces the number of all types of nuclear weapons to 1,550, including the tactical ones. In exchange, the owner of the Kremlin demanded that the White House withdraws their tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, which the Americans did not agree to.

Related: New START: The future of U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control

Macron makes it clear to Trump that he has to turn the flashlights on himself and begin the nuclear disarmament. After the end of the Cold War, France cut half of its nuclear weapons. In 1996, the French government abandoned mine-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. Macron and Putin are interested in withdrawal of American tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, which is one of the factors of Euro-Atlantic unity and hinders the rapprochement of the EU and the Russian Federation. Macron often discourses of the reasonability of cooperation between the European Union and Russia in the field of security, despite the existing contradictions and disagreements over Ukraine and Syria.

Related: US Navy tests new sub-launched nuclear weapon

 

The Herrio Curse

Macron may face the fate of former Prime Minister of France Edouard Herriot and fall on deaf ears. In the years 1924-25 the radical socialist Herriot offered to introduce pacifism a means of world politics, to carry out disarmament, to peacefully resolve international disputes in courts, he even initiated creatin Pan-European Union. His ideas were not far from the geopolitical realities of the interwar period and could not prevent the growth of revenge and expansionist sentiments in Germany and Italy, which ultimately led to World War II.

The same can be said about Macron's proposed international mechanism for controlling nuclear weapons. China, India, and Pakistan will not reduce their nuclear arsenals, which they see as a tool to ensure their security. The experience of Ukraine, which in 1994 easily abandoned Soviet stockpile of nuclear weapons in exchange for international guarantees and 20 years later became the object of aggression by one of the guarantor countries, is very eloquent. It's better to have a nuclear button at hand than the castles in the sky.

Related: Macron urges Europe to establish international nuclear arms control

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