North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) called on China, as a major military and nuclear power, to engage with the Alliance for negotiations on nuclear arms control.
A NATO Defense Ministerial discussed the response to threats facing the alliance during a two-day virtual meeting chaired by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.
The conference addressed missile challenges posed by Russia, and decided to strengthen the Alliance’s defenses in response to Russia’s “destabilizing and dangerous” behavior.
Announcing the decisions at a news conference, Stoltenberg said the defense ministers agreed to a balanced package of political and military elements, including strengthening the alliance integrated air and missile defense system.
“We also agreed to strengthen our advanced conventional capabilities, and allies are investing in new platforms, including fifth generation fighter aircraft,” he told reporters.
Russia remains the greatest threat to the alliance, and the ministers discussed Russian efforts to subvert the alliance and build their military force. They specifically addressed Russia’s extensive and growing arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles and their implications for NATO’s security, Stoltenberg said.
“Russia has tested its air-launched ballistic missile system, and is developing a nuclear-powered cruise missile,” the secretary general said.
The NATO chief cited Russia’s deployment of SSC-8 missiles in 2019 as the reason for the demise of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. “The SSC-8 missiles are dual-capable, mobile and hard to detect. They can reach European cities with little warning time, and they lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons,” Stoltenberg said.
The secretary general said NATO will maintian its nuclear deterrence and defense in Europe, “but will not mirror Russia”. He made it clear that he global defense alliance has no intention to deploy new land-based nuclear missiles in Europe.
Addressing the Ministerial, Defense Secretary Mark Espe noted that the security challenges that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic still exist, and the Alliance must take steps to ensure the health crisis does not become a security crisis.
He also talked about the urgency of engaging in meaningful trilateral arms control efforts with both Russia and China.
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