Are the rules which have stopped nuclear war broken?

  • 14 March 2019
  • From the section World
Former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Image copyright Getty Images

"We are moving in a minefield, and we don't know from where the explosion will come."

A warning from former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov delivered at this week's influential Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington DC.

Former US senator and long-time arms control activist Sam Nunn echoed the sentiment. "If the US, Russia and China don't work together," he argued, "it is going to be a nightmare for our children and grandchildren."

He urged the present leaders to emulate the approach taken by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev towards the end of the Cold War, and to rally around the premise that nuclear war cannot be won, and must therefore never be considered.

Mr Reagan dreamed of missile-proof ballistic missile defences, but also came close to negotiating a comprehensive nuclear disarmament deal with his Russian counterpart Mr Gorbachev.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ronald Reagan's call to Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall in June 1987 was widely seen as helping to end the Cold War

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Warsaw summit: Why Iran is the elephant in the room

Member of staff removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of Unites States, Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at Austria International Centre in Vienna, Austria on 14 July 2015. Image copyright AFP

The US decision to host a Middle East conference in Warsaw looks set to be a curious diplomatic occasion. But why is this gathering of mainly Western and Arab governments being held in the Polish capital? Poland, which is co-hosting the conference, is not known for its deep involvement in the Middle East's myriad problems.

But it is an active member of the Nato alliance, and its dark history at the hands of Russia gives it good reason to cosy up to Washington. Poland is hosting one of the US anti-ballistic missile sites in Europe.

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US defence review: Is Trump risking a new arms race?

Undated image of THAAD anti-missile defence rocket system Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The US military has missile defence systems around the world

Inevitably, with its desire for new space-based sensors to detect ballistic missile launches and even the possibility of space-based interceptors to destroy attacking warheads, this review of the US missile defence strategy is bound to raise comparison with President Ronald Reagan's abortive "Star Wars" programme of the early 1980s.

Indeed at one point in his presentation, Donald Trump seemed to be echoing his predecessor, when he spoke of a missile defence programme that might "shield every city in the United States".

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Can Trump's Syria policy end the 'Forever Wars'?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) speaks to the press during a tour of the newly-inaugrated Al-Fattah Al-Alim mosque in Egypt's New Administrative Capital Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Mr Pompeo (c) visits the newly inaugurated mega-mosque in Egypt's new administrative capital

"We learned when America retreats, chaos often follows." This assertion was made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his recent speech in Cairo. But the remark did little to resolve the uncertainty among Washington's friends and allies in the region. Are US troops in Syria staying or going? If staying, for how long? And if going, when?

Mr Pompeo's speech was a broader attempt to re-set US policy in the region and to give some sort of coherence after days of mixed messages.

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Why Trump's Afghan comments are bad history

Donald Trump gestures during a White House meeting Image copyright Getty Images

President Trump's remarks at his cabinet meeting this week offered a bizarre glimpse into his perception of the world.

This is a president who, for all his bombastic self-promotion, is feeling the pressure.

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After Mattis, Trump's foreign policy worries allies

US army soldiers walk as a Nato helicopter flies overhead at coalition force Forward Operating Base (FOB) Connelly in the Khogyani district in the eastern province of Nangarhar, Afghanistan (2015 file picture) Image copyright AFP

Is this, at last, the true face of the Trump administration's foreign policy?

US ground troops withdrawn from Syria at short notice; the long-heralded departure of James Mattis - a much respected defence secretary - who can clearly no longer tolerate the president's mercurial approach to security and defence.

Read full article After Mattis, Trump's foreign policy worries allies

Ukraine-Russia clash: Nato's dilemma in the Black Sea

  • 4 December 2018
  • From the section Europe
Three heavily armed Ukrainian servicemen clad in white camouflage site on top of a tank covered in similarly white fabric strips, with the tank's cannon protruding from the gap between the men Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ukrainian forces took part in a tactical exercise near the Russian border on Monday

Does crisis beckon in the Black Sea? Could Russia and Nato even come to blows?

That - at least for now - is probably unlikely. But the recent seizure of two Ukrainian gunboats and a tug in the approaches to the Kerch Strait, by vessels of the Russian Border Guard, has inevitably brought security in the Black Sea to the forefront of Nato's agenda at their meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

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US military 'losing its competitive edge'

The USS Indiana, a nuclear-powered US Navy Virginia-class fast attack submarine, departs Port Canaveral in Florida on October 1, 2018 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The US Navy needs to expand its submarine fleet, the report recommends

A panel of experts has issued a hard-hitting and sober assessment of US President Donald Trump's National Defense Strategy.

"The global role the United States has played for many generations rests upon a foundation of unmatched military power," its report says.

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Trump re-imposes Iran sanctions: Now what?

Donald Trump signs a document reinstanted sanctions Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Donald Trump has signed a document that reinstates sanctions against Iran

The re-imposition of the full panoply of sanctions against Iran that were waived under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement marks a high-point for President Donald Trump's foreign policy.

He had long objected to the agreement, which was seen by most analysts as one of the more significant foreign policy achievements of his predecessor Barack Obama.

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Why is Germany beefing up its military?

  • 18 October 2018
  • From the section Europe
Bundeswehr soldiers stand guard during a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin Image copyright Getty Images

In the face of new challenges, Germany is recommitting itself to the Nato alliance. But what will playing a more central military role mean to a country that has often been accused of reluctance about its armed forces?

It was an unseasonably mild morning as the Sun rose slowly over the training range at Pabrade in Lithuania. This is effectively Nato's eastern front. Belarus is just a few kilometres away, with Russia beyond.

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