According to the secretary if the Russian Security Council, the Russian government’s new review of its nuclear weapons policy retains and even expands the nation’s long-standing option to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons in warfare.
“Different variants are considered to allow the use of nuclear weapons depending on a certain situation and intentions of a would-be enemy,” the secretary insisted. Russia has insisted that it has the right to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes since early 2008.
NATO has likewise had a long-standing position of threatening to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes, even against non-nuclear nations. Most recently officials have said the alliance could use nuclear weapons against other nations if they were concerned that they might soon acquire nuclear weapons.
Between them, Russia and NATO control the vast majority of the world’s nuclear weapons, and while they are unlikely to use them against one another, fearing reprisal, the threat remains that either side may launch a pre-emptive strike against a smaller power with little to no retaliatory capability. So far, however, such threats have remained simply threats, and no nation has used nuclear weapons against another in over 64 years.
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