Is United States accelerating plans to upgrade its nukes at NATO bases in Europe?

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The eight-month-old Russia-Ukraine war raised concerns that a nuclear weapon could be deployed that would lead to massive destruction. In the past couple of months, the issue has been raised by world leaders, who are urging Moscow and Kyiv to end the conflict peacefully. 

In a recent report, US-based media outlet POLITICO cited United States diplomatic cable and two people familiar with the issue who said that the nation is apparently speeding up its plan to store a more accurate version of its mainstay nuclear weapons at NATO bases in Europe. 

The cable revealed that the US officials informed NATO allies this month that the arrival of the upgraded B61-12 air-dropped gravity bomb, which was originally scheduled for next spring, is now planned for this December, the report added. 

As quoted by POLITICO, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said via an email, “While we aren’t going to discuss details of our nuclear arsenal, modernisation of US B61 nuclear weapons has been underway for years and plans to safely and responsibly swap out older weapons for the upgraded B61-12 versions is part of a long-planned and scheduled modernisation effort. It is in no way linked to current events in Ukraine and was not sped up in any way.”

WATCH | Russia rehearses nuclear attack response as tensions rise over dirty bomb blame game 

Rising fears of nuclear weapons’ use

On Wednesday, Russia’s strategic forces carried out drills, including a test launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine. Not just in the Ukraine war, similar tensions have been simmering in the Korean Peninsula as well, with North Korea continuing with its record pace of weapon testing this year, including the firing of a short-range ballistic missile. 

The United States, Japan and South Korea warned Wednesday that a North Korean nuclear test would warrant an “unprecedentedly strong response”. They also promised unity after a blitz of missile launches by North Korea. 

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