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NATO’s Nuclear Readiness Exercise Approaches


NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu | Image by NATO

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NATO’s annual nuclear readiness exercise, “Steadfast Noon,” will take place next week in Belgium when tensions between the alliance and Russia are at a multi-decade high.

President Vladimir Putin has accused NATO and the West of waging war against and engaging in “nuclear blackmail” against Russia following his special military operation invasion of Ukraine, according to The Dallas Express.

At the Madrid Summit last summer, allied leaders approved Operation Steadfast Noon. NATO leaders stated that the primary goal of nuclear capability is to deter aggression, prevent coercion, and maintain peace.

“As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance,” a NATO press release reported.

“This exercise helps ensure that the Alliance’s nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said.

Operation Steadfast Noon brings together 14 countries and up to 60 aircraft of various types, including fighter jets, surveillance, and tanker planes. Long-range bombers from the U.S., for example, will take off from North Dakota.

NATO said the military exercises would take place over the North Sea and the United Kingdom until October’s end. Nuclear warhead-carrying-capable aircraft will be in use, but the exercises do not involve live bombs.

Last week, the president warned supporters that Putin is “not joking” about threats to use nuclear weapons and likened a possible Russian response to “Armageddon,” The Dallas Express reported.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently stated that canceling the routine, long-planned exercises due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine would send a very bad signal, according to the Associated Press.

“NATO’s firm, predictable behavior, our military strength, is the best way to prevent escalation,” said Stoltenberg. “If we now created the grounds for any misunderstandings, miscalculations in Moscow about our willingness to protect and defend all allies, we would increase the risk of escalation.”

The assembly was the first large NATO gathering since Moscow announced it would annex several Ukrainian territories, Reuters reported. Since then, Moscow has issued veiled nuclear threats and begun a partial mobilization.

NATO labeled these actions taken by Russia as clear escalations of the war that began with its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines beneath the Baltic Sea heightened tensions at a time when Europe is suffering from an energy crisis after Moscow cut off its gas supplies, according to Reuters.

Operation Steadfast Noon also comes on the heels of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea conducted another late-night rocket launch last week, marking the 15th time North Korea has fired a missile since resuming testing on September 25, The Dallas Express reported.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) claimed that its recent missile tests were practice for nuclear attacks on South Korean and American targets. DPRK also claimed the tests were in response to “dangerous” military exercises involving a U.S. aircraft carrier on October 10.

Numerous news agencies reported that the DPRK missile launched from the Sunan area on Pyongyang’s outskirts traveled approximately 400 miles and reached a maximum altitude of 31 miles. It ultimately landed in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

“Whatever the intentions are, North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches are absolutely impermissible,” stated Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, according to The Washington Times.

He added, “We cannot overlook its substantial advancement of missile technology.”

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