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Luisa Vieira

What We're Watching: Russian nukes in Belarus, Israelis vs. Bibi

Putin to deploy tactical nukes in Belarus

Vladimir Putin on Saturday announced that Russia plans to send tactical nuclear weapons to staunch ally Belarus. Construction of storage units will be completed by July 1, although Putin was vague on when the nukes themselves would be deployed. (Recap: Tactical nukes are lower-yield atomic weapons that can’t take out entire cities like strategic ones.)

The Russian leader said he made the decision after the US and UK announced they would be supplying Ukraine with anti-tank rounds made from depleted uranium. What’s more, Putin believes that Russia is well within its right to do this since America already has US tactical nukes in six NATO countries and that Moscow is not violating its nuclear non-proliferation obligations because it’ll retain control over the weapons.

US officials downplay the idea that storing Russian tactical nukes in Belarus will impact the war in Ukraine, which is already well within range of the Kremlin’s vast nuclear arsenal. But the announcement might be a provocation aimed at rattling Western public opinion against helping Ukraine as Russia struggles on the battlefield. Also, there’s currently no clear path forward for a negotiated settlement despite last week’s high-stakes meeting between Putin and China’s Xi Jinping.

Russia has often played up its nuclear rhetoric when things are not going well in Ukraine. In fact, Putin reportedly considered using tactical nukes last fall but finally decided against it. Still, the fact that the nuclear option is on the table at all should be alarming to anyone.

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How do we avert nuclear disaster in 2023?
Ian Explains: How Do We Avert Nuclear Disaster in 2023? | GZERO World

How do we avert nuclear disaster in 2023?

Rafael Grossi has a very tough job as head of the UN's nuclear watchdog. But he's an optimist.

Still, the stakes are very high.

We've got North Korea building even more nukes. Russia turned into a rogue state that controls Europe's largest power plant in Ukraine, which is still at risk of an accident. And Iran getting closer to getting the bomb.

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Luisa Vieira

The Graphic Truth: Russia's tactical nukes

Vladimir Putin is upping the rhetoric on using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. But analysts are predicting that if push comes to shove — and that’s a tall order — he’ll likely opt for tactical nukes, smaller atomic weapons that won’t take out entire cities. Tactical nukes, which have been around since the Cold War, have smaller yields, meaning they’re designed to win the battle, not the war. They were developed as politically more acceptable devices, geared to target soldiers and not civilians. However, many of the tactical nukes in Russia’s arsenal — and America’s too — have an an explosive yield many times higher than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mobile and easy to launch from conventional platforms, this “small enough to use” branding can make these atomic weapons even more dangerous than the larger strategic ones. We feature which of these weapons and launchpads the Russians might use.

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