US B61-12 nuclear bomb test may be drilling use in Europe - Moscow
An F-15E Strike Eagle (Reuters / Ethan Morgan / U.S. Air Force / Handout)
The recent test of the US В61-12 nuclear bomb confirms Washington’s plans to maintain nuclear weapons in Europe that are capable of reaching Russia, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Monday.
Antonov slammed the US nuclear bomb test as “irresponsible" and "openly provocative.”
"It turns out that under the disguise of a notorious and invented threat coming from the Russian side, the United States was not only increasing the military potential and activity of NATO member states, but was upgrading its nuclear potential as well," he said.
According to Antonov, the Russian Defense Ministry can’t rule out the possibility that the Americans tested their nuclear bomb to examine the possibility of its use by NATO bombers in Europe.
“The atomic bomb, which was tested, is a dual purpose device. It can be both an element of strategic offensive weapons – when delivered by heavy bombers – and an element of non-strategic nuclear weapons when delivered by tactical aircraft,” he said.
“The special feature of the conducted the test was the fact that the F-15E fighter-bomber was used as a carrier for a nuclear weapon. This gives grounds to believe that the test was conducted in order to examine the possibility of using the B61-12 atomic bomb by NATO fighter-bombers stationed in Europe.”
The fresh nuclear bomb test is evidence of America’s “persistent unwillingness” to give up on involving non-nuclear NATO states in joint nuclear missions, which contradicts the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), he stressed.
The United States Air Force and the National Nuclear Security Administration tested the upgraded B61-12 nuclear bomb at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada on July 1. A safe version of the device was tested as it contained no nuclear warhead.
The move is part of the program to prolong the lifespan of the B61-12 nuclear bomb, which has been in use since the 1960s.
The US military plans to carry out two more tests of the nuclear bomb before the end of the year.
Moscow and Washington have been trading accusations over violations of key nuclear treaties for years.
In June, the head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, said NATO’s increased activity in Eastern Europe proves the US anti-missile defense shield was actually always aimed against Russia and China.
“Washington insisted the missile defense shield was a deterrent to Iran, but now the world powers are negotiating with Iran, so logically plans for the system should be dropped, but this isn’t happening,” Patrushev said during an international security summit in Ulan-Ude.
The US in turn blamed Russia for violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, saying Russia has a cruise missile (deployable from an Iskander launcher) that has a range over 500 kilometers.
However, Antonov commented last week that Washington is ramping up the controversy over alleged Russian violations in order to cover up its own plans to deploy missiles in Europe.