WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump's administration has discussed holding the first US nuclear test since 1992 as a potential warning to Russia and China, the Washington Post reported on Friday (May 22).
Such a test would be a significant departure from US defence policy and dramatically up the ante for other nuclear-armed nations. One analyst told the newspaper that if it were to go ahead it would be seen as the "starting gun to an unprecedented nuclear arms race".
The report, citing one senior administration official and two former officials, all who spoke anonymously, said the discussion had taken place at a meeting on May 15.
It came after some US officials reportedly claimed that Russia and China were conducting their own low-yield tests. Moscow and Beijing have denied the claims, and the US has not offered evidence for them.
The senior administration official said that demonstrating Washington's ability to "rapid test" would be a useful negotiating tactic as the US seeks a trilateral agreement with Russia and China over nuclear weapons.
The meeting did not conclude with any agreement, and the sources were divided over whether discussions were still ongoing.
Nuclear non-proliferation activists were quick to condemn the idea.
"It would be the starting gun to an unprecedented nuclear arms race," Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told the Post.
He added that it would also likely "disrupt" negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, "who may no longer feel compelled to honour his moratorium on nuclear testing".
The Washington Post report came one day after Trump announced that he plans to withdraw from the Open Skies treaty with Russia, which was designed to improve military transparency and confidence between the superpowers.
It is the third arms control pact Trump has abrogated since coming to office.
Russia has insisted it will abide by the 18-year-old agreement, which seeks to lower the risk of war by permitting each signatory country's military to conduct a certain number of surveillance flights over another member country each year on short notice.
European nations have also urged Trump to reconsider.
Facing re-election in November, Trump has also significantly hardened his rhetoric against China in recent weeks, repeatedly criticising Beijing's handling of the coronavirus pandemic which first emerged there.
He has made repeated but vague threats of retaliation against thRead More – Source
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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