Washington | Russia poses the most dangerous threat to the US with China being a close second, a top Pentagon general has said, a viewpoint also echoed by a prominent American lawmaker.
“The way I look at the threats across the world. I think that Russia’s the most dangerous threat, China’s a close second, but the most likely threats and the most concerning are North Korea and then Iran, because North Korea is very unpredictable,” General John E Hayten said in his confirmation hearing to be the Commander of the Strategic Command.
“It’s hard to tell exactly what they’re going to do, but I do want to caveat the unpredictability of North Korea a little bit, because if you look at what they are doing with their missile programs, as well as the nuclear testing programs, and you compare it to where we are today, it looks very beginning,” he said yesterday.
China and Russia have been looking at themselves for the last 20 years in relation to the US which has developed an incredibly powerful, conventional military that can dominate any battlefield in the world, Hayten said, adding so they have taken those lessons and started building capabilities to respond to that.
“One of those lessons is in the electromagnetic spectrum, they see us dominating the electromagnetic spectrum. They see us using GPS, satellite communications, they see us basically conducting information aged warfare where at – in a not-too-distant past it was industrialised warfare,” he said.
“So they’re developing layers of capabilities, in the electromagnetic spectrum, in cyber, in space, to try to gain a strategic advantage in those areas. Our job is to make sure they never get an advantage in those areas. But it’s clear that that’s what they’re trying to do,” Hayten said.
Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said North Korea’s fifth nuclear test earlier this month was the latest reminder that it’s “corpulent boy dictator” remains intent on developing the capability to strike the US with nuclear weapons.
“And then there is China, which continues to modernise its nuclear forces while placing a new emphasis on mobile missiles and submarines,” he said, adding but perhaps the most pressing challenge is Russia.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and destabilising actions in Syria take place under a nuclear shadow, he said.
“Russia is threatening our NATO allies with nuclear strikes, modernising its strategic nuclear forces, developing a new nuclear ground launched cruise missile capable of ranging most of Europe, and has fired air and sea launched cruise missiles against targets in Syria, missiles that could be armed with nuclear warheads and flown against European and US targets,” McCain said.
McCain also expressed concern over modernisation of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan.
“Pakistan has rapidly expanded its nuclear arsenal and reportedly developed new tactical nuclear weapons. Not to be outdone, India continues to modernise its nuclear triad. Even under the best of circumstances, the Iran nuclear deal gives Iran a free hand to develop nuclear weapons in a decade,” he said.