Commentary: New ‘cold war’ grows ever warmer as prospects of a nuclear arms race heat up

An unexpected alliance has arisen between North Korea and Russia. Historically, Russia advocated for diplomatic solutions to North Korean nuclear proliferation. Pyongyang has supplied weapons to Russia since 2023 in violation of UN security council sanctions, and seeks to leverage this support to gain acceptance as a nuclear state.

In 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned his people to prepare for war with the US by 2024. A leaked military document confirmed this, saying: “The Dear Supreme Commander will dominate the world with the nuclear weapons”. On Apr 23, Pyongyang claimed it had tested a new command-and-control system in a simulated nuclear counter-strike exercise.

South Korea has responded by developing its own submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) in 2022 and is the only nation state to possess SLBMs without nuclear warheads. In February 2023, the leader of the People Power Party, Chung Jin-suk, argued that South Korea needs nuclear weapons. But this strategy could also make South Korea more vulnerable to attack from hostile North Korea.

Iran and Russia are cooperating in the nuclear sphere. Iran’s nuclear weapons programme was limited under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. But Trump pulled the US out of the treaty in 2018 and there is strong evidence (denied by Iran) that it has reinvigorated its weapons programme.

In 2023, UN inspectors reported that Iran had enriched trace amounts of uranium to almost weapons grade.

Israel has targeted Iran with assassinations, cyberwarfare, drone attacks and commando raids to destroy its burgeoning nuclear programme, adding to Middle East tensions. Saudi Arabia does not have nuclear weapons, but officials have said that they will acquire them if their regional rival, Iran, becomes nuclear.

SOURCE: CNA ( RSS Latest News   (go to source)
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