Accidental nuclear conflict with China is a becoming more likely in ‘dangerous new age’ amid spread of sophisticated weapons but no ‘shared understanding of doctrine’ like in the Cold War, UK security chief warns
- National Security Adviser Stephen Lovegrove forewarns of ‘new security order’
- West must stop Russia and China pursuing ‘might is right agendas’ unchecked
- Speech in DC: ‘Tech changes raise damage potential of more available weapons’
- He added: ‘We will continue to hold Russia to account for destabilising actions’
The West and China could ‘miscalculate’ their way into a nuclear war as the world enters a ‘dangerous new age’, the UK’s national security chief has warned.
National Security Adviser Stephen Lovegrove urged caution amid a changed ‘security order’, with advances in tech making weapons more lethal and abundant.
In a striking speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Mr Lovegrove added that ‘s ‘strategic stability is at risk’.
Speaking of the bipolar international order of the Cold War, he said: ‘The monolithic blocks of Nato and the USSR were able to reach a shared understanding of doctrine.
‘This gave us a higher level of confidence that we would not miscalculate our way into nuclear war.
‘Today, we do not have the same foundations with others who may threaten us, particularly China. We must create space for dialogue to build trust and counter disinformation. The UK strongly supports US President Biden’s proposed talks with China as an important step.’
Now, Mr Lovegrove warned, the West faces ‘a much broader range of strategic risks and pathways to escalation’.
Mr Lovegrove said ‘regionally-aggressive powers’ Russia and China pose a new threat to the West because in the post-Cold War world order, continuous dialogue is no longer needed. Pictured: a Chinese frigate and missile destroyer take part in a parade in St Petersburg, Russia
Left: The Washington DC headquarters of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Right: National Security Adviser Stephen Lovegrove made the striking warning this afternoon
There are no fewer than 23 countries in possession of dedicated land-attack cruise missiles.
That’s not to count the growing list of nuclear powers, with Iranin proliferating the apocalyptic missiles.
NATO must be ‘eternally vigilant’ to rogue states developing the weapons, he added, which can spark nuclear arms races among regional neighbours.
‘We have clear concerns about China’s nuclear modernisation programme’, Britain’s national security head explained, ‘that will increase both the number and types of nuclear weapon systems in its arsenal.
‘Combined, this is a daunting prospect.’
Commenting on the recent passage of 150 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mr Lovegrove described the war as ‘a manifestation of a much broader contest unfolding over the successor to the post-Cold War international order’.
‘We have clear concerns about China’s nuclear modernisation programme’, Mr Lovegrove added. Pictured: Chinese soldiers sit atop rocket launchers in Tiananmen Square, Beijing
‘This contest has profound implications’, he said.
‘It will decide whether we live in a world in which regionally-aggressive powers such as China and Russia can pursue ‘might is right’ agendas unchecked – or a world in which all states can ensure their sovereignty, competition does not spill over into conflict, and we cooperate to protect the planet.’
The Whitehall security chief also proposed four ‘principles for integrated arms control’ to protect the West against erratic moves by enemy states.
NATO members and their allies must bolster ‘red lines’ against bad behaviour, ‘widen the conversation’ involving traditional great powers to include all countries, focus on dialogue to – as Churchill said – ‘jaw-jaw, not war-war’, and lastly ‘take early action to renew and strengthen confidence-building measures’.
That means growing trust in the international order, he said, to ‘eliminate the causes of mistrust, fear, tension and hostility’.
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