Just before the New Year, President Donald Trump announced a full withdrawal of US forces in Syria and the drawdown of nearly half the troops in Afghanistan.
Consequently, after some 15 years focused on terrorism, the Pentagon can now redirect its focus to global power threats and the danger of a nuclear conflict.
Most experts consider a premeditated nuclear war unthinkable, but regional conflicts around the world could easily escalate into nuclear emergencies. That’s not to mention the wild card scenarios of a nuclear-armed North Korea – or Iran.
The danger of a nuclear Iran is the president’s chief worry.
“We must never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon or a nuclear bomb,” Trump said. “We cannot let the world’s leading sponsor of terror – a regime that chants ‘Death to America’ and threatens Israel all of the time with annihilation and constantly screams out ‘Death to Israel’ – to possess the deadliest weapon on earth. We will not allow that to happen.”
And even after a historic handshake in Singapore between the president and communist dictator Kim Jong Un last summer, North Korea has yet to give up on its nuclear ambitions.
“North Korea and Iran, prospectively, are both very real challenges,” Eric Edelman, a former diplomat and Defense Department official, told CBN News.
The Russian Bear Is Back
However, he noted they are far from the only nuclear threats to the US.
“The biggest nuclear threat remains Russia because they’re the only other country with an arsenal that does pose an existential threat to the US – although China’s arsenal is growing,” he said.
To contend with that clear and present danger, the US is threatening to pull out of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty if Russia does not comply with the terms by February.
“Trust, but verify” – that’s how President Ronald Reagan characterized the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev some three decades ago.
Now, that trust is eroding.
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