Today in Jim Geraghty’s newsletter, he covered the risk of Putin using a tactical nuke, listed Putin’s detonation options, and made some suggestions on how to deter Putin. Besides arguing that the U.S. must be clear about its willingness to enact an “overwhelming response” should Putin threaten a NATO country, Jim also brought up the importance of deterring and deescalating a Russian nuclear strike:
And considering Russia’s fairly low threshold for using tactical battlefield nukes, maybe we should be sending our own signals that we might respond to the use of tactical nuclear weapons with our own nonconventional response. We must make it clear to Putin that the use of nuclear weapons will not “escalate to deescalate,” it will only “escalate to escalate.”
The U.S. must demonstrate a credible resolve to retaliate.
Now pan over to Vienna, where Iran nuclear negotiations have stalled. U.S. negotiators are patting themselves on the back for denying Russia a guarantee that Ukraine-related sanctions will not impact its trade with Iran. But Moscow has been one of the main intermediaries during negotiations. Aside from acting as Iran’s lawyer, Russia will oversee large quantities of Iranian uranium. According to the Wall Street Journal, Russia will receive “enriched uranium from Iran and exchanging it for yellowcake” without any sanctions, it will “work to turn Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility into a research center,” and will provide fuel to Iranian nuclear reactors.
While the U.S. is not allowing Russia to weaponize Iran’s nuclear matter, the optics are as bad as it gets: We’re trying to deter Russian use of nukes in Europe, but letting them hold on to Iran’s enriched uranium.
This is not the kind behavior that signals a coherent and consistent U.S. deterrent to Putin.
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