Britain would be 'literally erased from the face of the earth' if it launched a nuclear attack, warns Russian MP

Another translation says Britain would be 'razed to the ground' in a retaliatory strike

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 25 April 2017 14:54
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'Against whom is Great Britain going to preemptively use nuclear weapons?' Russian minister asks
'Against whom is Great Britain going to preemptively use nuclear weapons?' Russian minister asks

Britain would be "literally erased from the face of the earth" in a nuclear war, a Russian MP has warned.

Franz Klintsevich, a retired colonel, was responding to comments from Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who said "in the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike."

Mr Klintsevich said if Britain were to launch a preemptive strike, then "not having the biggest territory, it will literally be erased from the face of the earth."

Michael Fallon: Theresa May would fire UK’s nuclear weapons as a ‘first strike'

Another translation, carried by the Russian news agency TASS, says Britain would be "razed to the ground" in a retaliatory strike.

Sir Michael's comments came in response to Labour divisions over retaining the Trident deterrent, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggesting renewal might not be in the party's election manifesto — only to be corrected later by party colleagues.

Speaking to BBC Radio Four's Today Programme, Sir Michael said Labour had left voters "completely unsure as to what would actually happen to our nuclear deterrent."

He said Prime Minster Theresa May would be ready to use Trident as a "pre-emptive initial strike".

“In the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike,” he said.

Asked in what circumstances, he replied: “They are better not specified or described, which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible.

“The whole point about the deterrent is that you have got to leave uncertainty in the mind of anyone who might be thinking of using weapons against this country.”

Mr Klintsevich, who is deputy chairman of the upper house of the Russian parliament's defence and security committee, called Sir Michael's comments "disgusting" and said it "deserves a tough response".

He added: "In the best case this statement should be taken as an element of psychological war — which looks particularly disgusting in such a context.

"Otherwise, it sounds really bad, because a reasonable question arises: Against whom is Great Britain going to preemptively use nuclear weapons?"

If Britain intended to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state, he added, "then probably English people desperately want to share the laurels of the USA who threw nuclear bombs at defenceless [Japanese cities] Hiroshima and Nagasaki [in 1945]."

"But those times have gone for good, as has the era of the greatness of the British Empire."

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