five moments in history when the nuclear threat was wielded

The Russian Cruiser Moscow sank on April 15. A traumatic event that makes the CIA fear a nuclear escalation on the part of the Kremlin. Already, at the beginning of the invasion, Vladimir Putin declared that “Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead to consequences you have never experienced before” in case of Western interference. A declaration perceived by the international community as the beginning of nuclear blackmail. The Russian president is not the first to have resorted to this threat.

► During the Korean War in 1950, by President Truman

The Korean War broke out in June 1950, in the context of the Cold War. It sees opposing the Republic of Korea (South Korea), supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), supported by China and the Soviet Union.

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At the end of 1950, troops from the North invaded a large part of South Korea, making the United States worried. During a press conference given on November 30, 1950, President Harry S. Truman declared that he planned to use all the weapons available in the American arsenal, including nuclear weapons. American General MacArthur manages to push back the North Korean troops to the Chinese border, but finds himself confronted, from the beginning of 1951, with a major counter-offensive of Chinese reinforcements. He then proposed to President Truman to bomb Communist China by resorting, if necessary, to atomic weapons. But the president refuses to employ him.

► In 1961 by the United Kingdom towards China

“Our goal is to encourage the Chinese to believe that an attack on Hong Kong would result in US nuclear retaliation,” wrote Harold Watkinson, British Defense Minister, in 1961. The letter was addressed to the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan. At the time, China wanted to recover Hong Kong, then under British rule. What arouse the concern of the United Kingdom, which does not want to abandon its colony and then considers the nuclear threat. Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, having held it since 1842.

► During the Gulf War, in 1991, by Israel

The Gulf War erupted in August 1990 following the invasion and subsequent annexation of Kuwait by Iraq. The conflict opposes the latter to a coalition of 35 states led by the United States. Although Israel condemns Saddam Hussein’s aggression, it is not officially involved in the conflict.

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But, in response to Iraqi missile fire, and faced with a hypothetical use by Iraq of chemical weapons against his country, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir declared that Iraq could be hit back in the most serious, implying the use of nuclear weapons.

► By George W. Bush in 2002, during the Iraq war

The Iraq War began on March 20, 2003 with the invasion of the country by the United States. The first reason invoked is that of the fight against terrorism, Iraq being accused of possessing weapons of mass destruction. During this conflict, George W. Bush declares that he is ready to strike the country with nuclear missiles if biological or chemical weapons are used against American troops or their allies.

► By Donald Trump in 2018

In January 2018, US President Donald Trump threatened North Korea in a tweet. “I too have a nuclear button”, he responds to Kim Jong-un who claimed to be able to strike the entire American territory with nuclear warheads. In the bidding, Donald Trump also specifies that his button is “bigger and more powerful” than that of its North Korean counterpart.


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