National security advisor Jake Sullivan reiterated the US would not use chemical weapons in retaliation against Russia.
This comes despite President Joe Biden’s earlier statement that he would reply “in-kind” if Russian President Vladimir Putin used his chemical inventory in Ukraine.
“The United States has no plan of utilizing chemical weapons, ever,” Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.
Fears of Russia
While on his way to Rzeszow, Poland, from Brussels, Belgium, Sullivan referred to Biden’s subsequent remarks in which he stated, “the extent of the reaction would vary, depending on the nature of the usage.”
Biden previously stated, “it would elicit a response in kind,” but was cautious not to imply military action.
Sullivan said the western response to Russia’s potential deployment of chemical warfare in Ukraine was a “major topic of discussion” in Brussels between Biden and the NATO, G-7, and European allies.
It also “continues at working positions in the military.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia may be trying to create a pretext for the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine and any use of them would have widespread consequences https://t.co/dKMnIzzntT pic.twitter.com/GDIrqXp7QB
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 25, 2022
“On the diplomacy side, as well as within the presidents’ and world leaders’ offices, we are conducting contingencies for various possible situations,” he explained.
“These concerns are used; the location in which they are used and the context in which they have used all influence the specificity of the reaction.”
“However, I believe there is agreement around the inherent structure of how the coalition would deal with these challenges.”
The United States and its allies have expressed fear Russia may resort to chemicals or nuclear weapons if Putin’s invasion is impeded by Ukrainian opposition and his military’s own tactical and logistical obstacles.
Sullivan submitted a document last month, outlining Biden’s so-called “Tiger Team’s” strategy for resolving the Russia-Ukraine crisis over the next 90 days.
Conversely, North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test has alarmed the West as it unites around Ukraine in the aftermath of Russia’s incursion, casting doubt on the launch’s timing.
North Korea confirms Kim Jong Un's new missile launch and releases photos https://t.co/jrgauvtxfU
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 25, 2022
According to experts, Thursday’s launch, which occurred while world leaders were in Brussels, is North Korea’s most major weapons test in well over four years.
As per Tom Karako, head of the Institute for Strategic and International Studies Missile Defense Program, experts “make fun” of those who guess on the dates of the occurrences.
As Karako feared, colleagues (notably Eric Gomez, director of the Cato Institute’s Defense Policy Research) downplayed worries about the timing of the test, the first since 2017.
According to Gomez, the test is consistent with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s aims during the Workers’ Party of Korea’s 8th Congress in 2021.
Nicholas Eberstadt, the American Enterprise Institute’s Henry Wendt Chair in political economy, concurred.
He claimed North Korea was only testing if the missile “improved performance criteria” — even though “everyone wants a twofer” that “serves a variety of aims.”
The administration’s tests continue to mount; the question now is whether Biden and his staff can see us through.