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U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal on June 22 proposed a resolution to consider any potential nuclear or radioactive attack by Russia as an attack against NATO, given that radioactive waste spreads to NATO countries.
“(The resolution) views the use of any tactical nuclear weapon by the Russian Federation, the Republic of Belarus, or their proxies, or the destruction of a nuclear facility, dispersing radioactive contaminates into NATO territory causing significant harm to human life as an attack on NATO requiring an immediate response, including the implementation of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty,” Graham tweeted.
Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty states that a military attack on one member state is an attack on the entire alliance and warrants a joint NATO response, including through military force.
The two lawmakers also argue that Russia’s announced deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus is a threat to Ukraine and NATO member states.
The resolution proposes consultation between U.S. President Joe Biden's administration, NATO leaders, and other European partners to develop a strategy for minimizing threats to civilians and coordinate an appropriate diplomatic and military response to a potential attack.
According to Newsweek, Russia’s Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov responded that the proposal threatens to push the two countries into a nuclear exchange.
On June 16, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin claimed that the first batch of tactical nuclear weapons arrived in Belarus.
Ukraine’s military intelligence contested this statement, saying that Moscow has not yet delivered “a single nuclear warhead.”
On June 22, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that, based on intelligence reports, the Kremlin is considering a terrorist attack at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant by deliberately leaking radiation.
The president noted that, due to the unpredictable nature of radioactive fallout, such an act could affect the territory of NATO members.