Cold War: Major General Sir Corbett recalls ‘serious mistake’
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was a failed landing operation on the southwestern coast of Cuba by exiles of the country who opposed Fidel Castro’s revolution. Covertly financed and directed by the US government, the operation took place at the height of the Cold War, and its failure led to major shifts in international relations between Cuba, the US, and the Soviet Union. The invasion’s defeat solidified Castro’s role as a national hero and strengthened the relationship between the USSR and Cuba, paving the way to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Tensions between the US and the Soviet Union hit an all-time high during the 13-day standoff which most historians agree “brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster”.
But Mr Ellwood fears history could repeat itself.
He told Express.co.uk: “We don’t know what is to come. but I think it is worse than the Cold War.
“Obviously we had the Bay of Pigs and so forth, and tensions in Berlin.
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“But the situation that is going to get more dangerous is the use of tactical nuclear weapons for which we don’t have any.
“These are small nuclear weapons that can take out areas the size of a football pitch – taking out a headquarters or a barracks – completely wiping them out.”
In 1952, the UK became the third country to develop and test nuclear weapons, and is one of the five nuclear-weapon states under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Under the 1963 Polaris Sales Agreement, the US supplied the UK with Polaris missiles and nuclear submarine technology which was later replaced with Trident.
Today, the delivery system consists of four Vanguard-class submarines based at HMNB Clyde in Scotland – with at least one vessel always on patrol.
But Mr Ellwood says the UK’s hands would be tied in the event a country used a tactical nuclear weapon.
He added: “How do we respond if a tactical nuclear weapon was used in Eastern Europe and took out a number of British tanks taking part in an exercise?
“You wouldn’t retaliate with our nuclear warheads – designed to take out whole cities – it would not be a proportionate response.
“So there are questions there about how that would escalate.
“There are some dangers that the UK needs to grapple with.”
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In the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, the Trump administration announced its intention to expand the US nuclear arsenal under the doctrine of so-called “flexible deterrence,” including a tactical nuclear weapons upgrade.
The US is now believed to have an estimated 230 tactical nuclear weapons.
According to reports, Russia currently possesses the most tactical nuclear weapons on Earth – with estimates placing the number between 3,000 and 6,000.
But that number is significantly down from its Soviet predecessor, which owned at least 13,000 and as many as 22,000 nuclear warheads by the end of the Cold War in 1991.
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