May 30, 2019

Russia's likely conducting banned nuclear tests, U.S. official says

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. believes Russia has likely violated a ban on testing low-yield nuclear missiles, Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley told the Hudson Institute think tank in a speech in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.

"The United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the 'zero yield' standard. ... Our understanding of nuclear weapon development leads us to believe that Russia's testing activities would help it improve its nuclear weapons capabilities."

Details: Ashley said Russia was likely testing weapons in the Novaya Zemlya islands, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in northern Russia. He believes it intends to increase its nuclear arsenal "significantly" over the next decade.

Why it matters: This is the first time the U.S. has suggested Russia might have effectively violated its commitments under the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

  • It's a critical time for U.S.-Russian relations. The Trump administration announced in February it would withdraw from the Cold-War era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, due to formally end in August. The Pentagon plans to then begin testing missiles banned under the treaty.

The big picture: Russia has said it complies with the treaty, which it ratified in 2008. The U.S. has signed the treaty but not ratified it.

What they're saying: The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which bans nuclear weapons testing, said in a statement it hadn't detected any unusual activity, per the BBC.

Go deeper: How Russia's old threat became new again

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 1,203,923 — Total deaths: 64,795 — Total recoveries: 247,273Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 312,237 — Total deaths: 8,502 — Total recoveries: 14,997Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S.

The big picture: About half the planet's population is now on lockdown and the global death toll was nearing 64,800, by Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 8,500 in the U.S. early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest" time "between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said U.S. deaths are expected to continue to rise during this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health