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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Nato chief warns of most dangerous world for decades

Jens Stoltenberg says unpredictable threats from Russia, North Korea and international terrorism are contributing to a parlous global situation

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: It's a more dangerous world REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: It's a more dangerous world REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

A perfect storm of nuclear aggression by North Korea, Russian military assertiveness and international terrorism has created a more dangerous world than for decades, according to the head of Nato.

The military alliance has faced a convergence of major and unpredictable threats contributing to a greater sense of danger and instability than for 30 years, said secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

“It is more unpredictable and it’s more difficult because we have so many challenges at the same time, the former Norwegian prime minister told The Guardian. “We have proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in North Korea, we have terrorists, instability and we have a more assertive Russia. It is a more dangerous world.”

Mr Stoltenberg was speaking from Estonia before an estimated 100,000 Russian and Belarusian troops take part in a major military exercise, predicted to be the biggest since the end of the Cold War.

The exercise is just the latest testing situation for the 29-member alliance as it scrambles to deal with global threats and doubts over the unwavering commitment of the US to the mutual defence treaty.

While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump cast doubt on whether the US would defend allies in the Baltic if they came under attack from Russia but has since softened his stance towards Nato. Mr Stoltenberg’s trip included visits to troops on four frontline states, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Lithuania.

The world’s most pressing diplomatic threat concerns the stepped-up programme of missile testing by the North Korean regime, which prompted Mr Trump to warn of unleashing “fire and fury” on the North Korean regime.

Japanese fighter jets carried out an exercise with US bombers on Saturday to underscore the threat as the region braces for a further possible missile test. Mr Stoltenberg said that he backed the presence of US troops in the area and the rights of South Korea and Japan to defend themselves. “I will support efforts to find a political, negotiated solution,” he said.

He has previously spoken of Nato concerns about Pyongyang’s “destabilising pattern of behaviour” which poses a threat to international security.