The world is entering a ‘dangerous new age’ with the spread of sophisticated weapons raising the likelihood of great loss of life, UK security chief warns

  • National Security Adviser Stephen Lovegrove forewarns of ‘new security order’
  • West must stop Russia and China pursuing ‘might is right agendas’ unchecked
  • Speech in DC: ‘Tech changes raise damage potential of more available weapons’
  • He added: ‘We will continue to hold Russia to account for destabilising actions’

The world faces a ‘dangerous new age’ in which regionally-aggressive powers such as Russia and China are pursuing ‘might is right agendas’, the UK’s national security chief today warned.

National Security Adviser Stephen Lovegrove urged caution amid a changed ‘security order’, with advances in tech making weapons more lethal and abundant.

In a striking speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, Mr Lovegrove added that NATO’s ‘strategic stability is at risk’.

During the Cold War, he said, the threat of a nuclear holocaust obligated continuous dialogue between the United States and the USSR.

But now, Mr Lovegrove warned, the West faces ‘a much broader range of strategic risks and pathways to escalation’.

Mr Lovegrove said ‘regionally-aggressive powers’ Russia and China pose a new threat to the West because in the post-Cold War world order, continuous dialogue is no longer needed. Pictured: a Chinese frigate and missile destroyer take part in a parade in St Petersburg, Russia

Left: The Washington DC headquarters of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Right: National Security Adviser Stephen Lovegrove made the striking warning this afternoon

There are no fewer than 23 countries in possession of dedicated land-attack cruise missiles.

That’s not to count the growing list of nuclear powers, with Iran reportedly at a ‘breakout moment’ in proliferating the apocalyptic missiles.

NATO must be ‘eternally vigilant’ to rogue states developing the weapons, he added, which can spark nuclear arms races among regional neighbours.

‘We have clear concerns about China’s nuclear modernisation programme’, Britain’s national security head explained, ‘that will increase both the number and types of nuclear weapon systems in its arsenal.

‘Combined, this is a daunting prospect.’

Commenting on the recent passage of 150 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mr Lovegrove described the war as ‘a manifestation of a much broader contest unfolding over the successor to the post-Cold War international order’.

‘This contest has profound implications’, he said.

‘It will decide whether we live in a world in which regionally-aggressive powers such as China and Russia can pursue ‘might is right’ agendas unchecked – or a world in which all states can ensure their sovereignty, competition does not spill over into conflict, and we cooperate to protect the planet.’

The Whitehall security chief also proposed four ‘principles for integrated arms control’ to protect the West against erratic moves by enemy states. 

NATO members and their allies must bolster ‘red lines’ against bad behaviour, ‘widen the conversation’ involving traditional great powers to include all countries, focus on dialogue to – as Churchill said – ‘jaw-jaw, not war-war’, and lastly ‘take early action to renew and strengthen confidence-building measures’.

That means growing trust in the international order, he said, to ‘eliminate the causes of mistrust, fear, tension and hostility’.

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