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Nuclear war threat: WE WHISTLED PAST THE GRAVEYARD in 2018. LET’S BE SMARTER IN 2019.

The Biggest Nuclear Threats of 2018 Will Follow Us into the New Year , Defense One, DECEMBER 29, 2018 WE WHISTLED PAST THE GRAVEYARD THIS YEAR. LET’S BE SMARTER IN 2019.

There was some positive news this year — most importantly the decreased possibility of war in Korea — but, overall it was bleak. Let’s get right to it.

1. The New Nuclear Arms Race is the clear winner as the greatest global nuclear threat of 2018. Each of the nine nuclear-armed states is building new weapons and the United States, instead of strengthening the global nuclear safety net, is actively shredding it.

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced five new nuclear weapons he said Russia was building in response to the U.S. decision to abrogate the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. All are designed to circumvent defenses. Russia has also deployed a small number of ground-based cruise missiles whose range exceed that permitted by the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that President Ronald Reagan negotiated. In October, President Donald Trump said he would pull out of this arms elimination pact, despite the objections of NATO allies.

Destruction of the INF Treaty is likely a prelude to allowing the New START treaty to die. This pact, negotiated by President Barack Obama, limits long-range strategic forces. If both go, it will be the first time since 1972 that U.S. and Russian nuclear forces have been completely unconstrained.

“The untimely death of these two agreements would add fuel to a new arms race and further undermine stability and predictability between Washington and Moscow,” warned former National Security Council senior director Jon Wolfsthal.

In mid-December, 26 Democratic senators wrote Trump “out of deep concern that your administration is now abandoning generations of bipartisan U.S. leadership.” They feared that Trump and his administration wanted “to double down on new, unnecessary nuclear weapons while scraping mutually beneficial treaties.” This, they said, “risks the United States sliding into another arms race with Russia and erodes U.S. nonproliferation efforts around the world.”

Some countries, perhaps many of them, may see the building of new arsenals and the killing of restraining treaties as a material breach of the U.S. and Russian pledges in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, up for review in 2020. “Today, pessimism about the future of the nuclear nonproliferation regime is again on the rise,” writes Harvard professor Rebecca Davis Gibbons. More countries, armed with more nuclear weapons would likely encourage greater risk-taking, leading to more conventional conflicts and the great risks of escalation.

2. President Trump remains a unique global nuclear threat. The danger comes from the combination of his nuclear policies, his ability to command the launch of a nuclear weapon at anytime, for any reason, and his intensifying domestic political crises.

Any president in this period would face the problems of restraining nuclear-armed adversaries, maintaining a U.S. nuclear deterrent, and rolling back the nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. But Trump’s policies have made several of these problems worse. His Nuclear Posture Review would build new, and more usable, nuclear weapons at a price tag of almost $2 trillion while abandoning any effort to restrain global arsenals. This not only fuels an arms race, it breaks the deal with the Senate that “investments in the U.S. nuclear weapons deterrent…must be accompanied by pursuit of continued arms control measures,” as the 26 senators wrote.

Serious concerns about Trump’s mental stability have raised serious questions about the wisdom of a system that gives the president sole, unchecked authority to launch America’s nuclear weapons………

January 14, 2019 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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