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Sound the alarm on deadly US-Russia nuclear threat

Sound the alarm on deadly US-Russia nuclear threat, by Jill Dougherty December 12, 2019  CNN, As I looked around the large square conference table, I watched the faces settle into worried frowns. Russians and Americans, several of whom once had responsibility for their nations’ nuclear weapons, all members of the Dartmouth Conference, the oldest continual bi-lateral dialogue between Americans and Russians, founded almost 60 years ago during one of the darkest periods of the Cold War.

For a long minute, no one spoke. Then, one of them broke the silence: “Someone needs to sound the alarm.”
Now, profoundly concerned that the United States and Russia are on the verge of a new arms race, they are speaking out, issuing an urgent appeal to keep arms control alive:
“… for the first time in our history we are compelled by the urgency of the situation to issue this public appeal to our governments, founded on our view that the clear threat of an uncontrolled nuclear arms race has re-emerged with the collapse in recent years of key elements of the post-Cold War arms control architecture.”
Members of the Dartmouth Conference meet twice a year to discuss ways of improving — and, at this point, salvaging — the US/Russia relationship. Several are former top-level military and diplomatic officials. Some are religious leaders or physicians. All are concerned citizens.
They’ve watched as the arms control agreements, which helped prevent nuclear war between our countries, were dismantled — the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by former President Richard Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement signed by former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Now, the New START agreement — the last remaining arms control agreement between the US and Russia — hangs in the balance. …….
It could get worse, both I and other Dartmouth Conference members believe. Neither country wants to start a nuclear war, which would imperil the entire planet, but it could start by mistake, by misunderstanding, by escalation of tensions, as it almost did during the Cold War……..
In their appeal, Dartmouth members say the dialogue on strategic stability should be broadened to include other nuclear powers. But that doesn’t mean that, in the interim, New START can’t be extended for another five years, as the treaty provides. Extending it beyond 2021 would provide some breathing space to work on future global security agreements. We can do both.
New START not only led to steep reductions of nuclear arsenals on both sides but it strengthened confidence and trust between our countries and our militaries by providing for inspections and data exchanges that verify compliance. Transparency is key; Not knowing what weapons the other side might have can ignite suspicion.
At this very moment both countries are developing new, highly advanced conventional arms and delivery systems.
A cyberattack could knock out early warning systems. Both countries keep most of their nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert, ready to be fired within minutes. Our presidents have only a few minutes to decide whether to respond. A missile launched in Russia can hit an American city in less than 30 minutes — and vice versa. A single warhead can kill millions of people.
……… together, we had just written: “The immediate imperative is extension of the New START Treaty … We see this as a paramount moral obligation of both our governments before our own peoples, and the world at large. We respectfully urge our governments to begin discussions immediately to this end.”

December 14, 2019 - Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war

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