nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Former Defense Secretary William Perry Sounds the Alarm Over the Present Nuclear Danger

What will the consequences be if the bipartisan consensus on Russia continues to be almost completely untethered from reality?, The Nation, By James Carden, 30 Nov 17, “……Kerry observed that, while many in Congress and in the administration are agitating to implement ever-greater sanctions on Iran (in order, of course, to destroy the deal), few are aware that the we have fewer sanctions in place against North Korea, which has roughly 20 nuclear weapons, than we have in place against Iran, which has none.

And so: What to do with the world on the nuclear brink, with the very real potential for an outbreak of perhaps simultaneous crises between the United States, Russia, Iran and North Korea?

As Perry pointed out, climate change is another looming catastrophe, but it is one of which the public is, for the most part, aware. Perry argued that, as is the case with climate change, “we need a program of public education” regarding the growing nuclear danger.

And for his part, Perry pledged to dedicate the remainder of his public career to the task.

In his recent book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, Perry writes: “Our chief peril is that the poised nuclear doom, much of it hidden beneath the seas and in remote badlands, is too far out of the global public consciousness. Passivity shows broadly.”

Finding, he said, his motivation in a wish that his grandchildren not have to live with the ever-present specter of nuclear catastrophe hanging like a Sword of Damocles above their heads, Perry has proved to be anything but a passive player in this continuing, and very troubling, drama. https://www.thenation.com/article/former-defense-secretary-william-perry-sounds-the-alarm-over-the-present-nuclear-danger/

Advertisements

December 1, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

William Perry’s memoir, ‘My Journey at the Nuclear Brink’

Book Journey at Nuclear BrinkOn the Brink of Oblivion  William Perry’s memoir, ‘My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,’ serves as a clarion global warning. US News,  By Mortimer B. Zuckerman | Chairman, Editor-in-Chief June 7, 2016  Our planet today faces two existential dangers: an impending climate catastrophe, and the very real possibility of a nuclear calamity. Both of these dangers arise from human activity and are thus within our capacity to address. And both challenges are interconnected and require a new attitude that recognizes our common interests and need to cooperate. Public awareness and political will must be raised to levels commensurate with the threat.

The warnings about climate change are now part of our public consciousness, resulting in actions being taken that if continued and built upon might possibly stave off this catastrophe or at least reduce its damage. However, the public seems to believe that the danger from nuclear weapons ended with the Cold War.

But former Defense Secretary William Perry’s authoritative memoir, “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,” is a clear, sobering and, for many, surprising warning that the danger of a nuclear catastrophe today is actually greater than it was during that era of U.S.-Soviet competition…….

Perry describes four ways a nuclear catastrophe could occur: nuclear terrorism; an accidental nuclear war (resulting, for example, from a false alarm); a nuclear war out of miscalculation; and a nuclear regional war

His special concern about the possibility of nuclear terrorism can be seen in the book’s preface, with an unblinking and transfixing account of a most believable scenario in which a terror group detonates a bomb in one of our cities. A seminal expert in worrying about such chilling contingencies, Perry outlines in quite credible steps how a terror group builds and sneaks a bomb into Washington, D.C., a scenario he describes as “a nuclear nightmare” and “all too real.” It is important to experience his powerfully understated dramatization:…….

The point is this: Any of the four scenarios could bring about the worst catastrophe we have ever experienced. Taken together they represent a higher likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe than we faced during the Cold War. (That judgment has also been reached by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which this year noted that its “Doomsday Clock” is at three minutes to midnight, closer to doomsday than they had judged we were for most of the Cold War years.)……..http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-06-07/four-paths-to-nuclear-disaster

June 8, 2016 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

William J. Perry at Nuclear Weapons Policy in a Time of Crisis 10/26/2017

Ploughshares Fund
Published on 13 Nov 2017

Nuclear Weapons Policy in a Time of Crisis was a conference held by Ploughshares Fund on October 26, 2017. It featured inspiring discussion and remarks from leading policymakers, nuclear security analysts, a senior Trump administration official, seven members of Congress, eight top experts, two leading security journalists, a former Secretary of Defense, and the newest Nobel Peace Laureate. Learn more about the event and watch other speeches here: https://www.ploughshares.org/issues-analysis/article/videos-nuclear-weapons-policy-time-crisis

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hear Dr Perry on The Nuclear Brink

see-this.wayHear-This-way http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/the-nuclear-brink/7747886 16 August 2016  (view full episode)

While even a single nuclear detonation could destroy our way of life, most of us don’t regard thetext-relevant nuclear threat as a clear and present danger. However experts argue that the risk of nuclear catastrophe is greater today than during the Cold War.

In spite of earlier efforts by President Barack Obama to bring the world towards a nuclear free course, we are actually getting further away from reducing the nuclear weapons stockpiles. And a relations between Russia and the USA remain strained, Dr William J. Perry, former US Secretary of Defence warns that we’re on the verge of a new nuclear arms race, and drifting back into Cold War mentality.

Dr Perry has completed his memoirs about his extensive experience in foreign policy and weapons analysis to send a message to the world.

August 17, 2016 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

USA about to set off a new nuclear arms race – former Defense Secretary Perry

missile-envyFlag-USAFormer SecDef Perry: US on ‘Brink’ of New Nuclear Arms Race, Defense News, By Aaron Mehta December 3, 2015 WASHINGTON — The US is on the “brink” of kicking off a new nuclear arms race that will elevate the risk of nuclear apocalypse to Cold War levels, former Secretary of Defense William Perry warned Thursday.

Perry also called for the breaking of the nuclear triad by dismantling the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) stockpile.

“We’re now at the precipice, maybe I should say the brink, of a new nuclear arms race,” Perry said at an event hosted by the Defense Writer’s Group. “This arms race will be at least as expensive as the arms race we had during the Cold War, which is a lot of money.”

The Pentagon is starting a major overhaul of its nuclear triad, made up of bomber, submarine and ICBM nuclear options. The Air Force is starting work on its Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) program, a conventional bomber that later could be nuclear-certified; it is also planning a new version of the ICBM. Meanwhile, the Navy is figuring out funding plans for the Ohio-class submarine nuclear replacement program.

In an August assessment, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments projects that it will cost more than $700 billion over the next 25 years to recapitalize the nuclear triad.

Speaking on Wednesday, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall indicated the nuclear modernization programs would be protected in the fiscal 2017 budget and remain a priority for the department going forward.

To Perry, who served in a number of Pentagon positions before becoming the 19th US secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton, spending that money is foolish when the US is both short of cash for other programs and capable of a robust nuclear deterrence already.

The risk of nuclear war is exacerbated by the dismantling of the relationship between Russia and the US that had been formed after the fall of the Soviet Union. Without clear military-to-military communication between those two nations, the risk of an accidental conflict increases…… http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/2015/12/03/former-secdef-perry-us-brink-new-nuclear-arms-race/76721640/

December 4, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Disputes between Democrats and Republicans over nuclear weapons policy and procurement –

Nuclear Winter Is Coming: Nuclear ‘War’ To Hit Washington In 2019, Investor’s Business Daily , GILLIAN RICH, 12/18/2018

Nuclear weapons are about to explode as an issue on Capitol Hill, because partisan warfare is threatening to consume debates over nuclear procurement and policy in 2019.
Two events are converging that will blow up an already tenuous give-and-take deal between Republicans and Democrats. The first is the Trump administration’s threat to leave the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty early next year if Russia doesn’t come into compliance. The second is the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives next month.
There has been a “fragile bipartisan consensus” on nuclear weapons, according to Frank Rose, a senior fellow for security and strategy at the Brookings Institution.

During the Obama administration, a deal was brokered under which Republicans supported the New START treaty to reduce nuclear weapons while Democrats backed the modernization of the U.S.’ nuclear arsenal, he said.

All-out partisan warfare on the issue would come at a bad time for the Pentagon. In 2017, the Congressional Budget Office put the price tag of sustaining and modernizing the full nuclear triad of land-, air- and sea-based weapons at $1.2 trillion in constant dollars through 2046.

But, like other things that happened under Obama, the Republican-Democratic deal on nuclear weapons is starting to unravel under Trump.

Nuclear Weapons Treaties

In early December, the Trump administration gave Russia 60 days to come into compliance with the INF treaty or the U.S. will leave.

Trump’s threat raises questions about whether he will renew the New START treaty, which expires in 2021. Without the arms-control treaties, Democrats could block the funding of nuclear weapons in the 2020 budget with their new majority in the House.

“They can’t build a consensus to do something new or different — the Senate or president might not go along — but they can stop things from happening,” Tom Collina, director of policy at the Ploughshares Fund, which is focused on reducing nuclear weapons. “The power of ‘no’ is a significant force.”……….

Nuclear Weapons That May Go Boom Or Bust

To modernize the air-based leg of the nuclear weapons triad, the Air Force awarded the B-21 contract to Northrop Grumman (NOC) in 2015 to replace Cold War-era Boeing (BA) B-52s. The eventual procurement price tag is estimated at $80 billion.

Cancian believes that this new stealth bomber will survive upcoming procurement battles because of its ability to deliver conventional munitions as well.

New Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines will modernize the sea-based leg of the nuclear triad and replace Ohio-class “boomers.” General Dynamics’ (GD) Electric Boat is building them with total acquisition costs expected to hit $128 billion.

Cancian also believes that the Columbia-class submarine program will continue, saying ballistic subs are most likely to survive a nuclear attack because they are hidden underwater.

Then there are two missile programs without contract awards yet that have been more controversial. Lockheed and Raytheon (RTN) are competing for the Long-Range Standoff weapon (LRSO), a nuclear cruise missile to be launched from strategic bombers.

Northrop and Boeing are competing to build the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program to replace Boeing’s aging land-based Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system.

Former Defense Secretary William Perry and retired Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs, argued last year that ICBMs and nuclear cruise missiles carry greater risks of accidentally setting off a nuclear war because they can’t be recalled once launched.

Canceling them would also save billions of dollars that could be used for other pressing national security needs, they said.  ………

High Anxiety Over Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons

The U.S. already has about 500 low-yield airdropped nuclear weapons in its arsenal. And Smith is extremely critical of the low-yield warheads for Lockheed’s Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile.

“It makes no sense for us to build low-yield nuclear weapons,” Smith said at a Ploughshares conference in November. “It brings us no advantage and it is dangerously escalating. It just begins a new nuclear arms race with people just building nuclear weapons all across the board in a way that I think places us at greater danger.”……….

Pentagon Budget Uncertainty

Amid the policy and procurement debates, another source of uncertainty on defense spending is coming from Trump himself.

He blasted the current $716 billion Pentagon budget, tweeting earlier this month that it was “crazy.” But days later he reportedly said he wanted to give the Pentagon $750 billion, above the $733 billion the DOD requested…….https://www.investors.com/news/nuclear-weapons-upgrades-nuclear-treaties-inf-new-start/

December 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Climate and nuclear news – to 12 December

William Perry,  formerly of the Pentagon, and former U.S. Secretary for Defense, is renowned for his work aimed at limiting nuclear weapons, and warning the world of the great threat of nuclear war.

But now, even Perry is recognising that, in some ways, climate change is an even greater existential threat to the world. He points out that nuclear catastrophe can happen quickly, but that it’s possible to prevent it. But climate change is happening slowly, inexorably, and could be irreversible.

He’s convinced me, and I had always thought that nuclear disaster was the most important danger.

With that new realisation in mind, I’m seeing the events in Poland this week – the COP24 UN Conference on Climate Change, with a more acute interest.  This international meeting comes right after the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Fabricated media attacks on Julian Assange. The article that a Fairfax journalist didn’t want to write, about Julian Assange. Rallies will demand that Australia insists on Julian Assange’s safe departure from UK.

Do corporations have a legal right to destroy the planet’s ecosystem?

The worst performing countries for climate action- USA and Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia tried to erase meaning of UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming. Coal lobby is prominent at COP24 U.N climate change conference.  Climate denialist group held fringe meeting in Poland, banning access by environmental reporter.

New nuclear power plants, prolong existing ones – to solve global warming?

A wave of change is coming to our planet’s water resources.

Energy efficiency the starting point for effective climate policies.

Assessing the effects of planetary electromagnetic pollution.

USA.

JAPAN. Former mayor expresses anger at Tepco in trial over Fukushima crisis. Results of the first-round thyroid examination of the Fukushima Health Management Survey. Thyroid cancer impact on children and teens following Fukushima nuclear accident.  Fukushima evacuees forced back into unacceptably high radiation zones.

TAIWAN. Taiwan Votes to Maintain Import Ban on Fukushima Food Imports.

FRANCE. Despite President Macron, France’s government report calls new nuclear power uneconomical.

UK.

NORTH KOREA. If USA does not lift sanctions, North Korea could revive nuclear weapons development.

INDIA. Nuclear Expansion in Kaiga: Is India Ready for the Risk?

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa Energy Minister Fires Nuclear Corporation’s Board .

RUSSIA. Russia sends 2 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela.

GERMANY. Germany a leading solar power producer, despite its low hours of sunshine.

IRAQ. Depleted uranium – the cancer-causing weapon still taking its toll in Iraq.

BELARUSTOR-M2 air defense missile systems to protect Belarus nuclear power plant.

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Nuclear catastrophes are sudden, but might be prevented. Climate change is gradual, and becoming irreversible?

Former Defense Secretary Compares Climate Change To Nuclear War, Forbes, Jeff McMahon, 9 Dec 18, There are two existential catastrophes threatening the world, former Defense Secretary William Perry said. One is quick but avoidable, while the other is slowly unfolding.“Our planet today faces two existential dangers,” Perry said at Stanford University, where he now serves as a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute. “One of them is nuclear war—nuclear catastrophe—and the other is a climate catastrophe.

The nuclear catastrophe could happen next month, next year, ten years from now or if we’re lucky, never. But if it happens it happens all at once. On the other hand the climate-change catastrophe is on a slow roll. It is happening. It’s happening every month, every year. It’s getting worse…….https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2018/12/09/former-defense-secretary-compares-climate-change-to-nuclear-war/#15e849ee60bb

December 10, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Donald Trump DOES have the opportunity to end the diplomatic nuclear crisis, promote disarmamament

The Nuclear Trump Card, The American Conservative, The Donald has the best shot at nuclear disarmament of any president over the last 20 years.  By HUNTER DERENSIS • October 15, 2018 There is no greater issue facing America today than that of war and peace. Marginal changes in the corporate tax rate, the precise number of visas provided to foreign workers, minor adjustments to the Social Security retirement age—all are peripheral when compared to the immense weight of foreign policy decisions. Using military force, deciding what’s in the national interest, and setting geopolitical strategy all have consequences that can affect whole nations, regions, even the world.It is the responsibility of statesmen to be as judicious as possible when it comes to military force, to act realistically and practice restraint. This prevents unwarranted infrastructure destruction, unforeseen blowback, and criminal loss of life. This carries over into a duty to work towards mutually beneficial arms control agreements and non-proliferation treaties to rein in the most destructive weapons ever created by man.

Unfortunately, outside the post-retirement advocacy of former secretary of defense William Perry and whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, very few public figures seem to realize the dangers of nuclear brinksmanship and the importance of disarmament.

Currently, an exchange of 100 atomic bombs would kick up enough dust and debris to blot out part of the sun and starve one third of the earth’s population. Eight countries have the capability to carry out such a mass genocide. Further down the line, if 100 hydrogen weapons (H-bombs) were used, the planet would experience a nuclear winter and up to seven billion people would starve to death. Ellsberg terms this “omnicide”: the murder of everyone. Russia and the United States, as the only countries possessing H-bombs, are especially obligated to reduce their nuclear stockpiles and lessen the danger of nuclear war. The cost of not doing so could be the world itself.

……….Politically, Trump is in a better position than either of his predecessors on nuclear issues. His presidency is not dominated by ideological neoconservatives who buck any tactical diplomacy, and as a Republican his hawkish right flank has been partly neutered. Some of President Obama’s better intentioned efforts, like the nuclear agreement with Iran, were hindered by domestic politics and hawkish Republicans, always adversarial to Democratic-led peace initiatives. Trump, as a Republican, is not encumbered by such political restraints, a la “only Nixon can go to China.”

Thus far, Trump has squandered his opportunity. Jumping feet-first into Obama’s trillion dollar nuclear modernization plan launched in 2016, Trump has not made nuclear discussions with Russia a first-tier, or even fourth tier, issue. And when he has commented on it, it’s with his typical pugnaciousness. This attitude contradicts his efforts with North Korea, and isn’t the first contradiction in “Trumpism.” Meanwhile, pulling out of the nuclear agreement with Iran has exacerbated diplomatic tensions, but from Trump’s point of view, he sees the abrogation as a step in the direction of his vaunted “better deal.” His offer of new negotiations without preconditions shows that his goal is resolution, albeit in a tactically poor way. The administration should crystallize a consistent outlook on nuclear de-escalation, even if it’s only out of selfish motivations………

Most Americans support the Korean peace initiative. In the 2000, 2008, and 2016 presidential elections, voters chose the less hawkish candidate. Peace is popular, especially when the consequences of a possible nuclear fallout are explained. Hypothetically, if Trump were to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington, D.C. to initiate negotiations on nuclear weapons, he would do so from a position of political strength.

Some analysts postulate that a world power needs no more than a couple hundred nuclear weapons to achieve a deterrence factor as envisioned by MAD (mutually-assured destruction). This makes the United States’ and Russia’s combined 13,500 warheads (active and decommissioned) more than a little overkill. It’s within both countries’ interest to reduce their stockpiles to make accidents less likely and lessen the chance of death on a scale not since the extinction of the dinosaurs. Since the United States and Russia possess over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, this one diplomatic overture could, over years, end the nuclear crisis on our planet. Donald Trump could make all the difference.

Hunter DeRensis is an editorial assistant at The American Conservative and a student at George Mason University. Follow him on Twitter @HunterDeRensis.  nhttps://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-nuclear-trump-card/

October 16, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

World close to nuclear annihilation, but in denial – Dr Helen Caldicott

Helen Caldicott on Our Denial of the Threat of Nuclear Armageddon http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/42494-helen-caldicott-on-our-denial-of-the-threat-of-nuclear-armageddon November 05, 2017 By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview  Since the corporate media give short shrift to the peril of nuclear weapons, most world residents are unaware of how close we are to nuclear annihilation. So argues advocate and physician Dr. Helen Caldicott, editor of Sleepwalking to Armageddon: The Threat of Nuclear Annihilation, in this interview with Truthout.
Mark Karlin: Despite Donald Trump’s insinuation that he might launch a first-strike nuclear attack on North Korea, the anti-nuclear weapons movement is still relatively quiescent. Do you have thoughts as to why most people on the Earth are “sleepwalking to Armageddon”?

Helen Caldicott: Yes. It’s because the US media has totally failed in its duty to educate and inform the American people about the current state of world affairs, including the current US plans for a winnable nuclear war and the huge nuclear arsenals still being maintained by Russia and America. As Thomas Jefferson said so long ago, “An informed democracy will behave in a responsible fashion.” Of the 16,400 nuclear bombs in the world, Russia and the US own 94 percent — only they can destroy most life on Earth, so in reality, these two nations are today’s real terrorists.

Do you think the fact that the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons will bring the issue more to the forefront?

No I don’t. However, their strategy is wise and relatively subliminal. Already, 122 nations have committed to the pledge of nuclear abolition. This massive support will no doubt place pressure upon the NATO countries that harbor US tactical nuclear weapons — the Netherlands, Turkey, Germany, Italy and Belgium — to forgo these commitments. This, then, will place further pressure upon other nuclear armed nations to abolish their nuclear stocks, including India, Pakistan, France, Britain, China, North Korea and Israel. Only then will international condemnation be so great that Russia and the US will be forced to contemplate abandoning their nuclear arsenals once and for all. Whether we have time before all hell breaks loose, nobody knows.

You state that the United States will spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years modernizing its nuclear arsenal. What exactly does that mean?

It means exactly that. In order for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) to pass the Senate, Obama promised then-Senator Jon Kyl that he would authorize the spending of $1 trillion over the next 30 years to replace every single nuclear weapon, missile, aircraft carrier, submarine, ship and plane.

How are corporations stirring the pot of militarizing international relations? Clearly, the military corporations have huge influence upon the House and Senate by funding the campaigns of the representatives, so in effect, most Congress people and senators … in a fundamental sense do not represent the health, well-being and lives of their constituents.

You comment that “an order to launch [nuclear weapons] in US missile silos is the length of a tweet.” How long does it take to launch a nuclear weapon?

Three minutes once the presidential order has been received. This is why the men in the missile silos are called Minutemen. [As described by former Minuteman ICBM launch control officer Bruce Blair here.]

What are some of the promising forms of resistance to nuclear weapons that are taking shape?

There are young people in many countries involved in the UN ban treaty; however, I see very little awareness in the general public about the fact that we are closer to nuclear war than we have ever been, and this according to former Secretary of Defense William Perry, retired Gen. James Cartwright and others highly knowledgeable and experienced in this area. Most people are in fact practicing psychic numbing and denial.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Is Nuclear War Inevitable?

 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/books/review/daniel-ellsberg-the-doomsday-machine.html THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE 

December 29, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Special Report – Nuclear strategists call for bold move: scrap ICBM arsenal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Imagine it is 3 a.m., and the president of the United States is asleep in the White House master bedroom. A military officer stationed in an office nearby retrieves an aluminum suitcase – the “football” containing the launch codes for the U.S. nuclear arsenal – and rushes to wake the commander in chief.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 2:10 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., August 2, 2017. Picture taken August 2, 2017. U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Ian Dudley/Handout via REUTERS

Early warning systems show that Russia has just launched 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at the United States, the officer informs the president. The nuclear weapons will reach U.S. targets in 30 minutes or less.

Bruce Blair, a Princeton specialist on nuclear disarmament who once served as an ICBM launch control officer, says the president would have at most 10 minutes to decide whether to fire America’s own land-based ICBMs at Russia.

“It is a case of use or lose them,” Blair says.

A snap decision is necessary, current doctrine holds, because U.S. missile silos have well-known, fixed locations. American strategists assume Russia would try to knock the missiles out in a first strike before they could be used for retaliation.

Of all weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the ICBM is the one most likely to cause accidental nuclear war, arms-control specialists say. It is for this reason that a growing number of former defense officials, scholars of military strategy and some members of Congress have begun calling for the elimination of ICBMs.

They say that in the event of an apparent enemy attack, a president’s decision to launch must be made so fast that there would not be time to verify the threat. False warnings could arise from human error, malfunctioning early warning satellites or hacking by third parties.

Once launched, America’s current generation of ICBM missiles, the Minuteman III, cannot be recalled: They have no communication equipment because the United States fears on-board gear would be vulnerable to electronic interference by an enemy.

These critics recommend relying instead on the other two legs of the U.S. nuclear “triad”: submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers armed with hydrogen bombs or nuclear-warhead cruise missiles. The president would have more time to decide whether to use subs or bombers.

Bombers take longer to reach their targets than ICBMs and can be recalled if a threat turns out to be a false alarm. Nuclear missile subs can be stationed closer to their targets, and are undetectable, so their locations are unknown to U.S. adversaries. There is virtually no danger the subs could be knocked out before launching their missiles.

“ANTIQUATED” ARSENAL

Among the advocates of dismantling the ICBM force is William Perry, defense secretary under President Bill Clinton. In a recent interview, Perry said the U.S. should get rid of its ICBMs because “responding to a false alarm is only too easy.” An erroneous decision would be apocalyptic, he said. “I don’t think any person should have to make that decision in seven or eight minutes.”

Leon Panetta, who served as defense secretary during the Barack Obama administration, defended the triad while in office. But in a recent interview he said he has reconsidered.

“There is no question that out of the three elements of the triad, the Minuteman missiles are at a stage now where they’re probably the most antiquated of the triad,” he said.

The risk of launch error is even greater in Russia, several arms control experts said. The United States has about 30 minutes from the time of warning to assess the threat and launch its ICBMs. Russia for now has less, by some estimates only 15 minutes.

That is because after the Cold War, Russia didn’t replace its early warning satellites, which by 2014 had worn out. Moscow now is only beginning to replace them. Meanwhile it relies mainly on ground-based radar, which can detect missiles only once they appear over the horizon.

In contrast, the United States has a comprehensive, fully functioning fleet of early warning satellites. These orbiters can detect a Russian missile from the moment of launch.

The doubts about the ICBM force are circulating as the world faces its most serious nuclear standoff in years: the heated war of words over Pyongyang’s growing atomic weapons program between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. U.S.-Russian nuclear tensions have increased as well.

The questioning of the missile fleet also comes as the United States pursues a massive, multi-year modernization of its nuclear arsenal that is making its weapons more accurate and deadly. Some strategists decry the U.S. upgrade – and similar moves by Moscow – as dangerously destabilizing.

Skeptics of the modernization program also have cited the new U.S. president’s impulsiveness as further reason for opposing the hair-trigger ICBM fleet. The enormously consequential decision to launch, said Perry, requires a president with a cool and rational personality. “I’m particularly concerned if the person lacks experience, background, knowledge and temperament” to make the decision, he said.

This month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to discuss the president’s authority to launch a first-strike nuclear attack. Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts has called for that authority to be curbed, though such a break with decades of practice doesn’t have broad support.

“Donald Trump can launch nuclear codes just as easily as he can use his Twitter account,” said Markey. “I don’t think we should be trusting the generals to be a check on the president.”

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Air Force missile maintenance team removes the upper section of an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead in an undated USAF photo at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, U.S.. U.S. Air Force/Airman John Parie/Handout via REUTERS

THE NORTH KOREAN THREAT

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council dismissed any suggestion that Trump lacks the skills to handle the arsenal. “The president is pre-eminently prepared to make all decisions regarding the employment of our nuclear forces,” she said.

Doubts about ICBMs predated the change of administrations in Washington.

ICBMs, detractors say, are largely useless as a deterrent against threats such as North Korea. They argue the land-based missiles can be fired only at one conceivable U.S. adversary: Russia.

That’s because, to reach an adversary such as North Korea, China or Iran from North America, the ICBMs would have to overfly Russia – thus risking an intentional or accidental nuclear response by Moscow. (A small number of U.S. ICBMs are aimed at China, in case Washington finds itself at war with both Moscow and Beijing.)

Despite the rising criticism, for now there is little chance America will retire its ICBM fleet. To supporters, eliminating that part of the triad would be like sawing one leg off a three-legged stool.

Presidents Obama and now Donald Trump have stood by them. There is little interest in Congress to consider dismantlement.

Well before Trump picked him to be defense secretary, General James Mattis raised questions about keeping the U.S. ICBM force, in part because of dangers of accidental launch. In 2015 he told the Senate Armed Services Committee: “You should ask, ‘Is it time to reduce the triad to a dyad removing the land-based missiles?’”

In his Senate confirmation hearing as defense secretary, Mattis said he now supports keeping ICBMs. They provide an extra layer of deterrence, he said, in hardened silos.

The National Security Council spokesperson said no decision had been made on keeping ICBMs. She noted that the president has ordered a review by the end of this year of U.S. nuclear policy, and no decision will be made until then.

ICBMs are part of the overall U.S. nuclear modernization program, which is expected to cost at least $1.25 trillion over 30 years. The missiles are being refurbished and upgraded to make them more accurate and lethal. And the United States is building a new class of ICBMs to be fielded around 2030.

The Air Force has confirmed that the current refurbished Minuteman IIIs have improved guidance systems and a bigger third-stage engine, which make them more precise and able to carry bigger payloads.

BRUSHES WITH ARMAGEDDON

The U.S. nuclear missile force dates back to the 1950s. Lacking expertise in making rockets, the United States after World War II scoured Germany for the scientists who had built the V2 rockets Germany fired on England. Under a secret plan, Washington spirited scientists such as Wernher von Braun, later considered the father of American rocketry, out of Germany, away from possible war crimes prosecution, in exchange for helping the United States.

By 1947 the Cold War was on. The former Nazi rocket designers would help America build super-fast, long-range missiles that could rain nuclear warheads on the Soviet population.

The program began slowly. That changed on October 4, 1957. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik, a small satellite, into Earth orbit, beating the United States into space. For the Pentagon, the most significant fact was that Sputnik had been launched by an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S. homeland. The United States put its missile program into overdrive, launching its own ICBM in November 1959.

The ICBMs’ advantage over bombers was that they could reach their targets in 30 minutes. Even bombers taking off from European bases could take hours to reach their ground zeroes.

By 1966, once an order was given to missile crews, pre-launch time was minimized to five minutes. This resulted from a change in fuel. Before, liquid fuel powered ICBMs. In a lengthy process, it had to be loaded immediately before launch. The invention of solid fuel solved the problem. It was installed when the missile was built, and remained viable for decades.

One reason arms specialists worry about the ICBM force is that the United States and Russia have come close to committing potentially catastrophic errors multiple times.

In 1985, for example, a full nuclear alert went out when a U.S. Strategic Command computer showed that the Soviet Union had launched 200 ICBMs at the United States. Fortunately, Perry recounts in his book, “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,” the officer in charge realized there was a fault in the computer and that no missiles had been launched. The problem was traced to a faulty circuit board, but not before the same mistake happened two weeks later.

In 1995, then-Russian president Boris Yeltsin had his finger on the button, because the Russians had detected a missile launched from Norway, which they assumed to be American. Russian officials determined just in time that it was not a nuclear missile.

They later learned it was a harmless scientific-research rocket. Norway had warned Russia well in advance of the launch – but the information was never passed on to radar technicians.

Reported by Scot Paltrow; edited by Michael Williams

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

November 23, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A new arms race underway, as USA, then Russia, modernise their nuclear weapons

Special Report: In modernizing nuclear arsenal, U.S. stokes new arms raceScot Paltrow  WASHINGTON (Reuters), 21 Nov 17  – President Barack Obama rode into office in 2009 with promises to work toward a nuclear-free world. His vow helped win him the Nobel Peace Prize that year.

The next year, while warning that Washington would retain the ability to retaliate against a nuclear strike, he promised that America would develop no new types of atomic weapons. Within 16 months of his inauguration, the United States and Russia negotiated the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as New START, meant to build trust and cut the risk of nuclear war. It limited each side to what the treaty counts as 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads.

By the time Obama left office in January 2017, the risk of Armageddon hadn’t receded. Instead, Washington was well along in a modernization program that is making nearly all of its nuclear weapons more accurate and deadly.

And Russia was doing the same: Its weapons badly degraded from neglect after the Cold War, Moscow had begun its own modernization years earlier under President Vladimir Putin. It built new, more powerful ICBMs, and developed a series of tactical nuclear weapons.

The United States under Obama transformed its main hydrogen bomb into a guided smart weapon, made its submarine-launched nuclear missiles five times more accurate, and gave its land-based long-range missiles so many added features that the Air Force in 2012 described them as “basically new.” To deliver these more lethal weapons, military contractors are building fleets of new heavy bombers and submarines.

President Donald Trump has worked hard to undo much of Obama’s legacy, but he has embraced the modernization program enthusiastically. Trump has ordered the Defense Department to complete a review of the U.S. nuclear arsenal by the end of this year.

Reuters reported in February that in a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump denounced the New START treaty and rejected Putin’s suggestion that talks begin about extending it once it expires in 2021.

Some former senior U.S. government officials, legislators and arms-control specialists – many of whom once backed a strong nuclear arsenal — are now warning that the modernization push poses grave dangers.

“REALLY DANGEROUS THINKING”

They argue that the upgrades contradict the rationales for New START – to ratchet down the level of mistrust and reduce risk of intentional or accidental nuclear war. The latest improvements, they say, make the U.S. and Russian arsenals both more destructive and more tempting to deploy. The United States, for instance, has a “dial down” bomb that can be adjusted to act like a tactical weapon, and others are planned.

“The idea that we could somehow fine tune a nuclear conflict is really dangerous thinking,” says Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based think tank.

One leader of this group, William Perry, who served as defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, said recently in a Q&A on YouTube that “the danger of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War.”

Perry told Reuters that both the United States and Russia have upgraded their arsenals in ways that make the use of nuclear weapons likelier. The U.S. upgrade, he said, has occurred almost exclusively behind closed doors. “It is happening without any basic public discussion,” he said. “We’re just doing it.”

………. A BUDGET BUSTER?

The U.S. modernization effort is not coming cheap. This year the Congressional Budget Office estimated the program will cost at least $1.25 trillion over 30 years. The amount could grow significantly, as the Pentagon has a history of major cost overruns on large acquisition projects.

As defense secretary under Obama, Leon Panetta backed modernization. Now he questions the price tag.

“We are in a new chapter of the Cold War with Putin,” he told Reuters in an interview, blaming the struggle’s resumption on the Russian president. Panetta says he doubts the United States will be able to fund the modernization program. “We have defense, entitlements and taxes to deal with at the same time there are record deficits,” he said.

New START is leading to significant reductions in the two rival arsenals, a process that began with the disintegration of the USSR. But reduced numbers do not necessarily mean reduced danger……….. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-modernize-specialreport/special-report-in-modernizing-nuclear-arsenal-u-s-stokes-new-arms-race-idUSKBN1DL1AH

November 22, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ballistic missiles: Limit them first. Then ban them

 To shore up the INF, the United States could propose something the Russians have already advocated—that the INF Treaty be expanded to ban this category of ballistic missiles globally.Such a move would not immediately apply to the most troubling nuclear-tipped missiles, those with ranges far in excess of 1,000 kilometers. But a worldwide INF could be a first step toward an eventual goal of banning all ballistic missiles.

https://thebulletin.org/ballistic-missiles-limit-them-first-then-ban-them11222,  JAMES E. DOYLE, 27 Oct 17  James E. Doyle is an independent nuclear security specialist. From 1997 to 2014, he was on the technical staff of the Nonproliferation Division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
 Ballistic missiles have beneficial purposes; they place satellites in orbit, and those satellites provide the world with vital communications capabilities and navigation and weather information. Ballistic missiles send astronauts and space stations into Earth orbit and research probes far across the solar system.

But ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads are enablers of apocalypse. There is no effective defense against these missiles, even though the United States has spent more than 30 years and $500 billion trying to build radars that can track them and interceptor missiles that will shoot them down.

Military ballistic missiles have other negative characteristics. The short time needed for them to reach target (if the United States and Russia are the assumed combatants, 10 to 30 minutes) creates pressure to launch first in a conflict. In a crisis, ballistic missiles on high alert can wind up becoming the leading edge of a devastating war begun by miscalculation.

Because of the obvious dangerousness of ballistic missiles, there is a long history of official efforts to limit or eliminate them. Those efforts have shown that agreements to reduce the dangers of ballistic missiles can catalyze improved relations between potential adversaries. The landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty required Washington and Moscow to eliminate all ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 1,000 kilometers. Both nations recognized that these missiles could not be defended against and their proximity to the Cold War boundaries of Europe meant they were highly destabilizing in a crisis. A total of 2,692 missiles (including a small number of cruise missiles) were eliminated under the treaty.

Acknowledging the danger of nuclear ballistic missiles, President Reagan proposed an agreement requiring their total elimination to Soviet leader Gorbachev at their summit in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1985. The Soviets did not accept the proposal because Reagan insisted that America’s program to build missile defenses remain unconstrained. That program—known then as the Strategic Defense Initiative and today as the National Missile Defense Program—has yet to develop effective means to defeat ballistic missiles.

In the mid 1990s, Alton Frye, then Washington director of the US Council on Foreign Relations, advocated an international ban on offensive ballistic missiles, an idea whose time has perhaps come again. Many political and technical challenges would need to be addressed to negotiate and enforce new international limitations on ballistic missiles. But model institutional and scientific mechanisms for such efforts exist in the form of preceding treaties, including INF and New START. Procedures and technologies for inspection, verification, and enforcement of agreements limiting or banning all types of ballistic missiles have already been proven. Political will, as usual is the major missing ingredient.

Former Defense Secretary William Perry and several other experts have recently advocated the elimination of the United States’ nuclear-armed, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). According to Perry, this component of America’s nuclear triad is no longer necessary to deter adversaries and is inherently dangerous, fueling instability during crises and arms races with Russia and China.

While Perry proposes to eliminate only land-based ballistic missiles and retain submarine-based missiles, such a move could create powerful international momentum to negotiate new international limits or bans on certain types of ballistic missiles—with an ultimate goal of banning all nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. If a united international community were to seriously consider such a course, it could bring increased pressure on North Korea, Iran, and other nations to suspend or roll back their offensive ballistic missile programs. If they refused, the possibility of using military force against their nuclear and ballistic missile programs would gain legitimacy and support.

One place to start seeking new limits on ballistic missiles has been in the news for months: the INF Treaty, which the United States and Russia have accused one another of violating. Russia’s support of the treaty has weakened over the years because it is forbidden to deploy ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 1,000 kilometers, but its neighbors who are not party to the treaty are permitted to do so. China has many such missiles, and Turkey, South Korea, and Japan could develop them in the future. To shore up the INF, the United States could propose something the Russians have already advocated—that the INF Treaty be expanded to ban this category of ballistic missiles globally.

Such a move would not immediately apply to the most troubling nuclear-tipped missiles, those with ranges far in excess of 1,000 kilometers. But a worldwide INF could be a first step toward an eventual goal of banning all ballistic missiles. A renewed focus on the danger of these weapons—accompanied by US statements that it is willing to eliminate its land-based ICBMs under the right conditions—might elicit greater support from Russian and China in efforts to defuse the North Korean crisis and control Iranian missile testing.

Like the nuclear weapons ban treaty the UN recently adopted, a ballistic missile ban would require sustained, long-term effort to achieve anything like full success. But the United States has everything to gain from taking a leadership role and asserting that offensive ballistic missiles are dangerous and destabilizing weapons that should eventually be eliminated from the arsenals of all nations.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Even for New Mexico, it’s better to spend $trillion on positive things, not nuclear weapons

World is crying out for clean energy, not nuclear weapons http://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/my_view/world-is-crying-out-for-clean-energy-not-nuclear-weapons/article_c3c64f7a-6d53-58c5-9ddb-f67dd0fea5e5.html, By Greg Mello , 17 Sept 17 

On Wednesday at the United Nations, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will open for signature. For signatories, this treaty prohibits nuclear weapons altogether. Its explicit goal is a universal norm against all forms of participation in the nuclear weapons industry.

Designing, testing, producing, possessing, threatening with, deploying and using nuclear weapons are to be banned. Crucially, assistance or encouragement in these illegal acts will also be banned, as will stationing of nuclear weapons, both of which impact U.S. nuclear alliances, including NATO. Signatory states will be required to enact administrative and penal sanctions against anyone involved with the nuclear weapons industry.

The ban treaty was negotiated against heavy opposition from the U.S. and other nuclear weapon states — they obviously won’t sign. In the end, the text was approved by 122 countries. It is likely to enter into force next year and to gradually gain adherents thereafter, a process that will keep U.S. nuclear “modernization” in the news around the world.

 In all this, whither Santa Fe? While the City Different seeks a positive international reputation, the metro area hosts the world’s most lavishly funded labs and production facilities for soon-to-be-outlawed nuclear weapons.

So far, our congressional delegation, following Los Alamos National Laboratory, wants to restart production of plutonium warhead cores (“pits”). The new pits are “needed” solely for building a new kind of (untested and redundant) warhead the U.S. Navy doesn’t want. The U.S. Air Force has secretly admitted the same. Pits in existing weapons are all in fine condition and will remain so for decades.

As a dubious reward for its enduring loyalty to the Los Alamos lab, the Santa Fe metro area has long hosted the state’s largest nuclear waste dump, visible from high ground anywhere from Eldorado to Truchas. Area G is now stuffed to the gills and might finally close at the end of this month. Then again, the lab may expand the site.

A plutonium factory for outlawed weapons and a nuclear waste dump. That’s a city “different” all right.

Actually, Los Alamos seeks two unnecessary plutonium programs, not just pit production but also the messy and dangerous processing of tons of surplus pits for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Instead of this, permanently demilitarizing pits without opening them up, followed by direct disposal, would be adequate, cheap, safe and quick. The lab need not and should not be involved, no matter what plan the Department of Energy chooses.

Without new warheads (that the rest of the world hates), the labs would shrink. Los Alamos would not need to make pits, let alone build underground workshops (estimated cost: $300,000 per square foot).

Why have silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles at all? Former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former U.S. Strategic Command Commander (and later, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) James Cartwright are among those who believe the U.S. would be more secure without any ICBMs.

 We agree. By 2030 or so, U.S. ICBMs will age out. Former President Barack Obama began (and Trump continues) a huge program to replace them. Department of Defense estimates the new missiles, equipment and software will cost between $85 billion and $150 billion, a fiscal disaster comparable to Hurricane Harvey. Building missiles creates no productive infrastructure, mitigates no climate change and creates few jobs.

That sum, wisely invested in leveraging more renewable energy, would go a long way toward ending coal burning in the U.S. while building nonexportable jobs, skills and communities.

The new missiles are just part of the Obama-Trump plan to replace every single nuclear weapon system, reliably estimated to cost more than $1 trillion. These are not the “deployments” our children need. The world is crying out for fresh priorities that will give their children and our world a chance. Will our congressional delegation listen?

Greg Mello is director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a nuclear disarmament-focused nonprofit, based in Albuquerque.

September 18, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment