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William Perry and Jerry Brown address the unwisdom of spending $2 trillion on new nuclear weapons

Spending $2 trillion on new nuclear weapons is a risk to more than just your wallet, Business Insider, BILL PERRY, JERRY BROWN, JOHN GARAMENDIJUL 7, 2021,

  • The US is pursuing the modernization of all three legs of the nuclear triad, at an estimated cost of $1.7 trillion over 30 years.
  • Simultaneous modernization exceeds what’s needed for an effective nuclear deterrent and is an unnecessarily costly and risky way to achieve our deterrence requirements.
  • Bill Perry is a former US secretary of defense. Jerry Brown is a former governor. John Garamendi is the US Representative for California’s 3rd Congressional District.

The world is witnessing a new, dangerous nuclear arms race. Tensions are rising between the Great Powers. As the US, Russia, and China rush to modernize their nuclear arsenals, the trip wire is becoming more taut by the day.

Observation and communication satellites and systems are increasingly vulnerable to attacks. All three countries are fielding stealth and hypersonic nuclear delivery systems designed to evade detection. The risks of a false alarm or a political miscalculation has always haunted the nuclear landscape, and they do even more today.

Last week, legislation was introduced in the US House of Representatives to address the misguided nuclear modernization strategy the US is currently employing and chart a safer, more cost-effective course for our modernization efforts – one that is predicated on deterrence rather than dominance.

As long as nuclear weapons exist, we must have a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent. However, simultaneous modernization efforts across all three legs of the nuclear triad exceed  that scope and are an unnecessarily costly and risky way to achieve our deterrence requirements.

The current US nuclear modernization strategy includes the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), the B-21 bomber, the Columbia-class submarine, the Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) air-launched cruise missile, the sea launched nuclear cruise missile, and new nuclear warheads.

The costs of these projects are extraordinary: a 2017 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimated that the 30-year cost of nuclear weapons spending would be $1.2 trillion ($1.7 trillion adjusted for inflation).

As the Government Accountability Office recently noted, the current plan to modernize every part of the US nuclear arsenal simultaneously is a recipe for schedule delays and cost overruns.

The ICBM leg of the triad deserves special attention. The total price tag to procure the GBSD is projected to be at least $95 billion, and up to $264 billion when accounting for total life-cycle costs. A pause in the GBSD will help defray short-term costs for the Air Force and will also defer a long-term expenditure.

Additionally, the W87-1, the warhead that is being designed for the GBSD, will cost at least $12 billion to build – and is not part of the estimated GBSD procurement cost of $95 billion. To build new warhead cores for the W87-1, the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) is expanding plutonium pit production, which will cost at least another $9 billion through the late 2020s according to the Congressional Budget Office…………..

Maintaining and upgrading the current Minuteman III missile is not only technically possible – it is also cost-effective. According to a 2017 CBO report, it would cost $37 billion less to maintain the MMIII than developing and deploying the GBSD through 2036.

It’s clear that replacing the Minuteman III for the GBSD is a wasteful and costly undertaking that is not in our national security interest. That’s why we are supporting the “Investing in Commonsense Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) Act of 2021,” which was introduced in the US House of Representatives last week by Congressman Garamendi.

This bill will simply pause the development of the GBSD, and the associated W87-1 nuclear warhead, and life extend the Minuteman III until 2040 – something that is both technically feasible and more cost-efficient. This extension provides time for arms control negotiations and additional debate on the utility of a ground-based system, which may make this program unnecessary.

This legislation will help deescalate the modern nuclear arms race and prevent the unnecessary spending of billions of taxpayer dollars. That’s why nine members of Congress joined Garamendi’s “ICBM Act” as original cosponsors, and it’s why 12 policy experts and arms control associations have joined us in endorsing the legislation.

The “ICBM Act” will strengthen our national security and save billions of tax-payer dollars by:

  • Prohibiting the use of funds for the GBSD program and W87-1 warhead modification program for fiscal years 2022 through 2031;
  • Extending the service life of the Minuteman III missiles until at least 2040, and requiring use of nondestructive testing methods and technologies similar to those used by the Navy for Trident II D5 SLBMs; and
  • Transferring back to the Air Force all unobligated funds for the GBSD program, and transferring unobligated funds for the W87-1 warhead modification program from the National Nuclear Security Administration to the Treasury.

As a former US secretary of defense, governor of California, and current chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, we have an intimate understanding of this issue and the urgency with which we must address it.

We have visited the launch sites. We have met the young Air Force captains who sit in the buried bunker ready to turn the launch keys for atomic bombs capable of destroying a city three times the size of Hiroshima. It sobers the mind and underscores the need to chart a new course for our modernization strategy before we cross a line from which we cannot return.

Bill Perry is the former US secretary of defense who served under President Bill Clinton. Jerry Brown is the former governor of California and is currently the executive chair of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. John Garamendi is the US Representative for California’s 3rd Congressional District and chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness.


July 8, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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.

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.)……..

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

In “The Button,” former Defense Secretary William J. Perry and Tom Z. Collina survey the dangers of nuclear escalation.

Book Review: The Nuclear Arms Race, Then and Now, Undark, BY MARK WOLVERTON  11 Sept 20, In “The Button,” former Defense Secretary William J. Perry and Tom Z. Collina survey the dangers of nuclear escalation.

 IN THE bad old days of the Cold War, both the United States and the USSR maintained thousands of nuclear weapons, ready to be launched at a moment’s notice. Only one person had the authority to unleash America’s nuclear forces: the president of the United States. He could do so at any time, without consulting Congress or the military or anyone else save his own conscience. Although the mechanism for doing so never actually consisted of pushing a button, that became the popular metaphor for setting off doomsday.

September 12, 2020 Posted by | resources - print, weapons and war | 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:

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

Hear Dr Perry on The Nuclear Brink

see-this.wayHear-This-way 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……

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

America’s $1.4 Trillion So-Called “National Security” Budget Makes Us Less Safe—Not More

America and the world would be far safer places if this outrageous spending was drastically cut and those funds redirected to “moral” investments in people, society, and planetary health—not war and weapons.

Common Dreams WILLIAM HARTUNG, July 7, 2022 by TomDispatch

This March, when the Biden administration presented a staggering $813 billion proposal for “national defense,” it was hard to imagine a budget that could go significantly higher or be more generous to the denizens of the military-industrial complex. After all, that request represented far more than peak spending in the Korean or Vietnam War years, and well over $100 billion more than at the height of the Cold War. 

It was, in fact, an astonishing figure by any measure — more than two-and-a-half times what China spends; more, in fact, than (and hold your hats for this one!) the national security budgets of the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined. And yet the weapons industry and hawks in Congress are now demanding that even more be spent. 

In recent National Defense Authorization Act proposals, which always set a marker for what Congress is willing to fork over to the Pentagon, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees both voted to increase the 2023 budget yet again — by $45 billion in the case of the Senate and $37 billion for the House. The final figure won’t be determined until later this year, but Congress is likely to add tens of billions of dollars more than even the Biden administration wanted to what will most likely be a record for the Pentagon’s already bloated budget.

This lust for yet more weapons spending is especially misguided at a time when a never-ending pandemic, growing heat waves and other depredations of climate change, and racial and economic injustice are devastating the lives of millions of Americans.  Make no mistake about it: the greatest risks to our safety and our future are non-military in nature, with the exception, of course, of the threat of nuclear war, which could increase if the current budget goes through as planned.

But as TomDispatch readers know, the Pentagon is just one element in an ever more costly American national security state.  Adding other military, intelligence, and internal-security expenditures to the Pentagon’s budget brings the total upcoming “national security” budget to a mind-boggling $1.4 trillion. And note that, in June 2021, the last time my colleague Mandy Smithberger and I added up such costs to the taxpayer, that figure was almost $1.3 trillion, so the trend is obvious.

To understand how these vast sums are spent year after year, let’s take a quick tour of America’s national security budget, top to bottom.

The Pentagon’s proposed “base” budget, which includes all of its routine expenses from personnel to weapons to the costs of operating and maintaining a 1.3 million member military force, came in at $773 billion for 2023, more than $30 billion above that of 2022. Such an increase alone is three times the discretionary budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and more than three times the total allocation for the Environmental Protection Agency. 

In all, the Pentagon consumes nearly half of the discretionary budget of the whole federal government, a figure that’s come down slightly in recent years thanks to the Biden administration’s increased investment in civilian activities. That still means, however, that almost anything the government wants to do other than preparing for or waging war involves a scramble for funding, while the Department of Defense gets virtually unlimited financial support.

And keep in mind that the proposed Biden increase in Pentagon spending comes despite the ending of 20 years of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, a move that should have meant significant reductions in the department’s budget.  Perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn, however, that, in the wake of the Afghan disaster, the military establishment and hawks in Congress quickly shifted gears to touting — and exaggerating — challenges posed by ChinaRussia, and inflation as reasons for absorbing the potential savings from the Afghan War and pressing the Pentagon budget ever higher.

It’s worth looking at what America stands to receive for its $773 billion — or about $2,000 per taxpayer, according to an analysis by the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. More than half of that amount goes to giant weapons contractors like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, along with thousands of smaller arms-making firms.

The most concerning part of the new budget proposal, however, may be the administration’s support for a three-decades long, $1.7-trillion plan to build a new generation of nuclear-armed missiles (as well, of course, as new warheads to go with them), bombers, and submarines. As the organization Global Zero has pointed out, the United States could dissuade any country from launching an atomic attack against it with far fewer weapons than are contained in its current nuclear arsenal.  There’s simply no need for a costly — and risky — nuclear weapons “modernization” plan. Sadly, it’s guaranteed to help fuel a continuing global nuclear arms race, while entrenching nuclear weapons as a mainstay of national security policy for decades to come. (Wouldn’t those decades be so much better spent working to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether?) 

The riskiest weapon in that nuclear plan is a new land-based, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).  As former Secretary of Defense William Perry once explained, ICBMs are among “the most dangerous weapons in the world” because a president warned of a nuclear attack would have only a matter of minutes to decide whether to launch them, increasing the risk of an accidental nuclear war based on a false alarm. Not only is a new ICBM unnecessary, but the existing ones should be retired as well, as a way of reducing the potential for a world-ending nuclear conflagration……………………..

The Nuclear Budget

The average taxpayer no doubt assumes that a government agency called the Department of Energy (DOE) would be primarily concerned with developing new sources of energy, including ones that would reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels to help rein in the ravages of climate change.  Unfortunately, that assumption couldn’t be less true.

Instead of spending the bulk of its time and money on energy research and development, more than 40% of the Department of Energy’s budget for 2023 is slated to support the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which manages the country’s nuclear weapons program, principally by maintaining and developing nuclear warheads.  Work on other military activities like reactors for nuclear submarines pushes the defense share of the DOE budget even higher. The NNSA spreads its work across the country, with major locations in California, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Its proposed 2023 budget for nuclear-weapons activities is $16.5 billion, part of a budget for defense-related projects of $29.8 billion……………………………

Our Misguided Security Budget

Spending $1.4 trillion to address a narrowly defined concept of national security should be considered budgetary malpractice on a scale so grand as to be almost unimaginable — especially at a time when the greatest risks to the safety of Americans and the rest of the world are not military in nature. After all, the Covid pandemic has already taken the lives of more than one million Americans, while the fires, floods, and heat waves caused by climate change have impacted tens of millions more. 

Yet the administration’s proposed allocation of $45 billion to address climate change in the 2023 budget would be less than 6% of the Pentagon’s proposed budget of $773 billion………………………………..

July 7, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

 Expanding NATO was always hugely controversial

Russia’s Ukraine invasion may have been preventable, The US refused to consider Ukraine’s NATO status asPutin threatened wae. Experts say that was a huge mistake, MSNBC, March 5, 2022,  By Zeeshan Aleem, MSNBC Opinion Columnist  ”……………………………………….Expanding NATO was always hugely controversial

NATO was originally formed as a military and political alliance between the U.S., Canada and several Western European nations in 1949. It was meant to serve as a collective defense organization to contain the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and its most important provision, Article 5, held that an attack on one member of the alliance was an attack against all of them.

n 1990, the West led the Soviets to believe NATO would not expand further eastward across Europe in exchange for Germany reunification and the agreement that the new Germany would be a NATO member. Most famously, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker once assured Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that the NATO alliance would move “not one inch eastward” in exchange for this agreement, but as the late Princeton University scholar Stephen Cohen pointed out in 2018, this pledge was in fact made multiple times by several Western countries.

These assurances were not honored, and NATO has expanded eastward over the years to include many more countries, all the way up to Russia’s borders.

“It is the broken promise to Gorbachev that lingers as America’s original sin,” Cohen said then.

NATO’s expansion was hugely controversial in policy circles in the 1990s. As foreign policy commentator Peter Beinart has noted, around the time the Clinton administration was considering NATO in the ’90s to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic — a debate that almost caused President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Perry to resign — many influential voices dissented:

George Kennan, the living legend who had fathered America’s policy of containment against the Soviet Union, called NATO expansion “a strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.” Thomas Friedman, America’s most prominent foreign policy columnist, declared it the “most ill-conceived project of the post-Cold War era.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, widely considered the most erudite member of the US Senate, warned, “We have no idea what we’re getting into.” John Lewis Gaddis, the dean of America’s Cold War historians, noted that, “historians—normally so contentious—are in uncharacteristic agreement: with remarkably few exceptions, they see NATO enlargement as ill-conceived, ill-timed, and above all ill-suited to the realities of the post-Cold War world.”

The major concern was that expansion would backfire — that it would, as Kennan put it in 1997, “inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion.” Indeed, Russia hated it. As Lieven previously told me, for decades the Russian political establishment and commentators have vociferously objected to NATO expansion and “warned that if this went as far as taking in Georgia and Ukraine, then there would be confrontation and strong likelihood of war.”

Russia perceives NATO as an existential threat

Russia is no longer at the helm of a global superpower, but it is still, at the very least, a regional great power, and as such it devotes considerable resources to exerting its influence beyond its borders and using the states around it as buffers. Russia views Ukraine, a large country to which it has long-running cultural and historical ties, as a particularly critical buffer state for protecting its capital.

The issue that Russia saw in NATO was not just an expanding military alliance, but one that had shifted gears to transforming and proactively intervening in global affairs. After the end of the Cold War, NATO’s raison d’être no longer existed, but instead of disbanding, its mission shifted to democracy promotion. The carrot of membership in NATO was used to encourage countries to adopt liberalization and good governance and align with U.S. political, economic and military interests.

Of particular concern to the Russians have been NATO’s operations outside of NATO countries. The Russians were shocked by NATO’s bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, where NATO not only intervened in the affairs of a non-NATO country, but took sides against the Serbs, allies of the Russians, and did so without United Nations Security Council approval. NATO has also been involved in regime change and nation-building projects in places like Libya and Afghanistan………..

Things turned up a notch in 2008, when NATO declared that Ukraine and Georgia “will become members” of NATO. It did not specify a timeline, and it was assumed that it was conditional on the countries adopting political reforms, but it infuriated the Russians……

John Mearsheimer, an international relations scholar at the University of Chicago, also warned that this was foreshadowing, and Ukraine’s pseudo-membership status was going to bait Moscow and result in catastrophe. “The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path, and the end result is Ukraine is going to get wrecked,” he said in a lecture…………………………….

March 19, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Now Is the Time for a Global Movement Demanding Nuclear De-escalation

Now Is the Time for a Global Movement Demanding Nuclear De-escalation, Norman SolomonTruthout March 3, 2022   

President Joe Biden spoke 6,500 words during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, but not one of them acknowledged the dangers of nuclear war that have spiked upward during the last decade and even more steeply in recent days. The militarism that Martin Luther King Jr. warned us about has been spiraling toward its ultimate destination in the nuclear era — a global holocaust that would likely extinguish almost all human life on Earth.

In the midst of this reality, leaders of the world’s two nuclear superpowers continue to fail — and betray — humanity.

In the stark light of March 2022, Albert Einstein’s outlook 75 years ago about the release of atomic energy has never been more prescient or more urgent: “This basic power of the universe cannot be fitted into the outmoded concept of narrow nationalisms. For there is no secret and there is no defense, there is no possibility of control except through the aroused understanding and insistence of the peoples of the world.”

The phrase “narrow nationalisms” aptly describes the nuclear-weapons policies of the United States and Russia. They have been engaged in a dance of death with foreseeable human consequences on a scale that none of us can truly fathom.

Einstein expressed a belief that “an informed citizenry will act for life and not death.” But the dire nuclear trends have been enabled by citizenry uninformed and inactive.

Twenty years ago, the George W. Bush administration withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Despite his promising rhetoric, President Barack Obama plunged ahead to begin a $1.7 trillion program for further developing the U.S. nuclear arsenal under the euphemism of “modernization.” President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which had removed an entire category of missiles from Europe since the late 1980s — largely as a result of the international movement against nuclear weapons.

By killing the ABM and INF agreements, the U.S. government pushed the world further away from nuclear arms control, let alone disarmament. And by insisting on expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to Russia’s borders — and in recent months continuing to insist that Ukrainian membership in NATO should stay on the table — the United States ignored Russia’s longstanding and reasonable concerns about NATO expansion.

Placement of ABM systems in Poland and Romania, touted as defensive, gave NATO the capacity to retrofit those systems with offensive cruise missiles. Overall, NATO’s claims of being a “defensive” alliance have been undercut by three decades of broken promises, as well as intensive war operations in Serbia, Afghanistan and Libya.

Russia has its own military-industrial complex and nationalistic fervor. The duplicity and provocations by the United States and its NATO allies do not in the slightest justify the invasion of Ukraine that Russia launched a week ago. Russia is now on a murderous killing spree no less abhorrent than what occurred from the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Right now, an overarching truth remains to be faced and acted upon: The nuclear superpowers have dragged humanity to a precipice of omnicide. The invasion of Ukraine is the latest move in that direction.

Last week, the extreme recklessness of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s not-so-veiled threat to use nuclear weapons was an indication of just how dangerous the Ukraine conflict has gotten — for everyone, everywhere. Passivity will get us nowhere. In the U.S., supporting antiwar protests and demanding real diplomacy while organizing for peace are essential.

“However soon the war ends, its effects on the European security order and the world will be and already are profound,” San Francisco State University scholar Andrei Tsygankov wrote days ago. “In addition to human suffering and devastation, the European continent is entering a new era of social and political divisions comparable to those of the Cold War. The possibility of further escalation is now closer than ever. Instead of building an inclusive and just international order, Russia and most European nations will now rely mainly on nuclear weapons and military preparations for their security.”

Any “conventional” war that puts Russia and the United States in even indirect conflict has the very real potential of being a tripwire that could set off an exchange of nuclear missiles. Heightened tensions lead to fatigue, paranoia and greater likelihood of mistaking a false alarm for the real thing. This is especially dangerous because of land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), which are uniquely vulnerable to attack and therefore are on hair-trigger, “launch on warning” alert.

“First and foremost,” former Defense Secretary William Perry wrote in 2016, “the United States can safely phase out its land-based intercontinental ballistic missile force, a key facet of Cold War nuclear policy. Retiring the ICBMs would save considerable costs, but it isn’t only budgets that would benefit. These missiles are some of the most dangerous weapons in the world. They could even trigger an accidental nuclear war.” As Daniel Ellsberg and I wrote in The Nation last fall, “Contrary to uninformed assumptions, discarding all ICBMs could be accomplished unilaterally by the United States with no downside. Even if Russia chose not to follow suit, dismantling the potentially cataclysmic land-based missiles would make the world safer for everyone on the planet.”

But we’re not hearing anything from Congress or the White House about taking steps to reduce the chances of nuclear war. Instead, we’re hearing jacked-up rhetoric about confronting Russia. It’s all too clear that responsible leadership will not come from official Washington; it must come from grassroots activism with determined organizing and political pressure.

“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction,” Dr. King said as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. “I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.”

Realistic hope seems to be in very short supply right now. But at this dire moment, all that we love demands our determination to organize.

March 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ukraine war – a great opportunity Each new NATO country was a new customer for the weapons industry

“Lockheed began looking at Poland right after the wall came down,” veteran salesman Dick Pawlowski recalled. “There were contractors flooding through all those countries.” Arms makers became the most aggressive lobbyists for NATO expansion. The security umbrella was not simply a formidable alliance but also a tantalizing market.

New alliance members meant new clients. And NATO would literally require them to buy Western military equipment.

Arms Industry Sees Ukraine Conflict as an Opportunity, Not a Crisis,  Jonathan Ng, Truthout , 2 Mar 22,In February, a photograph of Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting hunched over a 13-foot table with French President Emmanuel Macron circulated the globe. News about their sprawling table and sumptuous seven-course dinner was reminiscent of a Lewis Carroll story. But their meeting was deadly serious. Macron arrived to discuss the escalating crisis in Ukraine and threat of war. Ultimately, their talk foundered over expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Yet the meeting was surreal for another reason. Over the past year, Macron, the leading European Union (EU) peace negotiator, has led an ambitious arms sales campaign, exploiting tensions to strengthen French commerce. The trade press even reported that he hoped to sell Rafale fighter jets to Ukraine, breaking into the “former bastion of Russian industry.”  

Macron is not alone. NATO contractors openly embrace the crisis in Ukraine as sound business. In January, Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes cited “tensions in Europe” as an opportunity, saying, “I fully expect we’re going to see some benefit.” Likewise, CEO Jim Taiclet of Lockheed Martin highlighted the benefits of “great power competition” in Europe to shareholders.  

On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, pounding cities with ordnance and dispatching troops across the border. The sonic boom of fighter jets filled the air, as civilians flooded the highways in Kyiv, attempting to flee the capital. And the stock value of arms makers soared.

The spiraling conflict over Ukraine dramatizes the power of militarism and the influence of defense contractors. A ruthless drive for markets — intertwined with imperialism — has propelled NATO expansion, while inflaming wars from Eastern Europe to Yemen.

Selling NATO

The current conflict with Russia began in the wake of the Cold War. Declining military spending throttled the arms industry in the United States and other NATO countries. In 1993, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Perry convened a solemn meeting with executives. Insiders called it the “Last Supper.” In an atmosphere heavy with misapprehension, Perry informed his guests that impending blows to the U.S. military budget called for industry consolidation. A frantic wave of mergers and takeovers followed, as Lockheed, Northrop, Boeing and Raytheon acquired new muscle and smaller firms expired amid postwar scarcity.

While domestic demand shrunk, defense contractors rushed to secure new foreign markets. In particular, they set their sights on the former Soviet bloc, regarding Eastern Europe as a new frontier for accumulation. “Lockheed began looking at Poland right after the wall came down,” veteran salesman Dick Pawlowski recalled. “There were contractors flooding through all those countries.” Arms makers became the most aggressive lobbyists for NATO expansion. The security umbrella was not simply a formidable alliance but also a tantalizing market. 

However, lobbyists faced a major obstacle. In 1990, Secretary of State James Baker had promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that if he allowed a reunited Germany to join NATO, the organization would move “not one inch eastward.” Yet lobbyists remained hopeful. The Soviet Union had since disintegrated, Cold War triumphalism prevailed, and vested interests now pushed for expansion. “Arms Makers See Bonanza In Selling NATO Expansion,” The New York Times reported in 1997. The newspaper later noted that, “Expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — first to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic and then possibly to more than a dozen other countries — would offer arms makers a new and hugely lucrative market.”

New alliance members meant new clients. And NATO would literally require them to buy Western military equipment.

Lobbyists poured into Washington, D.C. fêting legislators in royal style. Vice President Bruce Jackson of Lockheed became the president of the advocacy organization U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. Jackson recounted the extravagant meals that he hosted at the mansion of the Republican luminary Julie Finley, which boasted “an endless wine cellar.”

“Educating the Senate about NATO was our chief mission,” he informed journalist Andrew Cockburn. “We’d have four or five senators over every night, and we’d drink Julie’s wine.”

Lobby pressure was relentless. “The most interested corporations are the defense corporations, because they have a direct interest in the issue,” Romanian Ambassador Mircea Geoană observed. Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, and other firms even funded Romania’s lobbying machine during its bid for NATO membership………………

March 3, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Biden is urged to eliminate land-based nuclear missiles, as US policy is revised.

Biden Urged to Eliminate Land-Based Nuclear Missiles as US Policy Is Revised, LudwigTruthout,

As the Biden administration considers changes to Trump-era nuclear policy, 60 national and regional organizations released a statement this week calling for the elimination of 400 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that are “now armed and on hair-trigger alert in the United States.”

“Intercontinental ballistic missiles are uniquely dangerous, greatly increasing the chances that a false alarm or miscalculation will result in nuclear war,” the statement reads. “There is no more important step the United States could take to reduce the chances of a global nuclear holocaust than to eliminate its ICBMs.”

Progressives, scientists and some Democrats in Congress are also pushing President Joe Biden, who has pledged to reduce U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons in its defense strategy, to adopt a “no first use” policy and declare that the U.S. will never be the first to launch a nuclear attack. Taking such a stance would strengthen the U.S. position in global nonproliferation talks, advocates say.

The White House is slowly pursuing such talks with other nuclear-armed governments including Russia, the United Kingdom and France, which recently issued a joint statement declaring that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Pakistan and India, two regional rivals armed with nuclear weapons, issued statements calling the joint statement a positive development in international arms control.

A “no first use” or “sole purpose” policy, advocates say, would also be consistent with the Democratic Party platform and Biden himself, who has said that nuclear weapons should only be used to deter nuclear attack. The Trump administration went in the opposite direction with its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which says that deterring a nuclear attack is not the “sole purpose” of nuclear weapons and nuclear war could be used to deter “non-nuclear” attacks and achieve “U.S. objectives” if deterrence fails.

The Biden administration is working on a new Nuclear Posture Review, which could be completed early this year, according to Politico. The administration would not comment on internal deliberations for the review, but unnamed officials told Politico it is unlikely to include deep cuts to nuclear weapons spending as the U.S. works to overhaul and modernize its vast nuclear arsenal.

Federal spending on nuclear forces is projected to reach $634 billion over the next decade, a 28 percent increase over 2019 projections, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Advocates for arms control said Biden should have — and still could — put the most controversial nuclear weapons projects approved under former President Donald Trump on pause until the new posture review is completed.

Writing for Defense One, Tom Collins, the policy director at the peace group Ploughshares, argues that Biden must act fast to rein in a Pentagon bureaucracy intent on keeping money flowing to the nuclear war machine, or his own policy will end up looking a lot like Trump’s:

The good news is that President Biden knows more about nuclear policy than any commander-in-chief in recent history. If Biden makes this a priority, there is every reason to think that he will approve new policies that will reduce the risk of nuclear war and make the nation and world safer.

Unfortunately, the president has left these crucial issues to officials who are not committed to his vision. A key strategy document — called the Nuclear Posture Review — has been drafted by an entrenched Pentagon bureaucracy that apparently wants to keep core elements of the Trump agenda intact, including new nuclear weapons and more ways to use them.

Biden is under pressure from conservative war hawks in Congress and the Pentagon to avoid cuts to new nuclear weapons programs approved under Trump, as Russia and China are thought to be bolstering their own arsenals. These proposed weapons systems are different than the existing ICBMs, which require billions of tax dollars for upkeep and sit ready to launch in silos located on the U.S. mainland.

The U.S. maintains a vast nuclear arsenal that can strike from the air, sea and land. The statement issued this week reports that 400 ICBM missile silos — relics of the arms race with the Soviet Union that first raised fears that global nuclear war that would lay waste of all of human civilization — are scattered across Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Citing a former Defense Secretary William Perry, the 60 peace and civil society groups issued the “call to eliminate ICBMs” on Wednesday. Perry has explained that the ICBMs are the weapons most likely to spark a catastrophic nuclear war. If enemy missiles were launched at the U.S., the president would only have about 30 minutes to decide whether to retaliate before the ICBMs are destroyed, a terrible decision that could result in “nuclear winter,” according to the statement.

“Rather than being any kind of deterrent, ICBMs are the opposite — a foreseeable catalyst for nuclear attack. ICBMs certainly waste billions of dollars, but what makes them unique is the threat that they pose to all of humanity,” the statement reads.

Even if the ICBMs facilities were closed, the U.S. would still retain a devastating nuclear arsenal that could respond to attacks across the world. Missiles carried on submarines and aircraft could kill millions of people. However, they are not subject to the same “use them or lose them” dilemma as the ICBMs.

“Until now, the public discussion has been almost entirely limited to the narrow question of whether to build a new ICBM system or stick with the existing Minuteman III missiles for decades longer,” said Norman Solomon, national director of RootsAction, one of the groups that signed the statement. “That’s like arguing over whether to refurbish the deck chairs on the nuclear Titanic. Both options retain the same unique dangers of nuclear war that ICBMs involve.”

January 15, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | 3 Comments

US should announce ‘no first use of nuclear weapons,’ with no strings attached

US should announce ‘no first use of nuclear weapons,’ with no strings attached: Global Times editorial, Oct 31, 2021 The US plans to finalize the Nuclear Posture Review as soon as the end of this year. It is reported that the Biden administration is discussing whether it should put some limits on the use of nuclear weapons, such as the announcement of “no first use of nuclear weapons,” or a declaration of “sole purpose” that means nuclear weapons can be used under certain circumstances, including responding to a nuclear attack.

According to media reports, US allies, including the UK, Germany, France, Japan and Australia, have strongly opposed the US’ adjustment to its nuclear policies. They believe such a move will weaken the US’ protection of its allies. This possible adjustment also means the US would offer a courtesy to China and Russia.It has long been discussed whether the US should put limits on its use of nuclear weapons. The US was about to nail the adjustment during former president Barack Obama’s tenure. The Obama administration considered adopting a “no first use” pledge and laid out a vision for a world without nuclear weapons. Obama’s plan was soon abandoned after being rejected by US allies including Japan.

When Donald Trump was in the Oval Office, the US accelerated the modernization of its nuclear arsenal. The Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget included $60-90 billion for nuclear weapons programs. Now it’s the turn of the Democratic administration led by Biden to control the nuclear button, and it is completely possible that it thinks about reducing the nuclear risks in the world. If Biden can really take the step to announce “no first use” of nuclear weapons or take pragmatic measures to restrain US nuclear policies, the move will be widely welcomed across the globe.

However, Biden obviously continued with the strategy of enhancing major power competition adopted by the Trump administration. Great power relations nowadays are much tenser than during the Obama administration. Biden stresses coordinated action with its allies and fierce competition with China and Russia. It is highly doubtful whether Biden has the courage to take real steps in restricting the use of nuclear weapons.

The reactions from the US’ allies, as reported by the media, are pretty much disappointing. In particular, countries like Japan which once suffered from nuclear strikes oppose restricting the use of nuclear weapons. The anti-nuclear doctrine the US allies have advocated is entirely deceitful. On the contrary, what they pursue is unilateral nuclear security. They want to expand their own right to use nuclear power, but have tried every possible means to squeeze the right of the others to use nuclear power.

China has announced the “no first use” nuclear policy at a very early phase. It has adhered to this policy since the first day it owned nuclear weapons. US allies should think this way: If China walks away from this policy, how much pressure will it add to regional security? Similarly, if the US, as the world’s No.1 military power, announced restrictions on the use of nuclear weapons, it will without doubt create constructive opportunities to global security, with advantages outweighing disadvantages.

Nuclear posture is the thorniest security dilemma – particularly issues such as the number of nuclear warheads and anti-missiles. If the US can take the lead in restricting the use of nuclear weapons in this era, it is likely to expand the route undertaken by China in the past and push forward a new period of nuclear security. US allies such as Japan and Australia are falling into the trap of their own petty calculations, but they will not feel more secure if the US does not try to make the commitment of restricting the use of nuclear weapons.

A group of former US officials and experts, including former secretary of defense William Perry, wrote a letter to then Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga and other Japanese leaders of political parties, asking them not to oppose a “no first use” nuclear stance that may be announced by the US. Those former officials certainly did not make their appeals from the stance of China and Russia. Their considerations on nuclear security deserve comprehension from the Western world, rather than a fundamental rejection.

China has no way to influence whether the US will eventually head toward the direction of restricting the use of nuclear weapons. Even if the US does that, it will highly unlikely remain to be a unilateral decision. The US will likely require China, Russia and other countries to meet some of its demands. That being the case, it is possible that it will constitute new pressure on China.

A group of former US officials and experts, including former secretary of defense William Perry, wrote a letter to then Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga and other Japanese leaders of political parties, asking them not to oppose a “no first use” nuclear stance that may be announced by the US. Those former officials certainly did not make their appeals from the stance of China and Russia. Their considerations on nuclear security deserve comprehension from the Western world, rather than a fundamental rejection.

China has no way to influence whether the US will eventually head toward the direction of restricting the use of nuclear weapons. Even if the US does that, it will highly unlikely remain to be a unilateral decision. The US will likely require China, Russia and other countries to meet some of its demands. That being the case, it is possible that it will constitute new pressure on China. 

November 1, 2021 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The big climate crisis we aren’t talking about: is nuclear winter coming?

The big climate crisis we aren’t talking about: Is nuclear winter coming?

America’s aging arsenal of land-based nuclear missiles could far too easily lead to total climate catastrophe


When world leaders gather in Scotland next week for the COP26 climate change conference, activists will be pushing for drastic action to end the world’s catastrophic reliance on fossil fuels. Consciousness about the climate emergency has skyrocketed in recent years, while government responses remain meager. But one aspect of extreme climate jeopardy — the prospect of “nuclear winter” — has hardly reached the stage of dim awareness.

Wishful thinking aside, the threat of nuclear war has not receded. In fact, the opposite is the case. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been moving the “Doomsday Clock” ever closer to cataclysmic midnight; the symbolic hands are now merely 100 seconds from midnight, in contrast to six minutes a decade ago.

A nuclear war would quickly bring cataclysmic climate change. A recent scientific paper, in sync with countless studies, concludes that in the aftermath of nuclear weapons blasts in cities, “smoke would effectively block out sunlight, causing below-freezing temperatures to engulf the world.” Researchers estimate such conditions would last for 10 years. The Federation of American Scientists predicts that “a nuclear winter would cause most humans and large animals to die from nuclear famine in a mass extinction event similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.”

While there’s a widespread myth that the danger of nuclear war has diminished, this illusion is not the only reason why the climate movement has failed to include prevention of nuclear winter on its to-do list. Notably, the movement’s organizations rarely even mention nuclear winter. Another factor is the view that unlike climate change, which is already happening and could be exacerbated or mitigated by policies in the years ahead, nuclear war will either happen or it won’t. That might seem like matter-of-fact realism, but it’s more like thinly disguised passivity wrapped up in fatalism. 

In the concluding chapter of his 2017 book “The Doomsday Machine,” Daniel Ellsberg warns: “The threat of full nuclear winter is posed by the possibility of all-out war between the United States and Russia. … The danger that either a false alarm or a terrorist attack on Washington or Moscow would lead to a preemptive attack derives almost entirely from the existence on both sides of land-based missile forces, each vulnerable to attack by the other: each, therefore, kept on a high state of alert, ready to launch within minutes of warning.”

Ellsberg adds that “the easiest and fastest way to reduce that risk — and indeed, the overall danger of nuclear war — is to dismantle entirely” the Minuteman III missile force of ICBMs comprising the land-based portion of U.S. nuclear weaponry.

The current issue of The Nation includes an article that Ellsberg and I wrote to emphasize the importance of shutting down all ICBMs. Here are some of its key points:

Four hundred ICBMs now dot the rural landscapes of Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming. Loaded in silos, those missiles are uniquely — and dangerously — on hair-trigger alert. Unlike the nuclear weapons on submarines or bombers, the land-based missiles are vulnerable to attack and could present the commander in chief with a sudden use-them-or-lose-them choice.”

Former Defense Secretary William Perry wrote five years ago: “First and foremost, the United States can safely phase out its land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force, a key facet of Cold War nuclear policy. Retiring the ICBMs would save considerable costs, but it isn’t only budgets that would benefit. These missiles are some of the most dangerous weapons in the world. They could even trigger an accidental nuclear war.”

“Contrary to uninformed assumptions, discarding all ICBMs could be accomplished unilaterally by the United States with no downsides. Even if Russia chose not to follow suit, dismantling the potentially cataclysmic land-based missiles would make the world safer for everyone on the planet.”

Frank von Hippel, a former chairman of the Federation of American Scientists who is co-founder of Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security, wrote this year: “Strategic Command could get rid of launch on warning and the ICBMs at the same time. Eliminating launch on warning would significantly reduce the probability of blundering into a civilization-ending nuclear war by mistake. To err is human. To start a nuclear war would be unforgivable.”

“Better sooner than later, members of Congress will need to face up to the horrendous realities about intercontinental ballistic missiles. They won’t do that unless peace, arms-control and disarmament groups go far beyond the current limits of congressional discourse — and start emphasizing, on Capitol Hill and at the grassroots, the crucial truth about ICBMs and the imperative of eliminating them all.”

At the same time that the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases have continued to increase, so have the dangers of nuclear war. No imperatives are more crucial than challenging the fossil fuel industry and the nuclear weapons industry as the terrible threats to the climate and humanity that they are.

October 29, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US nuclear policy reflects a hypocritical Cold War mindset

US nuclear policy reflects hypocrisy, Cold War mindset

By Jiang Tianjiao | China Daily | 2021-08-21 09:29  US arms control experts, including former secretary of defense William Perry, recently wrote to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, asking him to support the “no first use of nuclear weapons” policy the Joe Biden administration is likely to propose. But despite the good intentions of people like Perry, it is difficult to change the stubborn conservative thinking and offensive nuclear strategy of most US politicians.

After the end of the Cold War, the US nuclear arms control policy has undergone periodic fluctuations, but on the whole, it is still dominated by conservative forces not averse to fighting a nuclear war. In the 1990s, with the collapse of the bipolar world order, the Bill Clinton administration tried to promote arms control, but the conservative forces, using the possibility of some countries possessing weapons of mass destructions as a pretext, helped build an overwhelming public opinion against it………….

In its latest “Nuclear Posture Review Report”, the US not only called for a comprehensive upgrading of the nuclear arsenal, but also said that in case it faces a “major non-nuclear strategic attack”, it will actively respond with nuclear weapons.

Although the Democratic Party has always supported arms control, “first use of nuclear weapons” has become the politically correct strategic stance for the Biden administration for three key reasons.

First, the “first use of nuclear weapons” policy has become part of the strategic culture of the US. During the Cold War, the US prepared for a possible nuclear war with the Soviet Union and accordingly engaged in capacity-building. But even three decades after the end of the Cold War, the US is still preparing to fight and win a nuclear war. As such, it cannot give up the “first use” policy.

Second, the “first use of nuclear weapons” policy is the keystone of the US’ deterrence strategy and the basis of its global alliance system. Since the beginning of the Cold War, the US has provided its global allies with a nuclear umbrella. If it abandons its “first use” policy, it can no longer provide the nuclear umbrella for its allies, which would increase the possibility of nuclear proliferation among its allies such as Japan and the Republic of Korea and could eventually lead to the collapse of the US alliance system.

Third, the “first use of nuclear weapons” policy is what gives the US asymmetric advantages in any

strategic competition and conflict with another country. The US is also worried that rival countries could acquire asymmetric means, thanks to the rapid development of the new military technology, to launch sudden attacks against it………       The author is an assistant director of the Center for BRICS Studies, Fudan Development Institute.

August 23, 2021 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment