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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty – breached now by all the nuclear states?

Nuclear states are in breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/26/nuclear-states-are-in-breach-of-the-non-proliferation-treatyJim Pragnell
Otford, Kent 
The UN conference to negotiate a global multilateral nuclear ban treaty begins its substantive session on 27 March. All the nuclear states, including the UK, are boycotting the conference, because they prefer a step-by-step approach within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The NPT, concluded in 1968, required the nuclear states to pursue negotiations to bring about nuclear disarmament at an early date. Nearly 50 years on, it can reasonably be concluded that they are in breach of this obligation.

Another approach is long overdue. Any use of nuclear weapons would be in breach of international humanitarian law. Disarmament undertaken in the context of this law rather than arms control could be concluded quickly, with the more difficult technical negotiations taking place later. This approach would build on the humanitarian disarmament treaties that have banned landmines and cluster bombs.

The government says it is committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. But its decision to renew Trident and its boycott of the UN conference cast doubt on this.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Satellite images show hectic activity at North Korea nuclear site

North Korea nuclear test site witnesses hectic activity, satellite images show http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/north-korea-nuclear-test-site-witnesses-hectic-activity-satellite-images-show-1613722

It is unclear whether the reported presence of vehicles indicates preparation for a potential missile launch. IBT, By , 26 Mar 17, Satellite imagery of a North Korean nuclear test site reportedly reveals hectic activity, sparking fears of a potential missile launch or nuclear test. Images from a commercial satellite of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea purportedly show four or five vehicles or trailers present at the entrance of the site where North Korea’s previous four nuclear tests took place.

The activity may indicate that North Korea is gearing up for its sixth nuclear test. Satellite images also indicate that some construction material, presumably sand and aggregate, remains undisturbed at the site, according to a report by US think tank 38 North.

The report stated: “That material, if it is sand and aggregate, when mixed with concrete, may be intended to ‘stem,’ that is to plug segments of the tunnel to prevent a nuclear explosion from escaping into the atmosphere.”

Satellite images also reportedly show that apart from a few mining carts and two trucks at the West Portal, there’s little to no activity at the nuclear site. According to 38 North, this lack of activity may indicate that either “Pyongyang is inthe final stages of test preparation or that the site is in a standard operating mode.”

On Friday (24 March), South Korean officials warned that Pyongyang appeared to be in the last stages of preparing for yet another nuclear test and could carry out detonations within hours of an order issued by leader Kim Jong-un.

Numerous reports surfaced last week about North Korea preparing for yet another potential missile or nuclear test, amid rising tensions with its neighbours and the West.

It remains unclear whether the reported presence of the vehicles at the Punggye-ri nuclear site is indicative of Pyongyang’s willingness to conduct yet another nuclear test.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pakistan’s policies on nuclear weapons

How Pakistan Is Planning to Fight a Nuclear War, National Interest, Kyle Mizokami, 26 Mar 17, Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

 The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization……..

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.

Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.

Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/how-pakistan-planning-fight-nuclear-war-19897

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A new milestone towards a safe, nuclear weapons-free world

The Coming Ban on Nuclear Weapons https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/united-nations-nuclear-weapons-ban-treaty-by-zia-mian-2017-03 PRINCETON – On March 27, the United Nations will start negotiations on an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons. It will be a milestone marking the beginning of the end of an age of existential peril for humanity.

This day was bound to come. From the beginning, even those who set the world on the path to nuclear weapons understood the mortal danger and moral challenge confronting humanity. In April 1945, US Secretary of War Henry Stimson explained to President Harry Truman that the atomic bomb would be “the most terrible weapon ever known in human history.” Stimson warned that “the world in its present state of moral advancement compared with its technical development would be eventually at the mercy of such a weapon. In other words, modern civilization might be completely destroyed.”

Soon afterwards, the newly created UN, established with the express purpose “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” took the threat posed by nuclear arms as its first priority. In January 1946, in its very first resolution, the UN called for a plan “for the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons.”

The Soviet Union submitted such a plan that June. Now largely forgotten, the Gromyko Plan included a “Draft International Convention to Prohibit the Production and Employment of Weapons Based on the Use of Atomic Energy for the Purpose of Mass Destruction.” At the time, only the United States had nuclear weapons, and it chose to maintain its monopoly. But it couldn’t hold onto it for long. Where it led, others soon followed, forcing humanity to endure the decades of weapons development, arms races, proliferation, and nuclear crises that followed.

Anti-nuclear movements took root, and, in a phrase made famous by the historian E.P. Thompson, began to protest to survive. They found allies in a growing number of countries. In November 1961, the UN General Assembly declared that “any state using nuclear and thermonuclear weapons is to be considered as violating the Charter of the United Nations, as acting contrary to the laws of humanity, and as committing a crime against mankind and civilization.”

As the number and destructive power of nuclear weapons grew, and as even developing countries began to acquire them, recognition of the danger gave rise to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which entered into force in 1970. “Considering the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war,” the NPT begins, there is a “consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to take measures to safeguard the security of peoples.”

To this end, the treaty committed all signatories to “undertake negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” The US, the Soviet Union, and Britain signed the NPT. France and China, the only other nuclear weapon states at the time, held out for more than 20 years, until 1992. Israel, India, and Pakistan have never signed, while North Korea signed and then withdrew. Although all professed support for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world, disarmament negotiations never began.

Countries without nuclear weapons – the overwhelming majority – took matter into their own hands. Through the UN General Assembly, they asked the International Court of Justice to rule on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. In July 1996, the ICJ issued an advisory opinion, with two key conclusions. First, “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.” And, second, “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”

But, in the 20 years since the highest court in the international system issued its judgment, the states affected by it have still failed to launch “negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament.” Instead, they have set out on long-term programs to maintain, modernize, and in some cases augment their nuclear arsenals.

Non-weapon states began to take action through a series of international conferences and UN resolutions. Finally, in October 2016, the UN General Assembly’s First Committee, which is responsible for international peace and security, voted “to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” On December 23, the General Assembly ratified the decision, with 113 countries in favor, 35 opposed, and 13 abstentions.

The new resolution’s instructions are straightforward: “States participating in the conference” should “make their best endeavors to conclude as soon as possible a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” The treaty could be ready before the end of the year.

The nine nuclear weapon states will finally be put to the test. Will they keep their promises to disarm and join the treaty, or will they choose their weapons over international law and the will of the global community? The non-weapon states that join the treaty will be tested, too. How will they organize to confront those countries in the world system that choose to be nuclear outlaws?

March 25, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia ready to discuss further reduction of nuclear capabilities

According to Russia’s foreign minister, the time has not come yet for the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons, http://tass.com/politics/937006MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS/. Russia is prepared to discuss the possibility of further reduction of nuclear capabilities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

“We are ready to discuss the possible further gradual reduction of nuclear capabilities but taking into account all factors that affect strategic stability rather than only the quantity of strategic offensive weapons,” the minister said speaking at the Russian General Staff’s Military Academy.

“We are ready to discuss this issue proceeding from the growing urgency of making this process multilateral.”

Lavrov emphasized that the time has not come yet for abandoning nuclear weapons completely. “Efforts to coerce nuclear powers to abandon nuclear weapons have intensified significantly recently. It is absolutely clear that the time has not yet come for that,” he noted.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea’s Capability Has Entered A ‘New Phase’ – warns U.N. Nuclear Inspector Yukiya Amano

U.N. Nuclear Inspector: North Korea’s Capability Has Entered A ‘New Phase’ And while a diplomatic solution is necessary, one is unlikely to be reached, warns Yukiya Amano. Huffington Post, By Chris D’Angelo 21 Mar 17 WASHINGTON — North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has entered a “new phase,” with the country having doubled the size of its uranium-enrichment facility in recent years, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told The Wall Street Journal.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump govt to review decades-old US aim of world without nuclear weapons

Donald Trump’s administration to review decades-old US aim of world without nuclear weapons, The Independent, Policy review under way as US opposes proposed UN treaty on a global nuclear weapons ban Lizzie Dearden @lizziedearden, 21 Mar 17 

Donald Trump’s administration is to review whether the US will keep its policy of nuclear disarmament.

Christopher Ford, the National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counter-proliferation, said an assessment of US policy will examine whether the aim was “realistic”.

“Like all administrations we’re reviewing policy across the board, and that necessarily includes whether or not the goal of a world without nuclear weapons is in fact a realistic objective, especially in the near to medium term, in the light of current trends in the international security environment,” he told the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference.

“It’s too early to say what the answers will be – looking at things with fresh eyes is not saying we will necessarily end up with different positions.”

Mr Ford said there was a “tension” between the goal of nuclear disarmament and the security requirements of the US and its allies.

He argued that the “headspace” for reducing nuclear arsenals had diminished in the years since the Cold War and cuts by the US and Russia seemed unlikely while other nuclear states continue development.

Mr Trump “will not accept a second place position in the nuclear weapons arena” but is open to broader engagement with Russia on the issue, Mr Ford said. He added that the current “threat environment” had changed substantially from when the review that established America’s current aims took place under Barack Obama in 2010.

The nuclear adviser said the Trump administration would continue American opposition to a “dangerous and misbegotten” proposed treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

UN member states voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination” last year.

A conference on the issue will be held in New York starting on 27 March but the treaty was opposed by nuclear powers including the US, Britain, Russia, France and Israel.

Mr Trump has not made any official policy statement on nuclear weapons but has touched on the issue repeatedly in his speeches and tweets.

Questioned about his warm statements towards Vladimir Putin at a press conference in February, the President warned that war between the US and Russia would be a “nuclear holocaust like no other”…….. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-goal-world-without-reconsider-deproliferation-treaties-white-house-a7641706.html

March 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Japan stages mass evacuation drills, following North Korean missile launches

Japanese schoolchildren hold first nuclear war evacuation drill amid fears Kim Jong-un will unleash salvo of missiles after rocket tests. Sirens blared and loudspeakers broadcast warnings in Japan’s first civilian missile evacuation amid fears of imminent North Korean attack Sun, By Patrick Knox 20th March 2017, 

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Sound reasons for USA not to replace Land-Based Nuclear Missiles,

No Need to Replace U.S. Land-Based Nuclear Missiles, National Interest, James E. Doyle, 21 Mar 17, As former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry has argued there are sound strategic reasons to phase out America’s fleet of 400 silo-based Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).  Primary among these is the fact that these missiles are vulnerable to attack because our potential nuclear adversaries such as Russia know their precise locations.

Because of their vulnerability, ICBMs are the weapon system most likely to spark an inadvertent nuclear war.  If U.S. commanders believed mistakenly (as has happened repeatedly in the past) that our ICBMs were under attack, they will face immense pressure to launch them at the perceived attacker before they are destroyed in their silos. Once they are launched if the warning of attack was false, it is too late.  Our ICBMs cannot be recalled and will destroy their targets, prompting certain nuclear retaliation on U.S. cities.

 Now recent revelations regarding the rapidly inflating cost of replacing the ICBMs and dramatic improvements in the capabilities of the other two legs of the U.S. nuclear triad make crystal clear that phasing out the ICBMs is the right choice for American security.

Pushing forward with deployment of the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) as the Minuteman III replacement is called will deplete resources needed for other vital defense programs from cyber defenses to naval shipbuilding to conventional forces readiness and other nuclear modernization programs including new strategic submarines and aircraft.  Estimated cost for the 15-20 year GBSD program have increased by more than 60% from $61 billion in 2016 to over $100 billion in early 2017. No clear plans have emerged that can support this cost without forcing dramatic cuts elsewhere within the defense budget.

Fortunately, there is no need to make the painful national security trade-offs that deploying the GBSD would require.  The U.S. can safely retire the Minuteman III ICBMs as they reach the end of their service lives in the 2030s without replacing them.  This is because recent modernization programs are dramatically increasing the accuracy, and thus the effectiveness of U.S. submarine and aircraft-launched nuclear weapons. …….

A decision to cancel replacement of the Minuteman III force would have other benefits as well.  It is the most efficient way to reach the 1,000-1,000 deployed warhead level that the Department of Defense asserted was sufficient for deterrence in 2013 and it would achieve additional cost savings because ICBM warheads could be retired instead of modernized.

Finally, it would create opportunities for reaching new arms control agreements with Russia and China and demonstrate to the world that the United States was serious about meeting its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and taking a leadership role toward an eventual world without nuclear weapons.

James E. Doyle is an independent Nuclear Security Specialist. From 1997-2014 he was on the technical staff of the Nonproliferation Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/no-need-replace-us-land-based-nuclear-missiles-19851

March 24, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Youtube – newly available images of nuclear bomb tests

*Declassified* Nuclear Test Films Unbelievable Video !!  Kenny-Boo Hurt

Terrifying images revealed in declassified nuclear test videos uploaded to YouTube, The Age, Ben Guarino, 20 Mar 17, 

On Monday, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, located in California, uploaded to YouTube more than 60 films taken during US nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1962. During this time, experimental nukes were dropped from bombers or propelled by rockets to altitudes as high as space.

Their offbeat names, such as Operation Hardtack 1, Operation Plumbbob and Operation Teapot, belied the massive destruction on display. More than 200 nuclear test weapons would go off until 1963, when the Partial Test Ban Treaty required further testing to take place underground. In each instance, scientists trained multiple cameras on the explosion.

For decades afterward, thousands of these films languished in secure vaults – until Greg Spriggs, 65, a weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, decided to dust them off. Some of the films had already degraded beyond the point of restoration. “You can smell vinegar when you open the cans, which is one of the byproducts of the decomposition process of these films,” Spriggs said in a news release. “We know that these films are on the brink of decomposing to the point where they’ll become useless.”

He recruited expert archivists, including Zapruder film preservationist Jim Moye, to help digitise the footage.

“The data that we’re collecting now must be preserved in a digital form because no matter how well you treat the films, no matter how well you preserve or store them, they will decompose,” Spriggs said. “They’re made out of organic material, and organic material decomposes. So this is it. We got to this project just in time to save the data.”

Scientists are still able to wring new information from old detonations. Modern analytical techniques applied to digitised footage revealed inaccuracies in past estimates of fireball and shockwave size, which in many instances had been derived by hand.

“We were finding that some of these answers were off by 20, maybe 30, per cent,” Spriggs said. “We’ve also discovered new things about these detonations that have never been seen before.”………

Spriggs and the team of restorers have found about 6500 out of 10,000 reels from the era of above-ground nuclear tests, according to the news release. The researchers have scanned two-thirds of these films, and the Department of Energy has declassified just 750.

Why the government has only allowed the public to see the footage now was not an issue of secrecy – information about the operations had already been made public – but a matter of red tape…….http://www.theage.com.au/world/terrifying-images-revealed-in-declassified-nuclear-test-videos-uploaded-to-youtube-20170319-gv1ak3.html

March 20, 2017 Posted by | media, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia developing Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships in Syria

How Russia Is Turning Syria into a Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships (and Israel Is Worried), National Interest, Michael Peck, 18 Mar 17, During the 1970s, the Syrian naval base of Tartus became a major port servicing warships of the Soviet Union’s Fifth Mediterranean squadron.

The Soviet Union is gone, and so is Syria as a unified nation. But Russia is back, and it’s building up Tartus again as a naval base that can handle Russia’s largest nuclear-powered ships.

Already, Israel says the Tartus base is affecting its naval operations. U.S. and NATO operations could be next.

Under the forty-nine-year agreement inked late last year by Russia and Syria, “the maximum number of the Russian warships allowed at the Russian naval facility at one time is 11, including nuclear-powered warships, providing that nuclear and ecological security rules are observed,” according to Russia’s RT news site. Russia will also be allowed to expand port facilities to accommodate the vessels.

The specification allowing nuclear-powered warships means that Russia wants to be able to base in Syria large surface ships, namely Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruisers, as well as nuclear submarines.

In addition, the treaty allows “Russia is allowed to bring in and out any kind of ‘weaponry, ammunition, devices and materials’ to provide security for the facility staff, crew, and their families throughout the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic ‘without any duties or levies,’” according to RT.

Expansion of the port will take about five years, according to an anonymous source cited in Russia’s Sputnik News. “The source added that the works would focus on dredging operations to allow cruisers and even possibly aircraft carriers to use the facility’s infrastructure,” Sputnik News reported. “According to the source, Russia also needs to develop the facility’s ground infrastructure, through construction of canalization, electricity generation facilities and barracks for the servicemen.”

Sputnik News also listed other provisions of the agreement. These include:

• Russia will be responsible for sea and air security of the base, while Syria handles the land defenses.

• Russia can deploy “temporary mobile outposts” beyond the base, as long as they coordinate them with the Syrians.

• Russia can renovate the base at will, including underwater construction, and build offshore platforms.

• Upon Syrian request, Russia will send specialists to service Syrian warships, conduct search and rescue in Syrian waters, and organize the defense of Tartus.

• Syria agrees not to “make any objections related to the military activities of the base, which will also be beyond Damascus’ jurisdiction.”

• “Syria also pledges to solve any conflicts that may arise if a third party objects to the activities of the base.”

The Tartus deal is significant on several levels…… http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/how-russia-turning-syria-major-naval-base-nuclear-warships-19813

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Russia, Syria, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A computer model to simulate how 20 MILLION people would react to nuclear bomb in New York City

Scientists to simulate how 20 MILLION people would react to nuclear bomb in New York City .  http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/scientists-simulate-how-20-million-10054846 Experts are building a computer model which will test how people and buildings would respond to a nuclear blast BY JAMIE BULLEN 18 MAR 2017  Scientists are testing how 20 million people would react to a nuclear attack in New York City.

Experts at the Center for Social Complexity in Virginia have been awarded a $450,000 (£363,000) grant to study the aftermath of a blast in the Big Apple.

 The money is being used to develop a computer model to simulate how up to 20 million people or “agents” would respond in the first 30 days after the bomb, The Atlantic reported.

The model is also expected to show how buildings and the environment would be affected.The simulated bombs will have a strength of up to 10 kilotons – half the amount used in the Hiroshima attack.

Professor William Kennedy predicted survivors would follow instructions and stay in place instead of running wildly on the streets in search of loved ones.

He told the magazine: “We’ve found that people seem to be reasonably well behaved [Ed.   oh isn’t that nice?] and do what they’ve been trained to, [Ed. very good. so it’ll all be OK? ] or are asked or told to do by local authorities. Reports from 9/11 show that people walked down many tens of flights of stairs, relatively quietly, sometimes carrying each other, to escape buildings. “We’re finding those kinds of reports from other disasters as well—except after Hurricane Katrina.”

The project is expected to take three years.

But professor Kennedy said he hoped to start experiments in the next six months and report some results from next year.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 introduced into US Congress

Under any circumstances, the prospect of nuclear war is terrifying, the deadly consequences irreversible. Yet with a single order, the president — any president — could effectively declare a nuclear war that would wipe out entire nations, including our own.

More worrying still, our current president has shown an alarming willingness to engage in aggression instead of diplomacy — particularly towards nations like Iran and China, as well as countries whose citizens have now been banned from traveling to the U.S. under an overbroad, dog-whistle executive order.

Trump has almost gleefully exercised his right to threaten nuclear war.

He made boastful remarks about nuclear might throughout his campaign. And just recently, he called for a new push to put America at the “top of the pack” when it comes to nuclear weapons capability (as though we weren’t already).

Going against decades of precedent, not to mention hard-won diplomatic treaties reached with countries like Russia and Iran, Trump has enthusiastically declared that we should expand, not reduce, our nuclear arsenal…………

It’s almost impossible to comprehend millions of people being obliterated from the face of the earth simultaneously, in the blink of an eye. Especially at the whim of just one American who happens to have access to a certain red button.

That’s why Representative Ted Lieu and Senator Ed Markey have introduced legislation prohibiting the sitting president from unilaterally declaring nuclear war without a prior act of Congress. They call it the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017.

“Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival,” Markey warned in a joint statement introducing this legislation. Unfortunately, Trump insists on “maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict.”

“In a crisis with another nuclear-armed country,” the senator went on to explain, “this policy drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation.” http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/03/19/right-now-trump-can-start-nuclear-war

March 20, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US airforce is still quietly cutting nuclear force

While Trump talks tough, U.S. quietly cutting nuclear force, PBS Newshour BY ROBERT BURNS, ASSOCIATED PRESS  March 19, 2017 WASHINGTON — The Air Force is quietly shrinking its deployed force of land-based nuclear missiles as part of a holdover Obama administration plan to comply with an arms control treaty with Russia. The reductions are nearing completion despite President Donald Trump’s argument that the treaty gives Moscow an unfair advantage in nuclear firepower.

The reduction to 400 missiles from 450 is the first for the intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, force in a decade – when the arsenal came down from 500 such weapons. The Air Force says the latest cut in Minuteman 3 missiles will be completed in April, leaving the deployed ICBM arsenal at its smallest size since the early 1960s.

In 2014, President Barack Obama’s administration announced the planned ICBM reduction to tailor the overall nuclear force, including bombers and nuclear-armed submarines, to the New START accord that the U.S. and Russia sealed in 2010. Both nations must comply with the treaty’s limits by February 2018.

The shrinking of the ICBM force runs counter, at least rhetorically, to Trump’s belief that the U.S. has fallen behind Russia in nuclear muscle. In December, he tweeted that the U.S. must “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” He has criticized New START as a bad deal.

It’s unclear how Trump intends to conduct a nuclear expansion, which critics call unnecessary and a potential drain on funds needed for non-nuclear forces. A long-term plan to replace and modernize the current nuclear force is already underway and will end up costing hundreds of billions of dollars.

As of March 14, the Air Force had 406 Minuteman missiles in launch-ready silos, Maj. Daniel Dubois, an Air Force spokesman, said Friday. In September the number was 417. Dubois said the number will be down to 400 by April. Also as part of the treaty’s compliance process, the Air Force in January finished converting 41 B-52H bombers to non-nuclear status……..http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/trump-talks-tough-u-s-quietly-cutting-nuclear-force/

March 20, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

For US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, a pre-emptive attack on North Korea is an option

Military action against North Korea ‘an option’, warns Rex Tillerson
US secretary of state says policy of strategic patience has ended due to threat posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme,
Guardian,  , 17 Mar 17 , A pre-emptive US military strike against North Korea may be necessary if the threat posed by its nuclear weapons programme reaches a level that “requires action”, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has warned.

Speaking in Seoul on the second day of a visit to the Asia-Pacific region, Tillerson said Washington’s policy of “strategic patience” towards the regime in Pyongyang had ended.

In his strongest comments yet on concerns that North Korea is moving closer towards developing a nuclear strike capability that could threaten the US mainland, Tillerson said “all options are on the table”.

“Certainly we do not want to, for things to get to military conflict,” he said at a joint press conference with South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se.

“If they elevate the threat of their weapons programme to a level that we believe requires action, then that option’s on the table. “Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures.”

Those words hint at a departure from the North Korea policy pursued by the Obama administration, which sought to use multilateral sanctions to pressure the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, into agreeing to denuclearisation in exchange for aid and investment…….

Aside from repeating that Washington’s policy options remain open, Tillerson has not offered details of how the Trump administrationplans to address the rising threat from North Korean nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles…….

Tillerson faces potentially the most difficult leg of his three-country visit when he arrives in Beijing on Saturday…..https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/17/military-action-against-north-korea-an-option-warns-rex-tillerson

March 18, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment