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America may be overspending on unnecessary nuclear weapons – the nuclear triad now obsolete?

Does America Still Need the Nuclear Triad? The U.S. can deliver nuclear weapons from air, land, and sea. That could change. Jan 24, 2019   Popular Mechanics, By Kyle Mizokami

“……..Because the U.S. can launch nukes from the air, land, or sea, it would be practically impossible for another country to knock out America’s offensive capabilities and prevent the counterstrike.

The U.S. is currently working on replacing all three legs of the triad: bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched missiles. It’s an overhaul that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and no doubt overshoot the Pentagon’s price estimates when all is said and done. But before we spend all that money, one must look around and ask the question: Is this still the best way? In the 21st century, does America really need three ways to launch nukes?………

During the Cold War, each arm of the triad justified its existence by doing something better than the other two. Strategic heavy bombers such as today’s B-2 Spirit and the longstanding B-52H Stratofortress could carry many nuclear bombs and strike multiple geographically distinct targets ……..

Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) loft nuclear warheads into space on ballistic trajectories. They are buried by the hundreds in underground concrete silos scattered across America……

The third arm of the triad was nuclear-powered submarines carrying their own nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles……

But as the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close, the nuclear triad is showing its age. The B-2 Spirit bomber was introduced in the 1990s, while the B-52H has been flying since the early 1960s and may keep working for decades to come. The Minuteman III ICBM was first deployed in the early 1970s. The U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines date to the 1980s and 1990s.

After decades of pushing back plans to replace all three arms, the U.S. is now faced with a situation where it needs to replace all three at once. The new B-21 Raider bomber, which will replace the B-2 bomber, will cost an estimated $97 billion dollars. The new ICBM, Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), will cost around $100 billion. Finally, new ballistic missile submarines will cost $128 billion.

That adds up to a serious bill. The cost is about the equivalent of running the entire U.S. Armed Forces for five months. And the price tag could rise substantially if any of the programs run into expensive technical problems. If history is any guide, then at least one of them will.

Could the U.S. thrive in 21st century without a nuclear triad? To see a possible way forward, just look at the emerging colossus of China. The world’s most populous nation is building more aircraft carriers, more amphibious ships, and more modern combat aircraft than ever before. What China is not doing is significantly expanding its nuclear arsenal.

China has approximately 280 nuclear weapons, a number we can deduce from the amount of fissile material it has produced. That total represents about one sixth the number of deployed U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons. China’s nukes are spread between land-based ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles. It has no air-delivered nuclear weapons for its modest bomber force. In other words, China has a diad.

China is a “no first use” country, meaning it has vowed to never use nuclear weapons first. It also bother with advanced nuclear technologies such as anti-ballistic missile systems or placing multiple warheads on a single missile. Why not? China’s entire nuclear philosophy boils down to this: The country may very well be destroyed by a surprise nuclear attack, but enough Chinese nuclear weapons will survive to make the attack simply not worth it.

Essentially, China’s nuclear doctrine is assured destruction, but stripped of unnecessary complexities. China doesn’t lose any sleep over Russia or America’s overwhelming advantage in nuclear arms. As long as China can hit back and nuke at least a handful of American (or Russian) cities, the balance of terror remains.

Does China’s nuclear posture work? Even a strike against tiny North Korea runs the risk of a nuclear counterstrike by China, and the loss of just one American city would be a catastrophe.

……. it’s hard to ignore the stripped-down logic of the Chinese model, which says the only credibility necessary is the ability to strike back after an attack—the rest is just overthinking the issue.

If that’s truly the case, then what use is a triad? Could the U.S. get rid of one or two arms of the triad, spending that money elsewhere in the defense budget to enhance conventional capabilities?

………Could the U.S. cut ICBMs and rely on a force of submarines and bombers, or submarines alone? These are important questions the American people need to ask before spending $300 billion replicating the weapons of the Cold War. Perhaps the U.S. should stick with the nuclear triad—but at the very least, America needs a national conversation about what nuclear security means and how to achieve it. https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a25983826/us-nuclear-triad/

 

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January 24, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Soviet Union’s secret nuclear weapons bunkers in Poland

Secret Soviet Bunkers in Poland Hid Nuclear Weapons, Live Science, By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | January 21, 2019 In the 1960s, the Soviet Union built massive bunkers in Poland. These bunkers didn’t appear on maps, and were carefully concealed to be invisible to spies from the air.

But now, these long-abandoned buildings are revealing some of the secrets of Russian military strategy during the Cold War.

Soviet documents from that time period described the sites as communications centers, though the buildings vanished from official records soon after they were built. Indeed, at the time, the Soviet Union denied having nuclear weapons cached anywhere in Poland.

But researchers are finally taking up the investigation of these secret sites, and uncovered the bunkers’ primary purpose: storehouses for nuclear weapons. [In Photos: Soviets Hid Nuclear Bunkers in Poland’s Forests]

Archaeologist Grzegorz Kiarszys, an adjunct professor at the Institute of History and International Relations in Poland, has conducted the first in-depth exploration of three of these nuclear warhead storage facilities. By delving into archives of declassified satellite images and analyzing building scans, Kiarszys is piecing together the role that these secret sites played on the global chessboard, at a time when the threat of nuclear war between the world’s biggest superpowers was all too real.

His findings were published online today (Jan. 21) in First View, a preview of the journal Antiquity‘s February 2019 issue.

Tactical storage

For the study, Kiarszys looked at three abandoned top-secret facilities that stored nuclear weapons and housed military personnel:…….. https://www.livescience.com/64553-soviet-nuclear-bunkers-poland.html

January 22, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Facing fallout: How Duke prepared for nuclear disaster in the 1960s

 The Chronicle – Duke University By Carter Forinash | 01/21/2019 At the height of the Berlin Crisis of 1961, a University committee developed plans to house nearly 50,000 Duke and Durham community members in shelters across campus. …….

Nuclear disaster planning was based on the worst-case scenario—the use of a nuclear weapon on Greensboro, N.C. The committee’s report stated that prevailing winds would send more fallout toward the Durham community than a similar nuclear strike on Raleigh, N.C., despite its proximity.

In order to prepare for such an event, the Fallout Committee also organized community-wide presentations on the dangers of nuclear fallout, plans for fallout protection and housekeeping in shelters……..

A shelter for Durham?

Chief among the committee’s responsibilities was a plan to house University community members in on-campus fallout shelters in the event of a nuclear disaster.

By 1966, the committee has identified more than 100,000 approved spaces for fallout shelters in Duke buildings and had supplied more than 80,000 of them with fallout survival supplies, including nonperishable food, fresh water, medical supplies and bedding.

Along with standard medical supplies, each shelter would include a clergy member, a licensed physician and two nurses, according to a letter from Robert Cushman, dean of the Divinity School in 1962.

The thousands of shelters included room for 800 people in the basement of the Chapel and more than 1,000 across two floors of Page Auditorium. These spaces were mostly on West Campus or in the Duke Medical Center.

Students on East Campus were expected to walk to West Campus to seek shelter, according to shelter assignments released by the committee. ……. https://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2019/01/facing-fallout-how-duke-prepared-for-nuclear-disaster-in-the-1960s

January 22, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK government waits for nuclear test veterans to die, covers up research on genetic effects

Tory Defence Secretary breaks promise and refuses study on nuclear test guinea pigs’ families https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tories-break-promise-refuse-tests-13876749

Gavin Williamson has been accused of betrayal just six months after promising campaigners he’d help, By Susie Boniface,19 JAN 2019, The Tories have refused to order a study into genetic ­damage suffered by children of servicemen in the British nuclear tests.

Defence Secretary Gavin ­Wil­­liamson’s decision came days after his department finally admitted it never warned the men used in Cold War radiation experiments that their families might have been harmed.

Children of the 1950s veterans report 10 times the normal rate of birth defects. But six months after he met campaigners and ­promised to help, Williamson has been accused of betrayal.

Shirley Denson, 84, who told the minister her ­hus­­band Eric was ordered to fly through the mushroom cloud of a massive H-bomb, said: “I’m disgusted the man who seemed to lis­­ten so carefully has let us down so badly.

“A fifth of the children and grandchildren Eric and I had have de­­­formities, including missing and extra teeth. Our family is just one of thousands and Williamson knows this.”

Eric killed himself after years of crippling headaches, and Shirley later uncovered proof he had been exposed to 165 years’ worth of background radiation to his brain in just 6 minutes.

Campaigners and cross-party MPs had asked for research into all the children’s health problems, but instead Williamson has spent a six-figure sum on repeating an old study into the veterans’ cancer rates.

It is expected to take a year to report back, and in the meantime veterans, who are mostly in their 80s, are dying at the rate of one a week.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who is backing the vets’ campaign for justice, said: “The earlier study failed to note the miscarriages, ill health, infant mortality and childhood illness which so many veteran families experienced. As a result it showed few problems, when the veterans’ experience was very different.

“By raising their hopes then dashing them with science de­­­signed to fail, the Defence Secretary has shown scant regard for the survivors, widows and children he promised to help.”

The announcement followed an admission in Parliament the MoD had never warned the men that exposure to radiation might damage their DNA.

Junior minister Tobias Ellwood confessed after a search of the archives that he was “unable to locate” any proof servicemen were made aware of the dangers.

Yet there are documents showing those in charge knew of the risks.

The Medical Research Council reported in 1947 that “even the smallest doses of radiation produce a genetic effect.”

A 1953 memo stated chiefs of staff wanted to “discover the detailed effect of various types of explosion on equipment, stores and men, with and without various types of protection”.

Another states Downing Street considered how “to limit the genetic hazards”.

And a No10 letter discovered in the archives proves that in 1955, when warned about the genetic dangers, PM Anthony Eden responded: “A pity, but we cannot help it.”

When he met campaigners Mr Williamson also promised them a speedy review into a medal for the veterans’ exceptional service.

But 6 months later, a medal review committee has yet to be formed and neither the MoD nor Cabinet Office, which is in charge of honours, can give a timescale for when it will meet to hear the veterans’ evidence.

Just before Christmas, thousands of bomb test documents were removed from the National Archives without explanation.

Some had been scheduled for immediate release under Freedom of Information requests by campaigners.

 

January 21, 2019 Posted by | health, secrets,lies and civil liberties, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Super Weapon: Israel Could Arm Stealth F-35s with Nuclear Weapons 

  National Interest, by Zachary Keck 20 Jan 19, There is no reason to think that Israel doesn’t have the technical capability to make its new F-35s nuclear capable

By the end of this year, Israel is expected to become the second country after the United States to declare Initial Operational Capability for its F-35s. Already, Tel Aviv has taken possession of five of the multirole fighters,and following an agreement late last month to buy an additional seventeen planes, will ultimately purchase fifty planes. All fifty F-35s are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2024.

(This first appeared in 2017.)

Israeli officials typically describe the F-35s purpose as ensuring the country’s continued air superiority in the region. In particular, they focus on how the plane’s stealth capabilities will allow them to evade Iran’s increasingly capable, Russian-built air defense systems. One mission that is not being discussed is that Israel will likely use its F-35s as a nuclear delivery system.

Although the government refuses to officially acknowledge it, Israel is known to have a nuclear arsenal with as many as 100 warheads. The Jewish State is also believed to possess a nuclear triad, consisting of ground-based Jericho missiles, Dolphin-class submarines equipped with sea-launched cruise missiles and some combination of nuclear-capable aircraft.

It’s likely that the F-35 will be the newest addition to the air leg of Israel’s triad……….At the same time, Israel also assured the United States that it would not “introduce” nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which Israel interpreted to mean it could build a nuclear arsenal as long as it didn’t publicly acknowledge its existence. ……https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/super-weapon-israel-could-arm-stealth-f-35s-nuclear-weapons-42097

January 21, 2019 Posted by | Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How US and China’s African nuclear mission could provide model for disarming North KoreaSC

MP,  Lee Jeong-ho, 20 Jan 19, 

  • The recent joint operation to remove uranium from Nigeria could provide a template for denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula
  • Although the two countries have proved they can still work together, the challenges posed by North Korea are likely to prove far more challenging
China and America’s recent joint nuclear non-proliferation mission in West Africa could provide a precedent for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, analysts have said, but warned that the scale and political complexity of the task will be far greater.

This week it emerged that Chinese and American nuclear experts had cooperated on a project to remove highly enriched uranium (HEU) from a reactor in Nigeria to prevent the material falling into the hands of terrorists.

The mission last year, which also involved British and Norwegian experts along with contractors from Russia and the Czech Republic, was completed within a day despite violent clashes in Kaduna province where the reactor was located, according to Defensenews.com.

The logistics and security arrangements needed to fly the material to China were completed within six weeks, showing the capacity of both the US and China to set aside their differences and cooperate when their mutual interests are at stake.

The Nigerian operation was not the first time the two countries had worked together to prevent nuclear proliferation in West Africa; a similar operation to remove HEU to China was carried out in Ghana in 2017.

Because neither China nor America’s interests are served by a nuclear-armed North Korea, similar work could be carried out in the future should talks on denuclearisation come to fruition.

Miles Pomper, a senior fellow at the James Martin centre for non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said: “It is conceivable in the case of denuclearisation that North Korea’s nuclear weapons or material could be taken to China.

“Given the fact that China already has nuclear weapons, the US could likely accept that although the US would likely then push for their disassembly.”

Bruce Bennett, a senior defence researcher at the Rand Corporation, said the two countries would continue to cooperate on dismantling nuclear weapons.

“If instability developed in North Korea, China may well be at greater risk from terrorists or Chinese dissident groups seizing North Korean nuclear weapons and using them against China,” he said……… https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2182564/how-us-and-chinas-african-nuclear-mission-could-provide-model

January 21, 2019 Posted by | China, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s plans for nuclear-powered unmanned underwater weapons

UUVs to be Equipped with Nuclear Capabilitieshttps://i-hls.com/archives/88349, Jan 20, 2019  Russia has been making efforts to advance a nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle program. The Russian Navy plans to place more than 30 Poseidon strategic nuclear-capable unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) on combat duty.
“Two Poseidon-carrying submarines are expected to enter service with the Northern Fleet and the other two will join the Pacific Fleet. Each of the submarines will carry a maximum of eight drones and, therefore, the total number of Poseidons on combat duty may reach 32 vehicles,” tass.comreported.
The special-purpose nuclear-powered submarine Khabarovsk currently being built will become one of the organic carriers of the Poseidon nuclear-capable underwater drone, according to defenseworld.net. Also, special-purpose submarines and Project 949A nuclear-powered underwater cruisers operational in the Russian Navy may be used as the carriers “after their appropriate upgrade”.
In March 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned for the first time the country’s efforts to develop a nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle that can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads and is capable of destroying enemy infrastructural facilities, aircraft carrier groups and other targets.
Doubts about the program were raised in thediplomat.com: “ “The UUV is being designed a weapon of last resort to strengthen Russia’s nuclear deterrence posture vis-à-vis the United States and NATO. Torpedoes equipped with a nuclear propulsion system and fitted with a nuclear warhead for use over long distances were first conceived in the Soviet Union back in the 1950s but were considered impractical and unreliable at the time. There are still questions whether Russia will be capable of building a reliable miniaturized nuclear reactor for the UUV [next to other technical challenges].”
Sea trials of the Poseidon commenced in December 2018. The ongoing tests are part of experimental design work rather than full-fledged sea trials, according to a Russian defense industry source.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

 Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War – the past and the future

Ground Zero Nagasaki: Living the nuclear past – and future, Asia Times, By SUSAN SOUTHARD JANUARY 18, 2019  “………. Much of Nagasaki and the world have, of course, moved on from that terrible morning when a 5-ton plutonium bomb plunged at a thousand kilometers an hour toward the city of 240,000 people. Forty-three seconds later, it detonated half a kilometer above Nagasaki’s Urakami Valley. A super-brilliant blue-white flash lit the sky, followed by a thunderous explosion equal to the power of 21,000 tons of TNT. The entire city convulsed

Based on my book Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War, I often give talks in the US about that unforgettable (or now often-too-forgettable) day when, for only the second time in history, human beings deemed it right to assault their own species with apocalyptic power. At these book talks, I’ve learned to be prepared for someone in the audience to say that the Japanese deserved what they got. It’s still hard to hear.

At its “burst point,” the Nagasaki blast reached temperatures higher than at the center of the sun, and the velocity of its shock wave exceeded the speed of sound. Within three seconds, the ground below had reached an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius. Directly beneath the bomb, infrared heat rays instantly carbonized human and animal flesh and vaporized internal organs. Did the men, women, and children of Nagasaki really deserve that?

As the mushroom cloud rapidly ascended 3km over the city and eclipsed the sun, the bomb’s vertical blast pressure crushed much of the Urakami Valley. Horizontal blast winds tore through the region at two and a half times the speed of a Category 5 hurricane, pulverizing buildings, trees, animals, and thousands of people.

The blazing heat twisted iron, disintegrated vegetation, ignited clothing, and melted human skin. Fires broke out across the city, burning thousands of civilians alive.

And though no one knew it yet, larger doses of radiation than any human had ever received penetrated deeply into the bodies of people and animals.

…………. the United States bombed and incinerated all or parts of 66 Japanese cities, killing, maiming or irradiating more than 668,000 civilians. In Nagasaki alone, by the end of 1945 when a first count was possible, 74,000 men, women and children were dead. Of those, only 150 were military personnel. Seventy-five thousand more civilians were injured or irradiated.

Today, this kind of indiscriminate killing and harm to civilians would be called “terrorism.”

Despite the history most Americans have learned – that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military necessities that ended World War II and saved a million American lives by obviating the need for an invasion of Japan’s home islands – there is no historical evidence that the Nagasaki bombing had any impact on Japan’s decision to surrender.

What we aren’t taught are the political and military complexities of the last few months of the war or how, in the postwar years, the US government crafted this end-of-war narrative to silence public opposition to the atomic bombings and build support for America’s fast-expanding nuclear-weapons program.

What many don’t realize is that this misleading version of history allows us to turn away from what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and continue to support the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons without ever having to think about what those weapons do.

Still, so many decades later, in a world in which the Trump administration is preparing to withdraw from a key Cold War nuclear agreement with Russia and the US nuclear arsenal is being modernized to the tune of up to $1.6 trillion, it’s worth recalling the other side of the story, the kind of suffering the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings caused in August 1945 and long after.

Within weeks, people in both cities began experiencing mysterious symptoms: vomiting, fever, dizziness, bleeding gums, and hair loss from what doctors would later understand as radiation-related sickness. Purple spots appeared all over their bodies. Many died in excruciating pain within a week of the first appearance of such symptoms. Fear gripped Nagasaki. From one day to the next, no one knew when his or her time might come.

In those first nine months, pregnant women suffered spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, or the deaths of their newborn infants. Many of the babies who survived would later develop physical and mental disabilities.

Five years after the bombings, thousands more began dying from leukemia and other illnesses caused by high-dose radiation exposure, initiating cycles of higher than normal cancer rates that would last for decades. The bombs had, from the survivors’ perspective, burned their bodies from the inside out. Parents exposed to radiation feared possible genetic defects in their children and hovered over them year after year, terrified that what looked like a simple cold or stomach ache would lead to severe illness or death.

Even today, radiation scientists are still studying second- and third-generation hibakusha (atomic-bomb-affected people) for genetic effects passed down from their parents and grandparents, reminding us how much we still don’t understand about the insidious nature of radiation exposure to the human body…….. http://www.atimes.com/ground-zero-nagasaki-living-the-nuclear-past-and-future/

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Germany urges Russia to destroy missile to save nuclear treaty

  http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/germany-urges-russia-to-destroy-missile-to-save-nuclear-treaty/article/541215 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday called on Russia to destroy a controversial missile system Washington says breaches a key arms control treaty.

“We believe Russia can save this treaty,” Maas said after talks with Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov, referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF).

“It affects our security interests in a fundamental way.”

Tensions have raged between Russia and the United States over the fate of the INF agreement signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

US President Donald Trump has promised to walk away from the agreement and Russian leader Vladimir Putin threatened a new arms race, saying Europe would be its main victim.

Washington says Moscow’s 9M729 missile system violates the treaty and warned it would withdraw from the agreement if Russia does not get rid of it.

Russia denies the claim, accusing the United States of violating the treaty which forbids ground-launched short- and intermediate-range missiles.

“Like other NATO members, we believe that there is a missile violating this treaty and it should be destroyed in a verifiable manner to get back to the implementation of this agreement,” Germany’s Maas told reporters.

Maas commended Moscow for trying to salvage the agreement and expressed hope that talks between Russian and US negotiators would resume in the near future.

Last month Washington gave Russia a 60-day deadline to dismantle missiles that it claims breach the INF treaty or the US would begin the six-month process of formally withdrawing from the deal.

Lavrov for his part said Washington provided no evidence that Russia’s tests of the missile violated the INF treaty.

He said Washington’s demands to destroy the missiles and have regular access to Russian sites were just “a pretext to exit the treaty.”

“During official contacts on arms control and disarmament issues back in October the United States said the decision is definitive and their announcement of the withdrawal from the INF treaty is not an invitation to dialogue. This is a quote.”

Earlier this week, talks between US and Russian officials in Geneva to salvage the deal led nowhere. Moscow said Washington did not appear to be in the mood for more talks while a US official said Russia was just paying “lip service” to transparency.

Russian officials said US representatives had confirmed Washington’s intention to begin withdrawing from the treaty from February 2.

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Germany, politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA to begin pullout from Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, rejecting Russian offer

US to begin nuclear treaty pullout next month after Russia missile talks fail, Guardian, Julian Borger in Washington, 17 Jan 2019 

    • Officials reject Russian offer to inspect new missile
    • US says it will suspend observance of INF treaty on 2 February

The US has rejected Moscow’s offer to inspect a new Russian missile suspected of violating a key cold war-era nuclear weapons treaty, and warned that it would suspend observance of the agreement on 2 February, giving six-months’ notice of a complete withdrawal. The under secretary of state for arms control and international security, Andrea Thompson, confirmed the US intention to withdraw from the treaty after a meeting with a Russian delegation in Geneva, which both sides described as a failure.

Donald Trump took US allies by surprise when he announced his intention to leave the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in October. The agreement led to the destruction of thousands of US and Soviet weapons, and has kept nuclear missiles out of Europe for three decades.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, accused the US of intransigence, saying Moscow had offered to allow US experts to inspect the suspect missile, which it insists does not infringe the limits laid down in the treaty.

“However, US representatives arrived with a prepared position that was based on an ultimatum and centred on a demand for us to destroy this rocket, its launchers and all related equipment under US supervision,” Lavrov said.

Thompson noted that the US had been demanding Russian transparency over the missile for more than five years. She confirmed that the offer of inspections was not enough and that the US was demanding the destruction of the missile system, known as the 9M729……..

She said that there were currently no plans for follow-up talks on the INF before the 2 February deadline laid down by the Trump administration, though US and Russian diplomats would be meeting, including at a summit of the Nato-Russian council next week.

Thompson said that if Russia did not show willingness to comply with the treaty by the deadline, the US would suspend its own obligations, meaning that the US defense department could start research and development on missiles with ranges currently banned by the INF, from 500 to 5,500km.

At the same time, she told reporters, the US would formally give notice of its withdrawal from the treaty, which could come into effect on 2 August.

After that, there would be no restrictions on deployment of medium-range missiles in Europe or the Pacific………..

The Trump administration was criticised by former officials and arms control advocates for not pursuing the Russian offer of inspections.

“We’ve spent years trying to get something – anything – out of the Russians on INF. The Russian offer of an exhibition of the 9M729 is not enough, but it is something,” Alexandra Bell, a former senior state department official who is now senior policy director at the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

“Perhaps it is a foundation on which to build. Not trying to take advantage of this opportunity is to leave diplomatic options on the table and that’s just foolish.”

Daryl Kimball, the head of the Arms Control Association said: “If the INF is terminated on 2 August, there will be nothing to prevent Russia from deploying nuclear missiles that threaten Europe and the Trump administration will have no hesitation in pursuing the deployment of INF-prohibited weapons in Europe.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/16/us-russia-inf-treaty-nuclear-missile  

 

January 19, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

We must not forget the Hibakusha

Ground Zero Nagasaki: Living the nuclear past – and future, Asia Times, By SUSAN SOUTHARD JANUARY 18, 2019  “…………….Hibakusha stories

It’s essential for us to remember such grim details, not just for the sake of history, but for our future, because nuclear weapons far more powerful and devastating than the Nagasaki bomb are now commonplace.

In a small area of Nagasaki that includes Hypocenter Park, the  Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, and Peace Park, dedicated teams of Japanese men and women still work tirelessly to counter the world’s inclination to forget what happened. For the past 35 years, one organization, the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace, has assembled cadres of hibakusha speakers – typically about 40 at any time – willing to tell their stories. They are now aging women and men with unique memories of the day of that bombing and the weeks, months and years that followed.

Sixteen-year-old Taniguchi Sumiteru was delivering mail on his bicycle about a kilometer and a half from the hypocenter when, a split-second after the bomb detonated, its tremendous force and searing heat blew him off his bicycle and slammed him face-down on to the road. His entire back was burned off. By all rights, he should never have survived. Three months later, he finally received medical treatment. Still in constant pain 10 years after the bombing, he became one of Nagasaki’s earliest anti-nuclear activists.

Wada Koichi, an 18-year-old streetcar driver at the time of the bombing, decided to speak out when he held his first grandchild and flashed back to the charred corpse of a baby he’d stepped over as he searched for his missing colleagues.

Do-oh Mineko, then 15, suffered critical injuries to her head and lingered near death for months. Though those injuries eventually healed, radiation exposure had caused all her hair to fall out. For nearly a decade, she hid in her house until her hair finally grew back. As an adult, she kept her identity as a hibakusha secret until, in her late 60s, she found new meaning for her life by telling her story to schoolchildren.

Yoshida Katsuji, only 13, was looking up in the direction of the bomb at the moment it exploded. His entire face was scorched. Years later, as friends and colleagues told their stories publicly, he remained silent, afraid of looks of disgust from audiences due to his disfigurement. He finally began speaking out in his late 60s after deciding that being shy was not a good reason to keep silent when it came to the terrorizing impact of nuclear weapons.

These four and many others dared to cross boundaries in Japanese culture to tell their personal stories of suffering and help others grasp what nuclear war would mean for the world. Unfortunately, most  hibakusha – at least those who were old enough to have vivid memories of the bombing and its aftermath – have died or are reaching the end of their lives. They are the only people capable of telling us first-hand about the experience of nuclear war, and each year their numbers diminish. ………….. http://www.atimes.com/ground-zero-nagasaki-living-the-nuclear-past-and-future/

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pentagon report on China’s nuclear weapons program, still “significantly below” the U.S.

The Pentagon Believes China Is Likely Developing A Long-Range Nuclear Bomber, Task and Purpose, Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg News, January 17, 2019 WASHINGTON — China is likely developing a long-range bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons and a space-based early warning system it could use to more quickly respond to an attack, according to a new report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

The development of the bomber, when combined with China’s land-based nuclear weapons program and a deployed submarine with intercontinental ballistic missile technology, would give Beijing a “triad” of nuclear delivery systems similar to the U.S. and Russia, according to the report published Tuesday.

“China is building a robust, lethal force with capabilities spanning the air, maritime, space and information domains which will enable China to impose its will in the region,” the report’s author, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, said in the introduction.

The report comes as President Donald Trump’s administration focuses on the potential for “great power” conflict with countries like China and Russia as part of its national defense strategy. It also comes amid heightened trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, and continuing disputes about China’s posture in the South China Sea.

……… The DIA assessment released Tuesday underscores that China maintains a “no first-use” nuclear policy but adds that there is “some ambiguity, however, over the conditions under which China’s NFU policy would apply.”

Despite a slew of disputes over Taiwan, the South China Sea and global trade, the review also says there is no indication in Chinese military strategic documents that Beijing views war with the U.S. as looming.

Moreover, while China’s defense spending climbed an average of 10 percent per year from 2000 to 2016, total spending remains “significantly below” the U.S., the report said. Spending was about 1.3 percent of gross domestic product from 2014-2018, compared to more than 3 percent of GDP for the U.S. over the same period.

China is trying to strike a balance between expanding its capabilities and reach without “alarming the international community about China’s rise or provoking the United States, its allies and partners, or others in the Asia-Pacific region into military conflict or an anti-China coalition,” the report adds.

Underlying China’s concerns are its view that the U.S.-led security architecture in Asia seeks to constrain its rise and interfere with its sovereignty, particularly in a Taiwan conflict scenario and in the East and South China Seas, said DIA.

The DIA’s observations will likely be used by proponents of the Pentagon’s drive to modernize the U.S. aging nuclear weapons infrastructure over 30 years, an effort that, when operations and support costs are included, could total about $1 trillion………. https://taskandpurpose.com/the-pentagon-believes-china-is-likely-developing-a-long-range-nuclear-bomber

January 19, 2019 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Missile Defense Review: North Korea remains ‘extraordinary threat’ to US

Missile Defense Review: North Korea remains ‘extraordinary threat’ to US

Thomas Maresca,   USA TODAY, 18 Jan 19 SEOUL – A Pentagon report released Thursday described North Korea’s missile and nuclear program as an “extraordinary threat” to the United States, warning that the U.S. must “remain vigilant” despite ongoing diplomatic engagement with the North.

The Missile Defense Review report, introduced by President Donald Trump during a speech at the Pentagon, was released just hours ahead of a top North Korean envoy’s arrival in Washington to discuss a potential second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un……….https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/01/17/missile-defense-review-north-korea-still-poses-extraordinary-threat/2610585002/

January 19, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pentagon secrecy on US military bases keeps public in the dark about them , and about tax-payer costs

Tomgram: Nick Turse, One Down, Who Knows How Many to Go?, Tom Dispatch  by Nick Turse , January 8, 2019. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

The U.S. military is finally withdrawing (or not) from its base at al-Tanf. You know, the place that the Syrian government long claimed was a training ground for Islamic State (ISIS) fighters; the land corridor just inside Syria, near both the Iraqi and Jordanian borders, that Russia has called a terrorist hotbed (while floating the idea of jointly administering it with the United States); the location of a camp where hundreds of U.S. Marines joined Special Operations forces last year; an outpost that U.S. officials claimed was the key not only to defeating ISIS, but also, according to General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, to countering “the malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue.” You know, that al-Tanf.

Within hours of President Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, equipment at that base was already being inventoried for removal. And just like that, arguably the most important American garrison in Syria was (maybe) being struck from the Pentagon’s books — except, as it happens, al-Tanf was never actually on the Pentagon’s books. Opened in 2015and, until recently, home to hundreds of U.S. troops, it was one of the many military bases that exist somewhere between light and shadow, an acknowledged foreign outpost that somehow never actually made it onto the Pentagon’s official inventory of bases.

Officially, the Department of Defense (DoD) maintains 4,775 “sites,” spread across all 50 states, eight U.S. territories, and 45 foreign countries. A total of 514 of these outposts are located overseas, according to the Pentagon’s worldwide property portfolio.  Just to start down a long list, these include bases on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, as well as in Peru and Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. But the most recent version of that portfolio, issued in early 2018 and known as the Base Structure Report (BSR), doesn’t include any mention of al-Tanf. Or, for that matter, any other base in Syria. Or Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Niger. Or Tunisia. Or Cameroon. Or Somalia. Or any number of locales where such military outposts are known to exist and even, unlike in Syria, to be expanding.

According to David Vine, author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, there could be hundreds of similar off-the-books bases around the world. “The missing sites are a reflection of the lack of transparency involved in the system of what I still estimate to be around 800 U.S. bases outside the 50 states and Washington, D.C., that have been encircling the globe since World War II,” says Vine, who is also a founding member of the recently established Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition, a group of military analysts from across the ideological spectrum who advocate shrinking the U.S. military’s global “footprint.”

Such off-the-books bases are off the books for a reason. The Pentagon doesn’t want to talk about them. “I spoke to the press officer who is responsible for the Base Structure Report and she has nothing to add and no one available to discuss further at this time,” Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza told TomDispatch when asked about the Defense Department’s many mystery bases.

“Undocumented bases are immune to oversight by the public and often even Congress,” Vine explains. “Bases are a physical manifestation of U.S. foreign and military policy, so off-the-books bases mean the military and executive branch are deciding such policy without public debate, frequently spending hundreds of millions or billions of dollars and potentially getting the U.S. involved in wars and conflicts about which most of the country knows nothing.”Where Are They?

The Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition notes that the United States possesses up to 95% of the world’s foreign military bases, while countries like France, Russia, and the United Kingdom have perhaps 10-20 foreign outposts each. China has just one.

The Department of Defense even boasts that its “locations” include 164 countries. Put another way, it has a military presence of some sort in approximately 84% of the nations on this planet — or at least the DoD briefly claimed this………

In the most literal sense, the Base Structure Report does indeed have the latest numbers — but their accuracy is another matter. “The number of bases listed in the BSR has long born little relation to the actual number of U.S. bases outside the United States,” says Vine. “Many, many well-known and secretive bases have long been left off the list.”

One prime example is the constellation of outposts that the U.S. has built across Africa. The official BSR inventory lists only a handful of sites there — on Ascension Island as well as in Djibouti, Egypt, and Kenya. In reality, though, there are many more outposts in many more African countries………..

According to Vine, keeping America’s African bases secret is advantageous to Washington. It protects allies on that continent from possible domestic opposition to the presence of American troops, he points out, while helping to ensure that there will be no domestic debate in the U.S. over such spending and the military commitments involved. “It’s important for U.S. citizens to know where their troops are based in Africa and elsewhere around the world,” he told TomDispatch, “because that troop presence costs the U.S. billions of dollars every year and because the U.S. is involved, or potentially involved, in wars and conflicts that could spiral out of control.”

Those Missing Bases

Africa is hardly the only place where the Pentagon’s official list doesn’t match up well with reality. ……..
If stifling domestic debate through information control is the Pentagon’s aim, it’s been doing a fine job for years of deflecting questions about its global posture, or what the late TomDispatch regular Chalmers Johnson called America’s “empire of bases.”……….  Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch and a contributing writer for the Intercept. His latest book is Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is NickTurse.com.   http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176513/

January 15, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

India’s nuclear submarines

ANGLES AND DANGLES: ARIHANT AND THE DILEMMA OF INDIA’S UNDERSEA NUCLEAR WEAPONS, YOGESH JOSHI, War on the Rocks, 
JANUARY 14, 2019, SPECIAL SERIES – SOUTHERN (DIS)COMFORT Editor’s Note: This is the 24th installment of “Southern (Dis)Comfort,” a series from War on the Rocks and the Stimson Center. The series seeks to unpack the dynamics of intensifying competition — military, economic, diplomatic — in Southern Asia, principally between China, India, Pakistan, and the United States. Catch up on the rest of the series.

After INS Arihant, India’s first ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), finished its maiden deterrent patrol in November 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphatically declared India’s nuclear triad complete. Arihant’s operationalization has catapulted India into a select group of states with an underwater nuclear launch capability. It has also raised alarm over the safety and security of India’s nuclear arsenal because a sea-based deterrent may entail a ready-to-use arsenal and less restrictive command and control procedures, increasing probability of their accidental use. For Pakistan, India’s nuclear force modernization endangers the balance of strategic forces in the region and could intensify the nuclear arms race on the subcontinent……….

Arihant’s operationalization is an opportunity for New Delhi to reflect upon its nuclear trajectory. With China and Pakistan as nuclear adversaries, India confronts a unique challenge. It has to build up its nuclear capability enough to ensure that Chinese decision-makers fear it, without sending Islamabad into panic and undermining regional stability. This “Goldilocks dilemma” will be difficult to resolve, and India should not leave it to chance — especially as the United States, once South Asia’s chief crisis manager, loses both interest and influence in the region. India should reassure Pakistan by reaffirming its policy of no first use of nuclear weapons and a retaliation-only nuclear doctrine. More importantly, India should rethink its deterrence requirements vis-à-vis China.

Ultimately, the risk is that India will fail to achieve its aim of deterring China while unintentionally provoking its smaller rival……………..

To increase stability, India should publicly reaffirm its policy of no first use and adopt a retaliation-only nuclear posture, particularly since prominent voices in India’s strategic community have questioned these principles in the recent past. It should clarify that it has no intentions to use its nuclear forces in a preemptive mode. One Strategic Forces Command official told me that Arihant will only be used for countervalue strikes — that is, retaliatory strikes against Pakistani cities. Such declarations ought to be made at the highest levels of the Indian government. Arihant’s job — and, for that matter, the job of India’s entire nuclear arsenal — is to not create “fearlessness” in the Indian mind, as Modi’s office claimed. Rather, it is to ensure that India’s nuclear adversaries fear the consequences of their actions. A nuclear dialogue with Pakistan should therefore be reopened and shielded from the vagaries of domestic politics.

The nuclear competition between China, India, and Pakistan is a classic case of a triangular security dilemma. As India pursues deterrence stability vis-à-vis one adversary, it makes another adversary feel increasingly vulnerable……..

Yogesh Joshi is a Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University. He is the coauthor of India and Nuclear Asia: Forces, Doctrine and Dangers (Georgetown University Press, 2018).  https://warontherocks.com/2019/01/angles-and-dangles-arihant-and-the-dilemma-of-indias-undersea-nuclear-weapons/

January 15, 2019 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment