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A battle in U.S. Congress over the extremely costly nuclear weapons modernisation

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March 23, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN raps Israel’s use of ‘unlawful force’ against Gazans 

  Press TV, 23 Mar 19, The United Nations (UN)’s Human Rights Council has denounced Israel’s use of “unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against unarmed Palestinian protesters in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Gazans started protesting along a fence that separates the Gaza Strip from the Israeli-occupied territories on March 30, 2018 demanding the right to return for those Palestinians driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression and calling for a halt to Israel’s inhumane blockade of the enclave.

Israeli forces deployed to the area have used force from across the fence against the protesters, killing over 260 Palestinians and injuring thousands since the protests started.

On Friday, the Humans Rights Council adopted a resolution on accountability tabled by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The resolution was adopted with 23 votes in favor, eight against, and 15 abstentions. The delegation of one member state was absent.

The text also called for cooperation by the Israeli regime with a preliminary examination that was launched by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2015 into Israeli human rights violations.

The resolution was based on a UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report that found that Israeli forces had committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that “may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity” in killing 189 Palestinians and injuring thousands between March 30 and December 31, 2018……..https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/22/591676/UN-Human-Rights-Council-Israel-lethal-excessive-force-Gaza

March 23, 2019 Posted by | Gaza, Israel, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Veterans Demand Congress End the Forever Wars 

Truthout, Mike Ludwig, March 22, 2019 As politicians and pundits opined on the 16-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq this week, organizer and veteran Perry O’Brien observed that people who were born after the 9/11 attacks and the beginning of the global war on terror are now old enough to join the military and deploy to Afghanistan, where fragile peace talks between with the Taliban continue. Blood is still spilling in Kandahar, the province in Afghanistan where O’Brien served as a medic during the early years of the Afghan war.

“In 2003, the idea of being in Afghanistan even five more years would have sounded unlikely; 15 years would have been madness,” O’Brien said in an interview with Truthout.

Nowdays, O’Brien is a political organizer with Common Defense, a nationwide group of progressive veterans that grew out of protests against President Trump’s racist remarks on the 2016 campaign trail. Conservative political forces have long held a monopoly on the public image of military service and patriotism, O’Brien said, but the nationwide community of progressive veterans is actually “enormous.”

“We didn’t want to be props for Trump’s campaign for hate,” O’Brien said. “We were outraged by his remarks about Muslims and immigrants, and the whole platform and were, you know, angry with … how he wraps himself in the flag and the symbols of service even though he has never served anything other than himself.”

Common Defense organizes and trains veterans to advocate on issues ranging from racial and economic justice to opposing the Trump administration’s ban transgender troops, but after nearly two decades of seemingly endless war, O’Brien and other vets want to make it glaringly clear to policymakers that supporting U.S. military intervention has nothing to do with supporting the troops.

“There is a mistaken view that the military community wants you to show your support for the troops by being pro-intervention,” O’Brien said. “Nothing could be further from the truth in terms of what the military community really wants.”

Congress Debates U.S. Militarism Under TrumpCommon Defense is one of several veterans’ groups on both the left and the right that are putting mounting pressure on Congress to bring a clear end to the “forever wars.” Now that the war on terror has come to 80 countries, directly caused nearly half-a-million deaths and cost taxpayers more than $5.9 trillion since 2011, momentum among lawmakers to reassert their constitutional war-making authority is gaining steam after years of inaction and failed bipartisan attempts to rein in the White House and Pentagon.

Both the House and Senate have approved resolutions to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen’s bloody civil war, a clear rebuke of both the Saudi royal government and its cozy relationship with President Trump. Lawmakers in both chambers, particularly Democrats, have warned against U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, where hawks in the Trump administration are actively supporting a right-wing opposition leader as the country suffers an ongoing political and humanitarian crisis. …… https://truthout.org/articles/veterans-demand-congress-end-the-forever-wars/

March 23, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA committed to dominating the world – heading for space weapons

COUNTDOWN TO FULL SPECTRUM DOMINANCE  This is what it’s really all about MARCH 20, 2019
Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance” by T.J. COLES, CounterPunch 

The US is formally committed to dominating the world by the year 2020. With President Trump’s new Space Directive-4, the production of laser-armed fighter jets as possible precursors to space weapons, and the possibility of nuclear warheads being put into orbit, the clock is ticking…

Back in 1997, the now-re-established US Space Command announced its commitment to “full spectrum dominance.” The Vision for 2020 explains that “full spectrum dominance” means military control over land, sea, air, and space (the so-called fourth dimension of warfare) “to protect US interests and investment.” “Protect” means guarantee operational freedom. “US interest and investment” means corporate profits.

The glossy brochure explains that, in the past, the Army evolved to protect US settlers who stole land from Native Americans in the genocidal birth of the nation. Like the Vision for 2020, a report by the National Defense University acknowledges that by the 19th century, the Navy had evolved to protect the US’s newly-formulated “grand strategy.” In addition to supposedly protecting citizens and the constitution, “The overriding principle was, and remains, the protection of American territory … and our economic well-being.” By the 20th century, the Air Force had been established, in the words of the Air Force Study Strategy Guide, to protect “vital interests,” including: “commerce; secure energy supplies; [and] freedom of action.” In the 21stcentury, these pillars of power are bolstered by the Cyber Command and the coming Space Force.

The use of the Army, Navy, and Air Force—the three dimensions of power—means that the US is already close to achieving “full spectrum dominance.” Brown University’s Cost of War project documents current US military involvement in 80 countries—or 40% of the world’s nations. This includes 65 so-called counterterrorism training operations and 40 military bases (though others think the number of bases is much higher). By this measure, “full spectrum dominance” is nearly half way complete. But the map leaves out US and NATO bases, training programs, and operations in Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Ukraine.

As the US expands its space operations—the fourth dimension of warfare—the race towards “full spectrum dominance” quickens. Space has long been militarized in the sense that the US uses satellites to guide missiles and aircraft. But the new doctrine seeks to weaponize space by, for instance, blurring the boundaries between high-altitude military aircraft and space itself. Today’s space power will be harnessed by the US to ensure dominance over the satellite infrastructure that allows for the modern world of internet, e-commerce, GPS, telecommunications, surveillance, and war-fighting.

Since the 1950s, the United Nations has introduced various treaties to prohibit the militarization and weaponization of space—the most famous being the Outer Space Treaty (1967). These treaties aim to preserve space as a commons for all humanity. The creation of the US Space Force is a blatant violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of those treaties. In more recent decades, successive US governments have unilaterally rejected treaties to reinforce and expand the existing space-for-peace agreements. In 2002, the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (1972), allowing it to expand its long-range missile systems. In 2008, China and Russia submitted to the UN Conference on Disarmament the proposed Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects. This would have preserved the space-as-a-commons principle and answered US claims that “enemies” would use space as a battleground against US satellites.

But peace is not the goal. The goal is “full spectrum dominance,” so the US rejected the offer. China and Russia introduced the proposed the treaty again in 2014—and again the US rejected it. Earlier this year, the US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Last month, President Trump sent an unclassified memo on the new Space Directive-4 to the Vice President, Joint Chiefs of Staff, NASA, and the Secretaries of Defense and State.

The document makes for chilling and vital reading. It recommends legislating for the training of US forces “to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces.” Crucially, this doctrine includes “peacetime and across the spectrum of conflict.” As well as integrating space forces with the intelligence community, the memo recommends establishing a Chief of Staff of the Space Force, who will to join the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The memo also says that US space operations will abide by “international law.” But given that the US has rejected anti-space weapons treaties, it is barely constrained by international law.

In late-2017, Space.com reported on a $26.3m Department of Defense contract with Lockheed Martin to build lasers for fighter jets under the Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments program. The report says that the lasers will be ready by 2021. The article links to Doug Graham, the Vice President of Missile Systems and Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. In the original link Graham reveals that the Air Force laser “is an example of how Lockheed Martin is using a variety of innovative technologies to transform laser devices into integrated weapon systems.”

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) states in a projection out to the year 2050: “Economies are becoming increasingly dependent upon space-based systems … By 2050, space-based weapon systems may also be deployed, which could include nuclear weapons.” But this is extremely reckless. Discussing technologies, including the artificial intelligence on which weapons systems are increasingly based, another MoD projection warns of “the potential for disastrous outcomes, planned and unplanned … Various doomsday scenarios arising in relation to these and other areas of development present the possibility of catastrophic impacts, ultimately including the end of the world, or at least of humanity.”

“Full spectrum dominance” is not only a danger to the world, it is a danger to US citizens who would also suffer the consequences, if and when something goes wrong with their leaders’ complicated space weapons.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/20/countdown-to-full-spectrum

March 21, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton leads us back to the Nuclear Precipice

Back to the Nuclear Precipice, Project Syndicate, Mar 20, 2019 

Long a global leader in efforts to reduce nuclear-weapons stockpiles and limit nuclear proliferation, the United States is now fostering the conditions for a new global arms race. With hawks calling the shots in US President Donald Trump’s administration, a nuclear conflagration in one of the world’s hot spots is becoming more likely.

………. the author of The Art of the Deal has followed the advice of someone who has yet to meet a deal he didn’t want to tear up: Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton. Having already dispensed with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, during his tenure in President George W. Bush’s administration, Bolton has used his position in the Trump administration to launch attacks against the INF Treaty and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action(JCPOA) with Iran. Most likely, his next target will be New START. Signed by Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague in 2010, that nuclear arms reduction treaty will expire in 2021, barring an agreement on its extension.

With the steady collapse of the international arms-control architecture has come a fresh race to develop new types of nuclear weapons. The potential use of these weapons is now discussed with such frivolity as to foreshadow a return to the darkest days of the Cold War, but one that is even more dangerous, because other countries not subject to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), such as North Korea, have since joined the nuclear club.

During Trump’s first year in office, his incendiary public exchanges with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un brought relations between Washington, DC, and Pyongyang to their tensest point in decades. While Trump has since abandoned his threats of “fire and fury” and given diplomacy a chance, his administration’s approach to North Korea has ignored all of the canons of effective diplomacy. This has given rise to another kind of frivolity: the spectacle of vacuous praise.

In the end, the lack of consensus among US foreign policymakers and the misaligned expectations of the two negotiating parties, combined with Trump’s own improvisations, condemned his recent summit with Kim to failure. A reorganization is now urgently needed, particularly to incorporate the other regional powers and keep Bolton and other hawks in the administration from derailing the process further.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan, two other NPT non-signatories, recently engaged in a cross-border military confrontation, following a terrorist attack last month in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Once deemed “the most dangerous place in the world” by former US President Bill Clinton, Kashmir is essentially shared between three nuclear powers: India, Pakistan, and China. Not since Pakistan revealed its nuclear capacity to the world in the late 1990s have Indian-Pakistani relations been so tense. Worse, as the latest instability shows, the presence of nuclear weapons is not sufficient to prevent conflict. Instead, it merely raises the risk that quarrels will escalate into existential conflagrations.

Lastly, in the Middle East, the Trump administration has actively sowed the seeds for nuclear proliferation. The decision to abandon the JCPOA was entirely counterproductive, merely reflecting Trump’s blind support for Israel – another NPT non-signatory – and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the Trump administration is even exploring the possibility of exporting nuclear material to the Saudi regime without putting the necessary safeguards in place.

Apparently, Trump is not bothered by the fact that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has neither ruled out developing nuclear arms nor committed to a strict regime of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. One false step, though, could plunge the Middle East into a nuclear arms race – truly a worst-case scenario for such a fraught region.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan, two other NPT non-signatories, recently engaged in a cross-border military confrontation, following a terrorist attack last month in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Once deemed “the most dangerous place in the world” by former US President Bill Clinton, Kashmir is essentially shared between three nuclear powers: India, Pakistan, and China. Not since Pakistan revealed its nuclear capacity to the world in the late 1990s have Indian-Pakistani relations been so tense. Worse, as the latest instability shows, the presence of nuclear weapons is not sufficient to prevent conflict. Instead, it merely raises the risk that quarrels will escalate into existential conflagrations.

Lastly, in the Middle East, the Trump administration has actively sowed the seeds for nuclear proliferation. The decision to abandon the JCPOA was entirely counterproductive, merely reflecting Trump’s blind support for Israel – another NPT non-signatory – and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the Trump administration is even exploring the possibility of exporting nuclear material to the Saudi regime without putting the necessary safeguards in place.

Apparently, Trump is not bothered by the fact that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has neither ruled out developing nuclear arms nor committed to a strict regime of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. One false step, though, could plunge the Middle East into a nuclear arms race – truly a worst-case scenario for such a fraught region.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump raised a red flag for the umpteenth time when he suggested that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons as a means of self-defense. This idea couldn’t have been more wrongheaded. Logic dictates that if more countries acquire nuclear weapons, the likelihood of such weapons being used will increase.

The Cold War gave us a glimpse of the risks we run when our single-minded pursuit of some geopolitical interests causes us to lose sight of the most important of them all: international security. As Obama emphasized ten years ago in Prague, the US is the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons, and therefore has an historic responsibility to ensure that they are never used again. For the US to forsake this responsibility and champion a new era of nuclear proliferation would be a tragic outcome. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-trump-nuclear-proliferation-by-javier-solana-2019-03

March 21, 2019 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The merits of letting North Korea keep its nuclear weapons, for now

Nuclear North Korea Can Keep Its Weapons, Kim Jong-un may not be willing to denuclearize now, but it’s possible that his calculations could change after some trust has been established and Pyongyang’s relations with its neighbors have become more productive.

National Interest, 20 Mar 111119,  Daniel R. DePetris Follow @DanDePetris on Twitter   Over two weeks removed from a U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi that concluded without even a minor agreement to meet again, North Korean vice foreign Minister Choe Son-hui had some pointed remarks for the Trump administration during a March 15 news briefing in Pyongyang. While she notably left President Donald Trump out of her critiques, Choe tore apart his negotiating team as inept and insincere charlatans worried more about politics than making a mutually-acceptable deal. She accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton of deliberately sabotaging the talks with a hardline approach. She questioned why U.S. negotiators let a good opportunity slip from their fingers. And she was unapologetic about Pyongyang’s position, calling its demand for a relaxation of some of the most stringent UN Security Council sanctions a fair payment for the closure of the North’s Yongbyon nuclear research center.

Then came the kicker: Kim Jong-un, Choe said, may decide to suspend the talks with Washington altogether. “On our way back to the homeland, our chairman of the state affairs commission [Kim] said. “For what reason do we have to make this train trip again?” she told the room . “I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the United States will eventually put the situation in danger. We have neither the intention to compromise with the United States in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation.”

Secretary Pompeo brushed aside the comments the next morning at the State Department, calling them all part of the song-and-dance of high-stakes diplomacy. Coming on the heels of a report in the Washington Post detailing confusion in the Trump administration about how it should proceed post–Hanoi and during a period of increased murmuring on Capitol Hill for additional sanctions on the North Korean economy, the current negotiations appear to be incredibly vulnerable to an irrevocably break.

Trump has three general options going forward. Option one would be to persist with what can best be described as the John Bolton model, where Washington continues to demand immediate, full, and complete nuclear disarmament from Kim in exchange for economic sanctions relief and diplomatic normalization later on. Option two would be the status quo, but with more sanctions slapped on the North Koreans in the hope that more restrictive banking measures and oil quotas will coerce Kim into desperately returning to the table in a far weaker position.

As was vividly demonstrated in Hanoi, the first choice is a road to nowhere—one that would not only eliminate whatever diplomatic opening was available but could very well result in a confrontation neither the United States or North Korea wants. The second choice will likely miss the mark too; as the latest comprehensive report from the Security Council panel of experts dutifully documents, the Kim regime is a master at sanctions evasion. Previous sanctions regimes on North Korea have been regarded as ineffective by UN monitors, and there is no evidence that more Security Council resolutions would be any more impactful on Kim’s wallet than the dozen that came before it (China can single-handedly render sanctions moot). Indeed, if Pyongyang can find loopholes in the three strongest Security Council resolutions enacted since 2017, then it can find loopholes in the fourth.

Fortunately, there is a third option.

For the past quarter-century, U.S. policy has been centered on denuclearization-for-peace. In this policy, the Kim regime can only have peaceful relations with the United States and become a full valve in East Asia’s economic engine if it gives up each and every last nut and bolt of its weapon of mass destruction program—including its chemical and biological weapons stockpiles. Successive U.S. administrations have operated on the same paradigm ever since the North Korean nuclear issue became a top U.S. national-security concern. The only difference across the Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations is the negotiating tactics each administration has used to persuade North Korea to denuclearize. ……….

Rather than denuclearization before peace, the Trump administration should shake up the playbook and reverse the order. Just because the Kim regime will remain nuclear-capable for the foreseeable future does not mean the United States and its allies in South Korea and Japan should have a perpetually hostile relationship with the North. If Washington dealt with a nuclear-capable Soviet Union, China, and Pakistan with cordiality, then Washington can do the same with a nuclear North Korea.

This does not mean the United States has to accept Pyongyang’s nuclear status, its human rights abuses, its illicit arms sales, or its cyberhacking—none of which are conducive to acceptable international behavior. If U.S. security, political, or economic interests are directly at stake, then the Trump administration should not hesitate to defend them.

What this change in approach does require, however, is a Washington that is finally prepared to end its daily fixation on short or even medium-term North Korean nuclear disarmament at the cost of everything else, including an inter-Korean reconciliation process that—if taken to its fruitful conclusion—would lessen the hostility on the Korean Peninsula considerably……..

As a country infinitely stronger and more resourceful than North Korea, the United States can afford to wait for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. What the United States should no longer wait for, though, is an end to seventy years of animosity.

Daniel R. DePetris is a foreign affairs columnist for the Washington Examiner and the American Conservative and a frequent contributor to the National Interest. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/korea-watch/nuclear-north-korea-can-keep-its-weapons-48342

March 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Indian military confirms deployment of nuclear subs amid rising tensions with Pakistan

AMN By News Desk2019-03-17  Tensions between the two nuclear-armed Asian powers escalated last month, after an incursion into Pakistani territory in Kashmir by Indian Air Force warplanes to strike at Jihadist militants led to skirmishes in the air and small arms and artillery fire along the shaky Line of Control border.

Major combat units of the Indian Navy including the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier-led battle group, nuclear submarines “and scores of other ships, submarines and aircraft” were quickly shifted from exercises to operational deployment as tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad escalated, India’s Ministry of Defence revealed in a statement Sunday……..

Earlier Sunday, sources speaking to Reuters reportedly said that India and Pakistan had threatened to lob nuclear missiles at each other during the crisis and that only US officials’ intervention helped to defuse what may have well turned into a much deadlier conflict. ……

Tensions continue to smolder, with regular reports of airspace violations, military drills held in the sensitive border area, and back and forth allegations of ceasefire violations amid small arms and artillery fire along the Line of Control in Kashmir. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/indian-military-confirms-deployment-of-nuclear-subs-amid-rising-tensions-with-pakistan/

March 18, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Democrats propose policy to use nuclear weapons only in response to attack.

FROM JOSEPH FARAH’S G2 BULLETIN

DEMS PROPOSE U.S. GIVE UP FIRST-STRIKE NUCLEAR OPTION https://www.wnd.com/2019/03/dems-propose-u-s-give-up-first-strike-nuclear-option/  Plan would pledge to use nukes only in response to attack

18 Mar 19,  Democrats are proposing in Congress that the United States give up the option for a nuclear first strike – for any reason, reports Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The policy for decades deliberately has been one of “calculated ambiguity.” It stemmed from a Cold War era in which the U.S. and NATO faced “numerically superior” Soviet and Warsaw Pact conventional forces in Europe, explains a document prepared by the Congressional Research Service.

“At the time, the United States not only developed plans to use nuclear weapons on the battlefield to disrupt or defeat attacking tanks and troops, but it also hoped that the risk of a nuclear response would deter the Soviet Union from initiating a conventional attack. This is not because the United States believed it could defeat the Soviet Union in a nuclear war, but because it hoped the Soviet Union would know that the use of these weapons would likely escalate to all-out nuclear war, with both sides suffering massive destruction.”

That policy of ambiguity has been continued, with even the Obama administration promising that the U.S. “would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances,” far short of a promise never to use them first.

Democrats now are demanding to change that.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mas., and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., have proposed legislation, S. 272 and H.R. 921, that would adopt the statement: “It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.”

Other members of Congress are divided,” the report from the CRS explained, with Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., warning the Democrats’ plan “betrays a naïve and disturbed world view.”
Read more at https://www.wnd.com/2019/03/dems-propose-u-s-give-up-first-strike-nuclear-option/#6cgKvfB7PXt22tiR.99

The Trump administration already had rejected the idea, in its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which said the weapons contribute to “deterrence of nuclear and non-nuclear attack; assurance of allies and partners; achievement of U.S. objectives if deterrence fails; and the capacity to hedge against an uncertain future.”

For the rest of this report, and more, please go to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

March 18, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The B-52 Bomber: Getting Ready to Carry Nuclear-Armed Cruise Missiles?

The Air Force is now arming its fleet of B-52 Bombers with prototype nuclear-armed cruise missiles to prepare the aircraft for the possibility of launching the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) weapon. National Interest, 

by Kris Osborn  he Air Force is now arming its fleet of B-52 Bombers with prototype nuclear-armed cruise missiles to prepare the aircraft for the possibility of launching the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) weapon.

Through a $250 million deal, the Air Force will work with B-52 manufacturer Boeing to build missile carriage hardware and software, and “test” LRSO integration.

The Air Force has been working with industry on prototyping and design work on the emerging Long Range Stand-Off weapon nuclear-armed cruise missile, set to enter into a new phase of construction by 2022, service officials said. Raytheon and Lockheed, are now working on a $900 million Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction deal for the LRSO……… https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/b-52-bomber-getting-ready-carry-nuclear-armed-cruise-missiles-47582

March 16, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

United States, Russia, France, China, UK all preach peace, while making a bonanza from weapons sales

Preaching World Peace by Day, Peddling Lethal Weapons By Night By Thalif Deen  UNITED NATIONS, Mar 11 2019 (IPS) – The Middle East, one of the world’s most politically-volatile and war-ravaged regions, has doubled its arms imports during the past five years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The sharp increase in arms purchases has been triggered – directly or indirectly—by several conflicts and civil wars in the region, primarily the devastating four-year-old military conflict in Yemen which has resulted in “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” with more than 5,000 civilians either killed or wounded in 2018.

The latest figures on military sales released by SIPRI March 11 also identifies the world’s five largest arms exporters in 2014–18, namely, the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China. (with the exception of Germany, all four are permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with UK, the sixth largest arms exporter).

Together, they accounted for a hefty 75 per cent of the total volume of arms exports in 2014–18.

The Security Council, the most powerful UN body dealing largely with conflict-resolution, relentlessly preaches the message of peace to the world at large– while all five of its permanent members (P-5s) are peddling arms and sustaining conflicts – in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and fuelling the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The warring parties in all of these conflicts are using weapons either from the US, France, UK, China or Russia—or are receiving military intelligence and air support from the five big powers.

One Asian diplomat put it this way: “They are retailing peace while wholesaling arms”.

SIPRI said arms imports by states in the Middle East increased by 87 per cent between 2009–13 and 2014–18 and accounted for 35 per cent of global arms imports in 2014–18.

Saudi Arabia became the world’s largest arms importer in 2014–18, with an increase of 192 per cent compared with 2009–13.

Arms imports by Egypt, the third largest arms importer in 2014–18, tripled (206 per cent) between 2009–13 and 2014–18 while arms imports by Israel (354 per cent), Qatar (225 per cent) and Iraq (139 per cent) also rose between 2009–13 and 2014–18, according to SIPRI.

However, Syria’s arms imports fell by 87 per cent, despite an ongoing eight-year-old civil war in that country which is militarily supported by Russia and China……… http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/03/preaching-world-peace-day-peddling-lethal-weapons-night/

March 16, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Top general opposes U.S. plan for ‘no first use’ nuclear doctrine

Top general opposes shift to ‘no first use’ nuclear doctrine  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/mar/14/dunford-oppose-shift-no-first-use-nuclear-doctrine/  – The Washington Times – Thursday, March 14, 2019

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff came out forcefully against a change in U.S. military policy which say the U.S. would not be the first to use nuclear weapons on a conflict with an adversary.

The “no first use” policy has been embraced by several Democratic candidates running for president in 2020, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who co-sponsored a bill in January that would establish in law that the U.S. would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

But Gen. Joseph Dunford told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday that “I absolutely believe that the current policy is the right policy.”

The Pentagon has long resisted adopting a blanket “no first use” doctrine in its nuclear strategy.

“I wouldn’t make any decisions to simplify an adversary’s decision-making calculus,” Gen. Dunford told lawmakers. “I can also imagine a few situations where we wouldn’t want to remove that option from the president.”

March 16, 2019 Posted by | politics international, United Arab Emirates, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘We are looking at a global arms race now.’

A budding nuclear threat, from more than just the usual suspects, Christian Science Monitor ,By Howard LaFranchi Staff writer,Peter Ford Staff writer, Ann Scott Tyson Staff writer, Fred Weir Correspondent. 15 Mar 19WASHINGTON

WHY WE WROTE THIS

As the U.S. and Russia back away from arms control, how worried should the world be? Says an expert in China, which has the world’s largest arsenal of ground-launched missiles: ‘We are looking at a global arms race now.’

………. The recent flare-up of tensions between India and Pakistan has served as a reminder that even conflicts between regional rivals can pose a global threat when the antagonists possess nuclear weapons. A growing alarm has spread across Asia as an increasingly assertive China expands its nuclear arsenal and deploys missiles around its periphery at a pace that has given it the world’s largest ground-launched missile arsenal.

Moreover, the advent of cybersecurity risks and the specter of nuclear powers hacking into and controlling adversaries’ arsenals adds a new element of uncertainty and instability to the already worrisome prospects of a post-arms control world.

Still it’s largely the U.S. and Russia, which together possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, that are setting the tone. And the two nuclear giants appear to be dismantling, step by step, the arms control regime that has limited their deployment of new weapons systems and indeed had them reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles over recent decades. The risk is not just that the two major nuclear powers get back into an arms race, but that other states respond to rising tensions by joining the buildup. A Japan rattled by a nuclear buildup already has the technology and material to “go nuclear” with a weapon in a matter of months, experts say, while the decades-old specter of a Middle East nuclear arms race has been revived by Trump administration efforts to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia that could be used to build a bomb.

“We’re pulling down the last pillars of the arms control building that has provided us with some degree of security and stability for five decades,” says Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund in Washington and a longtime nuclear policy expert. “If the small and medium states decide to take their cue from the big boys,” he adds, “it’s ‘Gentlemen, start your engines!’ ”

After dropping hints for months, the U.S. announced in February its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which since 1987 has banned the deployment in Europe of all intermediate-range nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles. These are considered among the most destabilizing weapons systems because of the short time it takes (average six minutes) from launch to hitting their target.

The U.S. said it was pulling out of the Cold War-era accord over Russian violations. While arms control experts agree that Russia has been violating the treaty for a half-decade, most also say the U.S. withdrawal hands President Vladimir Putin the double-headed political victory he wants – an excuse to free Moscow from the INF Treaty’s limitations while blaming its demise on Washington.

ndeed, Mr. Putin wasted no time in ratcheting up the Cold War “we will bury you” rhetoric. In his Feb. 20 state of the nation address, he told members of the Russian Duma that if the U.S. deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will not only do the same – but will deploy its new Zircon hypersonic missile to target “those regions … where decisions are taken on using those missile systems threatening us” – meaning, of course, the U.S.

More worrying still for many in the arms control community, both in and out of government and among America’s allies, is what follows INF’s demise. A White House that came into office withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal is now debating whether to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia beyond its expiration in 2021.

If New START – which puts a cap of 1,550 on the long-range nuclear weapons each power can deploy – is also allowed to lapse, it will be the first time since 1972 that the world’s two nuclear-weapons behemoths have no arms control constraints holding them back from a new arms race.

“We have destroyed the old framework of arms control without having anything to replace it with,” says Andrey Kortunov, director of the foreign ministry-linked Russian International Affairs Council. “It’s my hope that big powers will realize that they need arms control, perhaps in a multilateral rather than the old bilateral form, but something that will roll back the most destabilizing weapons and build trust.” ………

The next big test of arms control diplomacy’s flagging fortunes will be New START and whether the U.S. and Russia decide to extend the decade-old treaty or let it die. The provision for a five-year extension of the treaty’s terms is already in the document, so “it would just take Putin and Trump sitting down and signing an agreement,” Mr. Kimball says. “It could be done with a big Sharpie pen. But it does require the will to sign something that is not just in your interest but is in the other side’s as well.”

Beyond agreements between the U.S. and Russia, experts say ways must be found to convince China and other regional powers that nuclear reductions are in their interest as well. Moreover, perhaps the biggest challenge on the horizon will be bringing emerging technologies such as cyber- and space weaponry under the umbrella of international limits and prohibition.

……….. Europe has been the biggest beneficiary of the INF Treaty. It eliminated thousands of nuclear missiles from the continent and helped end the Cold War. Even so, European governments have made remarkably little fuss about the treaty’s imminent demise. ……. https://www.csmonitor.com/World/2019/0314/A-budding-nuclear-threat-from-more-than-just-the-usual-suspects?cmpid=editorpicks

March 16, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A new citizens group is raising alarms about the nuclear capacity of the F-35 fighter jet.

F-35 opponents shift focus to nuclear risks, Vt Digger , By Mike Dougherty, Mar 12 2019  A new citizens group is raising alarms about the nuclear capacity of the F-35 fighter jet.

Representatives from Citizens Against Nuclear Bombers in Vermont want officials to reverse the decision to base F-35s at the Burlington Air Guard base, saying the fleet’s nuclear capacity poses safety risks for Vermonters.

The group’s leaders include Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen, 2018 gubernatorial primary candidate James Ehlers and retired Air Force Col. Rosanne Greco, all of whom were involved in previous campaigns to reverse the project based on public health concerns and the potential use of nuclear weapons.

They say a 2018 Department of Defense documentproves that the U.S. military intends to use F-35s to deploy nuclear bombs if the need arises, making Burlington a potential target for the country’s enemies……. https://vtdigger.org/2019/03/12/f-35-opponents-shift-focus-nuclear-risks/

March 14, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

There are no “Local” nuclear wars. Urgent need for nuclear powers to disarm.

Nuclear Powers Need to Disarm Before It’s Too Late, Counter Punch,    The recent military clash between India and Pakistan underscores the need for the major nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, and France — finally to move toward fulfilling their obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Treaty’s purpose was not simply to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, but to serve as a temporary measure until Article VI could take effect: the “cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

The 191 countries that signed the NPT — the most widely subscribed nuclear treaty on the planet — did so with the understanding that the major powers would de-nuclearize. But in the 50 years since the Treaty was negotiated, the nuclear powers have yet to seriously address eliminating weapons of mass destruction.

While over the years the Americans and the Russians have reduced the number of warheads in their arsenals, they — along with China — are currently in the midst of a major modernization of their weapon systems. Instead of a world without nuclear weapons, it is a world of nuclear apartheid, with the great powers making no move to downsize their conventional forces.

For non-nuclear armed countries, this is the worst of all worlds.

There Are No “Local” Nuclear Wars

The folly of this approach was all too clear in the recent India and Pakistan dustup. While both sides appear to be keeping the crisis under control, for the first time in a very long time, two nuclear powers that border one another exchanged air and artillery attacks.

While so far things have not gotten out of hand, both countries recently introduced military policies that make the possibility of a serious escalation very real.

On the New Delhi side is a doctrine called “Cold Start” that permits the Indian military to penetrate up to 30 kilometers deep into Pakistan if it locates, or is in pursuit of, “terrorists.” On the Islamabad side is a policy that gives front-line Pakistani commanders the authority to use tactical nuclear weapons………

If that [ a nuclear weapons attack exchange] happens, its effects will not be just regional. According to a study by the University of Colorado, Rutgers University, and UCLA, if Pakistan and India exchanged 100 Hiroshima-sized nuclear warheads (15 kilotons), they would not only kill or injure 45 million people, but also generate enough smoke to plunge the world into a 25-year long nuclear winter.

Temperatures would drop to Ice Age levels and worldwide rainfall would decline by 6 percent, triggering major droughts. The Asian Monsoon could be reduced by between 20 and 80 percent, causing widespread regional starvation.

Between the cold and the drought, global grain production could fall by 20 percent in the first half decade, and by 10 to 15 percent over the following half decade.

Besides cold and drought, the ozone loss would be between 20 and 50 percent, which would not only further damage crops, but harm sea life, in particular plankton. The reduction of the ozone layer would also increase the rate of skin cancers.

The study estimates that “two billion people who are now only marginally fed might die from starvation and disease in the aftermath of a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India.”

In short, there is no such thing as a “local” nuclear war……… https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/13/nuclear-powers-need-to-disarm-before-its-too-late/

March 14, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A nuclear nightmare is brewing between India and Pakistan

March 12, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment