United States confirms that it has fired depleted uranium in Syria International Coalition to Ban Nuclear Weapons
US admits that it fired DU on two occasions in November 2015, contrary to earlier claims; military justification for use unclear after target analysis; ICBUW and PAX call for full disclosure to facilitate harm reduction measures; Russia takes advantage of news to distract from its own conduct in the conflict. 21 October 2016 – ICBUW
The US has finally confirmed that it has fired DU ammunition Syria, after it had earlier stated that the weapons would not be used. US Central Command (CENTCOM) has acknowledged that DU was fired on two dates – the 18 and 23 November 2015. Between the strikes on the two dates, 5,100 rounds of 30mm DU ammunition were used by A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. This equates to 1,524kg of DU. CENTCOM said that the ammunition was selected because of the “nature of the targets”.
The news comes as governments are debating a UN General Assemblyresolution on DU weapons in New York. And, although DU use has only been admitted on two dates, ICBUW and PAX are concerned that this disclosure could be the sign that DU has, or will, be used more widely in the conflict.
In March 2015, and following the deployment of A-10s to the conflict, the US hadconfirmed to journalists that the aircraft would not be armed with DU, stating:“U.S. and Coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.” Justifying the decision, CENTCOM public affairs explained that: “The ammunition is developed to destroy tanks on a conventional battlefield; Daesh does not possess large numbers of tanks.”
CENTCOM confirms DU use IRIN news finally extracted the confirmation that DU had been used from CENTCOM on October 20, and after weeks of denials. The revelations first came to light after an aide to Congresswoman Martha McSally (Rep, AZ) – herself a former A-10 combat pilot – responded to a question from DU activist, and constituent, Jack Cohen-Joppa. However a number of CENTCOM sources initially denied that the information was accurate. Confirming that the data were indeed accurate, a spokesperson for CENTCOM said earlier denials were due to “an error in reporting down range.”
“Without the chance disclosure from McSally’s office, and the dogged pursuit of CENTCOM by IRIN, the US would not have volunteered this data,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “Sadly this is typical of the poor transparency we have seen from the US and we urge CENTCOM and the Coalition to clarify their policy on DU use in Syria and explain how its use fits with its public claims that the ammunition is solely for use against armoured targets.”
Unclear why DU was used The US regularly states that DU ammunition is specifically used only for engaging armoured targets, in accordance with its own legal guidelines, although evidence from a number of conflicts has shown that these guidelines are commonly ignored……..http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/united-states-confirms-fired-du-syria
Nuclear arms control in a globalized world OUP Blog BY JOHN BAYLIS OCTOBER 23RD 2016 We live in a dangerous and uncertain world. While terrorism is the most immediate contemporary threat, the dangers of nuclear weapons remain an ever present concern. During the Cold War a series of nuclear arms control agreements helped to mitigate the worst excesses of the arms race and contributed to the easing of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, and their respective alliances. Since 1985, however, the salience of nuclear weapons in international relations has declined, even though the nine nuclear weapons states continue to possess in excess of 10,000 nuclear weapons between them. Many other states have the potential to develop nuclear arms, and fears exist that terrorist groups might acquire some form of nuclear capability. A key question in global security is whether nuclear arms control still has a future?
In 2010 the United States and Russia signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) which involved significant cuts to be made in strategic delivery vehicles (SDVs) and in nuclear warheads in the period up to February 2018. SDVs were to be cut to 700 and nuclear warheads to 1500. Despite the problems over the Ukraine and deteriorating US-Russian relations, both countries by 2016 are very close to these targets, and key provisions of the Treaty including data exchanges, notifications, and on-site inspections have all been met.
As well as New START, the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) Process, initiated by President Obama has also resulted in some important improvements. Starting in 2010, 53 countries have participated in a series of meetings designed to reduce the amount of dangerous nuclear materials (enriched uranium and plutonium) and to improve security of these materials. 12 of 22 NSS participating states are now free of enriched uranium, and 35 states have signed up to a joint statement binding them to strengthen their nuclear security. These summits have helped to set the foundations for a global nuclear security regime.
Why a military conflict between Russia and the US is unlikely, Russia Direct, Oct 21, 2016,
The risk of a military conflict between Moscow and Washington has been overstated. However, both sides should think about prevention mechanisms to minimize the risk of accidents that could lead to an open conflict. The expert community has been crying wolf for a long time now: “War is at the doorstep!” The gloomy predictions indicate that Russia and the United States are at the brink of direct military clashes, as if they were trying to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis in some perverse way. However, any conflict, if it happens, will most probably be accidental – the parties are not yet ready for full-scale military confrontation.
In the last few years, Russia has been modernizing its armed forces to replace the outdated Soviet-era materiel and structure. Numerous exercises, trillions of rubles spent, new equipment and combat vehicles emerging out of the blue, and a charismatic defense minister who changed the entire image of the Russian Army and brought back its popularity with society – all these steps provided for the fast (and real) growth of national military might.
However, it remains rather limited in comparison with the overall total potential of theNATO states. Some would say that the alliance is reluctant to take any serious decisions and is nothing more than a paper tiger. Nonetheless, the brainwashing of the last two years has significantly improved the decision-making capacity of NATO and the chances for achieving consensus over the “Russian threat.”
The ability to mobilize quickly strong conventional forces is still low, as NATO generals admit themselves. However, active recent revival of the nuclear sharing arrangements and the consolidation of U.S. troops in various countries of Central and Eastern Europe present enough deterrence against any light-minded action. It is clear that the war will not happen in Europe (and not even in Ukraine with its unpredictable leadership). However, wherever it occurs, NATO forces can eventually be mobilized to help their allies.
Moreover, Moscow has largely been pursuing a defensive policy over the past 16 years. Even now, when “the Russians are (seemingly) coming,” an independent observer would probably notice that the lion’s share of the activities of Moscow are reactive rather than proactive. …….
Two factors raise the probability of an armed clash between Russia and the U.S. One of them is rhetoric. There have been more words than action so far and there is a clear trend– nobody is responsible for their words any longer. Any of the statements of the last few months would mean immediate war in the 19th or even in the 20th century. Nowadays, politicians throw thousands of words against each other and the struggle is with the minds and hearts and not with bodies. However, such belligerent rhetoric creates the climate of antagonism and public anticipation of a conflict. As a result, such atmosphere may facilitate prompt steps “in response” to another accident.
The second factor is, paradoxically, the low importance of the regional conflicts. Syria is so far away from Moscow and Washington that the parties do not really care about its future, its population and even its militants. Both Russia and the United States can afford there much more than they could in Ukraine, for instance (where actually none of them cared about the fate of Ukraine, but the proximity of Europe made it more difficult to fight). And such lack of significance may lead to a dangerous neglect of dramatic consequences of any armed clash and make the decision-making process easier to go to war.
Nowadays, Russia and the United States demonstrate wisdom and restraint. Given the current leadership in both countries, the expectations of war will hopefully stay just that– expectations. However, the situation may change next year and it would be better for the parties to think about some minimal confidence-building measures and provide for the prevention of accidents, any of which may become fatal, just like an accidental missile launch during the Cold War era. http://www.russia-direct.org/opinion/why-military-conflict-between-russia-and-us-unlikely
Updated B61 Nuclear Bomb to Cost $8.25 Billion, Defense News, By: Aaron Mehta, October 19, 2016 WASHINGTON – The life-extension program for the B61-12 atomic bomb will cost just over $8.25 billion, according to a new estimate from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
The new cost estimate was completed over the summer as the agency prepared to enter the production-engineering phase of the program. The baseline cost of the program is $7.605 billion, with an additional $648 million in “funds leveraged from other NNSA programs for technology and manufacturing readiness,” according to an agency statement – money that has common applications across multiple weapon systems.
That cost does not include the estimated $1.3 billion that the Department of Defense plans to spend on developing and procuring tailkits for the weapons. With that included, the total cost for the program sits at roughly $9.5 billion.
The NNSA is a semi-autonomous department within the Department of Energy. While the Defense Department manages the delivery systems of the nuclear force — ships, planes and missiles — NNSA has oversight over the development, maintenance and disposal of nuclear warheads.
The agency is perusing a modernization plan known as the “3+2 Strategy,” under which the NNSA is consolidating the American arsenal of warheads into five variants. The five ballistic-missile warheads now in service are being consolidated into three new interoperable warheads known as the IW-1, IW-2, and IW-3, while the five bomb and cruise-missile warhead types are being consolidated into two replacement warhead designs, the W80-4 and the B61-12. …….http://www.defensenews.com/articles/updated-b61-nuclear-bomb-to-cost-825-billion
Israel in secret deal with Germany to buy 3 nuclear subs, Big News Network.com, Saturday 22nd October, 2016, TEL AVIV, Israel – A deal negotiated in secret will see the Israel Navy take delivery of 3 nuclear-enabled submarines over the next decade.
Germany is to provide the Dolphin-class submarines as a result of secret negotiations which have spanned the last few months.
Israel will pay a substantially discounted price of $1.3 billion for the three submarines.
The deal is expected to be finalised in early November.
According to The Jerusalem Post, quoting foreign reports, the Israel Navy’s Dolphins ‘provide Israel with nuclear second-strike capabilities, as they can travel far from Israel’s territorial waters and are reportedly able to carry long-range cruise missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.’
Israel, which orchestrated the drive against Iran becoming a nuclear power, and has bombed emerging nuclear facilities in Iraq and Syria, has itself been developing nuclear weapons since the 1950s. The Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev desert had its origins in 1954, just six years after the birth of Israel. The late Shimon Peres as Director General of the Israeli Defense Ministry was responsible for the development of the facility. A pact with France was secretly negotiated and hundreds of French scientists were brought in to develop the facility, in absolute secrecy.
To offset the concerns of satellite surveilance, the Jewish state publicly touted the facility as a business park or textile factory. When U.S. President John Kennedy aroused suspicions in 1963, Israel maintained its denials. Kennedy applied so much pressure, David Ben-Gurion resigned as prime minister of Israel just months before Kennedy was assassinated. Some researchers implicate the Israeli inteligence agency Mossad among those considered responsible for the assassination.
Peres himself was asked point blank by Kennedy if Israel was building a nuclear facility. Summoned to the Oval Room in the White House on a 1963 visit to Washington, the young Peres was asked in his words, ’30 rapid-fire questions,’ before Kennedy asked: “Are you building a nuclear option?” Peres said he changed the subject.
To this day Israel has neither confirmed or denied publicly it has a nuclear facility. The only official statement on Dimona was made on December 21 1960 when Ben-Gurion, in response to an aricle in Time magazine which spawned a flurry of media coverage, announced to the Knesset his government was building “a 24 megawatt reactor which will serve the needs of industry, agriculture, health, and science,” and that it “is designed exclusively for peaceful purposes.”
The Israel Navy until last year had a fleet of four Dolphin-class submarines operating out of its naval base at Haifa. A fifth submarine ariived in late December last year after which it was expected to be fitted with Iraeli-built systems which took several months. It is believed it is operational now…….http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/248758981/israel-in-secret-deal-with-germany-to-buy-3-nuclear-subs
United Nations highlights cost and difficulty of tackling depleted uranium contamination http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/united-nations-highlights-cost-and-difficulty
Depleted uranium once again on the UN’s agenda as a new resolution is tabled that serves to remind the international community of the absence of rules governing its post-conflict management.
19 October 2016 – ICBUW
submitted to the United Nations General Assembly’s First Committee draws attention to the technical and financial barriers that countries affected by the use of depleted uranium face following conflicts when they seek to clear contamination. The resolution also reminds governments that states, communities, health experts and civil society organisations remain profoundly concerned about the health and environmental risks that the weapons can pose.
The resolution is the sixth on the topic to be tabled at the General Assembly since 2007. Shortly before the last resolution was debated in 2014, Iraq called for assistance from the international community in addressing the legacy of DU use in the country in 1991 and 2003. The 2014 resolution, which was supported by 150 states, called on member states to provide such assistance. Disappointingly, assistance has not been forthcoming in the interim and the appalling security situation in Iraq has hampered efforts to assess and clear sites.
“Managing DU contamination to internationally accepted standards is complex, time-consuming and costly,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “Research has repeatedly shown that most countries recovering from conflict are poorly placed to implement these vital risk reduction measures, which are recommended by UN agencies, and it is civilians who all too often pay the cost of inaction.” Part of the problem lies in the fact that unlike land mines and cluster munitions, there are no formal obligations, on either those countries that use the weapons, or are affected by them, to clear them after conflicts.
Previous resolutions have passed by huge majorities, with just four states consistently voting against and, while it is unlikely that the UK, US, France and Israel will vote in favour this year, overall the number of governments abstaining has been on a downward trend since 2007. As a result, there is increasing focus on the likes of Canada, Denmark and a number of EU governments who refuse to vote yes, often on extremely dubious grounds.
However, it is Germany that many will be watching. In 2014, the German government abstained on the DU resolution for the first time, triggering a backlash from German parliamentarians and civil society. A parliamentary question urging the government to vote yes was tabled in September by the Green Party. “Germany has got to accept that the potential hazards from DU contamination are widely accepted by the UN agencies that recommend remedial measures, and by their own military, who take a precautionary approach to DU in their own guidelines,” said PAX’s Wim Zwijnenburg. “Doubtless the German authorities would take steps to prevent civilian harm if DU were dispersed in Germany, why should it be different for other countries following conflicts?”
What will the resolution achieve?
The resolutions do not seek to ban DU weapons, however they do underscore the fact that the overwhelming majority of governments object to their use. Each resolution is also helping to define soft norms around some of the most problematic issues surrounding DU. One of these, the need for DU users to share data on where they fire the weapons, has featured since 2010, and its importance was highlighted by a recent report from PAX and ICBUW over DU use in the 2003 Iraq War. The report showed that more than half the DU fired by the US is still unaccounted for, and that the refusal of the US to release data to UN agencies hampered their post-conflict assessments.
Voting on the resolution will take place in early November. A second vote will take place in early December. You can follow the debate on social media using #FirstCommittee and by following @ICBUW
Two and a half years later, tensions with Russia are on the rise again, so officials appear to have decided that the exact same 2008 test is suddenly a huge thing again, with a number of Congressional hawks issuing a letter claiming the Russian test was an “egregious” violation, and demanding that the Obama Administration “impose penalties” on Russia over it.
Russia had threatened to withdraw from the INF over NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe, saying it changed the balance of power in the region. They were also riled by the Bush Administration’s threats to install missile defense along the Russian frontier.
The missiles in question are a multi-stage system Russia designed which are aimed to technically comply with the letter of the treaty, while expanding intermediate range capabilities in ways that the treaty was meant to forbid. The US has made similar developments over the years since 1987.
With US officials riled at Russia over Aleppo, and presenting the fighting in the city as a “holocaust,” they have also brought up several other grievances they have with Russia, accusing them of everything from treaty violations to supporting Donald Trump.
It’s interesting to note, however, that most of the grievances aren’t particularly new, and didn’t have a lot of meat to them the last time they brought them up. The effort seems to be to just keep Russia’s name out there, and always in a negative light.
U.S. Calls For Meeting With Russia Over Missile Treaty Dispute , Radio Free Europe, 20 Oct 16 WASHINGTON — The United States has called for a special meeting with Russia over alleged violations of a landmark Cold War-era arms-control treaty, a policy reversal that echoes deepening U.S. fears about Moscow’s intentions.
The planned meeting of the Special Verification Commission, scheduled in the near future, focuses new attention on concerns about the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF).
The treaty, which bans testing, producing, and possessing ground-launched cruise missiles with ranges between 500 to 5,500 kilometers, eliminated an entire class of missiles from Europe, and set up an extensive system of verification and compliance. The agreement was considered crucial in the thaw between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Two years ago, the United States first asserted that Russia was in violation of the treaty, by developing a missile system that fell within the INF prohibitions. Moscow denied the allegations, and later charged that U.S.-led efforts to install elements of a missile-defense system in Europe were in fact prohibited by the INF.
Since then, U.S. officials have pressed Russia on the alleged violations; at one point, President Barack Obama raised the issue directly with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin……..http://www.rferl.org/a/us-calls-meeting-with-russia-nuclear-missile-deployment-concern-russian-nuclear-arms-buildup/28064316.html
Clues to the end of the world shared during final 2016 presidential debate, Mondoweiss, Wilson Dizard on October 20, 2016 “……
Four minutes is what it takes between the president’s decision to fire nuclear missiles, Clinton claimed during the debate, and their launch………..Here is the most illuminating exchange on nuclear weapons, according to a transcript published by the Washington Post
. Clinton gave a clinical description of how fast nuclear weapons can be fired away at a president’s command. That information was perhaps a subtle way of warning Russian president Vladimir Putin that we remain the fastest guns in the West.
CLINTON: “I — I find it ironic that he’s raising nuclear weapons. This is a person who has been very cavalier, even casual about the use of nuclear weapons. He’s advocated more countries getting them, Japan, Korea, even Saudi Arabia. He said, well, if we have them, why don’t we use them, which I think is terrifying.
But here’s the deal. The bottom line on nuclear weapons is that when the president gives the order, it must be followed. There’s about four minutes between the order being given and the people responsible for launching nuclear weapons to do so. And that’s why 10 people who have had that awesome responsibility have come out and, in an unprecedented way, said they would not trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes or to have his finger on the nuclear button……..
What Trump doesn’t seem to understand that defending Saudi Arabia, Germany, Japan and South Korea means defending major trading partners and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, a sand seared ocean of oil. But if the American nuclear umbrella suddenly closed, all of those countries could have nuclear weapons ready within weeks or months. The details are unimportant. What’s nauseatingly disturbing is that we are discussing the possibility of nuclear war at all. After all, this is 2016, right? If the arc of history bends towards justice, a nuclear holocaust is the thing that would blow that arc to smithereens. The real end of history
Clinton, for her part, recommitted herself to a no-fly zone in Syria, a provocation to Russian air forces the U.S. blames for bombing civilians and Western-friendly rebels. She also said that the occupation of Iraq would “not be in our interest,” while not mentioning that the Iraqis also have their objections to American military occupation. Classic Clinton.
This is all happening while thousands of nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia stand waiting to incinerate you and your family, if necessary………http://mondoweiss.net/2016/10/clues-presidential-debate/
AP FACT CHECK: Trump gets facts wrong on START Treaty http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2016-10-19/ap-fact-check-trump-gets-facts-wrong-on-start-treaty
AP FACT CHECK: Donald Trump is wrong to say that only Russia can still create warheads under the New START treaty limiting nuclear weapons A claim from the final presidential debate and how it stacks up with the facts:
A new resolution on DU weapons will be voted on by governments at the UN General Assembly this month.
US broke its own rules firing depleted uranium in Iraq http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/us-broke-own-rules-firing-depleted-uranium-in-iraq
An analysis of recently declassified military data shows that the United States military ignored its own guidelines for the use of depleted uranium ammunition in the 2003 Iraq War, firing the controversial weapons at unarmoured targets, buildings in populated areas and troops. It has also tripled the number of sites known to be contaminated in Iraq to more than 1,000; even as fears grow that the US has used depleted uranium in Syria.
The targeting data, which details the use of 30mm DU ammunition by USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft – or “Warthogs”, was released under FOIA and accounts for 54,000kg of the 118,000kg of DU ammunition that the US and UK have acknowledged firing in the conflict. Analysis by PAX and ICBUW of the 1,116 strikes, which took place during the first month of the 2003 invasion, and published in a new report Targets of Opportunity shows that DU use was widespread across Iraq.
For the first time, the data also reveal that the majority of targets attacked with the radioactive and chemically toxic weapons were not armoured. This runs counter to claims by the US that the A10’s ammunition is specifically for destroying tanks and other armoured vehicles. A significant number of the 182,000 30mm PGU-14/B rounds fired by the aircraft – each of which contains 298g of DU – were also fired in or near populated areas, increasing the likelihood that civilians would be exposed.
The need to destroy armour is central to the US’s ongoing military justification for the use of the weapons, which place civilians at risk of exposure and leave a complex and costly legacy for years after the end of conflicts. The US’s own legal guidelines, which were placed on the use of the armour-piercing incendiary weapons in 1975, restricts their use to armoured vehicles, a restriction that appears to have been ignored in the 2003 conflict.
Little transparency, even less assistance
While the UK released information to the UN on where it fired 1,900kg of DU, the US is still withholding data on where it fired 62,000kg of the weapons. This is hampering clearance work. PAX has reported that Iraq continues to struggle with the identification and remediation of DU contaminated sites, and the country has called for assistance in doing so from the international community.
“With the current burden of fighting the Islamic State, the Iraqi government’s capacity is already stretched. But people are worried about DU contamination, especially in southern Iraq,” says one of the report’s authors, PAX’s Wim Zwijnenburg. “The US did too little, too late, and now Iraq’s people are facing layer upon layer of toxic health risks as a result of the conflicts.”
“At present countries that use DU weapons, or are affected by them, are under no formal obligations to clear contamination after conflicts in order to minimise the risks it poses to civilians,” said co-author Doug Weir from ICBUW. “This is in stark contrast to land mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. Governments must take steps to meaningfully address the legacy from DU and other toxic remnants of war that can harm civilians and their environment for years after the end of conflicts.”
New information suggests that A-10s have used DU in Syria n early 2015, the US stated – contrary to previous claims – that its A-10 aircraft had not and would not use DU in Iraq or Syria in operations against Islamic State. However information obtained by ICBUW suggests that US A-10s have used DU on at least two occasions in Syria.
ICBUW and PAX are calling for urgent clarification from the US authorities on both the incidents and its DU policy for the conflict, and for them to swiftly release the targeting data to ensure that the relevant authorities can conduct clearance and risk awareness efforts and to isolate and recover contaminated material.
A new resolution on DU weapons will be voted on by governments at the UN General Assembly this month. : https://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2016/10/06/exclusive-iraq-war-records-reignite-debate-over-us-use-depleted-uranium
Stop the Next President From Waging the Next War http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/18/stop-the-next-president-from-waging-the-next-war/ Hillary Clinton now says her “number one priority” in Syria is the removal of Bashar al-Assad, putting us on the path of war with Syria and Russia next year. Whether or not you are voting for her, you should commit yourself to stopping her from this insanity, which President Obama wisely averted in 2013. Syria and Russia are indeed committing war crimes in Aleppo, but if you’re tempted to buy in to a “no-fly zone” or “humanitarian intervention” against Syrian, Russian, and Iranian forces, consider these ten facts and observations:
1/ We never hear about the atrocities committed by the Sunni rebel forces backed by the U.S., including the Al Qaeda-aligned Islamists that are now tacitly included in the rebel ranks. A sudden regime change in Syria will result in these forces being in charge, and fighting each other for power. Some victorious rebels would commit ethnic/sectarian cleansing against Alawites, Christians, and Kurds, causing many of these and other minorities to fear the rebels as much as the Sunni majority fears Assad. Yes, the war can and will get even worse with more outside intervention.
2/ Any “no-fly zone” over Syria will certainly be followed by the shooting down of both Russian and U.S. jets, in an unpredictable escalation that could easily spread elsewhere in the region or world. Bombing Syrian/Russian forces would result in more civilian deaths, not fewer civilian deaths. In a leaked 2013 transcript, Hillary admitted, “To have a no-fly zone, you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk– you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians.”
3/ The U.S. is actively aiding Saudi bombing of Houthi rebels in Yemen, with devastation and civilian deaths that differs little from the Syrian/Russian bombing of Aleppo. The U.S. just directly launched missiles against the Houthis, embroiling us in a very dangerous part of the regional proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. State Department spokesperson John Kirby became tongue-tied when reporters asked him to define the difference between the Russian in Syria and the Saudis in Yemen.
4/ The U.S. has around 800 foreign military bases around the world. Russia has exactly two bases outside former Soviet territory–both of them in Syria. Putin is trying to emulate what the U.S. did in Iraq and Afghanistan, by establishing Russia as a regional and global power. Russia is doing exactly what the U.S. did in Panama–brazenly intervene in the affairs of a country that hosts its bases. The U.S. has zero legitimacy to criticize an upstart in global imperialism, or to demonize Russia for committing the same atrocities that U.S. forces did in Fallujah and elsewhere.
5/ Russia will not back down if we start shooting down its aircraft. Putin was the “Butcher of Grozny” in Chechnya (as the West turned a blind eye), and has intervened against nationalist governments in Georgia and Ukraine. He will pivot to somewhere else in the world–arming Iran, establishing a naval base in Egypt, or threatening Latvia. One way to lessen his popular appeal is to stop feeding into his nationalist propaganda that NATO is encircling Russia and tacitly backing fascists and ultranationalists on its borders. He only thrives politically when the West’s military pressure increases, and he can portray himself as standing up to NATO. Both Russia and Iran also thrive when U.S. and Israeli saber-rattling drives up global oil prices.
6/ The practice of “humanitarian intervention” upholds double standards that only highlight atrocities by the other side and not by U.S. allies. Bill Clinton’s bombings in Bosnia and Kosovo stopped ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces, but actively enabled ethnic cleansing by Croatian and Albanian militias. Obama’s bombing of Libya to supposedly “save” Benghazi ended up turning Libya into a free-fire zone. It wasn’t stepping in as a neutral party, but taking sides in a civil war and prolonging it. A real “humanitarian intervention” would order all sides to freeze in place, not attack one human rights abuser in favor of another.
7/ The U.S. seems to want to rubberstamp the partition of Syria into ethnic/sectarian enclaves as part of a “settlement,” just as it did in Yugoslavia and to a large extent in Iraq. Partition does not bring lasting peace, as the examples of Palestine and India demonstrate. Regional autonomy is helpful to build peace, but communities and even families are too mixed together historically to allow for a “clean” territorial separation without massive violence and genocidal ethnic/sectarian cleansing. But it helps neoliberal capital to have large multiethnic states divided into more easily controllable mini-states.
8/ There have been many paths not followed in bringing peace to Syria since the genuine democratic revolution against Assad began in 2011. There has never been a choice between “doing something” and “doing nothing.” The U.S. and Israel could stop supporting Sunni Islamist rebels in return for Russia and Iran holding back the worst of Assad’s Alawite-led military atrocities, and vice versa. They could both support the Kurds’ valiant defense against ISIS, instead of selling them out (once more) to the Turkish military. They could engage with Syrian civil society that began the revolution, instead of only arming the militaries and militias. They could negotiate for a regional deescalation and coalition government that guarantees minority rights, and allows Syrians to focus on the real threats of ISIS and the economic ruin of war.
9/ The regime change in Iraq will look like small potatoes, if the new Administration tricks the American people into allowing a so-called “humanitarian intervention” in Syria. We could very quickly get involved in a full-blown regional war–with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Israel, Gulf states, and Syrian, Iraqi, and Yemeni Sunnis on one side, and Russia, Iran, Syria, Iraqi Shi’as, Hezbollah, and Houthis on the other side. The region is a powder keg, with entangled alliances much like Europe on the eve of World War I. It wouldn’t take much for that nightmare to escalate into a nuclear confrontation. Russia is clearly mobilizing for a possible conflict, and signaling its warnings through state media and civil defense exercises, but we haven’t been told by our leaders how risky the situation has become.
10/ A lot more is at stake in Syria in 2017 than in Iraq in 2003.
The Iraq War never had the potential of escalating into a full-blown war with Russia and Iran, or triggering a nuclear confrontation. And since both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump uncritically accept Benjamin Netanyahu’s view of Iran as the main enemy in the Middle East, Israel and the Gulf States will be unleashed next year to restart military brinkmanship with Iran, which could also bring us to the gates of hell.
It is possible to stand against Assad and Putin, and still oppose wars waged by Clinton or Trump that will inflame the Middle East. Whoever wins on November 8th, the names of the losing candidates will quickly fade. Our “number one priority” the next day should be to stop the new president from taking us down the path of a new major war.
Navy’s old nuclear submarines ‘will not be finally disposed of until after 2040’, Telegraph, defence correspondent 18 OCTOBER 2016
A lack of money, expertise and disposal sites mean derelict British nuclear submarines containing radioactive material will not be fully dismantled and disposed of for 25 years, officials have admitted.
The Royal Navy has 19 old nuclear-powered submarines stored in ports waiting to be dismantled, with another eight due to retire and join them in the coming years.
HMS Dreadnought, the Navy’s first nuclear-powered submarine, has been waiting to be dismantled since it retired 36 years ago. Ministry of Defence officials told MPs that radioactive parts on board could not be finally disposed of until an underground dump for all of the UK’s nuclear waste has been chosen and built. That site is not due to be ready until 2040.
The submarines are currently stored at Devonport, near Plymouth, and at Rosyth, on the Firth of Forth.
Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the MoD, told the Commons defence committee that a lack of money and skills meant it was impossible to speed up the process……..Ministry of Defence officials told MPs that radioactive parts on board could not be finally disposed of until an underground dump for all of the UK’s nuclear waste has been chosen and built. That site is not due to be ready until 2040.
The submarines are currently stored at Devonport, near Plymouth, and at Rosyth, on the Firth of Forth.
Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the MoD, told the Commons defence committee that a lack of money and skills meant it was impossible to speed up the process…..http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/18/navys-old-nuclear-submarines-will-not-be-finally-disposed-of-unt/
US Prepares For Nuclear War, Air Force Drops Two Faux Nukes, Popular Resistance, by Marcus Weisgerber, www.defenseone.com October 8th, 2016 The tests in the Nevada desert come as tensions rise with Russia and the Pentagon seeks to replace its aging nuclear arsenal.
A pair of U.S. Air Force B-2 bombers dropped two 700-pound faux nuclear bombs in the middle of the Nevada desert within the past few days. Now the Pentagon wants to tell you about it.
Conducted “earlier this month,” according to an Oct. 6 press release, the test involved two dummy variants of the B61, a nuclear bomb that has been in the U.S. arsenal since the 1960s. One was an “earth penetrator” made to strike underground targets, the other a tactical version of the B61. Neither carried an actual warhead.
“The primary objective of flight testing is to obtain reliability, accuracy, and performance data under operationally representative conditions,” said the statement from the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department arm that oversees such tests. “Such testing is part of the qualification process of current alterations and life extension programs for weapon systems.”
But why now? Perhaps it has to do with tensions with Russia, which are higher than they have been in decades, and which have sparked fears of a new nuclear arms race. Earlier this week, the Russian government announced it would conduct a massive drill to prepare its citizens for nuclear war.
But it may also have to do with the Pentagon’s quest to replace its decades-old nuclear arsenal with new bombs and delivery vehicles, an endeavor whose price tag tops several hundred billion dollars. The Air Force, for one, has been making its case for new intercontinental ballistic missiles and a nuclear cruise missile. At an Air Force Association conference in the Washington suburbs last, Boeing touted its work on the Minuteman III ICBM, mounting large-scale models of the long-range missiles front and center in its sprawling display area………
Last year, the Air Force inked a deal with Northrop Grumman to build a new long-range, stealth bomber — recently named the B-21 Raider — that will eventually be equipped to carry nuclear weapons. At the same time, the Navy is preparing to buy 12 newColumbia-Class submarines that will replace the Ohio-Class, which can launch nuclear missiles.
The total price tag for the all of the new nuclear weapons is projected to cost between $350 billion to $450 billion over the next two decades. https://www.popularresistance.org/us-prepares-for-nuclear-war-air-force-drops-two-faux-nukes/
The Hidden Defect In U.S. Nuclear Strategy That Could Spell America’s Doom, The National Interest, 18 Oct 16
“………aside from a very minimal collection of radars and interceptors on the West Coast designed to deal with North Korea, America has no strategic defenses.
What it has is offenses — about 1,500 nuclear warheads distributed in hardened silos, stealthy submarines and long-range bombers. These forces are known as the nuclear “triad;” along with flying command centers, secure communications satellites and aerial-refueling tankers, the triad is designed to make any act of nuclear aggression potentially suicidal for the perpetrator. The plan is to respond proportionately to any level of nuclear aggression, and make that plan abundantly clear to any nation that might contemplate an attack.
The assumption is that no sane leader would deliberately launch an attack knowing the retribution that would follow. That seems logical enough, but think about the other ways a nuclear exchange might occur. What if we find ourselves facing an irrational adversary with nuclear weapons? What if the other side is rational, but suffers a mechanical failure in its command system? What if it misreads U.S. intentions in a crisis such as war in Eastern Europe? What if parts of its nuclear arsenal are seized by elements intent on fomenting war?
These are not just science-fiction scenarios. The Russian early-warning network of satellites and ground-based radars is so fragile that it could easily fail, or result in mis-interpretation of threat data. If Moscow seriously thought it was under attack, it would be strongly incentivized to launch quickly before its weapons were destroyed on the ground. That might well signal the end of American civilization,…….
If Washington had spent as much money over the last 15 years on protecting our homeland as it has spent on trying to fix Afghanistan, America would be well on its way to having defenses against nuclear attacks — no matter how or where they originated. Instead, the United States remains vulnerable to the one threat that could destroy our civilization before sunset. This may be the greatest strategic mis-calculation in history, and the next president needs to focus on correcting it.
Loren B. Thompson is Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-hidden-defect-us-nuclear-strategy-could-spell-americas-18083?page=2