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Nuclear war threat: WE WHISTLED PAST THE GRAVEYARD in 2018. LET’S BE SMARTER IN 2019.

The Biggest Nuclear Threats of 2018 Will Follow Us into the New Year , Defense One, DECEMBER 29, 2018 WE WHISTLED PAST THE GRAVEYARD THIS YEAR. LET’S BE SMARTER IN 2019.

There was some positive news this year — most importantly the decreased possibility of war in Korea — but, overall it was bleak. Let’s get right to it.

1. The New Nuclear Arms Race is the clear winner as the greatest global nuclear threat of 2018. Each of the nine nuclear-armed states is building new weapons and the United States, instead of strengthening the global nuclear safety net, is actively shredding it.

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced five new nuclear weapons he said Russia was building in response to the U.S. decision to abrogate the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. All are designed to circumvent defenses. Russia has also deployed a small number of ground-based cruise missiles whose range exceed that permitted by the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that President Ronald Reagan negotiated. In October, President Donald Trump said he would pull out of this arms elimination pact, despite the objections of NATO allies.

Destruction of the INF Treaty is likely a prelude to allowing the New START treaty to die. This pact, negotiated by President Barack Obama, limits long-range strategic forces. If both go, it will be the first time since 1972 that U.S. and Russian nuclear forces have been completely unconstrained.

“The untimely death of these two agreements would add fuel to a new arms race and further undermine stability and predictability between Washington and Moscow,” warned former National Security Council senior director Jon Wolfsthal.

In mid-December, 26 Democratic senators wrote Trump “out of deep concern that your administration is now abandoning generations of bipartisan U.S. leadership.” They feared that Trump and his administration wanted “to double down on new, unnecessary nuclear weapons while scraping mutually beneficial treaties.” This, they said, “risks the United States sliding into another arms race with Russia and erodes U.S. nonproliferation efforts around the world.”

Some countries, perhaps many of them, may see the building of new arsenals and the killing of restraining treaties as a material breach of the U.S. and Russian pledges in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, up for review in 2020. “Today, pessimism about the future of the nuclear nonproliferation regime is again on the rise,” writes Harvard professor Rebecca Davis Gibbons. More countries, armed with more nuclear weapons would likely encourage greater risk-taking, leading to more conventional conflicts and the great risks of escalation.

2. President Trump remains a unique global nuclear threat. The danger comes from the combination of his nuclear policies, his ability to command the launch of a nuclear weapon at anytime, for any reason, and his intensifying domestic political crises.

Any president in this period would face the problems of restraining nuclear-armed adversaries, maintaining a U.S. nuclear deterrent, and rolling back the nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. But Trump’s policies have made several of these problems worse. His Nuclear Posture Review would build new, and more usable, nuclear weapons at a price tag of almost $2 trillion while abandoning any effort to restrain global arsenals. This not only fuels an arms race, it breaks the deal with the Senate that “investments in the U.S. nuclear weapons deterrent…must be accompanied by pursuit of continued arms control measures,” as the 26 senators wrote.

Serious concerns about Trump’s mental stability have raised serious questions about the wisdom of a system that gives the president sole, unchecked authority to launch America’s nuclear weapons……… https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2018/12/biggest-nuclear-threats-2018-will-follow-us-new-year/153838/?oref=d-dontmiss

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

A nuclear cover-up? Britain removes from public access, files on atomic bomb tests in Australia

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

“worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

Review or ‘cover up’? Mystery as Australia nuclear weapons tests files withdrawn https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/11/australia/uk-australia-nuclear-archives-intl/index.html, By James Griffiths, CNN

More than 65 years since the UK began conducting secret nuclear weapons testing in the Australian Outback, scores of files about the program have been withdrawn from the country’s National Archives without explanation.

The unannounced move came as a shock to many researchers and historians who rely on the files and have been campaigning to unseal the small number which remain classified.

“Many relevant UK documents have remained secret since the time of the tests, well past the conventional 30 years that government documents are normally withheld,” said expert Elizabeth Tynan, author of “Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story”.

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

Withdrawal of the files was first noted in late December. Access to them has remained closed in the new year.

Dark legacy   The UK conducted 12 nuclear weapons tests in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly in the sparsely populated Outback of South Australia.

Information about the tests remained a tightly held secret for decades. It wasn’t until a Royal Commission was formed in 1984 — in the wake of several damning press reports — that the damage done to indigenous people and the Australian servicemen and women who worked on the testing grounds became widely known.

Indigenous people living nearby had long complained of the effects they suffered, including after a “black mist” settled over one camp near Maralinga in the wake of the Totem I test in October 1953. The mist caused stinging eyes and skin rashes. Others vomited and suffered from diarrhea.

These claims were dismissed and ridiculed by officials for decades — until, in the wake of the Royal Commission report, the UK agreed to pay the Australian government and the traditional owners of the Maralinga lands about AU$46 million ($30 million). The Australian authorities also paid indigenous Maralinga communities a settlement of AU$13.5 million ($9 million).

While the damage done to indigenous communities was acknowledged, much about the Totem I test — and other tests at Maralinga and later at Emu Field — remained secret, even before the recent withdrawal of archive documents.

“The British atomic tests in Australia did considerable harm to indigenous populations, to military and other personnel and to large parts of the country’s territory. This country has every right to know exactly what the tests entailed,” Tynan said. “Mysteries remain about the British nuclear tests in Australia, and these mysteries have become harder to bring to light with the closure of files by the British government.”

Alan Owen, chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, which campaigns on behalf of former servicemen, said “the removal of these documents affects not only our campaign, but affects the many academic organizations that rely on this material.”

“We are very concerned that the documents will not be republished and the (Ministry of Defense) will again deny any responsibility for the effects the tests have had on our membership,” Owen told CNN.

Unclear motives Responding to a request for comment from CNN, a spokeswoman for the National Archives said the withdrawal of the Australian nuclear test files was done at the request of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which has ultimate responsibility over them.

The NDA said that “a collection of records has been temporarily withdrawn from general access via The National Archive at Kew as part of a review process.”

“It is unclear, at this time, how long the review will take, however NDA anticipates that many of the documents will be restored to the public archive in due course,” a spokeswoman said.

Jon Agar, a professor of science and technology at University College London, said the withdrawal “is not just several records but two whole classes of files, many of which had previously been open to researchers at the National Archives.”

“These files are essential to any historian of the UK nuclear projects — which of course included tests in Australia. They have been closed without proper communication or consultation,” he added.

Agar shared correspondence he had with the NDA in which a spokeswoman said some files would be moved to a new archive — Nucleus — in the far north of Scotland. Howevethe Nucleus archives focus on the British civil nuclear industry, and it is unclear why files on military testing would be moved there, or why those files would need to be withdrawn to do so.

Nucleus also does not offer the type of online access to its records as the National Archives does.

“Why not just copy the files if the nuclear industry needs them at Nucleus for administrative reasons? Why take them all out of public view?” Agar wrote on Twitter.

Information freedom In correspondence with both CNN and Agar, the NDA suggested those interested in the files could file freedom of information (FOI) requests for them.

Under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, British citizens and concerned parties are granted the “right to access recorded information held by public sector organizations.”

FOI requests can be turned down if the government deems the information too sensitive or the request too expensive to process. Under a separate rule, the UK government should also declassify documents between 20 and 30 years after they were created.

According to the BBC, multiple UK government departments — including the Home Office and Cabinet Office — have been repeatedly condemned by auditors for their “poor,” “disappointing” and “unacceptable” treatment of FOI applications.

Commenting on the nuclear documents, Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, a UK-based NGO, said it was “worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

“It suggests that the historical record is fragile and transient and liable to be snatched away at any time, with or without good reason,” he added.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Nuclear modernization” a euphemism that ushers in a new and dangerous global nuclear arms race.

Introduction: The wasteful and dangerous worldwide nuclear modernization craze https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00963402.2019.1555973

John Mecklin, 07 Jan 2019 The military is a prime breeding-ground for euphemism. During the Vietnam War, “pacification” often meant the shelling and bombing of villages and forced relocation of entire populations. The Reagan administration championed a fearsome, 10-nuclear-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile. Its name? “Peacekeeper.” Russia did not invade or annex Crimea, according to President Putin; it “enhanced” its forces there.

“Nuclear modernization” is a euphemism covering a wide range of activities that constitute, in the view of many experts, a new and dangerous global nuclear arms race. And an expensive one. In the United States, the 30-year cost of the plethora of programs under the nuclear modernization umbrella – including new nuclear-capable bombers, land-based nuclear missiles, and nuclear submarines – has been estimated at $1.2 to $1.7 trillion. Observers who remember the $640 toilet seats and $437 tape measures of Defense Department history11. See http://articles.latimes.com/1986-07-30/news/vw-18804_1_nutView all notes believe that if the entire modernization program were actually funded and carried out, the cost would be much higher than these estimates.

In this issue, Bob Rosner of the University of Chicago and Stanford University’s Lynn Eden – leading nuclear experts who sit on the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board – give an overview of the astonishing complexities of the US modernization program and try to answer the core question: What does the United States need to do – and what could it reasonably not do – to ensure the reliability of its nuclear arsenal but reduce the cost of maintaining it? Another Science and Security Board member – former Obama administration arms control adviser Jon Wolfsthal – suggests that the first step in responsibly managing the US nuclear budget would require the Trump administration to actually develop a nuclear strategy. Andy Weber and Christine Parthemore of the Council on Strategic Risks, meanwhile, look at once-discarded nuclear weapon capabilities that the Trump administration has resurrected – particularly a proposed low-yield warhead for submarine-launched nuclear missiles and other “small nuke” options – and find them unnecessary and destabilizing.

The nuclear modernization craze is hardly restricted to the United States. As Carnegie Moscow Center director Dmitri Trenin notes, Russian leaders have always been keen observers of US nuclear policy, and as Russia nears the end of its own nuclear modernization cycle, strained East-West relations have created a dangerous situation.

“Against a backdrop of deep mistrust,” Trenin writes, “the coming US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the new US emphasis on tactical [nuclear] systems revive the specter of a nuclear war in Europe.” And because the US-China competition is turning “increasingly serious and even hostile,” Tong Zhao of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy argues, the United States should take a number of steps to ease tensions. After all, Zhao notes, the United States is the most important external influencer of Chinese nuclear policy, and as such could prevent a “more negative cycle of action-and-reaction” involving both nations’ nuclear arsenals.

As Trenin and Zhao explain, United States nuclear policy often drives the nuclear policies of Russia and China. Of course, US officials often suggest the obverse: American nuclear policy initiatives are responses to Russian and Chinese defense policies and programs.

There are reasonable and practical ways to short-circuit the new, self-reinforcing worldwide nuclear arms race that is euphemized as “modernization.”  As Rosner and Eden point out, the United States could save a lot of money without sacrificing security by taking the “hard decision” to eliminate one of the three legs in its nuclear triad, most likely its land-based nuclear ballistic missiles. As Wolfsthal notes, the United States could adequately deter any adversary with a nuclear arsenal and array of delivery platforms that is significantly smaller (and less expensive) than the Trump administration proposes.

The mere official contemplation of such down-sizing moves in the United States would send a global signal. It’s a signal that could well lead to negotiations on slowing or even halting the 21st century modernization sequel to the bad arms race movie the world watched throughout the Cold War. The next Congress should begin contemplating immediately. The world has seen more than enough of this ritual squandering of national resources on weapons of horror that can never reasonably be used.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia might revive its fearful automatic nuclear weapons launch system

Meet “Dead Hand”: This Might Be Russia’s Most Terrifying Nuclear Weapons Idea Yet https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/meet-dead-hand-might-be-russias-most-terrifying-nuclear-weapons-idea-yet-40937

Perhaps the most terrifying was a Cold War doomsday system that would automatically launch missiles—without the need for a human to push the button—during a nuclear attack.  But the system, known as “Perimeter” or “Dead Hand,” may be back and deadlier than ever, by Michael Peck , 9 Jan 19, If Russia is now discussing Perimeter publicly, that’s reason for the rest of us to worry.

Russia has a knack for developing weapons that—at least on paper—are terrifying: nuclear-powered cruise missiles, robot subs with 100-megaton warheads .

Perhaps the most terrifying was a Cold War doomsday system that would automatically launch missiles—without the need for a human to push the button—during a nuclear attack.

But the system, known as “Perimeter” or “Dead Hand,” may be back and deadlier than ever.

This comes after the Trump administration announced that the United States is withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated the once-massive American and Russian stockpiles of short- and medium-range missiles. Donald Trump alleges that Russia has violated the treaty by developing and deploying new, prohibited cruise missiles.

This has left Moscow furious and fearful that America will once again, as it did during the Cold War, deploy nuclear missiles in Europe. Because of geographic fate, Russia needs ICBMs launched from Russian soil, or launched from submarines, to strike the continental United States. But shorter-range U.S. missiles based in, say, Germany or Poland could reach the Russian heartland.

Viktor Yesin, who commanded Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces in the 1990s, spoke of Perimeter/Dead Hand during an interview last month in the Russian newspaper Zvezda [Google English translation here]. Yesin said that if the United States starts deploying intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will consider adopting a doctrine of a preemptive nuclear strike. But he also added this:

Zvezda: “Will we have time to answer if the flight time is reduced to two to three minutes when deploying medium-range missiles near our borders? In this version, all hope is only on Perimeter. And for a retaliatory strike. Or was Perimeter also disassembled for parts?

It is not clear what Yesin meant when he said the system has been “improved,” or even exactly what he meant by “functioning.” Perimeter works by launching specially modified SS-17 ICBMs, which transmit a launch signal to regular nuclear-tipped ICBMs in their silos.

David Hoffman, author of “The Dead Hand,” the definitive book on Perimeter, describes Perimeter in this way:

“Higher authority” would flip the switch if they feared they were under nuclear attack. This was to give the “permission sanction.” Duty officers would rush to their deep underground bunkers, the hardened concrete globes, the shariki. If the permission sanction were given ahead of time, if there were seismic evidence of nuclear strikes hitting the ground, and if all communications were lost, then the duty officers in the bunker could launch the command rockets. If so ordered, the command rockets would zoom across the country, broadcasting the signal “launch” to the intercontinental ballistic missiles. The big missiles would then fly and carry out their retaliatory mission.

There have been cryptic clues over the years that Perimeter still exists.

Which illustrates one of the curiosities of this system, which is that the Soviet Union kept its existence secret from the American enemy whom it was supposed to deter.What is unmistakable is that Perimeter is a fear-based solution. Fear of a U.S. first-strike that would decapitate the Russian leadership before it could give the order to retaliate. Fear that a Russian leader might lose his nerve and not give the order.

And if Russia is now discussing Perimeter publicly, that’s reason for the rest of us to worry.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA Dept of Energy again confirms its plans to use SRS plutonium for nuclear weapons

DOE reaffirms plans to use SRS plutonium for pit production in New Mexico https://www.aikenstandard.com/news/doe-reaffirms-plans-to-use-srs-plutonium-for-pit-production/article_59e7b02a-1291-11e9-bd1e-936df797de19.html, By Colin Demarest cdemarest@aikenstandard.com, Jan 7, 2019 

      The U.S. Department of Energy has again confirmed its plans to use plutonium currently stored at the

Savannah River Site

       for nuclear weapons purposes.

In a document filed Jan. 4 in Nevada district court, the DOE explained 1 metric ton of plutonium — in pit form at SRS — will eventually be sent to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico where it will be remanufactured into “new pits.”

Doing so will further the National Nuclear Security Administration‘s longterm stockpile work, according to the same court document. Plutonium pits are nuclear weapon cores, often referred to as triggers.

NNSA Chief of Staff William “Ike” White in a Nov. 20 letter, which was made public via other court filings, described the weapons-grade plutonium stored at SRS as “mission-essential” and integral to nation’s defense enterprise.

“This material will ultimately be used for vital national security missions and is not waste,” White wrote, later adding: “We will keep you updated on our progress as the pit production mission moves forward.” White’s letter was sent to Nevada government officials. Before the plutonium is relocated to Los Alamos, the nation’s plutonium science and production center of excellence, it will be staged at either the Nevada National Security Site or the Pantex Plant in Texas, according to the NNSA.

The shipments between Nevada and New Mexico would take place over “a period of years,” according to the Jan. 4 filing.

The DOE is removing 1 metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium from SRS — South Carolina, more broadly — to comply with a Dec. 20, 2017, court order. The plutonium must be out of the state no later than 2020, according to the order, which was issued by U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs.

The prospective weapons use of the SRS plutonium was first fully documented in an NNSA environmental assessment issued last year.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China reportedly tests powerful non-nuclear weapon

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/world/china-reportedly-tests-powerful-nonnuclear-weapon/video/65a3ed7ab4203f574d820f7a2d8dac23  8 Jan 19

China has tested one of the most powerful non-nuclear weapons in existence, according to state media. Video released by the Xinhua news agency shows the testing of the massive bomb, dubbed the Chinese ‘Mother of All Bombs’.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Doomsday clock at a record danger level, but there is hope in The U.N. Nuclear Ban Treaty

The Nuclear Ban Treaty was adopted by two-thirds of U.N. members in July 2017. By year’s end, 69 states had signed and 19 had ratified it. It will come into effect after 50 ratifications. There are reasonable prospects of this happening in 2019, at which point there will be two international treaties for setting global nuclear policy directions and norms. All nine nuclear-armed states and allies sheltering under their nuclear umbrella had strenuously opposed the treaty. Yet once in force, it will form part of the new international institutional reality.

There are signs of discomfort in some umbrella states at having been exposed as lip-service adherents of the cause of nuclear disarmament. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund and the largest Dutch pension fund have decided not to invest in nuclear-weapon-producing companies. The Australian Labor Party conference in December unanimously approved a resolution committing a future Labor government to sign and ratify the ban treaty.

Nuclear arms: A year of living dangerously https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2019/01/06/commentary/world-commentary/nuclear-arms-year-living-dangerously/#.XDJWi9IzbGg BY RAMESH THAKUR, JAN 6, 2019 Last January, the Doomsday Clock was moved to two minutes to midnight — the closest it has ever been, matching the acute sense of crisis of 1953. The primary explanation for the heightened threat alert was disturbing developments in the nuclear realm.

There was little improvement during 2018. There is no sign that New START, which regulates U.S. and Russian strategic force numbers and deployments, might be extended by five years to 2026. China is upgrading its considerably smaller nuclear arsenal. India and Pakistan are enlarging, modernizing and upgrading stockpiles, while investing in battlefield tactical nuclear weapons (Pakistan) and systems to counter them (India).

U.S. President Donald Trump’s disdain for international institutions and rules established him as the disrupter in chief of the global nuclear order. U.S. nuclear policies reflect and fuel the fraying regimes, provoking countermeasures by adversaries, sowing doubts in allies and stiffening support among the non-nuclear states for banning the bomb. Expanding U.S. and Russian nuclear weapon developments and deployments lead to the normalization of the discourse of nuclear weapon use. They also embolden calls for nuclear-weapon acquisition by some others. Continue reading

January 7, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

President Vladimir Putin’s new secret weapon -NUCLEAR drone which sends 1,640ft high WAVES

WHY RUSSIA’S ‘POSEIDON’ UNMANNED UNDERWATER DRONE IS A DOOMSDAY WEAPON

Russia boasts of ‘impossible to detect’ NUCLEAR drone which sends 1,640ft high WAVES https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/world-news/751603/russia-news-vladimir-putin-underwater-drone-nuclear-war-world-war-3

RUSSIAN ministry of defence officials have hinted that a new underwater nuclear warhead-carrying drone is impossible to detect. By Douglas Patient 5th January 2019  Dubbed President Vladimir Putin‘s new secret weapon – it’s even more deadly than originally thought according to Russia. The navy will be armed with Poseydon drones as soon as 2027.

It carries nuclear warheads and was created in order to obliterate enemy ports. But being equipped with warheads of 100 megatons, it can also be used against coastal cities.

Attacks would involve detonating the warhead underwater, creating huge tidal waves up to 1,640ft high.

At the same time it would contaminate enemy territory with radiation.

Unlike conventional nuclear weapons it would also be immune to being hit by missiles, lasers and railguns.

The concept of the strategic underwater drone named Poseydon was first put forward in 2015 and mentioned by Putin in March last year during his state-of-the-nation speech.

It was initially believed that the Poseydon will be able to travel up to 70 knots, which is about 80mph, while underwater.

But now it has been confirmed that the sample actually be capable of travelling as fast as 125mph (more than 110 knots).

In an official statement ministry said: “The drone will travel to its destination at a speed of 200 kph (125mph) and a depth of 1km (0.6 miles).  The drone will be moving in a so-called ‘air-cavern’ (a process in which a steam filled bubble forms around the drone, which reduces the resistance of the water and allows it to move so fast).

“The drone will constantly be performing different manoeuvres and will not stay on one trajectory, which together with its high speed will make it impossible to intercept.”

Officials also released a video showing the computer presentation of Poseydon drones from the Russian Ministry of Defence.

This comes as Russia said it was developing a drone sub that has an underwater rifle to fire at enemy divers.

January 7, 2019 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Chinese state media boasts nuclear weapons escalation, in response to Trump

Signaling a harder edge for 2019, China threatens US carriers, an invasion of Taiwan, and nuclear war, Washington Examiner by Tom Rogan January 03, 2019,  In a highly aggressive editorial on Thursday, Chinese state media taunted the U.S. with nuclear weapons, threatened U.S. aircraft carriers, and called for preparations to invade Taiwan. The editorial reflects growing Chinese nationalist fury in the face of Trump administration pressure.

January 6, 2019 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Between USA’s John Bolton, and Russia’s nuclear hawks – the fragmentation of nuclear arms control spells global danger

January 5, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Earthquakes still being set off due to North Korea’s September 2017 nuclear test

September 2017 nuclear test triggers 2019 earthquake in North Korea https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/01/asia/north-korea-earthquake-intl/index.html, By Jake Kwon and Joshua Berlinger, CNN January 2, 2019  North Korea’s sixth nuclear test was so powerful that it’s still triggering earthquakes more than a year later.

January 5, 2019 Posted by | incidents, North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Disputes between Democrats and Republicans over nuclear weapons policy and procurement –

Nuclear Winter Is Coming: Nuclear ‘War’ To Hit Washington In 2019, Investor’s Business Daily , GILLIAN RICH, 12/18/2018

Nuclear weapons are about to explode as an issue on Capitol Hill, because partisan warfare is threatening to consume debates over nuclear procurement and policy in 2019.
Two events are converging that will blow up an already tenuous give-and-take deal between Republicans and Democrats. The first is the Trump administration’s threat to leave the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty early next year if Russia doesn’t come into compliance. The second is the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives next month.
There has been a “fragile bipartisan consensus” on nuclear weapons, according to Frank Rose, a senior fellow for security and strategy at the Brookings Institution.

During the Obama administration, a deal was brokered under which Republicans supported the New START treaty to reduce nuclear weapons while Democrats backed the modernization of the U.S.’ nuclear arsenal, he said.

All-out partisan warfare on the issue would come at a bad time for the Pentagon. In 2017, the Congressional Budget Office put the price tag of sustaining and modernizing the full nuclear triad of land-, air- and sea-based weapons at $1.2 trillion in constant dollars through 2046.

But, like other things that happened under Obama, the Republican-Democratic deal on nuclear weapons is starting to unravel under Trump.

Nuclear Weapons Treaties

In early December, the Trump administration gave Russia 60 days to come into compliance with the INF treaty or the U.S. will leave.

Trump’s threat raises questions about whether he will renew the New START treaty, which expires in 2021. Without the arms-control treaties, Democrats could block the funding of nuclear weapons in the 2020 budget with their new majority in the House.

“They can’t build a consensus to do something new or different — the Senate or president might not go along — but they can stop things from happening,” Tom Collina, director of policy at the Ploughshares Fund, which is focused on reducing nuclear weapons. “The power of ‘no’ is a significant force.”……….

Nuclear Weapons That May Go Boom Or Bust

To modernize the air-based leg of the nuclear weapons triad, the Air Force awarded the B-21 contract to Northrop Grumman (NOC) in 2015 to replace Cold War-era Boeing (BA) B-52s. The eventual procurement price tag is estimated at $80 billion.

Cancian believes that this new stealth bomber will survive upcoming procurement battles because of its ability to deliver conventional munitions as well.

New Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines will modernize the sea-based leg of the nuclear triad and replace Ohio-class “boomers.” General Dynamics’ (GD) Electric Boat is building them with total acquisition costs expected to hit $128 billion.

Cancian also believes that the Columbia-class submarine program will continue, saying ballistic subs are most likely to survive a nuclear attack because they are hidden underwater.

Then there are two missile programs without contract awards yet that have been more controversial. Lockheed and Raytheon (RTN) are competing for the Long-Range Standoff weapon (LRSO), a nuclear cruise missile to be launched from strategic bombers.

Northrop and Boeing are competing to build the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program to replace Boeing’s aging land-based Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system.

Former Defense Secretary William Perry and retired Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs, argued last year that ICBMs and nuclear cruise missiles carry greater risks of accidentally setting off a nuclear war because they can’t be recalled once launched.

Canceling them would also save billions of dollars that could be used for other pressing national security needs, they said.  ………

High Anxiety Over Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons

The U.S. already has about 500 low-yield airdropped nuclear weapons in its arsenal. And Smith is extremely critical of the low-yield warheads for Lockheed’s Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile.

“It makes no sense for us to build low-yield nuclear weapons,” Smith said at a Ploughshares conference in November. “It brings us no advantage and it is dangerously escalating. It just begins a new nuclear arms race with people just building nuclear weapons all across the board in a way that I think places us at greater danger.”……….

Pentagon Budget Uncertainty

Amid the policy and procurement debates, another source of uncertainty on defense spending is coming from Trump himself.

He blasted the current $716 billion Pentagon budget, tweeting earlier this month that it was “crazy.” But days later he reportedly said he wanted to give the Pentagon $750 billion, above the $733 billion the DOD requested…….https://www.investors.com/news/nuclear-weapons-upgrades-nuclear-treaties-inf-new-start/

December 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Koreans very proud of ” nuclear weapons program completion”

[Photo] North Korea marks one-year anniversary of alleged nuclear weapons program completion, Daily NK, By Mun Dong Hui, 28 Dec 18, 
Daily NK previously reported that as North Korea celebrated the 70th anniversary of its founding on September 9, the authorities ordered the delivery of lectures placing emphasis on the country’s “successful attainment of nuclear weapons” and [North Korea] as a “nuclear superpower.”

“The authorities released nationwide propaganda on November 29 to mark one year since the ‘completion of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program,’ calling it a major historical achievement and great victory for the Party’s Byungjin Line (parallel development of the economy and nuclear weapons),” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK.

An additional source in Pyongyang added, “They’ve told us that thanks to Chairman Kim the threats of nuclear and imperialist aggression against our nation have ended.”

The lectures intend to reinforce national unity and highlight Kim Jong Un’s role in an unprecedented achievement in the country’s history and espouse his leadership skills.

Lecture materials from November obtained by Daily NK corroborate this information, reiterating the focus in “completing the country’s nuclear weapons program.”……..

The latest lectures turn the emphasis toward maintaining the country’s nuclear program.

The lecture materials also highlighted the other track of the Byungjin Line: building the economy. “Our Dear Respected Marshal’s (Kim Jong Un) immortal achievement of the nuclear weapons program will stay with us forever. Now let’s actively contribute to accelerating economic development to achieve the ultimate victory of the socialist cause!” https://www.dailynk.com/english/north-korea-marks-one-year-anniversary-of-completed-nuclear-weapons-program/

December 29, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian Labor Party in a progressive move, plans to sign and ratify UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Labor’s pledge to commit to nuclear disarmament puts the alternative party of government on the right side of history.

The gulf between the shenanigans of way too many politicians, and the growing urgency of grave and looming threats has rarely seemed wider. Action on crucial issues languishes while parliamentarians make naked grabs for power, acting in the interests only of themselves. Poor personal behaviour seems endemic. On the two unprecedented dangers looming over all humanity – nuclear war and climate disruption – Australia has been not just missing in action, but actively on the wrong side of history, part of the problem rather than the solution.

The government’s own figures demonstrate that our country, awash with renewable sun and wind, is way off track to meet even a third of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2030 – itself nowhere near enough.

Not only is nuclear disarmament stalled, but one by one, the agreements that reduced and constrained nuclear weapons, hard-won fruit of the end of the first cold war, are being trashed. All the nuclear-armed states are investing massively not simply in keeping their weapons indefinitely, but developing new ones that are more accurate, more deadly and more “usable”. The cold war is back, and irresponsible and explicit threats to use nuclear weapons have proliferated. Any positive effect that Australia might have on reducing nuclear weapons dangers from the supposed influence afforded us by our uncritical obsequiousness to the US is nowhere in sight. Our government has been incapable of asserting any independence even from the current most extreme, dysfunctional and unfit US administration. The US has recently renounced its previous commitments under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT); we have said nothing.

The one bright light in this gathering gloom is the 2017 UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. For its role in helping to bring this historic treaty into being, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) was awarded the Nobel peace prize for 2017 – the first to an entity born in Australia. This treaty provides the first comprehensive and categorical prohibition of nuclear weapons. It sets zero nuclear weapons as the clear and consistent standard for all countries and will help drive elimination of these worst weapons of mass destruction, just as the treaties banning biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have played a decisive role in progressing the elimination of those other indiscriminate and inhumane weapons. The treaty lays out a clear pathway for all states, with and without nuclear weapons, to fulfil their binding legal obligation to accomplish nuclear disarmament. It is currently the only such pathway.

Regrettably, the Australian government was the most active “weasel” in opposing the treaty’s development at every step and was one of the first to say it would not sign, even though we have signed every other treaty banning an unacceptable weapon.

Hence the Labor party’s commitment at its recent national conference in Adelaide that “Labor in government will sign and ratify the Ban Treaty” is an important and welcome step. It is a clear commitment, allowing no room for weaselling.

The considerations articulated alongside this commitment are fairly straightforward and consistent with the commitment. First, recognition of the need for “an effective verification and enforcement architecture” for nuclear disarmament. The treaty itself embodies this. Governments joining the treaty must designate a competent international authority “to negotiate and verify the irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons” and nuclear weapons programmes, “including the elimination or irreversible conversion of all nuclear-weapons-related facilities”. Australia should also push for the same standard for any nuclear disarmament that happens outside the treaty.

Second, the Labor resolution prioritises “the interaction of the Ban Treaty with the longstanding Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”. The treaty has been carefully crafted to be entirely compatible with the NPT and explicitly reaffirms that the NPT “serves as a cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime”, and that its full and effective implementation “has a vital role to play in promoting international peace and security”. All the governments supporting the treaty support the NPT, and the NPT itself enshrines a commitment for all its members to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, and the International Committee of the Red Cross are among those who have affirmed that the treaty and the NPT are entirely consistent, complementary and mutually reinforcing. Even opponents of the treaty recognise that prohibition is an essential part of achieving and sustaining a world free of nuclear weapons.

Third, the Labor resolution refers to “Work to achieve universal support for the Ban Treaty.” This too is mirrored in one of the commitments governments take on in joining the treaty, to encourage other states to join, “with the goal of universal adherence of all States to the Treaty.”

An Australian government joining the treaty would enjoy wide popular support in doing so – an Ipsos poll last month found that 79% of Australians (and 83% of Labor voters) support, and less than 8% oppose, Australia joining the treaty.

Australia would also stop sticking out like a sore thumb among our southeast Asian and Pacific Island neighbours and be able to work more effectively with them. Brunei, Cook Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Kiribati, Laos, New Zealand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam have already signed the treaty.

Most importantly, joining the treaty and renouncing nuclear weapons would mean that Australia would become part of the solution rather than the problem of the acute existential peril that hangs over all of us while nuclear weapons exist, ready to be launched within minutes. Time is not on our side. Of course this crucial humanitarian issue should be above party politics. The commitment from the alternative party of government to join the treaty and get on the right side of history when Labor next forms government is to be warmly welcomed. It is to be hoped that the 78% of federal parliamentary Labor members who have put on record their support for Australia joining the treaty by signing Ican’s parliamentary pledge will help ensure Labor keeps this landmark promise.

 Dr Tilman Ruff is co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) and Nobel peace prize winner (2017)

December 29, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

George H.W. Bush’s shameful involvement in the Regime Change in Nuclear-Free Palau

December 29, 2018 Posted by | OCEANIA, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment