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A new arms race underway, as USA, then Russia, modernise their nuclear weapons

Special Report: In modernizing nuclear arsenal, U.S. stokes new arms raceScot Paltrow  WASHINGTON (Reuters), 21 Nov 17  – President Barack Obama rode into office in 2009 with promises to work toward a nuclear-free world. His vow helped win him the Nobel Peace Prize that year.

The next year, while warning that Washington would retain the ability to retaliate against a nuclear strike, he promised that America would develop no new types of atomic weapons. Within 16 months of his inauguration, the United States and Russia negotiated the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as New START, meant to build trust and cut the risk of nuclear war. It limited each side to what the treaty counts as 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads.

By the time Obama left office in January 2017, the risk of Armageddon hadn’t receded. Instead, Washington was well along in a modernization program that is making nearly all of its nuclear weapons more accurate and deadly.

And Russia was doing the same: Its weapons badly degraded from neglect after the Cold War, Moscow had begun its own modernization years earlier under President Vladimir Putin. It built new, more powerful ICBMs, and developed a series of tactical nuclear weapons.

The United States under Obama transformed its main hydrogen bomb into a guided smart weapon, made its submarine-launched nuclear missiles five times more accurate, and gave its land-based long-range missiles so many added features that the Air Force in 2012 described them as “basically new.” To deliver these more lethal weapons, military contractors are building fleets of new heavy bombers and submarines.

President Donald Trump has worked hard to undo much of Obama’s legacy, but he has embraced the modernization program enthusiastically. Trump has ordered the Defense Department to complete a review of the U.S. nuclear arsenal by the end of this year.

Reuters reported in February that in a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump denounced the New START treaty and rejected Putin’s suggestion that talks begin about extending it once it expires in 2021.

Some former senior U.S. government officials, legislators and arms-control specialists – many of whom once backed a strong nuclear arsenal — are now warning that the modernization push poses grave dangers.

“REALLY DANGEROUS THINKING”

They argue that the upgrades contradict the rationales for New START – to ratchet down the level of mistrust and reduce risk of intentional or accidental nuclear war. The latest improvements, they say, make the U.S. and Russian arsenals both more destructive and more tempting to deploy. The United States, for instance, has a “dial down” bomb that can be adjusted to act like a tactical weapon, and others are planned.

“The idea that we could somehow fine tune a nuclear conflict is really dangerous thinking,” says Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based think tank.

One leader of this group, William Perry, who served as defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, said recently in a Q&A on YouTube that “the danger of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War.”

Perry told Reuters that both the United States and Russia have upgraded their arsenals in ways that make the use of nuclear weapons likelier. The U.S. upgrade, he said, has occurred almost exclusively behind closed doors. “It is happening without any basic public discussion,” he said. “We’re just doing it.”

………. A BUDGET BUSTER?

The U.S. modernization effort is not coming cheap. This year the Congressional Budget Office estimated the program will cost at least $1.25 trillion over 30 years. The amount could grow significantly, as the Pentagon has a history of major cost overruns on large acquisition projects.

As defense secretary under Obama, Leon Panetta backed modernization. Now he questions the price tag.

“We are in a new chapter of the Cold War with Putin,” he told Reuters in an interview, blaming the struggle’s resumption on the Russian president. Panetta says he doubts the United States will be able to fund the modernization program. “We have defense, entitlements and taxes to deal with at the same time there are record deficits,” he said.

New START is leading to significant reductions in the two rival arsenals, a process that began with the disintegration of the USSR. But reduced numbers do not necessarily mean reduced danger……….. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-modernize-specialreport/special-report-in-modernizing-nuclear-arsenal-u-s-stokes-new-arms-race-idUSKBN1DL1AH

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November 22, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ballistic missiles: Limit them first. Then ban them

 To shore up the INF, the United States could propose something the Russians have already advocated—that the INF Treaty be expanded to ban this category of ballistic missiles globally.Such a move would not immediately apply to the most troubling nuclear-tipped missiles, those with ranges far in excess of 1,000 kilometers. But a worldwide INF could be a first step toward an eventual goal of banning all ballistic missiles.

https://thebulletin.org/ballistic-missiles-limit-them-first-then-ban-them11222,  JAMES E. DOYLE, 27 Oct 17  James E. Doyle is an independent nuclear security specialist. From 1997 to 2014, he was on the technical staff of the Nonproliferation Division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
 Ballistic missiles have beneficial purposes; they place satellites in orbit, and those satellites provide the world with vital communications capabilities and navigation and weather information. Ballistic missiles send astronauts and space stations into Earth orbit and research probes far across the solar system.

But ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads are enablers of apocalypse. There is no effective defense against these missiles, even though the United States has spent more than 30 years and $500 billion trying to build radars that can track them and interceptor missiles that will shoot them down.

Military ballistic missiles have other negative characteristics. The short time needed for them to reach target (if the United States and Russia are the assumed combatants, 10 to 30 minutes) creates pressure to launch first in a conflict. In a crisis, ballistic missiles on high alert can wind up becoming the leading edge of a devastating war begun by miscalculation.

Because of the obvious dangerousness of ballistic missiles, there is a long history of official efforts to limit or eliminate them. Those efforts have shown that agreements to reduce the dangers of ballistic missiles can catalyze improved relations between potential adversaries. The landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty required Washington and Moscow to eliminate all ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 1,000 kilometers. Both nations recognized that these missiles could not be defended against and their proximity to the Cold War boundaries of Europe meant they were highly destabilizing in a crisis. A total of 2,692 missiles (including a small number of cruise missiles) were eliminated under the treaty.

Acknowledging the danger of nuclear ballistic missiles, President Reagan proposed an agreement requiring their total elimination to Soviet leader Gorbachev at their summit in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1985. The Soviets did not accept the proposal because Reagan insisted that America’s program to build missile defenses remain unconstrained. That program—known then as the Strategic Defense Initiative and today as the National Missile Defense Program—has yet to develop effective means to defeat ballistic missiles.

In the mid 1990s, Alton Frye, then Washington director of the US Council on Foreign Relations, advocated an international ban on offensive ballistic missiles, an idea whose time has perhaps come again. Many political and technical challenges would need to be addressed to negotiate and enforce new international limitations on ballistic missiles. But model institutional and scientific mechanisms for such efforts exist in the form of preceding treaties, including INF and New START. Procedures and technologies for inspection, verification, and enforcement of agreements limiting or banning all types of ballistic missiles have already been proven. Political will, as usual is the major missing ingredient.

Former Defense Secretary William Perry and several other experts have recently advocated the elimination of the United States’ nuclear-armed, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). According to Perry, this component of America’s nuclear triad is no longer necessary to deter adversaries and is inherently dangerous, fueling instability during crises and arms races with Russia and China.

While Perry proposes to eliminate only land-based ballistic missiles and retain submarine-based missiles, such a move could create powerful international momentum to negotiate new international limits or bans on certain types of ballistic missiles—with an ultimate goal of banning all nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. If a united international community were to seriously consider such a course, it could bring increased pressure on North Korea, Iran, and other nations to suspend or roll back their offensive ballistic missile programs. If they refused, the possibility of using military force against their nuclear and ballistic missile programs would gain legitimacy and support.

One place to start seeking new limits on ballistic missiles has been in the news for months: the INF Treaty, which the United States and Russia have accused one another of violating. Russia’s support of the treaty has weakened over the years because it is forbidden to deploy ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 1,000 kilometers, but its neighbors who are not party to the treaty are permitted to do so. China has many such missiles, and Turkey, South Korea, and Japan could develop them in the future. To shore up the INF, the United States could propose something the Russians have already advocated—that the INF Treaty be expanded to ban this category of ballistic missiles globally.

Such a move would not immediately apply to the most troubling nuclear-tipped missiles, those with ranges far in excess of 1,000 kilometers. But a worldwide INF could be a first step toward an eventual goal of banning all ballistic missiles. A renewed focus on the danger of these weapons—accompanied by US statements that it is willing to eliminate its land-based ICBMs under the right conditions—might elicit greater support from Russian and China in efforts to defuse the North Korean crisis and control Iranian missile testing.

Like the nuclear weapons ban treaty the UN recently adopted, a ballistic missile ban would require sustained, long-term effort to achieve anything like full success. But the United States has everything to gain from taking a leadership role and asserting that offensive ballistic missiles are dangerous and destabilizing weapons that should eventually be eliminated from the arsenals of all nations.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Even for New Mexico, it’s better to spend $trillion on positive things, not nuclear weapons

World is crying out for clean energy, not nuclear weapons http://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/my_view/world-is-crying-out-for-clean-energy-not-nuclear-weapons/article_c3c64f7a-6d53-58c5-9ddb-f67dd0fea5e5.html, By Greg Mello , 17 Sept 17 

On Wednesday at the United Nations, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will open for signature. For signatories, this treaty prohibits nuclear weapons altogether. Its explicit goal is a universal norm against all forms of participation in the nuclear weapons industry.

Designing, testing, producing, possessing, threatening with, deploying and using nuclear weapons are to be banned. Crucially, assistance or encouragement in these illegal acts will also be banned, as will stationing of nuclear weapons, both of which impact U.S. nuclear alliances, including NATO. Signatory states will be required to enact administrative and penal sanctions against anyone involved with the nuclear weapons industry.

The ban treaty was negotiated against heavy opposition from the U.S. and other nuclear weapon states — they obviously won’t sign. In the end, the text was approved by 122 countries. It is likely to enter into force next year and to gradually gain adherents thereafter, a process that will keep U.S. nuclear “modernization” in the news around the world.

 In all this, whither Santa Fe? While the City Different seeks a positive international reputation, the metro area hosts the world’s most lavishly funded labs and production facilities for soon-to-be-outlawed nuclear weapons.

So far, our congressional delegation, following Los Alamos National Laboratory, wants to restart production of plutonium warhead cores (“pits”). The new pits are “needed” solely for building a new kind of (untested and redundant) warhead the U.S. Navy doesn’t want. The U.S. Air Force has secretly admitted the same. Pits in existing weapons are all in fine condition and will remain so for decades.

As a dubious reward for its enduring loyalty to the Los Alamos lab, the Santa Fe metro area has long hosted the state’s largest nuclear waste dump, visible from high ground anywhere from Eldorado to Truchas. Area G is now stuffed to the gills and might finally close at the end of this month. Then again, the lab may expand the site.

A plutonium factory for outlawed weapons and a nuclear waste dump. That’s a city “different” all right.

Actually, Los Alamos seeks two unnecessary plutonium programs, not just pit production but also the messy and dangerous processing of tons of surplus pits for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Instead of this, permanently demilitarizing pits without opening them up, followed by direct disposal, would be adequate, cheap, safe and quick. The lab need not and should not be involved, no matter what plan the Department of Energy chooses.

Without new warheads (that the rest of the world hates), the labs would shrink. Los Alamos would not need to make pits, let alone build underground workshops (estimated cost: $300,000 per square foot).

Why have silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles at all? Former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former U.S. Strategic Command Commander (and later, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) James Cartwright are among those who believe the U.S. would be more secure without any ICBMs.

 We agree. By 2030 or so, U.S. ICBMs will age out. Former President Barack Obama began (and Trump continues) a huge program to replace them. Department of Defense estimates the new missiles, equipment and software will cost between $85 billion and $150 billion, a fiscal disaster comparable to Hurricane Harvey. Building missiles creates no productive infrastructure, mitigates no climate change and creates few jobs.

That sum, wisely invested in leveraging more renewable energy, would go a long way toward ending coal burning in the U.S. while building nonexportable jobs, skills and communities.

The new missiles are just part of the Obama-Trump plan to replace every single nuclear weapon system, reliably estimated to cost more than $1 trillion. These are not the “deployments” our children need. The world is crying out for fresh priorities that will give their children and our world a chance. Will our congressional delegation listen?

Greg Mello is director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a nuclear disarmament-focused nonprofit, based in Albuquerque.

September 18, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

President Donald Trump’s “loose rhetoric” on North Korea could have deadly consequences

Trump’s rhetoric could see U.S. ‘blunder into a war’ with North Korea, warns former negotiator, CBC Radio, 11 Aug 17 U.S. President Donald Trump’s “loose rhetoric” on North Korea could have deadly consequences, says the former U.S. defence secretary who negotiated with Pyongyang for the Clinton administration.

“In any war with North Korea, North Korea would surely lose. They know that, so they’re not seeking a war,” William Perry told As It Happens guest host Rosemary Barton.

“But we could blunder into a war, and this kind of loose rhetoric probably makes that more likely than less likely.”

‘Even with conventional weapons, it could be at least as bad as the first Korean War, in which more than a million people died.’– William Perry, former U.S. defence secretary 

Perry says he came close to brokering a deal with the regime in 1999 to not develop a nuclear arsenal, but negotiations came to a halt when George W. Bush took over the White House from Bill Clinton.

He spoke with Barton about the escalating threats being exchanged by Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un. Here is part of their conversation. …….

Unlike the first Korean War, this one always has the potential of escalating into a nuclear war.

I do not believe that North Korea would initiate any attack with nuclear weapons because I do not believe the leadership is suicidal. They’re not seeking martyrdom; they’re seeking to preserve the regime in power. But they’re playing a very dangerous game.

Do you think, as some have suggested, there would be any consideration or benefit to an American pre-emptive strike?

That would be exceedingly dangerous. It would almost certainly lead to a North Korean military response on South Korea

That could very well then escalate into a general Korean war, with the horrible consequences of the first Korean War and beyond that.

We have learned today, according to an Associated Press report, that the Trump administration has had some backchannel diplomacy with North Korea for a number of months with Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy for North Korea. What does that tell you?

I would certainly hope it were true that besides dealing with this with bluster, we’re dealing with it with a sober, cautious attempt to enter into a dialogue with North Korea to see if we can resolve this crisis through diplomacy instead of through a military conflict. That’s why Yun is over there — to see if he can find a peaceful solution…….http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-friday-edition-1.4201412/trump-s-rhetoric-could-see-u-s-blunder-into-a-war-with-north-korea-warns-former-negotiator-1.4201420

August 12, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis will consider scaling back some nuclear weapons systems

Jim Mattis says he’s open to rethinking triad, nuclear cruise missile, Washington Examiner, by Jamie McIntyre |  Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress Wednesday he has an open mind about possibly scaling back some nuclear systems, as long as deterrence is not sacrificed, as he faces a more than $1 trillion bill to rebuild America’s arsenal over the next three decades.

Mattis’ comments came under questioning from California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has been waging a lonely fight against one nuclear weapons system in particular, the Long Range Stand-Off, or LRSO, air-launched nuclear cruise missile.

“I do not see it as an effective deterrent weapon,” Feinstein said. “I see it as Russia taking action to counter it and with the cost and the fact that we’ve got new ballistic missile submarines, new bombers, new intercontinental ballistic missiles and new warheads, I wonder why we need to develop this specific weapon? The cost is going to be inordinate.”

Mattis is referring to the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, a top-to-bottom assessment of U.S. nuclear capabilities and strategy, including the Cold War era “triad” of bombers, submarines and ground missiles designed to ensure the U.S. could counterattack after a first strike……

Feinstein seemed to be encouraged when Mattis said he would be consulting with former Defense Secretary William Perry, who has advocated eliminating one leg of the triad by phasing out the land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Perry is also strongly opposed to developing new nuclear cruise missiles, which he says are “uniquely destabilizing” weapons, because an adversary cannot tell a conventional missile from a nuclear-armed version, risking miscalculation in a crisis.

“I register loud and clear the potential destabilizing view that some people see this weapon bringing and I’m taking that on board,” Mattis said. “But I’ve got to do more study.”

Feinstein said she has had extensive discussions with people in the military and has concerns that the LSRO may in fact represent a new generation of nuclear missiles not just an upgrade of older air-launched missiles.

“It’s got features which concern me greatly,” she said. “I’m not sure for the cost that we’ll end up with a practical deterrent.”…..http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/jim-mattis-says-hes-open-to-rethinking-triad-nuclear-cruise-missile/article/2625999

June 16, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Grandfather and granddaughter join forces prevent nuclear doom

The former defense secretary is spending his twilight years sounding the alarm with his 29-year-old granddaughter.

“When my kids were getting under desks at their school and going through nuclear drills — the danger today is actually greater. We’re just not aware of it,” says Perry.

At 89, he works with granddaughter to prevent nuclear doom

Before Forever Changes

 

MARCH 11, 2017, BY  Picture a nondescript packing crate labeled “agricultural equipment” being loaded onto a delivery truck, which drives along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., until it stops midway between the White House and the Capitol.

The nuclear bomb explodes with the power of 15 kilotons. There are more than 80,000 deaths, from the highest ranking members of government to the youngest schoolchildren. All major news outlets then report receiving an identical claim: that five more nuclear bombs are hidden in five major cities.

Such is the nightmare nuclear scenario that former US Defense Secretary William Perry says may seem remote, but the consequences, if realized, would be disastrous.

“I do not like to be a prophet of doom,” says Perry, 89, with the gentle grace of a decadeslong diplomat who has negotiated with countries both hostile and friendly to US interests. Then he bluntly gets to the point. “What we’re talking about is no less than the end of civilization.”

Perry doesn’t believe an intentional terrorist attack or all-out nuclear war is the greatest risk — he fears a “blunder” that plunges the globe into a nuclear conflict.

Perry says with a more aggressive Russia, and a brash and at times unpredictable President Donald Trump, “the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe is probably greater than it has ever been, greater than any time in the Cold War.”

CNN reached out to the White House for comment on Perry’s statements. It did not respond.

While he’s long been out of government, Perry’s uses his extensive policy chops and background to engage the public — through speeches, presentations and online courses.

He worries that tensions between the Koreas, and possibly Japan, could turn into a conventional conflict that could go nuclear. A bellicose and expansion-minded Russia could draw the United States into a situation that could escalate, Perry says. And the District of Columbia scenario shows how devastation can result from a crude bomb.

“When my kids were getting under desks at their school and going through nuclear drills — the danger today is actually greater. We’re just not aware of it,” says Perry.

The former defense secretary is spending his twilight years sounding the alarm with his 29-year-old granddaughter. They’re trying to awaken a new audience on social media with the William J. Perry Project, an advocacy group dedicated to helping end the nuclear threat.

“We’re really just out there trying to reach a generation that isn’t really engaged on this issue right now,” says Lisa Perry, the digital communications manager for the project. “It’s something we learned in history class. There was no conversation about what’s happening now.”

“The dangers will never go away as long as we have nuclear weapons,” William Perry explains. “But we should take every action to lower the dangers and I think it can be done.”

A lifetime dealing with the nuclear threat

Perry served three years under President Bill Clinton, a time when more than 8,000 nuclear weapons were dismantled. His nuclear knowledge traces back to his days as a CIA analyst working with the Kennedy administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was tapped to evaluate photos showing Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba and recalls it as one of the scariest times in his life.

“We made miscalculations,” recalls Perry about those anxious two weeks. “It’s a miracle they did not lead to war.”

Perry lists the risks: US-Russia hostilities. A nuclear terror attack. A regional crisis.

On a regional conflict, Perry sees North Korea as an unpredictable nuclear threat. The regime’s growing arsenal and history of bold actions, Perry says, could be met by an escalated response by South Korea or even the United States. Not necessarily a deliberate attack, says Perry, but he fears a “blunder” that plunges the globe into a nuclear conflict.

“When a crisis reaches a boiling point then you have a possibility of a miscalculation,” warns Perry.

Trump and the nuclear threat……….http://wtkr.com/2017/03/11/at-89-he-works-with-granddaughter-to-prevent-nuclear-doom/

March 13, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Dangers of Nuclear Weapons “Modernization”

Trump Is Bankrupting Our Nation to Enrich the War Profiteers March 06, 2017 By Jonathan King and Richard KrushnicTruthout | News Analysis  

“……..Perhaps the most dangerous effect of Trump’s plan is the further modernization of the nuclear weapons triad. Great damage can be done with conventional weapons to people and their communities. But the increased investment in nuclear weapons increases the chances of inadvertent or intentional nuclear war. The resulting catastrophic damage to human society and to the planet will likely be irreversible. We share the concern with many defense experts, such as former Defense Secretary William Perry, that this modernization will increase the anxieties of Russia, China and other nations, and increase the chance of an accidental launch. The launching of the missiles from a single Trident class submarine would obliterate every major city in any adversary nation. If that nation were Russia, the retaliatory response, following in minutes to hours, would obliterate every city on the East Coast of the United States.

Rutgers Climate Scientist Alan Robock and his colleagues have shown that even a limited exchange — for example between India and Pakistan — would generate firestorms throwing enough soot and particles into the upper atmosphere to generate a nuclear winter, lowering the Earth’s temperature and creating worldwide famine for decades following………http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39712-trump-is-bankrupting-our-nation-to-enrich-the-war-profiteers

March 8, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

[Robert Park ] Amnesty for NK officials Kim’s strategic nightmare

My Jan. 9 article addressed the anti-human inanity a preventive (aka preemptive) strike on northern nuclear facilities would represent. Synopsis: the scheme should be deemed a nonstarter as intelligence on the North’s weapons isn’t authoritative, qualifying nuclear retaliation via unexposed arsenals as a credible outcome. Such a move may breach international law, and wouldn’t be considered valid by China — thus setting the stage for another war.

Former US Secretary of Defense William Perry warned against the preemptive strike idea in a Jan. 6 op-ed, writing “Today a war would be no less than catastrophic, possibly destroying the societies of both Koreas.” He stressed Kim doesn’t possess the “objective of achieving martyrdom” and is “not suicidal,” reminding he’d never “launch an unprovoked attack on the United States.”

Perry declined undertaking a preemptive strike as defense secretary, and realized quickly that “Such a strike could still destroy the facilities at Yongbyon but probably would not destroy their nuclear weapons, likely not located there.”

Ominously, he put forth that “a second Korean War, far more devastating than the first” could be on the horizon unless North Korea’s “quest for a nuclear ICBM” is halted. However, I would caution against the use of aforesaid rhetoric; Korea’s small population lost some 5 million — primarily noncombatants — in the 1950-53 war, to allow for them to sacrifice a greater number of their people under any circumstances or by any stretch of the imagination is unacceptable.

Moreover, there’s a potentiality the “preemptive” attack would fortify Kim Jong-un’s grip on power rather than undermine him. After millions died, Kim could easily exploit the bloodbath to fuel inflammatory propaganda, as “proof” of an external threat against “the survival of the North Korean people.” Conforming to this scenario, he’d muster domestic support on such scale impossible before the strike — ensuring regime durability for generations.

All the more, PRC authorities would adopt a renewed policy undergirding Kim’s rule in the wake of such attack, thereafter guarding the regime’s continuity for their national security interests at all costs — vastly more unequivocally than previously.

Hence, the “preemptive strike” can bestow upon Kim a degree of “legitimacy” heretofore inaccessible, while undoing hard-won gains in the protracted struggle to uncloak — within the perception of the people — an altogether illegitimate, criminal and genocidal despotism.

A far more rational method — indeed, Kim Jong-un’s worst nightmare scenario — would be a vigorously-implemented policy of conditional South Korean amnesty toward senior North Korean officials and the northern military.

As reported by the Chosun Ilbo on Dec. 20 respecting the post-defection remarks of Thae Yong-ho:

“… The absence of a second-in-command in the North opens up the chance of reunification ‘if something happens to’ leader Kim Jong-un. … What scares the regime most is that the elite could defect en masse … Seoul should … find ways of reassuring them that they can come to South Korea.”

Since escaping, Thae has admonished repeatedly that “Kim Jong-un will never give up nuclear weapons” under any terms, as have many others. Yet he also has said that internal dissatisfaction with Kim Jong-un is sweeping and, consequently, his dominance has reached its limit.

On a South Korean program on Jan. 3, Thae proclaimed, “We should collapse the Kim Jong-un regime by causing an internal revolt. … I am 100 percent sure we can do it. … The South Korean government and people should enlighten North Korean citizens to make them stand against Kim Jong-un’s reign of terror.”

Nevertheless, if South Korea does not take heed of the situation, continues in limbo and renders itself powerless to respond, we could end up with a “bloodbath,” perennial division and the consolidation of Kim’s totalitarianism for his entire lifespan; with those who remain living in the long shadow of war — in which a people can never truly be free.

Twenty-five million leaflets extending provisory amnesty disseminated throughout the north forthwith could spell the end of Kim’s oppression. It would be imperative for the operation to be backed up by significant covert humanitarian gestures — such as aiding defections and assisting persons and communities in obtaining subsistence through non-official avenues — and corresponding surreptitious consultations to form alliances with as many officials in and from the north as achievable. Likewise, all modes of communication into the north such as clandestine radio broadcasts should be strategically employed.

Only recently, Thae was held to be among Kim’s staunchest adherents, so trusted he was a personal escort for Kim Jong-chul — Jong-un’s brother — to a London concert. Nearly overnight, he metamorphosed into one of the most vocal and uncompromising opponents of Kim’s tyranny — and parallel sheer reversals are wholly conceivable for other North Korean elites including those who, just as the late Jang Song-thaek did, surround Kim today.

South Korean amnesty should be contingent upon two factors: 1) The cessation of all human rights violations — most explicitly those in the prison camps — as a core, overarching objective and 2) opposing the person of Kim Jong-un.

Several amnesty recipients might have committed — upon the Kim dynasty’s decrees — the most heinous atrocities; howbeit there are numerous cases where former camp guards and North Korean military elites who participated in aforementioned crimes have been comprehensively reformed and integrated into South Korean society, even befriending one-time captives and speaking alongside them at international human rights conferences. Dismantling the genocidal system necessitates this — amnesty is unmistakably integral to disarming Kim Jong-un, freeing the North’s brutally mistreated people and reunifying the Korean Peninsula.

In view of geopolitical actualities, unification by virtue of this framework must take place solely between Koreans themselves. After Kim’s capture, it is critical that those who staged the deed have a direct channel of communication to South Korean authorities — as allies. Akin to the global intelligence vacuum which prevailed in the immediate aftermath of Kim Jong-il’s death, outside countries and media shouldn’t be informed of the shift until officially proclaimed — this time, of course, by South Korea as a unified, single and advisably independent country.

A universally acknowledged principle among North Koreans is that money reliably “answers everything.” With a relatively marginal amount of cash (or cigarettes and other commonplace items) a tremendous deal can be achieved — including the release of prisoners. No one is beyond bribes — counting those who operate prison camps or oversee nuclear development. At this juncture, virtually all want out and none feel unthreatened. A chance at life, mended families, freedom and long-term basic security is what the populace yearns for, much more than any fleeting hand-out — provisory amnesty would assuage fears of retribution and thereupon inspire mass cooperation with South Korea all through the north, stopping Kim’s killing spree and nuclear blackmail determinately.

By Robert Park

Robert Park is a founding member of the nonpartisan Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea, minister, musician and former prisoner of conscience. — Ed.

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170206000982

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Summing Up Russia’s Real Nuclear Fears!

CIS:E.1512-2004

The conflicts between Washington and Moscow keep on growing: Ukraine and Syria, rival war games, “hybrid” wars and “cyber-wars.” Talk of a new Cold War doesn’t do justice to the stakes.

https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/29/summing-up-russias-real-nuclear-fears/

“My bottom line is that the likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War,” declares former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry.

If a new Trump administration wants to peacefully reset relations with Russia, there’s no better way to start than by canceling the deployment of costly new ballistic missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. One such system went live in Romania this May; another is slated to go live in Poland in 2018. Few U.S. actions have riled President Putin as much as this threat to erode Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

Only last month, at a meeting in Sochi with Russian military leaders, to discuss advanced new weapons technology, Putin vowed, “We will continue to do all we need to ensure the strategic balance of forces. We view any attempts to change or dismantle it, as extremely dangerous. Our task is to effectively neutralize any military threats to Russia’s security, including those posed by the newly-deployed strategic missile defense systems.”

Putin accused unnamed countries — obviously led by the United States — of “nullifying” international agreements on missile defense “in an effort to gain unilateral advantages.”

Moscow has reacted to this perceived threat with more than mere words. It is developing new and deadlier nuclear missiles, including the SS-30, to counter U.S. defenses. It has rebuffed new arms control negotiations. And it has provocatively stationed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad to “target . . . the facilities that . . . start posing a threat to us,” as Putin put it last month.

If a new arms race is underway, it’s not for lack of warning. The Russians have voiced their concerns about missile defenses for years and years, without any serious acknowledgment from Washington. From their vantage point, the apparent bad faith of successive U.S. administrations, Democratic as well as Republican, is a flashing red light to which they had to respond.

Russia’s Nightmare

From the earliest days of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense (“Star Wars”) Initiative to make ballistic missiles “impotent and obsolete,” an alarmed Moscow has viewed U.S. efforts to build a missile shield as a long-term threat to their nuclear deterrent.

In 2002, President Bush one-upped Reagan and unilaterally canceled the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. He did so after Russia’s foreign minister, Igor Ivanov publicly pleaded with Washington not to terminate this landmark arms control agreement.

Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine, Ivanov warned that such a move would set back recent progress in Russian-U.S. relations and destroy “30 years of efforts by the world community” to reduce the danger of nuclear war. Russia would be forced, against its desire for international cooperation, to build up its own forces in response. The arms race would be back in full force — leaving the United States less secure, not more.

But with Russia still reeling from the neoliberal “shock therapy” that it suffered through during the 1990s, the neoconservatives (then in charge of U.S foreign policy) were confident of winning such an arms race. In 2002, President Bush adopted a National Security Strategy that explicitly called for U.S military superiority over every other power. To that end, he called on the Pentagon to develop a ground-based missile defense system within two years.

Since then, that program has lined the pockets of major U.S. military contractors without achieving any notable successes. Critics – including the U.S. General Accountability Office, National Academy of Sciences and Union of Concerned Scientists – have blasted the program for failing more than half of its operational tests. Today, after the expenditure of more than $40 billion, it enjoys bipartisan support mainly as a jobs program.

Russia fears, however, that it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. perfects its missile shield technology enough to erode the deterrent capabilities of Moscow’s nuclear arsenal.

Source links and More of the story on this link;

https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/29/summing-up-russias-real-nuclear-fears/

January 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Trump’s chosen US defense secretary questions need for land-based nuclear missiles

missiles s korea museumJames Mattis warned that land-based nuclear missiles pose false alarm danger
Trump’s pick for next US defence secretary has questioned need for US’s ICBMs, which are ready to launch within minutes in event of an attack,
Guardian, , 4 Dec 16, James Mattis, the retired general Donald Trump has chosen to be the next US defence secretary, has questioned the need for land-based nuclear missiles on the grounds they represent a higher risk than other weapons of being launched on a false alarm.

Mattis raised doubts about US nuclear orthodoxy in a statement to Congress in 2015, raising the issue over whether nuclear deterrence should continue to rest on a “triad” of weapon types: land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched missiles and warheads carried by air force bombers. During the campaign, Trump vowed to proceed with current plans to modernise all three legs of the triad, with an estimated price tag of half a trillion dollars over 20 years.

In his remarks to the Senate about US national security priorities, Mattis struck a more sceptical tone. He asked whether the US should declare that the sole purpose of its nuclear arsenal was to deter nuclear attack, a statement that would narrow its purpose and potentially lower the number of warheads required. The present US nuclear posture states that, in some circumstances, the current, 4,500-warhead arsenal has a role in deterring conventional or chemical weapon attack.

“The nuclear stockpile must be tended to and fundamental questions must be asked and answered,” Mattis told the Senate armed services committee. “We must clearly establish the role of our nuclear weapons: do they serve solely to deter nuclear war? If so we should say so, and the resulting clarity will help to determine the number we need.”

“Is it time to reduce the triad to a diad, removing the land‐based missiles? This would reduce the false alarm danger,” Mattis said.

The US has about 400 ICBMs on a “hair-trigger alert”, ready to launch within minutes if early warning systems show an incoming attack. Several former defence secretaries and generals have argued that they should be taken off this state of readiness because of the danger of false alarms, especially in the age of cyber warfare. Some former officials, including William Perry, defence secretary in the Clinton administration, have argued ICBMs should be scrapped altogether.

Perry said he knew Mattis well, having worked for the marine, then a colonel, for three years during Perry’s time at the Pentagon. The two have since taken part in conferences and panel discussions on nuclear weapons and defence.

“He’s very intelligent, a very serious thinker, nothing frivolous at all about him,” Perry told the Guardian. “My view of him is that he will be a solid addition to Trump’s team. He brings an experience in defence and national security that is lacking.”

“More importantly,” Perry said, “he is a man who says what he thinks. He’s not easily intimidated. He is known for speaking truth to power and that will be a great asset in this administration.”

Perry added that, during conversations he had had with Mattis and George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, the marine general showed a deep understanding of the dangers of nuclear weapons. “I would not expect him to be recommending anything rash with nuclear weapons,” Perry said……. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/04/james-mattis-defense-secretary-nuclear-missiles-trump

December 7, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

3 nuclear dangers, 3 opportunities – with President Trump

TrumpNuclear Trump: 3 Dangers and 3 Opportunities The man whom advisers did not trust with a Twitter account will soon have the unfettered opportunity to launch nuclear war. The Nation By Joseph Cirincione ,  NOVEMBER 16, 2016 

“……. The man who can be baited with a tweet, the man whose campaign team did not trust with a Twitter account, the man whose unpredictability and wild temperament made him an unacceptable choice for the majority of voters this November, will have, from that moment forward, the unfettered ability to launch nuclear war.

 There is no institutional check on a president’s ability to fire nuclear weapons should he or she wish to do so. President Trump will be able to launch, within minutes, one or one thousand nuclear weapons without any vote, any check, or even any serious deliberation.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | 2 Comments

World’s leaders’ love affair with nuclear weapons will eliminate us all, if we don’t eliminate those weapons

bombed cityEliminate nuclear weapons – or they’ll eliminate us http://www.citizen-times.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/10/21/guest-columnist-eliminate-nuclear-weapons-eliminate-us/92510602/Lew Patrie, Will you help end our terrible love affair with nuclear weapons that threatens us all?

October 22, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton not convinced of need for $trillion modernization of nuclear cruise missile

USA election 2016Hillary Clinton ‘Inclined To’ Cancel Nuclear Cruise Missile, Aviation Week Sep 30, 2016 by  in Ares As the Pentagon moves ahead with a trillion-dollar modernization of its nuclear arsenal, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton seems to be breaking with the Obama administration’s posture, signaling she might cancel a planned replacement of the legacy nuclear-tipped cruise missile.

October 1, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Both Russia and America Prepare for Nuclear War? (and this is ‘good for business’)

Dangerous Crossroads: Both Russia and America Prepare for Nuclear War? http://www.globalresearch.ca/dangerous-crossroads-both-russia-and-america-prepare-for-nuclear-war/5548074  By Prof Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, September 27, 2016 Barely acknowledged by the Western media. both Russia and America are “rearming” their nuclear weapons systems. While the US is committed to a multibillion dollar modernization project, Russia is largely involved in a “cost-effective” restructuring process which consists in decommissioning parts of its land-based ICBM arsenal (Topol) and replacing it with the more advanced Yars RS-24 system, developed in 2007. 

While a new arms race has “unofficially” been launched, the US modernization process pertains to the all three legs of the triad system, -i.e land based  airborne and submarine launched atomic missiles. It is also coupled with the development of the B61-12 tactical bomb to be deployed in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey.

Rest assured, the B61-12 is a “mini-nuke” with an explosive capacity of up to four Hiroshima bombs. It is   categorized as a “defensive” (peace-making) weapon for use in the conventional war theater. According to scientists on contract to the Pentagon, the B61-11 and 12 (bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads) are “harmless to civilians because the explosion is underground”. 

The nuclear triad modernization project is at the expense of US tax payers. It requires the redirection of federal revenues from the financing of “civilian” expenditure categories (including health, education, infrastructure etc) to the “war economy”.  It’s all for a good cause: “peace and security”. 

missile-moneyWar is “Good for Business”

The multibillion dollar project is a financial bonanza for America’s major defense contractors including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which are also firm supporters of Hillary Clinton’s stance regarding a possible first strike nuclear attack against Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Reported by Defense News, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on September 26 called for the “need to modernize all three legs of the nuclear triad.” The project would require a major boost in defense expenditure.

Underscoring today’s “volatile security environment”, the multibillion dollar project is required, according to Carter, in view of threats largely emanating from Russia, China as well as North Korea:

Carter’s comments came during a visit to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, … Under the fiscal year 2017 budget request, Carter said, the department pledged $19 billion to the nuclear enterprise, part of $108 billion planned over the next five years. The department has also spent around $10 billion over the last two years, the secretary said in prepared comments. The “nuclear triad” references the three arms of the US strategic posture — land-based ICBMs, airborne weapons carried by bombers, and submarine-launched atomic missiles. All of those programs are entering an age where they need to be modernized.

Pentagon estimates have pegged the cost of modernizing the triad and all its accompanying requirements at the range of $350 to $450 billion over the next 10 years, with a large chunk of costs hitting in the mid-2020s, just as competing major modernization projects for both the Air Force and Navy come due.

Critics of both America’s nuclear strategy and Pentagon spending have attempted to find ways to change the modernization plan, perhaps by cancelling one leg of the triad entirely.But Carter made it clear in his speech that he feels such plans would put America at risk at a time when Russia, China and North Korea, among others, are looking to modernize their arsenals. (Defense News, September 26, 2016)

Carter casually dismissed the dangers of a no-win global war, which could evolve towards a “nuclear holocaust”, Ironically  ”… He also hit at critics of the nuclear program — which include former Secretary of Defense William Perry, [who ironically is] widely seen as a mentor for Carter — who argue that investing further into nuclear weapons will increase the risk of atomic catastrophe in the future. (Defense News, September 26, 2016)

Carter expressed his concern regarding Russia’s alleged “nuclear saber-rattling”.

Russia’s  ICBM System

Were Carter’s timely statements in response to Russia redeployment and restructuring of its ICBM system on its Western frontier,  which were announced on September 20?

Last week, the Russian news agency Tass confirmed that “The westernmost strategic missile force division in the Tver region will soon begin to be rearmed with the missile system Yars.”

It will be a sixth strategic missile division where the newest mobile ground-based missile complexes will replace the intercontinental ballistic missile Topol,” the press-service of the Strategic Missile Force quotes its commander Sergey Karakayev as saying.

According to the official, this year regiments in the Irktusk and Yoshkar-Ola divisions began to be rearmed. The re-armament of the Novosibirsk and Tagil divisions is nearing completion. Earlier, the Teikovo division was fully rearmed.

The final decision to rearm the strategic missile division in the Tver Region will be made after a command staff exercise there. The press-service said the exercises will be devoted to maneuvering along combat patrol routes.

In the near future the ICBM RS-24 Yars, alongside the previously commissioned monoblock warhead ballistic missile RS-12M2 Topol-M, will constitute the backbone of Russia’s strategic missile force.

The Yars ICBM RS-24 was developed in 2007 in response to the US Missile Shield. It is nothing new in Russia’s military arsenal. It is a high performance system equipped with thermonuclear capabilities.

What this report suggests is the restructuring of Russia’s strategic missile force and the replacement of the Topol system (which Moscow considers obsolete) with the Yars ICBM RS-24.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention putting on pressure for nuclear disarmament

This is a critical moment for the disarmament movement, and activists in Canada and abroad are pushing for broad public support for a nuclear ban. In September, the United Nations’ open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament will present its final report, hopefully laying out a path toward a convention banning these weapons for good.

flag-canadaNuclear disarmament: back on centre stagELIZABETH RENZETTI, The Globe and Mail, text-relevantAug. 05, 2016 Could Donald Trump accidentally be the best friend of the nuclear disarmament movement? This may sound like Dr. Strangelove-level madness, but the prospect of the Republican presidential candidate anywhere near the nuclear launch codes could be a pivotal movement for public awareness, and it comes at a critical time for the movement to ban those weapons.

Consider, first, that the disarmament movement, although well-organized and determined, has done its important work largely in the dark for the past three decades. It’s just not an issue that electrifies the public, even if it should. As former U.S. defence secretary William Perry writes in his recent book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, “Our chief peril is that the poised nuclear doom, much of it hidden beneath the seas and in remote badlands, is too far out of the global public consciousness. Passivity shows broadly.”

Now, consider that Mr. Trump has made this existential threat – Russia and the United States each have nearly 2,000 weapons deployed and ready to launch – not so much theoretical as terrifyingly real. This week, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough created a stir when he said he had heard that a “foreign policy expert” was briefing Mr. Trump, and the presidential candidate mentioned nuclear weapons, asking, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”……

This is a critical moment for the disarmament movement, and activists in Canada and abroad are pushing for broad public support for a nuclear ban. In September, the United Nations’ open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament will present its final report, hopefully laying out a path toward a convention banning these weapons for good.

The eight nuclear powers (North Korea is the ninth) will try to block this. Canada, which has traditionally sided with it large and domineering American friend on nuclear-arms issues at the UN, could instead take a leading and ground-breaking role toward a more stable and peaceful world, as it did with the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines in 1997. (Last year, Canada was one of only 29 countries refusing to endorse a humanitarian pledge to seek a weapons treaty at the UN, along with the United States and Britain, also a nuclear power. Meanwhile 139 countries supported the pledge. Seventeen abstained, including the nuclear states India, Pakistan and China.)

More than 800 members of the Order of Canada have supported the campaign by Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, and the group Science for Peace has started a national letter-writing campaign to persuade Canadian lawmakers. This may take some doing……..

As long as the disarmament issue remains at the back of the public consciousness, nothing will change. In early August every year, the world briefly stops to remember the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then moves on again. This might be changing, though: There were powerful protests last month as British lawmakers voted to renew the Trident nuclear submarine defence, and alarm bells when the failed Turkish coup threatened Incirlik Air Force base, where the United States stores some of its nuclear weapons…….

both Russia and the United States are moving, in real time, to refurbish their nuclear arsenals.

It’s worth keeping in mind the words of Mr. Perry, who witnessed the devastation of Japan as a soldier stationed there after the Second World War: “I believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War – and yet our public is blissfully unaware of the new nuclear dangers they face.” That’s a scary message, but fear can be a great motivator, at the right time. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/nuclear-disarmament-back-on-centre-stage/article31284426/

August 6, 2016 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment