The Dreadful Beast With Ten Horns (Daniel 7:7)

NATO-based nuclear weapons are an advantage in a dangerous world

NATO Nuclear Response System

NATO Nuclear Response System
 August 17 at 7:12 PM
Brent Scowcroft was national security advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. Stephen J. Hadley was national security adviser to President George W. Bush. Franklin Miller was responsible for U.S. nuclear policy in the Defense Department for Presidents George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton and on the National Security Council staff for President George W. Bush.
When NATO’s leaders gather in Wales in early September, they will address several issues critical to the alliance, including Russian adventurism in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, members’ contribution to collective defense, the adequacy of individual national defense budgets and plans for supporting the people of Afghanistan. In the course of their deliberations on these issues, however, they also should reaffirm the value to the alliance of the continued presence of the modest number of U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe. We believe this is necessary because we are again hearing calls for the United States to unilaterally withdraw its small arsenal of forward- deployed nuclear bombs. Those arguments are shopworn, familiar — and wrong.
The most common argument is that because the United States’ strategic forces have global capabilities, the NATO-based weapons “have no military value.” While that claim is false (NATO’s supreme allied commander recently attested to the weapons’ military utility), it also ignores the most central feature of nuclear weapons: They are, fundamentally, political weapons. A principal function of forward deployment has been, and remains, to be a visible symbol to friend and potential foe of the U.S. commitment to defend NATO with all of the military power it possesses.
The newer members joined NATO in large part to get under this nuclear umbrella, and they have been vocal in expressing their concern that withdrawing the weapons would symbolize a diminution in the U.S. commitment to defend them. Their concerns are heightened as they watch a recidivist Russia conduct exercises simulating nuclear strikes on Poland and the Baltic states, threatening nuclear strikes on nascent NATO missile-defense sites and continuing to deploy a bloated arsenal of several thousand short-range nuclear weapons.
A second argument is that because nuclear weapons have no place in international relations in the 21st century, they certainly shouldn’t be forward deployed in NATO Europe. In his much-heralded 2009 Prague speech, President Obama called on the nuclear states to reduce the role such weapons played in their respective security strategies, and he took steps to implement his vision in the United States. Apart from Britain, no other nuclear weapons state took heed; indeed, the others expanded their nuclear modernization programs and gave nuclear weapons a more central role. Of particular concern to NATO, Russia has embarked on an across-the-board modernization of its nuclear forces, a modernization judged so important by Moscow that it has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the process. As our NATO allies point out, nuclear weapons clearly matter to Russian leadership, and, as a result, our allies insist that the U.S. nuclear commitment to NATO cannot be called into question.
 
A third argument is that NATO, in the aggregate, enjoys overwhelming conventional military superiority. This argument, however, is built on two fundamental fallacies. First, such aggregate comparisons mask the reality that on NATO’s eastern borders, on a regular basis, Russian forces are numerically superior to those of the alliance. As events in Crimea and Ukraine showed, Russia’s armed forces have improved significantly since their poor performance in Georgia in 2008; demonstrating impressive operational capabilities, they have made clear they are no longer the rag-tag army of the past decade. Second, focusing on conventional war-fighting capabilities overlooks the fact that NATO’s principal goal is deterring aggression rather than having to defeat it. And it is here that NATO’s nuclear capabilities provide their greatest value.
Finally, we are told that there are deep divisions within NATO on keeping nuclear weapons forward deployed. It is true that in 2007 and 2008, domestic politics in several alliance states fostered such a debate. It should be no surprise that in an alliance of 28 democratically elected governments such differences will develop. But by the Lisbon summit of November 2010, those differences had been resolved, and the Strategic Concept , endorsed by all 28 NATO heads of government, stated: “We will maintain an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional forces [and] ensure the broadest possible participation of Allies in collective defense planning on nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces, and in command, control, and communications arrangements.” Two years later, in Chicago, all leaders issued the “Deterrence and Defense Policy Review,” which said: “Nuclear weapons are a core component of NATO’s overall capabilities for deterrence and defense alongside conventional and missile defense.”
With Russia continuing to support forces that are seeking to destabilize Ukraine and taking unsettling actions in both the Baltics and the Balkans, this is no time to destabilize the NATO alliance and traumatize our NATO allies by withdrawing our nuclear weapons from Europe.

The New Terrorist Threat (Revelation 16)

New threat to nuclear security

A Nuclear Dirty Bomb

A Nuclear Dirty Bomb

Published: 2014-08-17 21:01
Updated: 2014-08-17 21:01

LOS ANGELES ― Nobody would dispute the danger inherent in possessing nuclear assets. But that danger becomes far more acute in a combat zone, where nuclear materials and weapons are at risk of theft, and reactors can become bombing targets. These risks ― most apparent in today’s chaos-ridden Middle East ― raise troubling questions about the security of nuclear assets in volatile countries everywhere.

Two recent events demonstrate what is at stake. On July 9, the militant group now known as the Islamic State captured 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of uranium compounds at Mosul University in Iraq. The captured uranium was not weapons-grade; international inspectors removed all sensitive material from Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War (which is why it was absent when the United States invaded in 2003). But what international response, if any, would have been initiated if the cache had been highly enriched?

On the same day, Hamas launched three powerful Iranian-designed rockets from Gaza at Israel’s Dimona reactor. Luckily, two missed the target, and Israel managed to intercept the third. But the episode represented a serious escalation of hostilities and served as an important reminder of the vulnerability of nuclear reactors in warzones.

In fact, Hamas made similar attempts to attack the Dimona complex in 2012, as did Iraq in 1991, with the aim of releasing the site’s contents to inflict radiological damage on Israel’s population. (The perpetrators appeared clueless to the fact that certain weather conditions would have concentrated the radioactive debris in the Palestinian-majority West Bank.)

Of course, it is possible that these events are an aberration. After all, the only conflict so far in which authorities have lost control of sensitive nuclear materials was the Georgia-Abkhazia War in the 1990s, when unknown forces seized a small amount of highly enriched uranium from a research institute.

Likewise, though there have been numerous attacks on nuclear reactors under construction, the sole threat to an operating plant in a combat zone outside of Israel occurred at the start of the fighting in ex-Yugoslavia, when Serbian nationalists considered attacking Slovenia’s Krsko power plant and sent warplanes over the site. The plant’s operators temporarily halted electricity generation to curb the risk of a radiation release, but nothing came of the threat.

Indeed, whenever nuclear assets have been least secure ― during the Soviet Union’s collapse, China’s Cultural Revolution, and the Algiers putsch (when a group of mutinous retired generals set their sights on a nuclear device that France was testing in the Algerian desert) ― they have not been compromised. Even in Ukraine today, despite the escalating civil conflict, the country’s 15 nuclear power plants have remained untouched (though even with new defensive measures taken by Ukrainian officials, this could easily change).

It is impossible to know whether this benign pattern will hold. But recent developments in the Middle East suggest that there are grounds for concern in other volatile countries, namely Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran.

Pakistan has a large nuclear weapons program and faces an expansive jihadi insurgency, which previously attacked military bases suspected of housing nuclear assets. Though Pakistan has not experienced a nuclear breach, and the government insists that safeguards remain robust, the country’s increasingly frequent and severe bouts of instability raise serious questions about the future.

While North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is much smaller, persistent doubts about the regime’s sustainability make it a matter of grave concern. In the event of the regime’s collapse ― a distinct possibility ― it would be difficult to prevent the diversion of its assets, or even the use of its weapons.

For its part, Iran seems relatively stable, at least compared to its neighbors. But it faces an uncertain political future. If a power struggle emerges, the large Bushehr reactor could be used as a bargaining chip.

To mitigate such risks, the international community could maintain its traditional policy of sitting tight and hoping that governments retain control of their nuclear infrastructure. But the United States, for one, is no longer satisfied with this approach. According to media reports, it has devised a strategy for deploying Special Forces to neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the event that its authorities lose control. And some government-connected think tanks have explored the possibility of deploying U.S. combat forces to address nuclear risks in North Korea if the regime crumbles.

Such plans, however, are by no means foolproof ― not least owing to the difficulties of finding concealed nuclear assets and safeguarding reactors. Moreover, the American public’s willingness to become enmeshed in yet another risky military venture, when boosting homeland security could suffice, is dubious, at best.

Instead of waiting for a major development to force hurried action, the world’s major powers should engage in a full-throated debate to determine the best approach to address nuclear risks in volatile countries, seeking ways to cooperate whenever necessary. After all, even rival powers like China and the U.S. or India and Pakistan share an interest in preventing the world’s most dangerous weapons from falling under the control of its most fanatical minds.

By Bennett Ramberg
Bennett Ramberg, a policy analyst in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs under former President George H.W. Bush, is the author of “Destruction of Nuclear Energy Facilities in War” and “Nuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy.” ― Ed.