US, Russia Nuclear Horns Restart Cold War

U.S., Russia Modernizing Nuclear Weapons, Risking New Cold War Rivalry

The New Cold War

The New Cold War

Inquisitr
January 6, 2015

Both the U.S. and Russia increased their arsenal of deployed nuclear weapons last year, investing in new systems and modernizing old ones. New Russian missile systems and advanced submarines, some of which violate cold war weapons control treaties, are also creating fears within in U.S. In the backdrop of Russia’s failing economy and the invasion of Ukraine, many worry about what the future holds.
 

According to Reuters, Vladimir Putin spoke to a pro-Kremlin youth camp on Russia’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, explaining, “Russia’s partners…should understand it’s best not to mess with us.”

“Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”

To make sure Russia stays a leading nuclear power, the Kremlin has invested heavily in its arsenal. According to the Guardian, most disturbing for U.S. officials have been the delivery systems. The production of advanced nuclear-capable submarines has grown rapidly; likewise the country is developing new medium-range cruise missiles, able to strike Europe with little or no warning.

The U.S. claims that the cruise missile system is a violation of the 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty. In a contentious hearing on December 10, congressional Republicans ripped the administration and its lead weapons control negotiators, the State Department’s Rose Gottemoeller, and the Pentagon’s Brian McKeon, for not adequately responding to the cruise missile threat.

Gottemoeller claims that they had contacted their people in Russia “dozens of times” about the new cruise missile, but to no avail. President Obama also wrote to Vladimir Putin to convince him to honor the INF treaty, which was equally ineffective.

Now the U.S. is threatening to deploy its own cruise missile systems to Europe, 23 years after their removal. The U.S. military is also testing experimental “blimps” over Washington D.C. Known as JLENS, the blimps are designed to be able to better detect oncoming cruise missiles.

The systems may become more vital, as Russia continues upgrading not only cruise missiles, but the submarines to carry them.

The Guardian reports that the Kremlin has been rapidly increasing its fleet of new stealth submarines, known as “boomers,” which are equal in performance to U.S. subs.

The fleet of nuclear submarines now makes regular patrols through the Atlantic. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, what many believe to be a Russian submarine was recently spotted off the coast of Scotland, leading to a hurried and unsuccessful effort to track the vessel.

Peter Roberts, retired Royal Navy commanding officer, says that Scotland is a regular stop for the submarines, known as “akula.”

“The Russians usually put out a sortie with an Akula or an Akula II around Christmas … It normally stops off Scotland, and then through the Bay of Biscay and out over the Atlantic. It will have nuclear-capable missiles on it.”

To go along with the new arsenals of nuclear weapons, both the U.S. and Russia are increasing their hostile rhetoric.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives recently passed House Resolution 758, ripping the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and calling on the president and foreign allies to do everything possible, short of armed confrontation with Russian forces, to restore Ukraine’s borders.

Pravda, a former pro-soviet news outlet, published its own blustering piece titled, “Russia prepares nuclear surprise for NATO.”

“Russia reached parity with the U.S. in the field of strategic nuclear weapons. Thus, Washington admitted that Moscow regained the status that the Soviet Union had obtained by mid-70’s of the XX century and then lost.”

With both sides investing in new nuclear weapons, and throwing around hostile language, the future of Russia-U.S. relations looks bleak.

The Korean Nuclear Horn Extends Its Arms (Daniel 7:7)

S. Korea claims Pyongyang has nuclear missiles that could reach US

South Korea says its northern neighbor has developed compact nuclear warheads that could reach mainland America. Seoul also alleges Pyongyang shows no signs of stopping its nuclear program and has gained access to tons of weapons-grade plutonium.

The South Korean Ministry of Defense published the revelations in a white paper, which states that North Korea has achieved significant technological progress in their attempts to create nuclear warheads for ballistic missiles.

The missiles could allegedly reach mainland America. Pyongyang has carried out a series of tests on long-range missiles, but no signs have been detected that Pyongyang has put such missiles into service, Seoul said.

“North Korea’s capabilities of miniaturizing nuclear weapons appear to have reached a significant level,” the ministry said in a statement adding that North Korea has stored 40 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium by reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods and that it’s working on a highly enriched uranium program.

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on June 30, 2014 shows launching of a tactical rocket during a firing drill by the Korean People's Army Strategic Force at an undisclosed place in North Korea. (AFP/KCNA)

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on June 30, 2014 shows launching of a tactical rocket during a firing drill by the Korean People’s Army Strategic Force at an undisclosed place in North Korea. (AFP/KCNA)

This is not the first time that Seoul has made such statements and it is difficult to confirm the information. North Korea is a closed country and occasionally does like to boast about its missile capabilities. In June, Pyongyang tested what it says were new precision-guided missiles.

Speaking in May 2014, the South Korean Defense Minister, Kim Kwan-jin, told journalists that Pyongyang had reached the final stages of preparations to conduct a nuclear test. However, North Korea has yet to conduct a test, adding to the theory that Pyongyang enjoys keeping its rivals on edge through a series of veiled threats.

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on June 30, 2014 shows launching of a tactical rocket during a firing drill by the Korean People's Army Strategic Force at an undisclosed place in North Korea. (AFP/KCNA)

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on June 30, 2014 shows launching of a tactical rocket during a firing drill by the Korean People’s Army Strategic Force at an undisclosed place in North Korea. (AFP/KCNA)

After South Korea latest statement, Pyongyang demanded that Washington, who is committed to defending South Korea in the event of aggression from the north, should think carefully if it wishes to further antagonize Pyongyang.

“If Washington does not make the correct choice regarding the Korean question, then there will continue to be a period where Pyongyang will strengthen its war capabilities. If the US decides to stop being hostile and meddling in North Korea’s internal affairs, Pyongyang will look favorably on this decision,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Relations between North Korea and the US have become even more strained after Washington introduced further sanctions, designed to impede access to the US financial system in the wake of a cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, which the Obama Administration has said was supported by the reclusive country.

China has meanwhile urged North Korea and South Korea to improve their relations through dialogue in order to maintain peace and safety in the region.
“As a near neighbor of the Korean peninsula, China has always supported the process of improving relations between North and South Korea through dialogue,” the TASS news agency quoted the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

In October 2014, North Korean officials held talks with their South Korean counterparts in Incheon, the first time such a high level meeting has taken place since 2007. Both parties agreed to resume high-level talks, which have been strained by military tensions on the peninsula.

AFP/KCNA via KNS

AFP/KCNA via KNS

During his New Year’s address last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who was absent from that meeting in Incheon in October, said that there was “no reason” not to hold a high-level summit with neighboring South Korea. This came days after South Korea made a similar offer to resume dialogue with Pyongyang.

“If South Korean authorities sincerely want to improve relations between North and South Korea through talks, we can resume stalled high-level meetings,” he said, as reported by Reuters.

Iran’s “Ring Of Fire”

Iran’s Plan to Wreak Havoc on Israel With Missiles 162077912
January 5, 2015 8:41 am

Author: Herbert London

The Iranian desire to acquire nuclear weapons involves several political and military scenarios, including the oft repeated desire to “annihilate” the state of Israel. However, Supreme Leader Khamenei has made it clear that even without nuclear weapons, he intends to surround Israel from the north (Hezbollah), the south (Gaza and Hamas), and the east (the West Bank) with an unbroken ring of rocket and missile arsenals.

Since the end of the summer war between Hamas and Israel, Iran has openly supplied advanced missiles to its surrogates in the region without a word of condemnation from the West.

As expressed by Supreme Leader Khamenei during the International Congress on Extremist and Takfiri [apostasy] Orientations, “We have passed through the barrier of denominational discord. We helped Hezbollah (Shia)…in the same way that we helped Sunni groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” Of course, few things unite disparate Muslims more than hatred of Israel.

Ahmad Bakhsharyesh, a member of the Iranian National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, emphasized the belief that in arming the areas contiguous to Israel, a blow has been struck against Israeli security. He also argued that through encirclement, Iran has forestalled any Israeli effort to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Khamenei has noted that in bolstering the missile arsenals of Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel’s security will be challenged and “the liberation of Jerusalem – which is the duty of every Muslim” will be achievable.

Moreover, the Fateh-110 Missile, developed in Iran, has sufficient range to strike at every target in Israel – from the north to the south. While Iran has been engaging in nuclear negotiations in Geneva and Vienna, its arms industry has been working overtime to develop advanced offensive rocket capability and has made it part of its military planning to place these upgraded weapons in the hands of Hamas and Hezbollah.

With the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region, the rapprochement towards Iran by the Obama Administration, and the strengthening of Iran’s influence in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories, Israeli security – to some degree – has been compromised.

Surely Israeli military planners understand the new challenges that have emerged. Terrorist mobilization in the Golan has increased dramatically in the last year. At the moment, Israel is quiescent, but this is likely to be a temporary reprieve from battle.

Each day that passes introduces new complications for Israeli security. Israel won the war against Hamas, and from a tactical point of view, Operation Protective Edge provided information about Hamas’ leadership, and planning and infiltration methods. But it is also true that the enemy learned a good deal about the capacity of Iron Dome, the deployment of Israeli forces, and Israel’s intelligence apparatus.

Iran’s transparent encirclement strategy is not entirely new, but it is being reinforced based on accumulated knowledge. Encirclement is also a variable that must be entertained in any preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Iran’s obsessive desire to destroy Israel must be met by an equally obsessive desire to defend the Jewish nation. If encirclement compromises Israeli defenses, a strategy must be developed to break through missile intimidation with a clear and unequivocal response.

Herbert London is the President of the London Center for Policy Research.

Introduction To The Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

The Dragon’s Fire: Welcome to Chinese Nuclear Weapons 101

January 5, 2015
The People’s Republic of China’s nuclear arsenal is achieving greater notoriety, as Beijing’s growing economy funds an upgrade of its entire military. The development of mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and a new class of ballistic missile submarines are evidence that China’s nuclear arsenal is becoming increasingly sophisticated.
China’s nuclear force, while modernizing, is a modest one by the relative standards of nuclear powerhouses like the United States or Russia. Beijing has shown little interest in developing a large nuclear stockpile, as it does not view nuclear weapons in the same vein as larger nuclear powers—viewing such weapons within a strictly defensive context with much less operational use.

History and Rationale:
For decades, China placed the bulk of its defense policy in a concept known as  “People’s War,” a strategically defensive/tactically offensive war plan that involved luring an invader deep into Chinese territory before destroying them with conventional armies and guerrilla forces. Within that context, against China’s nearly endless supply of manpower, nuclear weapons seem less appealing.
In fact, early on China had no interest in building a nuclear weapons arsenal; Mao described them as “paper tigers” that only appeared dangerous. Chinese opinion shifted in the mid-1950s, with a combination of the Korean War, Taiwan Strait Crisis—in which a nuclear-armed America protected Taiwan—and Soviet offers of nuclear assistance.
China tested its first nuclear weapon on October 16th, 1964. The test had a yield of 22 kilotons, or roughly 50 percent more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Three years it tested its first thermonuclear weapons, which produced a yield of 3,300 kilotons (3.3 megatons.)
For the most part, China developed nuclear weapons to achieve basic technological parity with the United States, Soviet Union, France and the United Kingdom. Although China built this arsenal, it never placed a high priority on constructing an effective nuclear weapons force capable of quick response.
At least for now, China appears to be content with this bare minimum nuclear deterrent: although it has not officially announced a moratorium (the only P5 country to not have done so), it is believed to have stopped production of fissile materials in the mid-1980s, leaving the country with enough to produce roughly 300 nuclear weapons.
Beijing has concentrated on a countervalue strategy, acquiring a small force of ICBMs armed with thermonuclear warheads. The DF-5 ICBM is armed with a single 5-megaton warhead. Detonated over Los Angeles (Chinese remarks around its nuclear weapons and Los Angeles have been the subject of conversation in recent years), a 5 megaton warhead would have a fireball more than two miles wide, and guarantee third degree burns 15 miles from the point of detonation.
One key tenet of Chinese nuclear policy is its “no first use” pledge. Admirable on the face of it, the pledge was also rooted in Chinese opinions that nuclear weapons in general were really much less intimidating than commonly believed. And, as Jeffrey Lewis noted in his newly released Paper Tigers: China’s Nuclear Posture, “Threats by China to use its nuclear weapons against weaker states would undermine Chinese claims that the numerically superior U.S. nuclear force had little coercive value.”
Size of the Force and Key Technological Developments:
As of 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense estimated that China’s land-based nuclear arsenal consisted of 50-75 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and 75-100 medium range ballistic missiles incapable of targeting the United States. Compared to the U.S. arsenal of 450 ICBMs, this is a modest force.
China’s first attempted to deploy thermonuclear weapons on long-range missiles. Specifically, the DF-4/CSS-3 ICBM, which was a two stage liquid-fueled missile that could reach as far as Guam or Moscow. This was far enough to hold most of America’s military assets west of Hawaii and the capital of the Soviet Union at risk. The circular error probable (the radius of a circle within which an average of fifty percent of a weapon’s warheads will land) is estimated at 1.4 to 3.5 kilometers. To make up for this relative inaccuracy, DF-4 missiles carry warheads with yields between 2 and 3 megatons.
A later design, the DF-5, can strike targets in western Russia and the western United States. An estimated 18 DF-5s are currently in service.
The DF-4/5 ICBMs are fixed weapon systems, but China now appears to be shifting to mobile ICBMs. The DF-21A medium range and DF-31A intercontinental range missiles are launched from a wheeled launch vehicle that can be moved in and out of China’s extensive network of tunnels and scattered across a large road network.
Both the DF-21 and DF-31A/B missiles each carry a single warhead, although there are reports the new DF-31B can carry up to three independently targetable warheads. In addition, the solid fueled road-mobile DF-41 ICBM that China is currently developing could carry up to 10 independently targetable warheads.
SSBN Development:
China’s first ballistic missile submarine, the Xia-class, was launched in 1981. There were persistent rumors that it caught fire and sank pier-side in the 1980s, but the submarine is still functional as of 2014. Although equipped with 12 JL-1A ballistic missiles, it has never conducted a nuclear deterrence patrol.
China is currently building a force of approximately five second-generation Jin-class ballistic missile submarines. Each Jin carries at least 12 JL-2 ballistic missiles. Technologically, however, they are still inferior to U.S. designs — the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence has assessed them as being noisier than Soviet late 1970s-era Delta III submarines. Also troubling, Each Jin-class submarine must travel to the North Pacific in order to bring the United States into range of its missiles.
Nukes in the Air?
Although aircraft was the first means by which China could deliver nuclear weapons, the air component of Beijing’s nuclear arsenal has fallen out of favor over time. In the past, China’s nuclear capable aircraft included the Hong-6 (H-6) and Qian-5A (Q-5A) attack bombers equipped with gravity nuclear bombs. In the 1990s, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies estimated that China had about 150 gravity nuclear bombs for its aircraft, with the vast majority designed for the H-6 bomber. More recent estimates suggest that China only has roughly 40 of these nuclear-capable air-to-surface missiles.
However, China’s new bomber, the H-6K, is expected to enhance the third leg of China’s nuclear triad considerably. Indeed, as a state-owned Chinese media outlet noted of the H-6K in 2013, “The nuclear-capable Changjian (long sword)-10 cruise missiles it [the H-6K] carries have a range of 1,500-2,000 KM, effectively extending the bomber’s combat range to 4,000-5,000 KM – long enough to reach Okinawa, Guam and even Hawaii from China’s mainland.”
Conclusion:
China’s nuclear program may indeed one day seek to achieve parity with big nuclear powers like the United States and Russia. Beijing’s basic notions about nuclear weapons were first conceived under ideological constraints while the country was much poorer than it is today.  However, if relations were to turn quite hostile with any of the big nuclear powers China could quickly change its thinking.
That having been said, China gives no indication of doing so, and the amount of fissile material available puts a hard limit on the number of nuclear weapons it can currently deploy.
Kyle Mizokami is a writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in The Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and The Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch.