Welcome to the new nuclear arms race (Revelation 16)

February 04, 2019 – 03:30 PM EST

By Tom Z. Collina, opinion contributor 77

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

If you missed out on the first nuclear arms race, you’re in luck. It’s back.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a landmark deal signed in 1987 by President Reagan.

This treaty marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. INF and follow-on agreements led to the demise of thousands of nuclear weapons in Russia that used to be aimed at us.

The very next day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country would follow suit:

“Our answer will be symmetrical,” Putin said. “Our American partners declared that they will suspend their participation in the treaty, so we will suspend ours as well. They said they would start research and development, and we will do the same.” 

Of course. This is how an arms race starts.

We have seen this movie before, and it does not end well. In “Arms Race One,” the United States built an insanely large nuclear arsenal that peaked at more than 30,000 warheads in the 1960s. Russia, then the Soviet Union, had 40,000.

Today, thanks to arms control agreements that are now on the chopping block, both sides are down to about 4,000 each; still way too many but heading in the right direction. Climate research shows that just 100 weapons detonated on cities could end civilization as we know it.

How much did all of this cost? About $6 trillion. How did we survive it? By sheer good luck. In the words of former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, who had a front row seat to the buildup, “There is only one way to win an arms race: refuse to run.” 

Global sanity got a leg up when the stars aligned and two enlightened leaders agreed to change course. In 1985, President Reagan and Soviet Premier Gorbachev declared that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

The INF Treaty followed two years later. The Cold War began to thaw and finally melted away with the Soviet Union in 1992. 

But in “Arms Race Two: The Sequel,” now we have the U.S. and Russian presidents conspiring in the opposite direction — to kill nuclear arms control. It is no secret that Russia has been chafing at the INF Treaty’s limits for years, seeking a way out. Regrettably, Moscow deployed prohibited land-based cruise missiles near its western border. 

Rather than seek to keep Russia inside INF and thereby constrained, President Trump has handed Putin a free pass to get out of the deal. Soon, Russia will be able to leave the treaty, blame the United States and build as many intermediate-range missiles as it wants. This is not progress. This is no solution. This makes things worse. 

Think of it like highway speed limits. The limit is 65, and Russia is speeding at 75. If we throw away the speed limit, Russia can now go 125 with no constraints. How is this better?

The Trump administration could seek to save INF by sitting down with Moscow and putting all the concerns on the table. Russia has its own problems with INF, such as the deployment of U.S. missile interceptors in Poland and Romania.

There is a precedent for this. Back in the 1980s, the Reagan administration accused Russia of violating the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Did President Reagan leave the treaty in a huff? No, he worked with Moscow to come back into compliance. That is what President Trump should do today. 

“The Trump administration is risking an arms race and undermining international security and stability,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. “The administration should exhaust every diplomatic effort and work closely with NATO allies over the next six months to avoid thrusting the United States into a dangerous arms competition.”

But having a one-sided conversation with Moscow will not work. “I’m asking both ministries to no longer initiate any negotiations on this issue,” Putin said Saturday. “Let’s wait until our partners are ready to hold an equal, meaningful dialogue on this extremely important topic.”  

By refusing to deal with Moscow’s concerns, the Trump administration is effectively killing INF. Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton has wanted INF dead for years.

Bolton wrote in 2011, quoting Charles de Gaulle, “Treaties, you see, are like girls and roses: They last while they last.”

Bolton led the Bush administration’s withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and from the Agreed Framework with North Korea in 2002 and led Trump out of the Iran nuclear deal just last year. These moves have proven to be major strategic blunders.

But the biggest blunder may be yet to come. The New START Treaty, signed by President Obama in 2010, is the last major agreement limiting nuclear arms, and it expires in two years. It can be renewed for five years, but only if Washington and Russia agree.

This agreement has served the United States well, and there are no indications of Russian violations. It deserves to be renewed.

But given the fate of INF, the future of New START is up for grabs. If New START is killed, it would be the first time there have been no speed limits on U.S.-Russian nuclear arsenals since 1972. We would be back in the Wild West.

We are speeding, with nuclear weapons, along a dangerous mountain road, and we are driving blind.

Tom Z. Collina is director of policy for Ploughshares Fund, a public grantmaking foundation that supports initiatives to prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons and to prevent conflicts that could lead to their use.

Iraq Horn Wants Babylon the Great OUT

Iraqis call for US troops to be expelled after Trump’s remarks

The New Arab

Trump’s remarks undermining Iraqi sovereignty fuel Baghdad calls for expulsion of US troops [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 February, 2019

Donald Trump’s remarks regarding the mission of American troops stationed in Iraq are being seen as an insult to national sovereignty in Baghdad, fuelling growing calls to expel ‘foreign forces’.

US President Donald Trump’s pledge on Sunday to keep American troops in Iraq has been condemned as “an insult” to national sovereignty, fuelling growing calls for Baghdad to expel “foreign forces”.

Trump on Saturday said he wanted to keep American soldiers in Iraq to ‘watch Iran’, but official agreements between the US and Iraq limit their remit to fighting terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and providing training and tactical advice to Iraqi forces.

On Monday, Iraqi President Barham Salih told a forum in Baghdad that Trump did not ask Iraq’s permission for US troops stationed there to “watch Iran”.

Addressing Trump, Salih said: “Don’t overburden Iraq with your own issues… The US is a major power… but do not pursue your own policy priorities, we live here”.

American troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating terrorism, Salih stressed, and that they should stick to that.

It is of fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran” and other neighbouring countries, Salih added.

Speaking to CBS, Trump had said: “One of the reasons I want to keep it [US base in Iraq] is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.

“I want to be able to watch Iran,” he added, but denied he had plans to strike Iraq’s neighbour.

Occupation or cooperation?

American military presence in Iraq is a sensitive topic, and a reminder to Iraqis of the dark chapter in their country after the US-led invasion and occupation of their country in 2003.

While US forces have been key to the rollback of the jihadis onslaught in Iraq in 2014, both independent and Iran-backed Iraqi political groups have been increasingly calling for ending foreign military deployment in the country.

US forces, whose exact numbers and locations in Iraq are not publicised, have also had run-ins with Iranian-backed Shia militias in the country, including over the weekend, and pro-Iran militias have threatened to target American forces in Iraq if they do not pull out soon.

“Members of parliament’s security, defence and foreign relations committees are now working hard to determine the exact number and real mission of the US forces in Iraq,” a high-level Iraqi government source told The New Arab’s Arabic edition.

Last week, Ali al-Khazaai, an MP affiliated to Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, told The New Arab his bloc was drafting a law designed to expel foreign forces from Iraq.

The proposed bill also enoys the support of Iranian-backed blocs in the parliament, The New Arab reported in December but pressure from the prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has so far blocked it, as he tries to balance Baghdad’s relations with its two rival allies, the US and Iran.

Trump’s remarks that come weeks after the US president sparked outrage in Iraq by visiting US troops at Ain al-Asad base without meeting a single Iraqi official, are fuelling renewed calls for the expulsion of US forces.

Deputy speaker of parliament Hassan Karim al-Kaabi, who is also close to Sadr, told AFP the remarks were a “new provocation.

Officially, Iraq says there are no American bases on its soil – only instructors deployed at Iraqi bases.

American troops have been based in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion, which toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. At the height of its fight against the militants, it had up to 170,000 US troops in the country, before a partial withdrawal starting in late 2011.

Agencies contributed to this story

The Iraq Report is a weekly feature at The New Arab.

The Pakistani Nuclear Horn Conducts Another Nuclear Test

Pakistan Conducts Second Nasr Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missile Test in a Week

Ankit Panda

On January 31, Pakistan’s Army Strategic Forces Command conducted a test of its Nasr/Hatf-IX nuclear-capable, close-range ballistic missile. The test was the second involving the Nasr to take place in January 2019.

The test was “was aimed at testing the extreme inflight maneuverability, including the end flight maneuverability,” a statement released by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations noted. The Nasr was “capable of defeating, by assured penetration, any currently available BMD (ballistic missile defense) system in our neighborhood or any other system under procurement / development,” the statement added.

The emphasis on ballistic missile defense comes as India anticipates the delivery of S-400 air defense systems from Russia by October 2020. The Russian system, depending on its configuration, is capable of conducting endo- and exoatmospheric interceptions of ballistic and cruise missiles.

This month’s Pakistani Nasr tests also come shortly after the release of the United States’ 2019 Missile Defense Review, which included an acknowledgement that the United States “has discussed potential missile defense cooperation with India.” The United States and India have consulted on missile defense since at least the mid-2000s, but India has not procured any U.S. systems to date.

The MDR described the context of U.S. talks with India on missile defense as stemming from the fact that a “number of states in South Asia are developing an advanced and diverse range of ballistic and cruise missile capabilities.” Pakistan was not mentioned by name.

This month’s Nasr tests also follow the release of the Indian Army’s 2018 Land Warfare Doctrine.

The latest Nasr test follows another just days earlier. According to ISPR, that test “involved launching of quad salvo for desired effects. Nasr is a high precision, shoot and scoot Weapon System with the ability of in-flight maneuverability.” Another test in 2017 saw the range of the Nasr extended from 60 km to 70 km.

Pakistan adopted the Nasr in response to India’s plans to improve its mobilization times under the Cold Start doctrine. “The Cold Start doctrine exists for conventional military operations. Whether we have to conduct conventional operations for such strikes is a decision well thought through, involving the government and the Cabinet Committee on Security,” General Bipin Rawat, India’s army chief, noted in a January 6, 2017, interview.

The deployment of the Nasr in Pakistan has raised concerns about accidental nuclear use in Pakistan. As The Diplomat‘s Rajeswari Rajagopalan explained last week, “Such weapons have to be forward deployed, and control of these weapons need to be delegated to lower levels of command, which increases probability of these weapons being used without being authorized by the central command.”

The Big Nuclear Blunder (Revelation 16)

Withdrawing from nuclear treaty is worst blunder in a long time

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces on Feb. 1 that the U.S. will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP)ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump, the accidental president of the United States, has just committed the worst and the most dangerous decision of any American president in a long time. He announced a decision to withdraw America from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in 1987 by president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, then General Secretary of the U.S.S.R .

That treaty eliminated cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges from 300 to over 3,000 miles from both nuclear arsenals. Both sides sometimes argued that the other had committed violations, but the treaty remained in effect. Trump’s decision to abandon the treaty is an absolute gift to Vladimir Putin and a huge reason for all of NATO to be very worried. Putin has no reason not to start building those missiles now, and they can threaten any capital in Europe, any of our NATO allies.

So where are U.S. Lindsey Graham and the defense-minded GOP now? So far, they have failed at every chance to hold Donald Trump to account on traditional GOP principles. Will they fail this chance, too?

Michael Hart, West Ridge

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Shameful history

Georgia Anne Geyer’s column in the Friday Sun-Times reminds me of those pieces strategically placed in newspapers and network and cable TV to persuade the American people that we should invade a country in the Middle East back in 2002. We may be forgiven for being fooled once, but America’s shameful history of intervention in South and Central America should caution us to ask ourselves, why are we so concerned about what is happening in Venezuela? After all, people are suffering in many countries. Could it be that, like Iraq, it is a country with oil, actually the largest oil reserves in the world?

Lynn Nelson, Uptown

Think twice

Those folks calling for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s head should think about any racial, gender, ethnic remark or action that they might have made in the past. As my pappy used to say to me, “Be careful not to point a finger at someone because three are pointing right back at you.”

Dennis Gorecki, Orland Park