White House Already Making Plans for War

An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. blamed Iran for suspected attacks on two oil tankers Thursday near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, denouncing what it called a campaign of “escalating tensions” in a region crucial to global energy supplies.

The U.S. Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the Gulf of Oman off the coast of Iran, including one that was set ablaze. The ships’ operators offered no immediate explanation on who or what caused the damage against the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. Each was loaded with petroleum products, and the Front Altair burned for hours, sending up a column of thick, black smoke.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. assessment of Iran’s involvement was based in part on intelligence, as well as the expertise needed for the operation. It was also based on recent incidents in the region that the U.S. also blamed on Iran, including the use of limpet mines — designed to be attached magnetically to a ship’s hull — to attack four oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port of Fujairah and the bombing of an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia by Iranian-backed fighters in May, he said.

Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Pompeo said. He provided no evidence, gave no specifics about any plans and took no questions.

At the United Nations, the United States asked for closed Security Council consultations on the tanker incidents later Thursday.

Iran’s U.N. Mission said the government “categorically rejects” the U.S. claim that it was responsible for the attacks and condemned it “in the strongest possible terms.”

A statement from the mission issued Thursday evening said Iran “stands ready to play an active and constructive role in ensuring the security of strategic maritime passages.” It warned of “U.S. coercion, intimidation and malign behavior” and expressed concern “over suspicious incidents” involving the two tankers on Thursday.

Iran denied being involved in the attacks last month and its foreign minister questioned the timing of Thursday’s incidents, given that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran.

Pompeo noted that Abe had asked Iran to enter into talks with Washington but Tehran “rejected” the overture.

“The supreme leader’s government then insulted Japan by attacking a Japanese-owned oil tanker just outside Iranian waters, threatening the lives of the entire crew, creating a maritime emergency,” Pompeo added.

Iran previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the “Tanker War,” which saw the U.S. Navy escort ships through the region. Regardless of who is responsible, the price of a barrel of benchmark Brent crude spiked as much as 4% immediately after the attack, showing how critical the region remains to the global economy.

Two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz were damaged in suspected attacks on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the US Navy rushed to assist. (June 13)

“The shipping industry views this as an escalation of the situation, and we are just about as close to a conflict without there being an actual armed conflict, so the tensions are very high,” said Jakob P. Larsen, head of maritime security for BIMCO, the largest international association representing ship owners.

The suspected attacks occurred at dawn Thursday about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the southern coast of Iran. The Front Altair, loaded with the flammable hydrocarbon mixture naphtha from the United Arab Emirates, radioed for help as it caught fire. A short time later, the Kokuka Courageous, loaded with methanol from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, also called for help.

The U.S. Navy sent a destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, to assist, said Cmdr. Joshua Frey, a 5th Fleet spokesman. He described the ships as being hit in a “reported attack,” without elaborating.

In Washington, senior U.S. officials said the U.S. had photographed an unexploded mine on the side of one of the tankers. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter, said the U.S. will reevaluate its presence in the region and is considering a plan to provide military escorts for merchant ships.

Frontline, the firm that operates the Front Altair, told The Associated Press that an explosion was the cause of the fire. Its crew of 23 — from Russia, the Philippines and Georgia — was safely evacuated to the nearby Hyundai Dubai vessel, it said.

BSM Ship Management said the Kokuka Courageous sustained hull damage and its 21 Filipino sailors had been evacuated, with one suffering minor injuries. All 21 were placed aboard the Bainbridge, according to Lt. Col. Earl Brown, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command.

Earlier, Iranian state television said 44 sailors from the two tankers were transferred to an Iranian port in the southern province of Hormozgan. The discrepancy could not be immediately reconciled.

The Front Altair had been bound for Taiwan, the Kokuka Courageous for Singapore, according to the data firm Refinitiv.

According to a U.S. official, initial evidence suggested the attack against the Kokuka Courageous was conducted by Iran with a mine similar to what was used against oil tankers off the UAE last month. The official, who declined to provide additional details or evidence, spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss initial findings that have not been made public.

Like in Fujairah, dozens of ships ranging from massive oil tankers to smaller pleasure boats, traditional dhows and cargo vessels ply the waters of the strait and the Gulf of Oman. The navies of Iran, Oman, the UAE and the U.S. regularly patrol, but the waters are vast and lit only by the moonlight at night, allowing small vessels to approach without warning.

Tensions have escalated in the Mideast as Iran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord that President Donald Trump repudiated last year. The deal saw Tehran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions. Now, Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels if European nations don’t offer it new terms to the deal by July 7.

Already, Iran says it quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium. Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions have cut off opportunities for Iran to trade its excess uranium and heavy water abroad, putting Tehran on course to violate terms of the nuclear deal regardless.

Rockets Resume Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

File photo: Iron dome system intercepts rockets fired from Gaza, August, 2019. Israel Strikes Hamas Targets in Gaza After Intercepting Rocket

Ilan Assayag

Escalation follows Israeli Army’s announcement of a full maritime blockade on the Strip

The rocket is the first to be launched at Israel since a ceasefire agreement  was reached between the two sides in early May. At the time, nearly 700 rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel while Israel carried out airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. It was the largest outbreak of violence since the 2014 Gaza war, resulting in 4 Israelis and 25 Palestinians killed.

Last week, Gaza officials warned of escalation over Israel’s ‘foot-dragging’ in implementing the ceasefire agreement. A senior official told Haaretz that Palestinian factions, including Hamas, are demanding the transfer of additional funds from Qatar, a further easing on the import of dual-purpose goods from Israel, and progress on humanitarian projects.

The Escalating Risk of Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

June 12 at 4:10 PM

UNITED NATIONS — Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Wednesday that the risks of nuclear conflict “are higher than they have been in several decades” and said it is past time for the five nuclear powers to take steps toward disarmament.

Ban told the Security Council the failure of the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France to make progress on disarmament risks undermining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the world’s single most important pact on nuclear arms.

The treaty is credited with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to dozens of nations since entering into force in 1970 and it has succeeded in doing this via a grand global bargain. Under the treaty, nations without nuclear weapons committed not to acquire them, those with nuclear weapons committed to move toward their elimination, and all nations endorsed everyone’s right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Treaty members include every nation but India, Pakistan and North Korea, all of which possess nuclear weapons, as well as Israel, which is believed to be a nuclear power but has never acknowledged it.

Ban said it is in the interests of the five nuclear powers, which are the permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council, “to get serious about disarmament if they wish to maintain the near universal international commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation, particularly in the lead up to next year’s NPT review conference.”

“The consequences of failure do not bear contemplation,” he said.

Ban, who is a co-chair of the group of prominent world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela known as The Elders, spoke at a Security Council meeting on conflict prevention and mediation.

He reiterated that his group believes nuclear weapons and climate change “pose two of the most severe existential threats to life on Earth as we know it.”

When it comes to nuclear nonproliferation, Ban said, “the international community is confronted with two serious challenges, namely the Iranian nuclear development programs and securing the complete denuclearization of North Korea.”

He expressed deep concern at the United States’ withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with six world powers, saying that “it not only weakens the regional stability of the Middle East, but also sends the wrong signal to ongoing negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear issue.”

As for negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea, Ban said that unfortunately they “have come to a deadlock since the failure of the Hanoi summit last February” between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, expressed support for U.S. efforts to achieve the complete denuclearization of North Korea and urged all countries to implement U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.

He expressed hope that U.S.-North Korean negotiations will resume “as soon as possible.”

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Antichrist Remembers Destroyed Shia Shrines

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (R) meets with Leader of the Sadrist movement Muqtada Al-Sadr (L) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 30 July 2017 [Bandar Algaloud/Anadolu Agency]

The leader of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr, yesterday sent a message to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman addressing the so-called Al-Baqi’ cemetery issue, which he raises annually.

“Today, the eighth of the Hijry month of Shawwal, is the commemoration of the demolition of the Baqi’ Al-Gharqad in Saudi Arabia,” Sadr wrote on Twitter, adding that the tombs were demolished by “perverted hands claiming affiliation to Islam”.

He called on Bin Salman to “reconstruct the Baqi graves”, noting that it would lead to “an end to the sectarian conflicts in the region.”

Al-Baqi’ is the oldest and the first Islamic cemetery of Medina, the Hijazi region of present-day Saudi Arabia. It is located to the south-east of the Prophet’s Mosque.

The shrines of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)’s grandson Hassan, and a number of Shia Imams were among those demolished in the cemetery at the order of King Ibn Saud on the 8th of Shawwal 1344 AH (1925).

 

Iran Ramps Up Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

US provokes Iran’s radical steps on nuclear deal – Russian diplomat

June 12, 17:17UTC+3

Mikhail Ulyanov diplomat noted that the US has not just pulled out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program, but it seeks to undermine it

MOSCOW, June 12. /TASS/. Washington is inciting Tehran to take radical steps on the Iranian nuclear deal, Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said in a statement, published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

The diplomat noted that the US has not just pulled out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program, but it seeks to undermine it by blocking the implementation of this agreement’s economic part.

“By using the methods of blatant blackmail and intimidation, the US seeks to force other countries to curtail legitimate trade and economic ties with Iran, primarily in the oil and banking sectors,” the diplomat said. Actually, Washington is trying to limit their sovereignty and force them to abandon their assistance in implementing the JCPOA in line with the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2231, Ulyanov said.

Moreover, since May, the United States has extended such a destructive policy to certain elements of the nuclear part of this agreement, threatening with sanctions for exporting excessive amounts of enriched uranium and heavy water from Iran, he noted.

“In fact, Washington pushes Tehran out of a nuclear deal and provokes it to take radical retaliatory steps,” the Russian permanent representative stressed. “We urge the US to reconsider its line towards torpedoing the major nuclear non-proliferation achievement, allowing the international community to be confident in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.”

According to him, Moscow understands Iran’s decision to stop implementing some its commitments under the JCPOA, but at the same time it urges Tehran “not to succumb to provocations and refrain from further escalation, with the understanding that the remaining participants of the deal will make every effort to restore the balance between the nuclear and economic elements of this agreement.” “For our part, we will continue practical work in this direction,” the diplomat said.

“We are also calling on other economic partners of Iran not to succumb to external pressure, bearing in mind that in current circumstances commercial ties with Iran also have an important political dimension as a contribution to the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and also preventing the growing threat of destabilization in the Middle East region,” he noted.

On May 8, 2018 US President Donald Trump announced that Washington was withdrawing from the JCPOA on the Iranian nuclear program, a 2015 deal that limited Iran’s nuclear development in exchange for the cancellation of the UN, US and EU sanctions. A year later, Tehran declared that it would stop complying with the deal’s terms on the limits of low-enriched uranium and heavy water. Iran also announced plans to stop modernizing the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor if the nuclear deal’s participants failed to offset the US sanctions within 60 days.

The Future of the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

THE NEW INDIA VERSUS THE NUCLEAR REVOLUTION: THE FUTURE OF CRISES AMONG NUCLEAR POWERS

JUNE 12, 2019

What is going on with relations among nuclear-armed states these days? Last February, the United States was threatening a “bloody nose” attack against North Korea. This February, India actually conducted airstrikes against Pakistan. Next February, well, that’s anyone’s guess but odds are it won’t be anything good. Does no one read The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution anymore??

Robert Jervis’ seminal book and other classics of nuclear strategy argue that survivable nuclear weapons fundamentally change the nature of statecraft, with a number of implications for the behavior and outcomes we should expect between nuclear powers. Jervis writes:

If nuclear weapons have had the influence that the nuclear-revolution theory indicates they should have, then there will be peace between the superpowers [the pair of nuclear-armed adversaries on which he was focused], crises will be rare, neither side will be eager to press bargaining advantages to the limit, the status quo will be relatively easy to maintain, and political outcomes will not be closely related to either the nuclear or the conventional balance.

To drastically simplify an immense and rich body of work: Nuclear weapons mean everybody should just be cool already. So why are we seeing all these nuclear powers threatening and even using armed force against one another?

The standard counter-argument is that nuclear weapons can be good not just for deterrence but also for compellence — convincing others to change their behavior. The logic is pretty straightforward, if a bit farfetched. A nuclear-armed state facing a non-nuclear adversary can demand: “Do what I want or I could nuke you, and you can’t threaten the same back.” And that nuclear state can make demands of even a fellow nuclear power if the latter’s arsenal is perceived to be “inferior”: “Do what I want or I could nuke you, and you can’t threaten as much devastation in return.” In theory, this rival school of thought could explain recent instances of aggression between nuclear powers.

But, by this logic, the side making the demands and even committing the aggression should actually get something for its efforts — i.e., “win” — and that’s clearly not happening in South Asia. Pakistan hasn’t been able to convince India to cough up Kashmir, despite sponsoring militancy geared towards that end for decades, and India hasn’t been able to convince Pakistan to stop that sponsorship, despite a wide range of efforts that have recently expanded to include kinetic strikes. Thus, neither the proponents of the nuclear revolution nor their critics seem able to explain what’s going on in the region. What are we missing?

Both sides in the current debate are focused on nuclear weapons’ usefulness in achieving various foreign policy objectives. But risking nuclear war can be useful in terms of states’ domestic environments, too. And once domestic considerations are allowed to play a significant role in foreign policy decision-making, we’re in a very different ballgame. The range of issues about which states might be dissatisfied can expand, the depth of that dissatisfaction can deepen, and the value of escalation as a tool can correspondingly increase.

Each of these three developments was on display in the most recent Indo-Pakistani crisis. And while analysts have noted a number of individual factors — e.g., India’s increasingly jingoistic media, New Delhi’s break with longstanding policy, the “commitment trap” set for both sides — these discrete developments are part of a broader story, one that likely extends well beyond South Asia.

Without some change in the current trajectory, crises and even conflicts among nuclear powers will keep happening, with greater and greater levels of risk, but without actually achieving any of the participants’ objectives. While Jervis allows that extreme dissatisfaction with the status quo and increased salience of domestic politics can short-circuit some aspects of the nuclear revolution, digging into when and how that short-circuiting is likely to occur can help us predict and manage the consequences.

The Risk of Deliberate Escalation is Real

One implication of the recent India-Pakistan confrontation is that certain pathways of escalation are becoming more likely. Scholars have typically worried most about “inadvertent escalation” in a crisis — when one party takes an action without realizing how seriously the other side will view it. That’s certainly how the last Indo-Pakistani conflict kicked off, in 1999, when the Pakistan Army sent paramilitary forces across the Line of Control to capture territory around the Indian town of Kargil. The Pakistani generals assumed — quite incorrectly, as it turned out — that Indian leaders would simply accept the land grab as a fait accompli.

But we now need to pay at least as much attention to the incentives for “deliberate escalation.” In this pathway, one side takes an escalatory action knowing full well how the other side will view it. That’s what happened in February, when India launched airstrikes against Pakistan after an Indian Kashmiri with ties to a Pakistan-based militant group drove an explosives-laden car into a convoy carrying Indian security forces, killing over 40. This was the first time in almost 50 years that India had used offensive airpower against Pakistan or had struck targets in Pakistan proper — i.e., beyond Pakistan’s portion of the disputed region of Kashmir.

Pakistan responded in kind, launching retaliatory airstrikes against India. This was Pakistan’s first time using airpower against its rival in almost 50 years, too, as well as its first time responding with force to Indian actions on its territory in the context of the Kashmir insurgency. Pakistan did limit its strikes to the Indian portion of Kashmir and to uninhabited areas, but both sides still deliberately crossed thresholds they hadn’t previously crossed.

In theory, deliberate escalation should be rare among nuclear powers. Joseph Nye has referenced the “crystal ball effect” that nuclear weapons supposedly produce. According to this line of thinking, the terrible consequences that would so obviously result from any nuclear use will (or should) chasten even the most revisionist states, causing them to behave with relative restraint in crises. But nuclear weapons don’t seem to be having this effect in South Asia, where revisionism is running rampant on all sides and fueling crises between India and Pakistan.

 

 

Revisionism Isn’t Limited to Territory – or to Pakistan

As with escalation, there are multiple pathways to revisionism. “Revisionism” refers to states taking actions in hopes of changing a status quo that doesn’t satisfy them. So “revisionist” states challenge some aspect of the status quo while “status quo” powers are content with things the way they are. Although these terms are simply descriptive, “revisionism” and “revisionist” tend to carry negative connotations while “status quo” carries positive ones.

Pakistan has long been recognized as a revisionist state in the enduring Indo-Pakistani rivalry. Observers note that Pakistan initiated two of the three wars the countries have fought with one another, as well as the one “near war.” Each time, Pakistan’s goal was to take control of all or part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir that the departing British awarded to India in the run-up to the two South Asian states’ independence, in 1947. Once an insurgency broke out in the Kashmir Valley in the late 1980s, Pakistan moved quickly to sideline the militant structure that had developed indigenously and replace it with groups and leaders more amenable to Pakistani interests and control. Attacks staged by these Pakistan-supported groups have in turn sparked a number of crises between the two countries.

This understanding of revisionism and the underlying status quo that states might seek to revise is all about territory. Pakistan wants to change who gets to own what pieces of land, so it is viewed as a revisionist state in the conflict. India, on the other hand, appears content to make a permanent border out of the Line of Control, so it tends to be viewed as a status quo power.

But revisionism isn’t limited to territory alone. While Pakistan may be deeply dissatisfied with the territorial component of the status quo in the region, India is equally dissatisfied with the behavioralcomponent of that status quo — one in which Pakistan continues to support militant groups that continue to conduct attacks against Indian targets. Indian leaders are at least as interested in compelling Pakistan to curtail its sponsorship of groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba as they are interested in deterring the groups themselves from conducting further attacks. Until recently, Indian efforts in this respect have focused on non-kinetic approaches.

Domestic Variables Are the New Coin of the Indian Realm

That all changed once the Bharatiya Janata Party (“Indian People’s Party,” or BJP) came to power in India. The BJP was elected in 2014, following 10 years of governance by India’s other major political party, the Indian National Congress. BJP leaders regularly criticize the Congress for not taking harsher action against terrorism and Pakistan, particularly after the devastating attack on Mumbai in 2008. The change in administration thus suggested India would respond more aggressively to any large-scale militant strikes linked to Pakistan.

And the BJP got its chance in 2016. In September of that year, militants attacked an Indian Army installation near the town of Uri, killing almost 20 in what was then the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in decades. Eleven days later, India claimed it had launched “surgical strikes” against “terror launching pads” across the Line of Control. Small teams of Indian special forces allegedly struckup to two kilometers into Pakistani territory, targeting a number of camps belonging to multiple militant groups. Pakistan, for its part, simply denied anything had happened.

The strikes were hugely popular in India. Parties from across the political spectrum lauded the armed forces’ actions, and the body governing India’s institutions of higher learning called on students across the country to celebrate September 29 as “Surgical Strike Day.” India’s motion picture producers association announced a ban that barred Pakistani stars from working in India’s large film industry, and, more recently, a movie made dramatizing the strikes did extremely well at the box office.

Congress Party leaders had conducted similar operations in the past but kept them covert. Explaining the shift toward publicized strikes, former Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon suggested that domestic drivers trump strategic considerations for BJP leaders: “Covert operations were not announced to the country [during the Congress years] because the primary goal was to pacify the [Line of Control] and cut down infiltration and ceasefire violations, not to manage public opinion at home.” The BJP’s approach proved successful, as the country, including the media and Bollywood, rallied behind Modi, whose handling of the crisis may have won him some voters.

What Does It All Mean?

Three interrelated shifts are unfolding in South Asia. First, the risk of deliberate escalation — not simply the risk of accidental, unauthorized, or inadvertent escalation, on which scholars have tended to focus — is very real. Twenty years ago, Pakistan stumbled into a near-war with India and the two sides became only the second pair of nuclear-armed adversaries to fight a large-scale conventional conflict with one another. Earlier this year, India and Pakistan engaged in a very different, very deliberate kinetic exchange with one another, becoming the first pair of nuclear-armed adversaries to trade airstrikes on one another’s territory. Both sides will likely feel compelled to respond even more forcefully next time.

Second, a newly revisionist India represents a major change in and for the region. While Pakistani leaders have long pursued proxy warfare against India in hopes of changing the territorial status quo, India has only recently abandoned its longstanding policy of “strategic restraint” in dealing with Pakistan’s provocations. Starting in 2016 and continuing in 2019, Indian leaders are openly using military force in hopes of changing the behavioral status quo in the subcontinent. So far, India’s efforts to compel Pakistan to stop its support for militancy have been as unsuccessful as Pakistan’s to compel India to give up its portion of Kashmir. As with Pakistan, though, India could simply use failure to justify even more aggressive measures in the future.

Finally, the role and nature of the domestic landscape in India have evolved as well. Domestic considerations appear to be playing a larger role in New Delhi’s decision-making, and popular preferences appear to be increasingly bellicose. Anti-Pakistan sentiments have increased steadily among Indians during the BJP era and are highest among Indians who support Modi. The hawkish BJP leader’s recent landslide reelection suggests India will continue to “select into” crises and that those crises will be increasingly severe.

Classics of strategy among nuclear powers have little to say about these trends. Nuclear-armed rivals aren’t supposed to deliberately push each other, seek to overturn the status quo, or allow domestic concerns to play a large role in decision-making. Recent Indo-Pakistani crises have challenged all three of these aphorisms, however, and the resulting risks clearly aren’t limited to South Asia. Such off-ramps from the nuclear revolution merit increased study if we’d like to see the current nuclear-strike-free era extend into its 75th year and beyond.

T. Negeen Pegahi is the director of the Mahan Scholars research program at the U.S. Naval War College and a non-resident fellow at the Stimson Center. The views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Naval War College, the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Babylon the Great’s Vulnerable Nuclear Triad (Part 2)

America’s Vulnerable Nuclear Triad (Part 2)

Part 1 of this article warns U.S. strategic bombers and ICBMs could be destroyed by surprise attack, leaving 4-5 U.S. ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) on daily patrol at sea as the only U.S. nuclear Triad survivors for deterrence.

However, even SSBNs may now be vulnerable.

Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBMs) are a new technology combining ballistic missiles with maneuvering warheads having electro-optical seekers to precisely target even moving vessels for destruction. China’s DF-26 and DF-21 pose long-range threats to U.S. aircraft carriers, outranging carrier aircraft, threatening to upset the balance of power in the Pacific.

Even Iran has developed ASBMs, the medium-range Khalij Fars (Persian Gulf) and short-range Fateh-110, that have been used successfully to target a ship, demonstrating an accuracy of 8 meters.

Nuclear-armed ASBMs could destroy submarines, even if the SSBN location is not known precisely. An underwater nuclear shockwave has a very large lethal radius, extending many kilometers against SSBNs.

ICBMs too could be used to destroy SSBNs with a nuclear barrage of their ocean patrol areas.

President Reagan’s White House Science Advisor, George Keyworth, in a 1984 TV interview warned: “A…warhead such as the SS-18 carries ten of, when dropped in the water…will destroy any submarine within a distance of about seven miles.” According to Keyworth, if the Soviets could roughly locate U.S. submarines, “find out approximately where they are, not track them the way we did in the Second World War, but just know approximately if they are in that 100-mile by 100-mile square…then they can be destroyed in a preemptive attack.” (George Keyworth, “Firing Line: The High Frontier Concept” PBS transcript June 22, 1984, p. 10)

My book “Nuclear Wars: Exchanges and Outcomes” (1990) calculated that Moscow, using only their SS-19 ICBMs, could destroy all U.S. SSBNs, if their at-sea locations are very roughly known, at a time when the U.S. had 36 SSBNs (not as today 14 reducing to 12 SSBNs). My calculations indicated our submarines will be most vulnerable if their locations are disclosed by launching even one missile for a limited nuclear strike — as is now planned for tactical nuclear scenarios employing the W76-2.

My report “POSEIDON: Russia’s New Doomsday Machine” (2018) warns this new Russian nuclear autonomous “torpedo” may be a secret weapon to destroy U.S., British, and French SSBNs.

Poseidon is a nuclear-powered robot submarine or torpedo, armed with a nuclear warhead described by various Russian sources as ranging from 2-200 megatons, the later by far the most powerful nuclear weapon ever built. The yield may be mission selectable.

Moscow advertises Poseidon’s mission as a doomsday machine, designed to raise radioactive tsunamis to inundate the U.S. coasts, or to destroy U.S. ports, or to trail and destroy U.S. aircraft carrier groups. None of these missions makes sense for Poseidon, as Russia can already accomplish all of them by other existing means.

The one mission making the most sense for Poseidon, not mentioned by Russia, is trailing and destroying at-sea SSBNs. Nuclear-powered, Poseidon could tail SSBNs for months or years, waiting outside ports for their target to resume patrols. Artificially Intelligent, Poseidon could be programmed to recognize the acoustic signature of its target submarine, and detonate on command.

The lethal radius of a 100-megaton warhead against submarines is over 100 kilometers.

Russia plans to deploy 32 Poseidons. Perhaps not coincidentally, enough to assign two to tail each of 12 U.S. Columbia SSBNs and 8 Poseidons to target the 8 SSBNs of allies Britain and France.

Super-EMP weapons deployed by Russia, China, and probably North Korea can generate 100-200 kilovolts/meter, far exceeding the U.S. military standard for EMP hardening. Thus, across North America, even best protected U.S. military forces — including the strategic Triad and C3I — could be paralyzed.

U.S. SSBNs at sea cannot launch without receiving an Emergency Action Message (EAM) from the president. The EAM includes an unblocking code to arm nuclear warheads. Thus, submarines cannot execute nuclear strikes without the EAM.

A Super-EMP attack could destroy satellites, land-based VLF communications, TACAMO aircraft, and other redundant means to convey EAMs to submarines on patrol, neutralizing them.

Recommendations:

Do not deploy W76-2 warheads on U.S. ballistic missile submarines or otherwise degrade SSBN capability to survive and deter attacks on American cities.

Deploy at least 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons to reduce Russia’s preponderant advantage. Nuclearize the U.S. Navy by proliferating preferably nuclear-armed cruise missiles on attack submarines, guided missile cruisers, destroyers, and other vessels that can operate in forward areas to maximize survivability, accuracy, and time-on-target for tactical situations.

To reduce escalatory possibilities, as during the Cold War, U.S. strategic and tactical nuclear platforms should not mix capabilities and missions, but be distinct as possible.

A crash program to develop advanced new generation nuclear weapons should begin immediately.

A crash program to deploy space-based missile defenses that could initially defend U.S. SSBNs and other Triad assets, eventually shield U.S. and allied homelands and possibly render nuclear missiles obsolete, should begin immediately.

A highest-priority crash program to harden U.S. military and civilian critical infrastructures from EMP and cyber-attack should begin immediately. The potential of Russia, China, and even North Korea to possibly paralyze the U.S. Triad, including SSBNs on patrol, with an EMP “cheap shot” invites aggression.

Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served on the Congressional EMP Commission as chief of staff, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of “Blackout Wars.” For more of his reports, Go Here Now.