Indian Point’s Final Days Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Earth Matters: Indian Point’s Final Days – Nyack News and Views

by Barbara Puff

Indian Point has been the crown jewel of the nuclear industrialist complex and closing it is a big step to a sustainable energy future. — Susan Shapiro, environmental lawyer.

When scientists began exploring nuclear power in the 1950s, pollsters didn’t ask the public their opinion as support was almost unanimous. By the ’60s, there had been a few protests and opposition increased to 25%. So when Indian Point opened on September 16, 1962, it was greeted with enthusiasm, fanfare, and, in hindsight, naivete.

Within a few years, increased pollution, loss of wildlife, and accidents at the plant elicited concern. In response, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and Riverkeeper were formed in 1966. After incidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, public opinion began to turn against the use of nuclear power.

In 1984, her first year as a legislator, Harriet Cornell formed the Citizens Commission to Close Indian Plant. A glance at her press releases over the years shows her convictions regarding closing the plant. In a recent speech she noted: “Were it not for the superhuman efforts of concerned individuals and dedicated scientific and environmental organizations focusing attention on the dangers posed by Indian Point, who knows what might have happened during the last 40+ years.”

Simultaneously Riverkeeper began documenting incidents, including:

1 An antiquated water-cooling system killed over a billion fish and fish larvae annually.

2 Pools holding spent nuclear fuel leaked toxic, radioactive water into the ground, soil, and Hudson River.

3 Recurring emergency shut-downs.

4 27% of the baffle bolts in Unit 2 and 31% in Unit 3, holding the reactor core together, were damaged.

5 The plant was vulnerable to terrorist attack.

6 Evacuation plans were implausible.

7 No solution for spent nuclear fuel, posing the risk of radioactive release and contamination of land.

8 The plant was near two seismic zones, suggesting an earthquake over 6.2 could devastate the area.

9 Asbestos exposure.

These and other issues led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to rate Indian Point in 2000 as the most trouble-plagued plant in the country. Lamont-Doherty Observatory agreed, calling it the most dangerous plant in the nation.

As individuals realized the seriousness of the situation, urgency for a solution grew and Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition was formed in 2001. Comprised of public interest, health advocates, environmental and citizen groups, their goals were to educate the public, pass legislation, and form a grassroots campaign with hundreds of local, state, and federal officials.

Clearwater also began monitoring the plant around that time. Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director, recalls, “We were concerned when one of the planes that struck the WTC flew over the plant, including several buildings that hold huge fuel pools, filled with spent fuel rods and radioactive waste.” Had anything happened, the nuclear power industry had provided protection for themselves while neglecting surrounding communities. Powerful lobbyists, backed by considerable financing, induced Congress to pass the Price-Anderson Act in 1957. This legislation protected nuclear power plant companies from full liability in the event of an accident, natural disaster or terrorist attack.

With such warnings, it’s hard to believe as late as 2010, The New York Times stated, “No one should be hoping for a too hasty shutdown.” Over time, the cost of litigation by New York State proved more fatal to the continuance of plant operations than protests, though they were a crucial factor and led to initial filings. Attorney General Schneiderman was very active in filing contentions, legal reasons the plant shouldn’t be relicensed, and won several important court cases on high-level radioactive storage.

In 2016, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied Entergy a discharge permit for hot water into the Hudson River, part of their once-through cooling system. This permit was necessary for continued operation of the plant and a requirement for relicensing. The New York State Department of State, Bureau of Coastal Management, denied Entergy a water quality certificate the same year, which it also needed to relicense. After more than four decades of danger to the environment and residents, Governor Cuomo announced in January 2017 the plant would finally be closing. Unit 2 would cease production on April 30, 2020 and Unit 3 would end productivity on April 30, 2021.

Later that year, in March 2017, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board allowed Entergy to renew the plant’s licenses until 2021, dismissing final points of contention between the company, New York State, and Riverkeeper. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino attempted to sue the state and reopen the plant in April 2017 but failed.

Ellen Jaffee, NYS Assemblywoman, stated, “After 46 years of operation, I am glad to finally see the closure of Indian Point. Since joining the Assembly, I have long fought for its closure. I would not have been able to pursue these efforts if not for the environmental advocates, like the Riverkeeper, who fought long and hard beside myself to close the plant. The plant’s closure must be conducted in a safe manner, where all radioactive materials will be properly disposed of, without inflicting further harm on our environment. The closure of Indian Point shows that we can reduce our impact on the environment.”

Harriet Cornell said, “We have waited years for this to happen and frankly, it can’t happen soon enough. The facts have long shown there is no future for this dangerous plant.”

“The closure of Indian Point marks the shutdown of dirty polluting energy,” noted Susan Shapiro.

Holtec, the company chosen to oversee decommissioning of the plant, has a horrific track record. New York State Attorney General Tish James released a statement in January expressing multiple grave concerns about them. According to Riverkeeper, they have a scandalous corporate past, little experience in decommissioning, dubious skills in spent fuel management, workplace safety infractions, and health violations. Another fear is the cost will exceed a decommissioning fund set aside by Entergy, Holtec will declare bankruptcy, and the public will absorb the difference.

“Entergy made huge profits from Indian Point,” said Manna Jo Greene. “They’ve hired Holtec, a company with a poor record of decommissioning, to complete the work. Entergy plans to declare bankruptcy, thereby having taxpayers foot the bill. We are not out of danger. It is a different danger.”

Richard Webster, Legal Program Director at Riverkeeper, adds, “Decommissioning must be done promptly, safely and reliably. Selling to Holtec is the worst possible option, because it has a dubious history of bribes, lies, and risk taking, very limited experience in decommissioning, is proposing to raid the decommissioning fund for its own benefit, and is proposing leaving contaminated groundwater to run into the Hudson River.”

State Senator David Carlucci warned, “The NRC Inspector General Report shows there is much to be done by the NRC to gain the confidence of myself and the public, as the commission is charged with overseeing the decommissioning of Indian Point and ensuring the health and safety of Hudson Valley Communities. We demand answers from NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki. The Chairman needs to come to the Hudson Valley immediately and outline the steps being taken to address our safety and explain how the commission will properly inspect and guard the pipeline near Indian Point moving forward.”

One of the gravest dangers in decommissioning is the storage of spent fuel rods. A fuel rod is a long, zirconium tube containing pellets of uranium, a fissionable material which provides fuel for nuclear reactors. Fuel rods are assembled into bundles called fuel assemblies, which are loaded individually into a reactor core. Fuel rods last about six years. When they’re spent and removed they are placed in wet storage, or pools of water, which is circulated to reduce temperature and provide shielding from radiation. They remain in these pools for 10 years, as they are too hot to be placed in dry storage, or canisters. Even in dry storage, though, they remain extremely radioactive, with high levels of plutonium, which is toxic, and continue to generate heat for decades and remain radioactive for 10,000 years.

“Elected officials and government groups became involved once they understood the fatal environmental dangers nuclear energy creates for millenium,” said Susan Shapiro. “It is the only energy that produces waste so dangerous that governments must own and dispose of it.”

Robert Kennedy, Jr., of Waterkeeper, explained “If those spent fuel rods caught on fire, if the water dropped, the zirconium coatings of the spent fuel rods would combust. You would release 37 times the amount of radiation that was released at Chernobyl. Around Chernobyl there are 100 miles that are permanently uninhabitable. I would include the workplaces, homes of 20 million Americans, including the Financial District. There’s no evacuation plan. And it’s sitting on two of the biggest earthquake faults in the northeast.”

On April 24, 2020, Beyond Indian Point Campaign was launched to advocate for a safe transition during decommissioning. Sponsored by AGREE, Frack Action, Riverkeeper, NIRS and Food and Water Watch, they’re demanding Cuomo hire another company, opposing a license transfer before the State Public Service Commission and NRC and pushing state legislation to establish a board to supervise the decommissioning fund. When decommissioning is finished Beyond Indian Point hopes to further assist the community in the transition to renewable energy. These include wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydrothermal power. Sign an online petition on their website to support their work, future generations and earth at BeyondIndianPoint.com, Facebook, or Twitter.

“Bravo to everyone involved in making this historic day come to pass,” said Susan Shapiro.

Raised in the Midwest, Barbara Puff is a writer who lives in Nyack, NY.

Why the Australian Horn is About to go Nuclear: Revelation 7

Russia-Ukraine war: What would happen if a nuclear bomb dropped on Australia?

By Kevin Airs For Daily Mail Australia 01:33 02 Mar 2022, updated 06:15 02 Mar 2022

Frightening graphic reveals the horrific carnage a nuclear bomb would cause in Australia’s biggest cities – as Vladimir Putin’s nuclear sabre-rattling sparks global fears

A devastating Russian nuclear missile nicknamed ‘Satan’ could flatten every major Australian city if it’s unleashed in the very unlikely event of all-out , experts have warned.

Ruthless Russian President has put his nuclear arms on high alert after Ukraine troops held off his invading forces, sending a chill through the West.

Putin is now threatening the ultimate response in a bid to force into surrender after growing frustrated by the lack of progress in his invasion plan.

‘I’m ordering the and chief of the general staff to switch the Russian army’s deterrent forces onto a high alert mode of combat standby duty,’ he said on Monday.

Fears are growing that if Ukraine continues to repel the invaders, Putin may resort to using small scale battlefield nuclear weapons to force them into submission.Ruthless Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured) has put his nuclear arms on high alert after Ukraine forces held off his invading forces, sending a chill through the West

Curtin University nuclear expert Victor Abramowicz insisted: ‘Unless Putin is literally crazy, which is possible – he’s already done things which are very unusual…

‘But unless he’s frothing at the mouth, he’s not going to start a nuclear war.

‘Using battlefield nuclear weapons would be an unmitigated disaster for Ukraine, but you’d need multiple steps for that to lead to missiles flying at Washington and Moscow. 

‘Never underestimate the possibility of unintended escalation, but there are decades and decades of experience in trying to avoid and manage nuclear escalation.

‘A very, very great deal would need to go very wrong for it to end up in a position where this sort of stuff is happening.’Russia’s R-36M2 missile (pictured) – dubbed the SS-18 Mod5 Satan by NATO – has an 11,000km range, carrying 10 warheads, each with a 1megaton payloadRussia also has a fleet of nuclear-armed Typhoon-class submarines (pictured) patrolling oceans unseen and able to launch nukes without warning at targets anywhere in the world

Bizarrely though, Perth in Western Australia could be the first place in the world to be targeted if Putin tries to prove a point and frighten the west into thinking a bigger city could be on the cards next.

NATO generals have war-gamed various situations to pinpoint where Russia may target if it was ever to lash out in a bid to get the West to buckle to its demands.

WHY PERTH WAS AT TOP OF NUCLEAR HITLIST IN 1980s

At the height of the Cold War in the 1980s, Western generals would play out doomsday scenarios to anticipate nuclear attack possibilities.

One nightmare they came up with was Soviet Russia wanting to play hardball without starting an all-out nuclear war.

‘It would be a way of not attacking the US directly, which might prompt retaliation and destruction,’ revealed Curtin University academic Victor Abramowicz. 

‘But you might drop a nuclear missile on Perth in particular because it was so isolated to show, “Look, we’ve just gone and wiped out a million people …so come to the negotiating table if you want to make sure the next one isn’t on Los Angeles.” 

‘It was very hypothetical but back then the fear was that this was the sort of thing Moscow might do.

‘There was paranoia on all sides.’

And bombing Perth – because of its remoteness from nearby civilisation – emerged as a terrifying possibility.

They feared Russia may nuke Perth as a show of power and determination while still avoiding engaging the US in mutually-assured nuclear Armageddon.

Despite potentially killing up to half a million in the nuclear bombing, future effects would be limited, with the radiation fallout confined to the vast desert outback. 

And now as the Ukraine invasion continues to stagnate in a frustrating stalemate for Russia, many are worried Putin will reach for his nuclear arsenal of 5977 warheads, the biggest in the world.

It dwarfs even the US nuclear stockpile of 5,428 warheads, while France has 290 and the UK has just 225.

Around 1600 of those Russian warheads are strategic and can be loaded onto intercontinental ballistic missiles which can reach almost anywhere in the world, including almost all of Australia.

Russia’s R-36M2 missile – dubbed the SS-18 Mod5 Satan by NATO – has an 11,000km range, carrying 10 warheads, each with a 1megaton payload.

Even if launched from within Russia’s borders, they are capable of reaching as far south as Melbourne before unleashing hell. 

Russia also has a fleet of nuclear-armed Typhoon-class submarines patrolling oceans unseen and able to launch nukes without warning at targets anywhere in the world.

If Perth was specifically targeted by one of the Satan missiles, the effects would be devastating. If the Satan warheads explode in a 10MT airburst over Perth (pictured), modelling predicts 505,000 fatalities instantly, with another 575,000 injured. The central yellow sphere shows the area hit by the nuclear fireball. The darker grey ring is the serious damage blast radius. The larger orange circle is the radiation burn area, while the outer ring is the lighter damage area, with blown out windows and glass maiming injuriesA surface blast would restrict casualties to 327,000 dead and another 420,000 casualties, but it would taint the land for centuries to come with fallout spreading 1000km inland (pictured)

If the Satan warheads explode in a 10MT airburst over Perth, modelling by Nukemap predicts 505,000 fatalities instantly, with another 575,000 injured. 

A surface blast would restrict casualties to 327,000 dead and another 420,000 casualties, but it would taint the land for centuries to come with fallout spreading 1000km inland.

But if the attack was to target Sydney or Melbourne, the carnage would be almost unimaginable.

Almost a million would die instantly in a 5km fireball which would engulf Sydney city centre, turning the inner-west, CBD and Eastern Suburbs to ash.

Buildings would be crushed to dust from Homebush to Collaroy to Cronulla.

If the airburst happened over Parramatta, the devastation would be even greater. The entire greater Sydney area from Penrith to Richmond to Palm Beach to Camden and the Royal National Park would be ablaze. If a nuclear attack targeted Sydney or Melbourne, the carnage would be almost unimaginableAlmost a million would die instantly in a 5km fireball which would engulf Sydney city centre, turning the inner-west, CBD and Eastern Suburbs to ash (pictured)A surface blast could cause a fifth or so less deaths and injuries, but create a radiation cloud that would stretch up the coast to Newcastle and beyond, blowing out to sea as far up as the Gold Coast (pictured)

DECODING PUTIN’S NUCLEAR THREAT 

Putin’s warning putting his nuclear forces on ‘high alert mode of combat stand-by duty’ is seen as only step two of four on the way to a nuclear war, says Victor Abramowicz.

Expert Pavel Podvig adds that it probably puts them on a ‘preliminary command’ that would allow missiles to be fired to order.

But he considered at this stage that they would only be fired if the president suddenly vanished and enemy nukes hit Russian territory first. 

David Cullen, of the Nuclear Information Service, compared it to UK nuclear submarine commanders being given letters of authority by the British PM for permission to launch missiles if London came under nuclear attack.

Anyone in the city left alive after the nuclear fireball and initial blast would be suffering third degree radiation burns all over their body, with many losing limbs.

The only saving grace might be that all their nerve-endings would probably be burnt away and they’d feel little to no pain.

Further out and windows in the Illawarra and Central Coast would be blown out by the blast, inflicting maiming injuries on locals, many of whom would be standing by a window to watch the distant explosion.  

A surface blast could cause a fifth or so fewer deaths and injuries, but create a radiation cloud that would stretch up the coast to Newcastle and beyond, blowing out to sea as far up as the Gold Coast. 

‘There’s no doubt that any large-scale nuclear weapons use would be quite catastrophic,’ Australian National University Professor Stephan Fruehling told the I’ve Got News For You podcast. 

‘If you have a nuclear weapon that’s exploded on the ground, you’re looking at a very significant fallout plume and local contamination, which is essentially dangerous because of the radiotoxicity and contaminating water supplies and food chains.’ 

In Melbourne, a similar airburst explosion would instantly destroy everywhere around the CBD including Docklands, South and East Melbourne and Carlton in a deadly fireball. In Melbourne, a similar airburst explosion would instantly destroy everywhere around the CBD including Docklands, South and East Melbourne and Carlton in a near 3km fireball (pictured)

HOW CONVENTIONAL WAR COULD BLOW UP TO BECOME NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON

The underlying fear of nuclear weapons has rarely been an immediate leap to suddenly launching strategic intercontinental ballistic missiles at Washington or Moscow.

 The biggest fear was one side using much smaller, tactical nuclear weapons to end a military deadlock in a localised battle – like Russia is now facing in Ukraine.

They could be used as a warning shot to the other side – and the rest of the world – of the need to surrender or face the might of a full nuclear attack.  

Australian National University, Professor Stephan Fruehling told the I’ve Got News For You podcast tactical weapons may be used as a show of power to ‘flatten a few trees’.

‘It’s quite feasible to imagine a credible and deliberate use of nuclear weapons in a way that deliberately doesn’t kill anybody,’ he said.

‘In many ways, that would actually make a lot of sense.’

But it could provoke a response from other nuclear-equipped nations, keen to deliver their own message to the rival superpower.

And without intervention, that could then dramatically escalate into a full-on nuclear Armageddon.

Nuclear warfare expert Victor  Abramowicz insisted though: ‘It’s a really pretty damn unlikely set of set of contingencies. It’s definitely possible – but extremely unlikely.’

More than 900,000 would die in a blink of an eye with another 1.3 million injured. 

Everything from Sunshine West to Box Hill and north to Broadmeadows would be flattened in a 30km-wide blast range. 

Everyone from Orangefields to Boronia to Whalan would be burnt to a crisp, with windows blown out and property damaged 85km from the epicentre, stretching from Frankston to Bacchus Marsh to Wallan.

A surface explosion would reduce the death total by a couple of hundred thousand, but the radiation cloud would stretch across Victoria, over Albany and Canberra and reach Sydney and Newcastle.

But nuclear expert Victor Abramowicz believes Putin is simply sabre-rattling at the west, for the moment. 

‘It’s just signalling to America and the rest of the Western world who have been imposing sanctions,’ the Darwin-based Ostoya Consulting principal told Daily Mail Australia.

‘It’s trying to put a bit of the fear of God into them, in the sense that if you push too hard, you know, look what we might do… it’s just posturing.’

He added: ‘Sanctions may make life very unpleasant – but they’re not going to ruin Russia forever. Nuclear war would be the end of Russia and the world as we know it. 

‘If it does, it would be catastrophic. If Melbourne has 40 per cent of its population instantly wiped out, the city ceases to exist.’

But Russian expert Dr Leonid Petrov insisted Australia would be very low on Putin’s list of target priorities.

‘When you have a limited supply of missiles, why would you launch one at Australia when it could be aimed at a target in the US?’ he said. 

Mr Abramowicz said Russian warpower will ultimately overcome Ukraine in conventional warfare, without ever having to even consider using tactical battlefield nuclear weapons.

‘If the Russians do decide they actually want to fight properly – for want of a better phrase –  they effectively can’t lose,’ he added. 

Professor Fruelhing agreed and said Russia had restrained its military action so far to reinforce the idea that the invasion is somehow bringing the nation back into the Russian fold. 

He added:  ‘They are fighting, if you like, with one hand behind their back.’Putin is said to be frustrated at the lack of progress in his Ukraine invasion (pictured) and is now threatening the ultimate response in a bid to force the nation to surrenderRussia simply cannot lose even a conventional war against Ukraine, without having to resort to even battlefield nuclear weapons (pictured, Kyiv in flames as Russia attacks)

Mr Abramowicz added:  ‘Their army is bigger and better and has more artillery and more rockets and more aircraft and more everything. 

‘But once you start fighting properly, the war turns into more of a meat grinder, particularly to the Ukrainians. 

‘This is when you start blowing up apartment blocks and launching huge artillery strikes and aircraft dropping bombs left, right and centre. 

‘Tens of thousands of people will die and it’s terribly ugly. 

‘The only way to avoid that is a negotiated settlement – but that could see insurgency attacks and a civil war that rolls on for years.’

Antichrist thanks parliament members who attended Saturday’s session ‘out of love for Iraq’

Iraq’s powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Najaf, Iraq, 2019. (Photo: AP)
Iraq’s powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Najaf, Iraq, 2019. (Photo: AP)

Sadr thanks parliament members who attended Saturday’s session ‘out of love for Iraq’

“These people are neither terrified by a threat nor tempted by temptation.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Sadrist Movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr on Saturday thanked all the parliament members who attended Saturday’s vote to elect a new president. 

“Thanks to everyone who attended the session out of love for Iraq,” Sadr tweeted on Saturday night. “Thanks to the Saving the Homeland Alliance, Emtidad Alliance, the New Generation Movement, and the independent brothers (Independent MPs).”

“These people are neither terrified by a threat nor tempted by temptation,” he added.

He called upon those parliament members to attend Wednesday’s vote along with others who didn’t participate in Saturday’s session.

“Your appointment will be renewed next Wednesday with those who will join to remove corruption, dependency, and consensus,” he said. 

The turnout on Saturday demonstrated that there is no place in Iraqi politics anymore for horse-trading, Sadr said. He also pointed out that those who attended that session were from all ethnicities and sects, representing a “beautiful mosaic which is neither eastern nor western.”

The Iraqi Parliament failed to elect a president on Saturday after Iran-backed groups boycotted the session, and the quorum to elect the next president was not met.

A total of 126 parliament members in Iraq’s 329-seat house of representatives chose to boycott Saturday’s session.

Only 202 members of parliament, mainly the members of the Saving the Homeland alliance, were present. That number did not meet the two-thirds quorum, or 220 seats necessary to elect a new president.

As a result of Saturday’s failure, the parliament postponed the vote until Wednesday.

Putin Flashes the Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Russia held joint military exercises with Belarus in the days before the invasion of Ukraine.Photo: BELARUSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Putin Stokes Nuclear Fears With Atomic Weapons Warnings

As Russian forces meet fierce resistance in Ukraine, Western capitals worry Kremlin could turn to tactical nuclear arms

Updated March 27, 2022 8:22 am ET

When Russia unveiled previously secret details of its nuclear-weapons doctrine for the first time in 2020, it confirmed something U.S. war planners had long suspected: Moscow would be willing to use atomic arms to keep from losing a conventional war.

But as Mr. Putin’s army has faced fierce resistance from Ukrainian forces strengthened by large infusions of Western weaponry, concerns have grown in Washington and allied capitals that Russia could consider using a so-called tactical nuclear weapon to gain the upper hand on the battlefield.

Such weapons, which generally have a less powerful warhead than a strategic nuclear weapon carried on an intercontinental ballistic missile, were part of Cold War military thinking though they never figured into the arms-control agreements of the past between the U.S. and Russia or the Soviet Union.

Russia has the largest inventory of nuclear weapons in the world, but many are in need of modernization. WSJ breaks down Vladimir Putin’s arsenal as Moscow touts its nuclear capabilities amid the war in Ukraine. Illustration: Eve Hartley The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition

The move would be aimed at crushing Ukraine’s will to fight, turning the tide of the war or signaling that current levels of Western support—including transfers of antitank and air-defense systems—are intolerable, Russian and Western analysts say.

The first use of an atomic weapon since the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II would likely cause major damage and radioactive contamination to any Ukrainian city hit—and perhaps beyond, depending on wind and other factors. It would also confront Washington and Europe with a major security test.

“We don’t know exactly where it is, the red line where the Russian leadership considers using tactical nuclear weapons,” said Petr Topychkanov, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. “The Russian leadership knows the value of ambiguity.”

Further complicating efforts to predict Mr. Putin’s actions, Mr. Topychkanov said, is that it is difficult to gauge the nature of Kremlin decision-making. “The biggest question is how rational the Russian leadership is right now,” he said. “I don’t know what kind of information he is getting.”

In the days before the invasion, Mr. Putin led an exercise of Russia’s strategic forces, launching some of the country’s most cutting-edge missiles, like the hypersonic Kinzhal. At the start of the invasion he warned of consequences “the likes of which you have never seen in history” if the West intervened.

Days later, he stirred concern, ordering his military to ensure the “special combat readiness” of his nuclear forces.

While those threats were an overt nod to nuclear warfare, they failed to define where exactly Russia’s red lines are, observers of Russia’s nuclear policy say, giving Mr. Putin more latitude to escalate threats if he feels the need or even strike.

The point of a tactical nuclear strike to end a conventional conflict, based on doctrine known as “escalate to de-escalate,” is to change the rules on the battlefield while shifting the burden of escalation onto your opponent, said Elbridge Colby, co-founder of The Marathon Initiative, a policy initiative focused on great-power competition.

“Putin could use a smaller warhead to protect what his conventional forces are doing,” he said. “The Ukrainians may be the target, but the real target politically would be the U.S. and the West.”

At the height of Cold War tensions, the use of nonstrategic nuclear weapons was never a threat to the U.S. directly, but since the fall of the U.S.S.R., American attempts to establish controls have been rebuffed by the Russians, according to a congressional report published earlier this year.

Russia leaned heavily on nuclear arms, including nonstrategic or tactical nuclear weapons, in its military thinking, largely because of the decay of the Russian armed forces following the Soviet Union’s collapse. Since Mr. Putin’s military modernization starting in 2008, nuclear arms have remained a military centerpiece, giving Moscow some sense of parity with the U.S.

At the same time its store of tactical nuclear weapons has remained high, with between 1,000 and 2,000 warheads, whereas the U.S. has just over 200, around 100 of which are in Europe, the congressional report said.

Despite active signaling, Russia has demurred at the idea of using nuclear weapons. Mr. Putin’s spokesman said on CNN that Moscow would use them only under existential threat, and Russian Deputy Foreign MinisterSergei Ryabkov said on state television: “We have a very responsible approach to that issue, we never escalate anything.”

While the U.S. on one hand has made it clear it has no plans to cross any nuclear red lines in Ukraine—and even canceled a routine test launch of an Air Force Minuteman III missile to avoid escalating nuclear tensions with Russia—Washington has signaled the presence of its nuclear-capable forces in Europe this month.

Weeks before the Russian invasion, the U.S. sent B-52 strategic bombers to exercise with British and European air forces.

“There’s already some kind of signaling going on in Europe,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

While tactical nuclear weapons could trigger bigger and more powerful strategic weapons in response, Mr. Kristensen said it wouldn’t mean immediate all-out nuclear war.

“I don’t think it’s likely to expect an automatic, super-rapid escalation to all-out,” he said. “Both sides will want to look for ways to keep it limited because they both know full well what the consequences are of full escalation.”

Analysts said Ukraine would be the most likely target for any tactical nuclear attack, but that escalation after that would be hard to predict, particularly if NATO got involved.

“You can’t imagine NATO would just sit by and watch it use nuclear weapons for the first time in 80 years and not do anything about it,” Mr. Kristensen said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned against letting the war in Ukraine slip into a nuclear conflict and told Russia to stop its nuclear rhetoric.

“Russia must stop its nuclear saber-rattling,” said Mr. Stoltenberg last week ahead of a summit of the Western military alliance’s leaders in Brussels. “Any use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally change the nature of the conflict, and Russia must understand that a nuclear war should never be fought and they can never win a nuclear war.”

Write to Thomas Grove at thomas.grove@wsj.com

Luck is running out in South Asia Revelation 8

BRAHMOS_Launcher

The Luck Factor: Preventing Nuclear War in South Asia

March 25, 2022

On March 9, an Indian BrahMos missileentered Pakistani airspace and fell on Pakistani territory, causing some damage to the surrounding areas. Pakistan’s first official reaction came the next day on March 10, when the Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), General Babar Iftikhar strongly condemned the incident and asked India for an explanation. According to General Iftikhar, “a high-speed flying object was picked up inside the Indian territory by the Air Defense Operation Centre of the Pakistan Airforce.” The object maneuvered towards Pakistani territory and violated Pakistan’s airspace before ultimately falling near the city of Mian Channu. After Pakistan’s strong condemnation of the incident, the Indian Defense Ministry finally acknowledged that “a technical malfunction” had led to the accidental firing of the missile that landed in Pakistan. While observers have expressed relief that there was no escalation, the incident has opened up myriad questions regarding the relationship between the nuclear-armed neighbors and offers valuable lessons for the future.

Several media reports claim that India never used the military-to-military hotline following the “inadvertent” missile launch, which would have provided a quick communication link between the two countries designed to reduce miscalculation and aimed at risk mitigation. The failure to use the hotline could imply more serious consequences for both India and Pakistan during a future conflict. Other reports have suggested the possibility of a Pakistani retaliatory strike. Pakistan’s subdued reaction has been attributed to the realization that “something was amiss.” Fortunately, the missile caused minimal damage in its wake, and the Pakistani military quickly concluded that the missile was unarmed. Had the missile hit a military target, collided with a commercial airliner in its path, or caused casualties, the situation may have spiraled out of control.

While observers have expressed relief that there was no escalation, the incident has opened up myriad questions regarding the relationship between the nuclear-armed neighbors and offers valuable lessons for the future.

For India, the incident has highlighted several issues related to the safety and security of its military systems. Following the missile misfire, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh expressed regret over the incident, saying that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for “operations, maintenance, and inspection” of such systems were being reviewed, potentially implying that human error, and not technical issues alone, had resulted in the accidental launch. The missile did not hit military infrastructure, an aircraft, or a populated area and the missile was unarmed. Nonetheless, the launch has compromised India’s longstanding claim that it had foolproof systems in place to ensure the safety and security of its weapons systems. Recent speeches by Hindu nationalist leaders urgingthe use of force against Pakistan also reinforce Pakistan’s growing skepticism about Indian assurances. There are also voices in India’s domestic polity demanding answersabout circumstances involving the incident. Given the geographical proximity between the two neighbors and the limited time available to mitigate a crisis, the risk for a disproportionate response increases considerably.

While some in India commended the Pakistani military’s “muted” response that potentially helped avert a crisis, others have criticized Pakistan’s failure to intercept the missile’s launch. Observers in Pakistan have also raised questions about the adequacy of Pakistan’s response and the country’s ability to defend itself against an Indian attack. Like India, Pakistan will also have to address issues related to public confidence amid the possibility of radar coverage and air defense gaps. Since good fortune seems to have played a greater role in ensuring a low-key Pakistani response following the incident, both Pakistan and India need to revisit their bilateral relations, especially in the nuclear realm. Near-miss accidents—like this one—highlight the need for communication channels to always remain open. A dedicated hotline would facilitate negotiations and provide a platform to reduce nuclear risks.

Strategic communities in both countries, as well as experts in the United States, have highlighted the importance of nuclear risk reduction, especially through cooperative information exchanges and longer decision-making times, following the incident. Many experts have also suggested strengthening technical and operational measures to ensure there are no accidents involving missile launches without proper authority. Expanded procedures for the rapid exchange of information about ambiguous information also need to be institutionalized. 

Given the already contentious relationship between India and Pakistan, bilateral relations in South Asia require greater efforts that would help avoid accidents or miscalculations in the future. It is very important also that the two countries remain engaged in CBMs. Since the incident involved the accidental launch of a cruise missile, perhaps the time is right for India and Pakistan to consider enhancing the 2005 pact to also include cruise missiles. Both countries also need to realize the importance of CBMs in the nuclear realm to manage risks associated with their expanding civilian and military nuclear programs. Unfortunately, existing measures between the two are aimed at avoiding crises rather than management or de-escalation. Pakistan’s insistence on third-party involvement and India’s usual dismissal of Pakistan’s demands is reason enough for creating a bilateral mechanism to provide a buffer during future conflicts. The U.S. appeared largely distant, making it clear that India and Pakistan need to resolve crises on their own.

Near-miss accidents – like this one – highlight the need for communication channels to always remain open. A dedicated hotline would facilitate negotiations and provide a platform to reduce nuclear risks.

That the incident did not spiral out of control is a miracle. False alarms have occurred previously— especially during the Cold War—and remain a possibility in any contemporary nuclear environment. Despite all the precautions, there is the possibility of an inadvertent launch due to human error or technical fallibility. Bilateral dialogue and CBMs are, now more than ever, processes to be encouraged between India and Pakistan, and leadership on both sides of the border must find a way to prevent such dangers in the future.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a three-part series featuring authors from India, Pakistan, and the United States reviewing the implications of India’s accidental missile launch on March 9, how it happened, why relative calm ensued, and what the crisis reveals about India-Pakistan relations and prospects for Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the future. Read the full series here.

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Image 1: Wikimedia Commons

Image 2: Syed Naqvi via Wikimedia Commons

The threat of the Pakistani Nuclear Horn: Revelation 8

Pakistan’s nuclear program threat to global security: Report

ANI |

Mar 26, 2022 11:08 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], March 26 (ANI): Highlighting the constant terrorism, political instability and growing radicalization, a media report said that Pakistan qualifies as a nuclear unsafe country that can threaten global security.
While a country’s possession of nuclear capability should be marked with years of political maturity, institutional strength, restraint and an official adherence to no first use policy, Pakistan’s credentials are anything but satisfactory on all these counts, the report in Geopolitica said.
The manner in which Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have forced the government to surrender to their demands during the last two years, the danger of them getting a foothold in the state’s decision making cannot be ignored, the report said, adding that, there is a growing apprehension of jihadis even taking control of Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
Talking about the growing radicalization, especially within the Pakistan army, the report said, “The gradual radicalization of the Pakistani army has also translated into instances of insiders aligning with jihadi organizations to strike the defence apparatus.”
The extent of terrorist infiltration in Pakistan’s nuclear-armed military became clear when terrorists, acting with alleged intelligence assistance from “insiders,” mounted an attack on one of Pakistan’s biggest naval bases, Mehran Naval Base near Karachi in 2011, the report said.

Another major risk emanates from the manner in which Pakistan has developed nuclear weapons, using technology stolen from western countries and procured from international grey networks.
According to some analysts, the country ran a nuclear smuggling ring from its diplomatic missions and other agencies for many years, spearheaded by the so-called Father of Pakistan’s atomic programme, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the report said, adding that, the network had a role in exporting nuclear technology to countries like North Korea and Iran.
The report highlighted the unchecked expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear prowess by exploiting the dual-use technology imports as a risk facing the whole world and particularly the South Asian region.
Pakistan is among the countries posing the greatest nuclear threat, misleading the world in procuring internationally controlled items and technologies to aid its nuclear programme, the report said citing the recent ‘Threat Assessment Report’ by the Norwegian Security Agencies.
This calls for increased international collaboration for a strong vigil over various activities concerning both civil and military nuclear programmes of the country, the report said. (ANI)

How America has kept the European horns nuked up

Meet the nuke the U.S. keeps in Europe, waiting to not be used

It’s estimated there are 100 of these B61 nuclear bombs there, designed to unify NATO and deter Russia

8:00 a.m. EDT

Near steep vineyards of riesling grapes, in an underground vault at an air force base in western Germany, sits an American nuclear bomb. More than one of them, actually. Eachbomb is about the length of two refrigerators laid down end to end and as heavy as the average adult male musk ox. The bombs are slender and pointy and a little more than a foot wide. Experts estimate that there are about 100 such bombs stored among five NATO countries, ready to be loaded on jets and dropped by the United States and its allies — old-school style, parachute and all — toward an enemy target. One version of this bomb can carry the explosive equivalent of 11 Hiroshimas.

The bomb’s family name is B61. Over the past half-century, in various modifications, B61s have been sent to Europe to deter Russia and reassure the NATO alliance, and they remain there for those reasons. Scenarios for their detonation seem far-fetched — but perhaps not as far-fetched as they seemed a month ago. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggers another round of anxiety about World War III, the B61 remains the only U.S. nuclear weapons system based in Europe, a forward-deployed reassurance for NATO at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin is rattling his own nuclear saber.

The B61 is loaded with meaning. It embodies the paradox, inertia, specter, bargain and cost of nuclear weapons, especially at a moment like this.

Is it ammunition for a hot war or an artifact of a cold one? Both? Neither?

“The political value of these weapons is immense,” says Franklin C. Miller, who was President George W. Bush’s senior director for defense policy and arms control, referring to the B61s. “NATO governments view them as a major political commitment — the visible, touchable, tangible side of our extended deterrent.”

“I remember a chief of staff of the Air Force who asked me if we could get rid of our nuclear weapons in Europe,” says Andy Weber, who was assistant defense secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs under President Barack Obama. “There’s no military value to our nuclear weapons in Europe. Zero. They’re there for purely political reasons.”

The B61 is nevertheless a bomb. It serves a purpose sitting in a vault because it would serve a purpose if dropped from a plane.

“It provides the alliance with a nuclear response — that’s its military value,” says retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, supreme allied commander of NATO from 2013 to 2016 and now chair of the Frontier Europe Initiative for the Middle East Institute.

How might a B61 be used? During an escalating hypothetical conflict between NATO and Russia, a single nuclear warning shot from Russia into Poland could invite an allied nuclear response: a B61 dropped on a military site in Kaliningrad, for example. This in turn could prompt a Russian escalation, and then — if things continue down that path — all-out nuclear war with the United States, resulting in at least 91.5 million casualties worldwide, according to a 2019 simulationfrom Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security. At that point, we could confront levels of horror that have been confined to theory and fiction for 77 years. If, for example, an 800-kiloton Russian intercontinental ballistic missile detonated 1.8 miles above the White House, there could be half a million fatalities and people might endure third-degree burns from Silver Spring, Md., to Alexandria, Va., according to Nukemap, a modeling website created by nuclear-weapons historian Alex Wellerstein.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said on March 14 that “the prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility,” referring to Putin’s decision to put his nuclear forces on alert.

Appearing Tuesday on CNN, a spokesman for Putin refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons, particularly if the Kremlin perceives an “existential threat” to Russia.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan noted Tuesday during a White House press conference that it was Putin who, early on, “raised the specter of the potential use of nuclear weapons.”

“It is something we do have to be concerned about,” Sullivan said. “Based on our current analysis, we have not changed our nuclear posture to date. But we are constantly monitoring for that potential contingency.”

What could rouse the B61s from their underground slumber? The classic scenario, Miller says, involves NATO being unable to halt a Russian invasion using its nonnuclear defenses. But the United States has a variety of other, smarter options than the B61 in its nuclear and nonnuclear arsenals. Even in an escalation scenario, the 50-year-old deterrent we keep in the ground might stay there.

“I suppose you could fairly ask me, ‘If we were starting fresh, would we need those weapons there?’” Miller says of the B61s. “The answer might be no. But we’re not starting fresh, and these weapons have a long history.”

The B61 was birthed in the years after the Cuban missile crisis because the Air Force was interested in the possibility of dropping nukes from low-flying aircraft at high speeds, according to the second volume of Chuck Hansen’s “Swords of Armageddon.” The B61 could be used as a “tactical” or “nonstrategic” nuke on a battlefield, against a forward military target, as opposed to a “strategic” obliterating strike, behind enemy lines, on a seat of government or city.

In the late summer of 1969, scientists and military commanders gathered in Los Alamos, N.M., the birthplace of the atomic bomb, for a three-day symposium on tactical nuclear weapons. It had been almost a quarter-century since World War II ended with a pair of nuclear attacks on Japan and two decades since the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, which by then had grown to 15 countries.

The tactical nuclear program in Europe “remains the single most unifying element in NATO,” Gen. David A. Burchinal, then-deputy head of U.S. European Command, said in his remarks. “We must launch a determined program in weapons developments and weapons improvement to meet our present and future requirements,” he said. “We cannot rest on the laurels of 20 years of relative calm in NATO Europe.”

The new B61 family, in other words, was welcome but insufficient.

By 1975 the United States had in Europe 6,951 tactical nuclear warheads and 145 nuclear storage sites, according to a declassified memo sent to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The idea was deterrence: Any Soviet incursion into Europe would risk a limited nuclear strike, which could escalate to an all-out strategic war, which would outweigh any benefits of an incursion, according to James M. Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The B61 is left over from those days. It is a bomb that promotes unity by threatening the apocalypse.

“There was a time earlier in my career when I supported the withdrawal of these weapons from Europe,” Acton says. “I’ve changed that because I think there’s a number of allies that value them, and I think — especially given recent Russian actions — that they are important enough to a number of countries that I wouldn’t want to undermine NATO unity by trying to withdraw them.”

The leadership of NATO — of which Ukraine is not a member — has committed to remaining a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons exist.

“At a time when discussions of lethal autonomous weapons, drone swarms and the weaponisation of outer space make modern warfare seem like a sci-fi thriller, nuclear weapons can seem as retro as a Sony Walkman or landline telephone,” Jessica Cox, NATO’s director of nuclear policy, wrote in 2020. “And yet, nuclear-armed nations such as Russia and China are once again investing heavily to create more sophisticated and diverse nuclear arsenals, North Korea is continuing its nuclear expansion apace, and Iran is once again making headlines for its nuclear developments.”

And so the B61 persists, albeit at a fraction of the size of Russia’s larger tactical nuclear force, which is undergoing updates and “possesses significant advantages” over the arsenals of the United States and its allies, according to the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review in 2018. The estimated 100 U.S. bombs beneath European landscapes are waiting not for detonation so much as refurbishment. (If bombs stick around, bombs get old.) In May, the United States is scheduled to begin full-scale production of a modernized version of the B61 that will have an adjustable yield — meaning that the military can dial up or down the force with which each bomb explodes — and a guided tail kit to improve accuracy (no parachute necessary).

This modernization, which started more than a decade ago, is predicted to cost between $9.1 billion and $10.1 billion — making it probably the most expensive nuclear-bomb program in U.S. history, according to Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

“Ever since the end of the Cold War, there have been fewer and fewer” U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe, Kristensen says, and many U.S. officials “say we don’t need that stuff there anymore.” But for some, he says, the invasion of Ukraine “reaffirms the need for these weapons in Europe,” and the modernization of the B61 “commits to the next era of forward deployment of nuclear weapons.”

In this way, the life of the B61 evokes the U.S. nuclear arsenal in general: Aged, yet born anew. Mostly hidden but always at the ready. Sacrosanct to some, outmoded to others.

Jon Wolfsthal, senior director for arms control and nonproliferation on Obama’s National Security Council, says U.S. officials might wish that the billions spent on B61 modernization were instead invested in nonnuclear capabilities, American troop presence and support for Ukraine.

“When I was in government, we argued the B61 and nuclear-sharing in NATO is essential for alliance unity, right? It turns out it’s not,” says Wolfsthal, a senior adviser to the anti-nuclear nonprofit Global Zero. “What’s essential for NATO unity is the threat of Russia.”

The mood in Germany — where for years the parliament has held debates on phasing out custody of those B61s by the vineyards — “has changed significantly since the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” says Xanthe Hall, a nuclear-disarmament expert for the German chapter of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. “People are actually scared and have woken up to the fact that nuclear weapons threaten them personally.”

“The reaction to this is very strong but in both directions. Many people are calling for abolition of nuclear weapons,” she says, while “others are saying that nuclear deterrence is our only protection.” On March 14 Germany announced that it would replace its aging bomber jets with American F-35s that can also carry B61s, signaling a recommitment to the allies’ nuclear-sharing agreement.

Critics of the modernized B61 consider it not a relic of the Cold War or a sign of NATO unity but essentially a new and destabilizing type of bomb, with its “dial-a-yield” capability and increased precision potentially lowering the threshold for use in a conflict, Hall says.

Jill Hruby, the administrator of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, said in a December statement that the B61′s refurbishment “improves accuracy and reduces yield with no change in military characteristics, while also improving safety, security and reliability.”

While the bombs are being altered, so is the rhetoric around them. In recent years both Russia and the United States have increasingly sent signals about using nuclear weapons in conflict rather than strictly as deterrents to conflict, according to Christine Parthemore, chief executive of the Council on Strategic Risks.

“Around 2015, 2016 I started hearing people in the Pentagon talk about it much more openly, in a way that sounded like they were normalizing it,” says Parthemore, who attributes this partly to the belligerent rhetoric of Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “If we think nuclear weapons are primarily or entirely for deterring nuclear weapons use, they should be sitting somewhere and maintained as an afterthought, as a political weapon, and seen as not having useful warfighting capability.”

But the warfighting capability is what imbues a bomb with its deterrent value, according to experts, and a modernized B61 — with its higher accuracy paired with the low yield — might be a more conceivable option in a military conflict.

“The greatest danger of nuclear war are these so-called smaller, tactical weapons on ambiguous delivery vehicles,” Weber says. “Somehow using vanilla terms like ‘low yield’ makes it seem like they’re acceptable.”

As Jim Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee in 2018 when he was defense secretary: “I don’t think there is any such thing as a ‘tactical nuclear weapon.’ Any nuclear weapon used any time is a strategic game-changer.”

Perhaps as soon as next year, in a world reshaped by however this Russian invasion plays out, NATO soil will be reseeded with modernized nuclear bombs from the United States. They will remain underground and out of sight — but never far from the surface.

Biden’s Remarks are not helping the nuclear situation

Biden’s Putin remark pushes U.S.-Russia relations closer to collapse

7:28 p.m. EDT

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: In a fiery speech marking the end of his European tour on Saturday, President Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “dictator,” saying, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” The White House later clarified that Biden wasn’t calling for a regime change and meant only that Putin should not be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. 

Meanwhile, the Russian onslaught continued Saturday with two powerful rockets striking Lviv. The western Ukrainian city had been largely spared from attacks during the first month of the war. Russian forces also entered Slavutych, a northern city of about 25,000 people that houses workers from the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The fight: Russia — which has launched more than 1,000 missiles so far — is increasingly relying on “dumb” bombs to wear cities and civilians down. Russia’s assault on Ukraine has been extensive with strikes and attacks across the entire country, and Russia has been accused of committing war crimes.

The weapons: Ukraine is making use of weapons such as Javelin antitank missiles and Switchblade “kamikaze” drones, provided by the United States and other allies. Russia has used an array of weapons against Ukraine, some of which have drawn the attention and concern of analysts.

Oil prices: Sanctions on Russia are helping gas prices hit new highs. Here’s why — and how long the surge could last.

In Russia: Putin has locked down the flow of information within Russia, where the war isn’t even being called a war. “Information warriors” from around the world are working to penetrate Putin’s propaganda wall.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can help support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.