The Nuclear Bombs of Babylon the Great (Daniel 8)


America just tested ‘the most dangerous nuclear bomb ever made’
Rob WaughRob Waugh for Metro.co.uk
Wednesday 30 Aug 2017 11:17 am
As nuclear tensions rise on the Korean peninsula, America is busy at home – testing the B61-12 nuclear weapon, described as ‘the most dangerous ever’.
No ‘decisive progress’ has been made in recent Brexit talks, says EU official
The gravity bomb has been described as uniquely dangerous not because of its payload – which is equivalent to 50,000 kilotons of TNT – but because it’s accurate to around 90 feet.
The accuracy means it’s far more lethal, according to military experts – despite the relatively small yield.
The bomb tested this week was not armed, of course (that would violate nuclear treaties) – but non-nuclear test assemblies were dropped from an F-15E based at Nellis Air Force Base.
The test evaluated the weapon’s non-nuclear functions and the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon.
Donald Trump has previously spoken out about his desire to modernise America’s nuclear arsenal.
‘The B61-12 life extension program is progressing on schedule to meet national security requirements,’ said Phil Calbos, acting NNSA deputy administrator for Defense Programs.
The B61-12 consolidates and replaces four B61 bomb variants in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
The first production unit is scheduled to be completed by March 2020.

Trump Prepares to Upgrade Babylon the Great (Daniel 8:8)

© Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency An unarmed Minuteman missile at a launch facility near Wall, S.D. The Air Force has announced new contracts to begin replacing the aging Minuteman fleet.

During his speech last week about Afghanistan, President Trump slipped in a line that had little to do with fighting the Taliban: “Vast amounts” are being spent on “our nuclear arsenal and missile defense,” he said, as the administration builds up the military.
The president is doing exactly that. Last week, the Air Force announced major new contracts for an overhaul of the American nuclear force: $1.8 billion for initial development of a highly stealthy nuclear cruise missile, and nearly $700 million to begin replacing the 40-year-old Minuteman missiles in silos across the United States.
While both programs were developed during the Obama years, the Trump administration has seized on them, with only passing nods to the debate about whether either is necessary or wise. They are the first steps in a broader remaking of the nuclear arsenal — and the bombers, submarines and missiles that deliver the weapons — that the government estimated during Mr. Obama’s tenure would ultimately cost $1 trillion or more.
Even as his administration nurtured the programs, Mr. Obama argued that by making nuclear weapons safer and more reliable, their numbers could be reduced, setting the world on a path to one day eliminating them. Some of Mr. Obama’s national security aides, believing that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election, expected deep cutbacks in the $1 trillion plan.
Mr. Trump has not spoken of any such reduction, in the number of weapons or the scope of the overhaul, and his warning to North Korea a few weeks ago that he would meet any challenge with “fire and fury” suggested that he may not subscribe to the view of most past presidents that the United States would never use such weapons in a first strike.
“We’re at a dead end for arms control,” said Gary Samore, who was a top nuclear adviser to Mr. Obama.
While Mr. Trump is moving full speed ahead on the nuclear overhaul — even before a review of American nuclear strategy, due at the end of the year, is completed — critics are warning of the risk of a new arms race and billions of dollars squandered.
The critics of the cruise missile, led by a former defense secretary, William J. Perry, have argued that the new weapon will be so accurate and so stealthy that it will be destabilizing, forcing the Russians and the Chinese to accelerate their own programs. And the rebuilding of the ground-based missile fleet essentially commits the United States to keeping the most vulnerable leg of its “nuclear triad” — a mix of submarine-launched, bomber-launched and ground-launched weapons. Some arms control experts have argued that the ground force should be eliminated.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress in June that he was open to reconsidering the need for both systems. But in remarks to sailors in Washington State almost three weeks ago, he hinted at where a nuclear review was going to come out.
A new nuclear cruise missile would extend the life of America’s aging fleet of B-2 bombers.
© Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images A new nuclear cruise missile would extend the life of America’s aging fleet of B-2 bombers. “I think we’re going to keep all three legs of the deterrent,” he told the sailors.
The contracts, and Mr. Mattis’s hints about the ultimate nuclear strategy, suggest that Mr. Obama’s agreement in 2010 to spend $80 billion to “modernize” the nuclear arsenal — the price he paid for getting the Senate to ratify the New Start arms control agreement with Russia — will have paved the way for expansions of the nuclear arsenal under Mr. Trump.
“It’s been clear for years now that the Russians are only willing to reduce numbers if we put limits on missile defense, and with the North Korean threat, we can’t do that,” said Mr. Samore, who is now at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. “I think we are pretty much doomed to modernize the triad.”
At issue in the debate over the cruise missile and the rebuilding of the land-based fleet is an argument over nuclear deterrence — the kind of debate that gripped American national security experts in the 1950s and ’60s, and again during the Reagan era.
Cruise missiles are low-flying weapons with stubby wings. Dropped from a bomber, they hug the ground to avoid enemy radars and air defenses. Their computerized brains compare internal maps of the terrain with what their sensors report.
The Air Force’s issuing last week of the contract for the advanced nuclear-tipped missile — to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Missile Systems — starts a 12-year effort to replace an older model. The updated weapon is to eventually fly on a yet-undeveloped new nuclear bomber.
The plan is to produce 1,000 of the new missiles, which are stealthier and more precise than the ones they will replace, and to place revitalized nuclear warheads on half of them. The other half would be kept for flight tests and for spares. The total cost of the program is estimated to be $25 billion.
“This weapon will modernize the air-based leg of the nuclear triad,” the Air Force secretary, Heather Wilson, said in a statement. “Deterrence works if our adversaries know that we can hold at risk things they value. This weapon will enhance our ability to do so.”
The most vivid argument in favor of the new weapon came in testimony to the Senate from Franklin C. Miller, a longtime Pentagon official who helped design President George W. Bush’s nuclear strategy and is a consultant at the Pentagon under Mr. Mattis. The new weapon, he said last summer, would extend the life of America’s aging fleet of B-52 and B-2 bombers, as Russian and Chinese “air defenses evolve to a point where” the planes are “are unable to penetrate to their targets.”
Critics argue that the cruise missile’s high precision and reduced impact on nearby civilians could tempt a future president to contemplate “limited nuclear war.” Worse, they say, is that adversaries might overreact to the launching of the cruise missiles because they come in nuclear as well as nonnuclear varieties.
Mr. Miller dismisses that fear, saying the new weapon is no more destabilizing than the one it replaces.
Some former members of the Obama administration are among the most prominent critics of the weapon, even though Mr. Obama’s Pentagon pressed for it. Andrew C. Weber, who was an assistant defense secretary and the director of the Nuclear Weapons Council, an interagency body that oversees the nation’s arsenal, argued that the weapon was unneeded, unaffordable and provocative.
He said it was “shocking” that the Trump administration was signing contracts to build these weapons before it completed its own strategic review on nuclear arms. And he called the new cruise missile “a destabilizing system designed for nuclear war fighting,” rather than for deterrence.
The other contracts the Pentagon announced last week are for replacements for the 400 aging Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles housed in underground silos. The winners of $677 million in contracts — Boeing and Northrop Grumman — will develop plans for a replacement force.
During Mr. Obama’s second term, the ground-based force came under withering criticism over the training of its crews — who work long, boring hours underground — and the decrepit state of the silos and weapons. Some of the systems still used eight-inch floppy disks. Internal Pentagon reports expressed worries about the vulnerability of the ground-based systems to cyberattack.
Mr. Perry, who was defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, has argued that the United States can safely phase out its land-based force, calling the missiles a costly relic of the Cold War.
But the Trump administration appears determined to hold on to the ground-based system, and to invest heavily in it. The cost of replacing the Minuteman missiles and remaking the command-and-control system is estimated at roughly $100 billion.

The Nuclear Hegemony of Babylon the Great

https://i0.wp.com/www.motherjones.com/files/trumpbomb.jpgUsing Nuclear Weapons

NY Times
To the Editor:
Re “What if Trump Ordered Nuclear Strike on China? I’d Comply, Admiral Says” (news article, July 28):
Would you willingly initiate the indiscriminate slaughter of hundreds of thousands or millions of people, risking a massive nuclear exchange that could end human civilization as we know it? That is the deeper meaning of the question that Adm. Scott Swift answered in the affirmative.
The premise of the question is not “ridiculous,” despite what Capt. Charlie Brown claims, in an attempt to put a neutral face on his superior’s response. In fact, the question is all too realistic. The United States maintains a policy of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict in order to “defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.”
There are currently no restrictions on the president’s single-handedly deciding to use nuclear weapons for whatever reason in such a conflict. That is dangerous, undemocratic and definitely “ridiculous.”
RICK WAYMANSANTA BARBARA, CALIF.
The writer is director of programs for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Babylon the Great Continues Her Nuclear Posturing

Image result for America's Nuclear Arsenal

U.S. Nuclear Posturing Continues to Escalate

Rose Blanchard, Meghan McCall and Geoff Wilson
THAAD stirs up tensions –The U.S. military started installing a controversial antimissile defense system in South Korea overnight Tuesday, triggering protests and sparking criticism that it was rushing to get the battery in place before the likely election of a president who opposes it,” writes Anna Fifield for The Washington Post. “The sudden and unannounced move came only six days after the U.S. military command in South Korea secured the land to deploy the system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.”
–“Beijing has vehemently protested the deployment, apparently concerned that the system’s powerful radar could be used to keep tabs on China, and it has imposed painful economic boycotts on South Korean companies in response. ‘The deployment of THAAD in South Korea will destroy the strategic balance in the region and bring about a further increase in tensions,’ Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters Wednesday in Beijing. ‘The Chinese side strongly urges the U.S. and South Korea to cancel the deployment and withdraw the equipment.’” Full article here.
Tweet – @38NorthNK: “Hey, US! Are you friends or occupying troops?” protests against THAAD continue in South Korea via @YonhapNews english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2017/…
See also – “Nuclear Mad Men” by Daryl Kimball for Arms Control Today here.
US Minuteman III test in Pacific – “An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile was launched just after midnight Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base as part of an operational test to show the country’s nuclear deterrent capability, according to the U.S. Air Force,” writes Veronica Rocha for the Los Angeles Times. “The missile, which was equipped with a non-explosive payload that recorded flight data, traveled 4,200 miles to a test range in Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, according to the Air Force.”
Take action – Ready to restore checks and balances to the nuclear codes? Inspired by the legislation proposed by Rep. Ted Lieu and Sen. Ed Markey, Ploughshares Fund, along with sixteen other public interest groups, has created a new petition urging Congress to keep America safe by preventing any U.S. President from unilaterally launching a nuclear weapon. Sign and share the petition today.
–“Col. Chris Moss, Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing commander, said the test launch was ‘an important demonstration of our nation’s nuclear deterrent capability.’” For the full article, click here.
Sec. Perry’s Cold War redux – I lived most of my adult life during the Cold War, and, throughout, I never lost sight of one overwhelming reality — at any time, the Cold War could turn hot, resulting in the extinction of our civilization. Now, inexplicably, we are recreating many of the conditions of the Cold War. In fact, I believe that, today, the likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe is actually greater than it was during the Cold War,” writes William Perry for The Hill. “We seem determined to replay the Cold War arms race, with costs estimated at more than $1 trillion — with predictably terrible dangers. Have we simply forgotten the immense dangers of the Cold War?”
–“A chilling return to Cold War nuclear dangers in addition to the more recent possibilities of nuclear terrorism and regional nuclear conflicts lead me to conclude that the likelihood of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War. One thing is very clear: our policies are totally inadequate for dealing with these existential dangers. It should be the highest priority for this administration to develop policies that recognize this new reality, and then to devise new, robust programs that can mitigate them.” For the full article, click here.
Calm the beat – “The drums of war are threatening to drown out the whispers of diplomacy with North Korea. Lost in the reverberations is the fact that Pyongyang is willing to negotiate — though not on US terms,” writes Leon V. Sigal for The Boston Globe. He argues that Pyongyang’s strategy has always been to play superpowers off of each other to minimize dependence on any single country.
–“An improvement in US relations to reduce dependence on China remains Kim’s strategy. As initial steps, he may be willing to suspend his missile and nuclear programs in return for a scaling down of US joint exercises with South Korea and other reciprocal measures to address their security concerns. The only way out of this predicament is for Washington to resume talks with Pyongyang. And meanwhile, muffle those war drums.” For the full article, click here.
Tweet – @Cirincione: There are no military options in Korea. We should stop pretending that there are. http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/north-korea-u-s-military-options
Still not the time to invest in blast doors – “North Korea will soon have the capability to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the contiguous United States, foreign-policy analysts and government insiders say,” writes Evan Bush for The Seattle Times. “Seattle is viewed as a logical target because of the city’s dense population, booming high-tech industry, nearby military bases and relative proximity to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.”
–But Joe Cirincione reassures: “‘Deterrence works for North Korea, like it does any country… You drop a bomb on Seattle, North Korea’s toast… “What would they gain by hitting Seattle? Why would they do this? The only thing you can come up with is madness. Is North Korea mad? … Ruthless, brutal, immoral … [but] all this crazy stuff Kim Jong Un is doing is serving his interest,’ Cirincione said of the North Korean autocrat and his desire to stay in power.” Full article here.
Tweet – @ColinKahl: As Trump uses tough talk & brinksmanship to pressure NK, it could produce leverage…or lead to miscalculation & war http://cnn.it/2pk7YZ5
Watch: Director of Programs at Ploughshares on DPRK discuss Trump’s approach on North Korea here.
See also – “The ‘axis of evil’ is back” by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky for CNN here.
Shackling Iranian nukes requires JCPOA “By undermining implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — a viable, verified, and sound agreement that blocks Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — President Trump risks removing the shackles from Tehran’s nuclear efforts,” writes Jon Wolfsthal for Defense One. “We’ve been down that road before; instead of preserving and strengthening the Agreed Framework with North Korea, Bush freed Pyongyang to keep working on nuclear weapons that could eventually reach American territory.”
–“If the Trump administration is to challenge Iran’s dangerous actions, it has to prioritize those steps it most wants to prevent Iran from taking. Going nuclear should rise to the top of that list, and that priority should inform both the tone and substance of the Iran policy review now underway. By keeping the JCPOA on track, the Trump administration can both take on Iran more effectively and prevent some future administration from dealing with a more dangerous nuclear-armed adversary, something many wish had happened under George W. Bush with respect to North Korea.” Full article here.
See also – “Iran Deal Is More Popular Than Ever, Poll Shows” by Cameron Easley for Morning Consult here.
Job Announcement – Ploughshares Fund seeks applicants for a competitive, one-year paid position as a Roger L. Hale Fellow. The Fellow works primarily with the policy (analysis/advocacy) team to conduct research on current nuclear weapons-related topics, monitor government policy, and write for publication on the Ploughshares Fund website and other venues. The Fellow will be based in the Washington, DC office of Ploughshares Fund. For details, click here.
Quick Hits
–“Trump administration talks tough on North Korea, but frustrated lawmakers want details” by David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe for the Washington Post here.
–Listen: “Special North Korea Briefing for US Senators” ft. Jon Wolfsthal for BBC Newshour here.
–“A Paradigm Shift in North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Development?” by Young-Keun Chang for 38North here.
–“Iran’s top diplomat says you should ignore Trump’s comments on the nuke deal” by Adam Taylor for The Washington Post here.
–“White House Intervened to Toughen Letter on Iran Nuclear Deal” by Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee for The Wall Street Journal here.
Events
–“Toward a Fundamental Change in Nuclear Weapons Policy” Soka Gakkai International-USA. Thursday April 27, 2017, 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at the United States Capitol Visitor Center – Congressional Meeting Room South (CVC-217). Details here.
–Markey-Lieu Press Conference on the “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons” Bill. Wednesday May 3, 2017 from 12:00p.m.-1:00p.m. in Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 562. Details and RSVP here.
–“Reducing the Threat of Nuclear War.” Featuring: Joe Cirincione, William Hartung, Elaine Scarry, and others. Massachusetts Peace Action. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Saturday May 6, 2017, 9:00a.m.-5:00p.m. MIT Room 34-101, 50 Vassar St, Cambridge, MA 02139. Details here.
–“Debate: Modernization of Nuclear Missiles.” Hosted by Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) and Ploughshares Fund. Featuring: Jon Wolfsthal, Christine Parthemore, General C. Robert Kehler (Ret.) and Heather Williams. Tuesday May 23, 2017, 4:30p.m.-7:00p.m. at CSIS Headquarters 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036. Details here.
–“The Women’s March to Ban the Bomb.” Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Saturday, June 17, 2017, 12:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, Greenmarket, 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Details here.
–“PONI 2017 Summer Conference.” The first conference of the 2017-2018 PONI Conference Series will be held June 21-22 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Center for Global Security Research in Livermore, California. The two-day conference will feature a series presentations from emerging nuclear experts, a keynote address, tours of facilities at Lawrence Livermore, and a breakout discussion on nuclear terrorism adapted from a ministerial-level scenario that will led by Corey Hinderstein and Heather Looney from NNSA. The conference will be off-the-record

America Prepares For Nuclear War

An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has been launched from a US Air Force base in California to ensure its “effectiveness, readiness and accuracy,” and demonstrate “national nuclear capabilities,” according to the US military.
The Minuteman III missile test comes amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with a carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson approaching North Korean waters. However, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Global Strike Command says the test was planned in advance and is not connected with the situation in North Korea, and the launches happen on regular basis, according to the Washington Examiner.
The launch is scheduled on Wednesday between 12:01am to 6:01am (0701GMT to 1301GMT) from North Vandenberg Air Force Base, according to the 30th Space Wing, which is conducting the test.
“These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities,” the commander of the unit, Colonel John Moss, said in a statement.
The test launch is aimed at validating and verifying “the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system,” according to the Air Force Global Strike Command.
Despite the fact that the US military denied all connections of the launch with the tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, the drills have raised concerns and received criticism from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. The organization accused the US of a “clear double standard,” and advocated for “diplomacy rather than military provocations,” said the foundation president, David Krieger, as cited by the Los Angeles Times.
“It views its own tests as justified and useful, while it views the tests of North Korea as threatening and destabilizing,” Krieger said, also warning of increasing danger of such moves.
He also tweeted that nuclear-capable missile tests are simply a waste of money.

However, the “lethal and ready” capability of the ICBM was praised as a signal for the US enemies following its successful simulated electronic firing on April 11.
“The Simulated Electronic Launch of a Minuteman III ICBM is a signal to the American people, our allies, and our adversaries that our ICBM capability is safe, secure, lethal and ready,” the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron commander, Lt. Col. Deane Konowicz, said in a statement.
Minuteman III ballistic missiles were initially deployed in 1970 and are approaching the end of their useful lifespan of 60 years. Washington has recently launched a massive trillion-dollar program to modernize, support, and maintain its nuclear air-land-sea triad, which also includes Ohio-class submarines and B-52 strategic bombers, over the next 30 years.

Babylon The Great To Show Her Might


Air Force to test intercontinental missile Wednesday: report

The Air Force will test launch a nuclear-tip capable intercontinental ballistic missile from California on Wednesday, according to a new report.
The scheduled trial of the Minuteman III comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, The Washington Examiner said Tuesday. Though an Air Force Global Strike Command spokeswoman told The Examiner the event was planned roughly a year in advance and has no link with North Korea.
The Air Force said the launch would come from Vandenberg Air Force base in California.
Air Force Global Strike Command will oversee the test, the Examiner added, which is meant to illustrate America’s nuclear capabilities.
“These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities,” Col. John Moss, the 30th Space Wing Commander who will order the launch, said in a statement.
The Minuteman was last tested in February, Air Force Global Strike Command added, with the weapon typically getting four trials annually.
The U.S. and North Korea are increasingly at odds over the latter’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons testing.
Reports emerged Monday that a nuclear-powered U.S. Navy submarine would arrive in South Korea Tuesday.
The USS Michigan reportedly docked in the port city of Busan in a movement one U.S. defense official on Monday described as a show of force.
North Korea attempted but failed to launch a ballistic missile from its east coast earlier this month, stoking fears from its neighbors in the Pacific.
President Trump has repeatedly urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to help settle tensions in the region.

Trump And The Nuclear Button (Ezekiel 17)

  8:30 p.m.
Not since the 1970s, at the height of the Cold War, have most Americans been jittery about the prospect of a nuclear holocaust. Back then, it seemed like such an immediate possibility that suburban families were constructing fallout shelters and schoolkids were subjected to bomb drills. But after the fall of the Soviet Union, atomic war came to feel like an abstraction, the stuff of sci-fi movies. Then, during the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton started talking about Trump having “access to the nuclear codes,” which has turned out to be more than simple campaign fearmongering. As recently as two weeks ago, the 45th president effectively called for a new nuclear-arms race, and he’s also threatened to revoke the nuclear agreement with Iran and to invade North Korea on account of its recent nuclear tests. Of all the threats Trump poses, surely the gravest (if, let’s hope, the most far-fetched) is that he could set off a firefight that would incinerate the globe.
Atomic-weapons expert Philip Coyle was the head of nuclear-weapons testing under President Bill Clinton and an adviser to the Carter and Obama administrations. And as a scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California, he spent 30 years helping design both nuclear arms and the only anti-missile weapon ever deployed by the U.S. Now mostly retired and living in Sacramento, he consults for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a group that lobbies for arms reduction. In other words, there are few people better equipped to explain just how terrified we should be of global annihilation. Below, he discusses the best way of responding to North Korea, why we should be concerned about India and Pakistan, and his own worst nightmares of our nuclear future.
Is there anything about nuclear weapons that would keep us up at night if we knew about it?
Well, for one thing, because I’m old enough, and because of the work I used to do, I’ve actually seen nuclear weapons go off. It’s an amazing, amazingly powerful thing. Once you’ve seen it … It’s something you don’t ever want to see happen during war.
I would watch from miles away. If it’s in a place like the Nevada test site, then you’re in a bunker, protected. Or if it’s underground, then you see the ground heave, which is amazing. If it was in the Pacific, you would watch, perhaps, from a Navy ship. I was the director of the largest underground test the United States ever did — five megatons — in Alaska. On the web, you can see pictures of the ground rising as the explosion goes off. It just goes up and up and up, and it looks like it’s never going to stop. We begin to get an idea [of what it’s like] in violent storms, tornadoes. Violent landslides. But it’s just not the same.
What do you think of the outlook for the Trump administration’s nuclear policy?
It’s a little hard to tell. President Trump has said that nuclear weapons are terrible, or awful, something like that. But on the other hand, he told Mika on Morning Joe, ‘Bring on an arms race!’
Trump has gone back and forth on whether he supports a “No First Use” doctrine. Could you explain what this means and the ramifications?
Yes. It means we pledge we will never be the first to use nuclear weapons. If the other side does, we might use them in retaliation, but we would never start a nuclear war. It’s a way of adding security and stability to the peace process. It has always been set by the president. We don’t know yet what President Trump’s view is.
What was the significance of the North Korea nuclear test, the one in January, that Trump responded to from his Mar-a-Lago dinner table?North Korea has tested nuclear weapons several times now, and while some of the early tests appeared to be fizzles, the more recent tests look like they have actually achieved relatively small nuclear devices. By ‘small,’ I mean about the size of Hiroshima. They’re not the big thermonuclear weapons of the sort that the United States, Russia, France, and China have. And they don’t have many. And they don’t have many. Congress estimates 10 to 16; other estimates are less than 10—but essentially, a handful. But they’re continuing to test them, and also testing missiles that might carry those weapons. So far, North Korea does not have a missile that can reach the United States, but people worry that given enough time, it could develop one.
The significance [of the January test] was that it was about the same size as the previous one, so it appears they can do it twice in a row. And the previous test may — we don’t know this for sure — may have helped them make some progress toward making their nuclear device smaller. That is, more easily mounted on a missile of some kind.
Mostly their problem so far has been that their missile tests simply haven’t been intercontinental-range. They’ve been short-to-medium range. So they don’t even have the capability to reach Hawaii, let alone the continental United States. However, they certainly are a threat to South Korea and Japan. They’ve tested missiles with enough range to reach either of those countries.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Trump administration is considering military action and regime change in North Korea, among other options, for dealing with the nuclear threat there. What’s your take on that news?
I think the administration is simply considering the options, and that’s not so surprising. I think every administration looks at the options. Some will be more attractive than others. The main thing North Korea wants is for the United States to stop threatening it. Instead, just last week, the U.S. started military exercises in South Korea.
Is the nuclear threat at a level that could warrant an action like regime change?
Certainly it’s a threat that we should be very concerned about. But threatening regime change — all that does is threaten them even more with the very thing they’re worried about. That’s not going to work. What North Korea wants is for us to stop threatening them and to talk with them, and to sit down and try to reach an agreement, perhaps with the help of other countries: namely, South Korea, Japan, and China. When we’ve done that in the past, it has produced salutary results. North Korea has followed the agreements that we’ve made until we do something to break them.
For instance, the Clinton administration had reached an agreement with North Korea, which they were following. The guidelines were not exactly parallel with what has recently happened in Iran, but conceptually they were the same. Then President George W. Bush was elected and immediately began threatening North Korea — and the deal had been that we wouldn’t do that.
So North Korea stopped abiding by the terms as well?
Yes. And that’s the problem with these agreements: They’re very fragile, and it doesn’t take much from either side to trigger an overreaction.
Besides North Korea, which countries should we be most concerned about?
There are also Pakistan and India. People worry that they could get into a regional conflict involving nuclear weapons that would bring in the rest of the world, and all hell would break loose. It could involve large nuclear-weapon states like Russia and China picking sides. Pakistan is estimated to have about 130 nuclear weapons, and India about 120. They tend to match each other. They’ve done exactly the same number of nuclear tests. They keep track and deliberately don’t do more, in order to avoid setting off an imbalance.
Are there any areas where our fears are overblown?
I don’t think you can be too concerned, where nuclear weapons are involved, because they’re so destructive.
You’ve criticized our nuclear defenses for the way they focus on intercepting “limited” attacks. Could you explain what this means and why it’s inadequate?
The missile-defense system that we’ve deployed in Alaska and California involves interceptors which would fly out into space and try to hit, head-on, a missile coming from, say, North Korea. The trouble is, that system has done very poorly in flight-intercept tests — and it’s been getting worse over time, when it ought to be getting better. If you go back over each test since, say, 2000, and look at why it failed, the reasons have varied. A couple failed because the interceptor never got off the ground; a couple failed because the interceptor never separated from its rocket booster.
It’s one of the most difficult things the Pentagon has ever tried to do. You’re trying to hit an enemy target that’s going 15–17,000 miles an hour. You’re going so fast that if you miss by an inch, you can miss by a mile.
Meanwhile, what our development of this intercept system is doing is encouraging other countries to build better offense systems, so that they can overwhelm our missile defenses. Typically in the tests, there’s only one target. You’re trying to shoot down one missile with another missile. There’s no reason why, if Russia were intent on attacking the United States, they would do it that way. They wouldn’t just shoot one missile out of the blue and see what happened — they would fire large numbers of them.
Recently Russia tested an intermediate-range missile that could be nuclear — that could hit Europe, let’s say. If Russia builds a bunch of those, the missile defenses we’re building in Europe right now, in conjunction with NATO will be overwhelmed also. Our system in Europe has interceptors deployed in Romania, and proposed to be deployed, in a year or two, in Poland. Russia hates it because they think it’s aimed at them, and conservative members of Congress say it ought to be aimed at Russia — just reinforcing what Russia worries about. So Russia’s inclination is to be able to overwhelm that system by building more and more missiles.
So it’s a vicious cycle?
Yes, that’s how it works out. If Russia were deploying missile-defense systems in Cuba or Mexico, close to our borders, in the way that Romania and Poland are close to their borders, we wouldn’t like that either. And if the numbers got very large, we’d be just as concerned as Russia is.
What is your worst nightmare of a nuclear disaster?
I have two. One is that somebody builds or steals a nuclear weapon, overseas somewhere. A military faction, for instance. William Perry, the former secretary of Defense under Clinton, has a video outlining how this could happen.
The other is that the United States and Russia will get into another nuclear-arms race and create a much more dangerous world than we’ve had heretofore. You see this in Congress, where various members are calling for new nuclear capabilities on the part of the United States — which, obviously, Russia and China would feel they had to respond to. You see it also in a recent Defense Science Board report, where they recommend low-yield nuclear weapons as a way of deterring Russia — the idea being that, because they’re low-yield, it’s more believable that we would actually use them. But, of course, if the idea is to make them more usable, that makes them more dangerous — because they might actually get used!
There’s a new bill Congress is working on called the Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty Preservation Act. It’s ironic that they call it that. It would be more accurate to call it the Violation Act, because the things it recommends would all be violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty [a 1987 agreement that the U.S. and Russia would eliminate all their ground-launched missiles with a certain range capacity]. It hasn’t been voted on or anything, so maybe it will never happen. But for example, they’re calling for a dual program of a dual-capable — meaning they could be nuclear or nonnuclear — road-mobile missile-launch system, with ranges between 500 kilometers and, say, 6,000 kilometers. Obviously, if the United States did something like that, Russia and China would feel very concerned and feel they had to respond.
So this kind of sword-rattling could ultimately make the world a much more dangerous place.
By and large, Americans aren’t viscerally afraid of nuclear war in the way they were in the 1950s and ’60s. But how close are we actually to the threat of a nuclear holocaust, compared to the situation during the Cold War?
Until very recently, I would have said that we were moving farther and farther away from nuclear war, because the U.S. and Russian stockpiles have been going down, and because other countries that have nuclear weapons have been restrained. They could have built many more than they have so far. And because of this general attitude that nuclear weapons are simply not acceptable anymore, as a moral matter, and that no sane U.S. president would ever use them. But more recently, with the sword-rattling we are talking about, I’ve become more concerned.
You mean since the last campaign cycle began?
Exactly.

Time to Prepare For Nuclear War

by EDWIN MORA
9 Mar 2017
The U.S. military cannot afford to wait when it comes to modernizing and recapitalizing America’s nuclear capabilities, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told lawmakers.
In written testimony prepared for Wednesday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing on the military assessment of nuclear deterrence requirements, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice-chairman, noted that the armed forces had placed nuclear deterrence, including weapons, infrastructure, and personnel, at the top of their modernization priorities list.
He added:
Nuclear modernization can no longer be deferred. Previous decisions to defer modernization have resulted in overlapping acquisition programs today, which present two major consequences.
Current projections already show that the Pentagon is expected to increase spending on the nuclear deterrent by billions, from about 3 percent (nearly $20 billion) of its fiscal year 2016 budget to more than double (6.5 percent) the amount in the late 2020s when the budget is likely to be higher.
“Despite these risks and costs, there is no higher priority for the Joint Force than fielding all components of an effective nuclear deterrent, including weapons, infrastructure, and personnel,” Selva told lawmakers.
“The fundamental role of U.S. nuclear forces is to deter a strategic attack against the United States, its allies, and its partners,” he added. “Simply put, nuclear weapons pose the only existential threat to the United States and there is no substitute for the prospect of a devastating nuclear response to deter that threat.”
Although the general stressed that it is high time to overhaul American’s nuclear capabilities, he noted that the United States is currently capable of responding to an unforeseen emergency.
Gen. Selva pointed out that Russia and China pose the top strategic nuclear threats to the United States but added that the inventory of adversaries is growing.
“No one should doubt that our weapons, delivery systems, the infrastructure that supports them, and the personnel who operate, monitor, and maintain them are prepared today to respond to any contingency,” he declared. “Our current challenge, however, is to maintain this high level of readiness and capability as long as the policy and strategy of this nation depends in part on nuclear weapons for its security.”
Currently, the U.S. military’s nuclear deterrent capabilities stand near a crossroads.
“We are now at a point where we must concurrently recapitalize each component of our nuclear deterrent,” explained the general during his verbal testimony. “The nuclear weapons themselves, the triad of strategic delivery platforms, the indication-and-warning systems to support our decision processes, the command-and-control networks that connect the president to our field forces, and our dual-capable tactical aircraft that can be equipped with nonstrategic nuclear weapons.”
For more than two decades, the U.S. military has been forced to defer some nuclear force modernization to deal with other more urgent needs while ensuring that the country’s nuclear capabilities and infrastructure remain safe, reliable, and secure.
“In making those decisions we have squeezed about all the life we can out of the systems we currently possess,” Selva told lawmakers. “So that places an extra premium on a very deliberate long-term investment strategy to replace those systems as existing systems age out of the inventory.”
Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, testified alongside Selva.
He noted that other nations, including U.S. adversaries, have continued to modernize and revamp their nuclear abilities as America squeezes the life out of its nuclear weapons stockpile, delivery systems, and other essential infrastructures at a time when the U.S. is facing unpredictable threats posed by the current multi-domain, multi-challenge security environment.
“Maintaining strategic deterrence, assurance and escalation control capabilities requires a multifaceted long-term investment approach and a sustained commitment to maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent,” noted Gen. Hyten, adding that “nuclear deterrent is only as effective as the command and control that enables it to function.”
Nuclear weapons continue to play a significant role in keeping the U.S. homeland safe.
Nevertheless, America has drastically reduced “the role and prominence of nuclear weapons in our defense planning” and “both the number of deployed weapons and the overall size of our stockpile” since the end of the Cold War, testified ret. U.S. Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.
In his written testimony, he noted that “shaped by presidential initiatives and arms reduction agreements, by 2018 the number of weapons deployed on triad systems will be barely one‐tenth of Cold War highs.”

America Prepares For Nuclear War

North Korea and the US have been teetering on the brink of war for months after Kim Jong-un carried out a series of controversial missile launches.
Earlier this week, trigger-happy Kim pushed his luck once more when he fired off four ballistic missiles into the seas near Japan.
Now US military chiefs are reportedly planning to fly in B-1 and B-52 bombers – built to carry nuclear bombs – to show America has had enough, according to the Korea Times.
South Korea and the US have also started their annual Foal Eagle military exercise sending a strong warning to North Korea over its actions.
A military official said 300,000 South Korean troops and 15,000 US personnel are taking part in the operation.
Secretary of Defence James Mattis said the US “remains steadfast in its commitment” to the defence of the South, according to Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt Jeff Davis.
Capt David said: “He further emphasised that any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a response that is effective and overwhelming.”
Washington is reportedly expected to deploy a series of strategic assets from the US as well as from military bases in Guam and Japan, reports the Daily Mail.
The nuke-powered aircraft carrier will carry dozens of fighter jets, early warning aircraft and anti-sub craft.
It will be accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) and two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers.
From the US Marine Corps in Japan, F-35B stealth fighters will be deployed to the peninsula for the first time.
“An F-35B is capable of evading anti-aircraft radar and making preemptive strikes,” a military official said.
North Korea repeatedly protests that both Foal Eagle and Key Resolve are rehearsals for invasion.
Pyongyang’s Korea Central News Agency reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has stressed “a need for preparation for a fight”.
He listed guidelines to strike South Korea and the US “mercilessly”.

Trump Pushes For More Nukes

David Jackson | USA TODAYUpdated 8:15 p.m. ET Feb. 23, 2017
WASHINGTON — President Trump pledged Thursday to keep the United States at the “top of the pack” in terms of nuclear weapons, expanding the nation’s nuclear arsenal if necessary and suggesting that changes to a treaty with Russia could be possible.
“I am the first one that would like to see everybody — nobody — have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “We’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.”
In December, after Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about enhancing his country’s nuclear capability, Trump responded with a tweet: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
The current strategic arms limitation treaty, called New START, calls for limits on U.S. and Russian arsenals of strategic nuclear weapons.
In the Reuters interview, Trump described new START as a “one-sided” agreement.
Trump also said: “It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”
Asked about Trump’s statements about nuclear weapons, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump was responding to a question about other countries increasing their nuclear arms. “The United States will not yield its supremacy in this area to anybody,” Spicer said.
Trump made the comments during an interview with Reuters that also touched on issues involving Russia, China and North Korea.
In his interview with Reuters, Trump also:
• Said Russian deployment of a new type of cruise missile violates an arms control treaty, and he will raise the subject with Putin “if and when we meet;” no such meeting is yet scheduled. Trump has been criticized by Democrats who say he has been too friendly toward the Russian leader.
• Sought to pressure China over the nuclear challenge from North Korea, saying the Beijing government could solve it “very easily if they want to.” Trump said he personally is “very angry” at North Korea over recent ballistic missile tests and may accelerate a missile defense system to protect Japan and South Korea. China, however, has said it would ban all imports of coal from North Korea, which depends on its trade with China for a large chunk of its income.
• Spoke favorably of some kind of tax on goods flowing across the border but did not endorse a specific plan. “I certainly support a form of tax on the border,” he told Reuters. “What is going to happen is companies are going to come back here, they’re going to build their factories and they’re going to create a lot of jobs and there’s no tax.”
• Said the administration will take up tax reform after a plan to change the Affordable Care Act, former president Barack Obama’s health care plan.