The UK and French Nuclear Horns: Daniel 7

An F-35B fighter jet flies over HMS Queen Elizabeth as defence chiefs said the aircraft carrier will present a potent force when it teams up with the French carrier in the Mediterranean this summer. Getty
An F-35B fighter jet flies over HMS Queen Elizabeth as defence chiefs said the aircraft carrier will present a potent force when it teams up with the French carrier in the Mediterranean this summer. Getty

UK’s ‘HMS Queen Elizabeth’ to form powerful armada with French nuclear-powered carrier

Likelihood of Britain’s new warship flexing its might on maiden deployment is growing

Britain’s new HMS Queen Elizabeth warship will join France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to form a highly potent armada in the Mediterranean in the coming months, defence chiefs say.

The Royal Navy’s £3 billion ($4.25bn) carrier with its 18 advanced F35 jets and the French Navy’s 30 Rafale fighters will present a considerable force, particularly against any Turkish forays in the Eastern Mediterranean over the summer.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is also ready to meet any potential ISIS threat at sea, senior naval commanders confirmed, as her maiden operational voyage approaches.

The likelihood of HMS Queen Elizabeth demonstrating her strength when she heads on the six-month deployment in the coming days is growing, with strikes against terrorist targets in Syria and Iraq being considered.

To pack a punch: UK’s maritime strike force must double in size

Furthermore, the carriers could be used against potential Houthi anti-ship missiles installations in Yemen, if it was decided they posed an imminent threat.

Defence chiefs have emphasised that the 65,000-tonne warship will lead an extremely potent force when it teams up with the French nuclear-powered carrier.

“There will be a very significant link-up with the French Navy in the Mediterranean with the Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier and Queen Elizabeth which will come together and exercise together,” said Angus Lapsley, the MOD’s Director General Strategy. “This will help among other things underline just how potent the UK-French combined expeditionary force can be.”

The united fleet of more than a dozen of the world’s most modern warships, including Britain’s Type 45 missile destroyers and Astute hunter-killer submarines, will be the strongest force seen in the Mediterranean for decades.

It will also be a symbolic moment of Anglo-French unity following a souring of relations post-Brexit that saw the two country’s warships on opposing sides during a fishing spat off the island of Jersey earlier this month.

This will help among other things underline just how potent the UK-French combined expeditionary force can be

The fleet will present an imposing sight and a dilemma particularly for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has tried to build up a reputation of Turkey’s military might with numerous foreign interventions.

The commander of Britain’s military operations, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, also suggested that the fleet would be able to contribute to the campaign against terrorists. “I am entirely sure we can meet the threat of ISIS from the strike group,” he said.

Defence chiefs have also made it clear that the F35 jets will be used to strike the extremists to prevent them gaining a foothold in Iraq.

Once the carrier strike group composed of six warships accompanying HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves the Arabian Sea in the summer, it will sail east to make four lengthy stops in Asia, in Singapore, India, South Korea and Japan.

The potential for a further flashpoint will come when it enters the South China Sea. The British government has yet to confirm whether HMS Queen Elizabeth will make a highly symbolic but provocative passage through the Taiwan Strait, just off the coast of mainland China.

Antichrist’s Sairoon slams British ambassador’s comments on elections

Sairoon slams British ambassador’s comments on elections

British ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey speaks to Rudaw in February. File photo: Rudaw
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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – An Iraqi political coalition supported by the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, rejected on Tuesday recent comments by the British ambassador to Iraq, who said Iraq cannot hold free elections while activists continue to be targeted,

“All members of the diplomatic corps of all countries present in Iraq must respect Iraqi sovereignty and not interfere in Iraqi affairs,” read the Sairoon Alliance statement published to Facebook.

In an interview broadcast on Sunday on al-Arabiya, British ambassador Stephen Hickey said that Iraq will not be able to hold “fair and transparent elections” without protection for activists, who continue to be killed and threatened by Iran-backed militias.

“Without protection for activists, there will be no chance for fair and transparent elections in Iraq,” Hickey said.

“It is very necessary to have concrete measures against the armed factions and individuals responsible for the attacks against activists,” Hickey said, stressing that there is a strong Iraqi political will to confront the factions.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 10.

An Iraqi journalist was shot in the head in Diwaniyah, southern Iraq, early Monday morning, just 24 hours after prominent activist Ihab al-Wazni was assassinated in Karbala.

There have been 81 attempted assassinations of activists since the anti-government protest movement began in October 2019, according to Ali al-Bayati, a member of the Iraqi High Commission of Human Rights. Thirty-four activists have been killed.

Iranian-backed Shiite militias are accused of being behind the killings. After Wazni’s murder, angry demonstrations took place in Karbala, Nasiriyah, and Diwaniyah. Militias supported by Sadr are among those accused of targeting activists.

Current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi came to power with a promise to meet protester demands and bring the killers to justice, but he has not been able to end the violence. Ten protesters have been killed during his time in office, according to Bayati. Another at least 80 activists are missing.

“Four investigation committees have been formed to investigate assassinations, but with no results,” Bayati said, accusing the government of being “unserious and unwilling” to reveal who are carrying out the killings.

The new cold war in Europe: Revelation 16

The Shadow of a New Cold War Hangs over Europe

Temperatures are rising again in eastern Ukraine with informed commentators suggesting that intensive military action might start when the “mud season” passes. Quite understandably, Americans could suffer from Ukraine fatigue after observing the often bizarre conspiracies that have arisen connecting Kiev and Washington political machinations over the last five years. 

Even as Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin traded insults, the Russian president celebrated Russia’s control of the Crimean Peninsula. Unfortunately for Europe, Ukraine remains as the simmering crisis that still threatens to overturn the continent’s “long peace.” Indeed, even as Ukraine-Russia tensions are at the root of almost all of the most acute problems in European security, this tortured bilateral relationship also points the way toward common-sense solutions too.

Some noteworthy American national security commentators claim that the “New Cold War” has little in common with the experience 1945–90, because the new centers of competition are in the cyber and high-tech realms, rather than concerning military competition and nuclear weapons.  Yet, such assessments seem oblivious to the steady ramp-up of exercises by large military formations across Eastern Europe in the last five years.  Escalating tensions along the front between Russian and U.S. forces are visible along a huge geographic front from the Arctic all the way to the Caucasus and even reaching deep into the Middle East. 

U.S. bombers that have been flying regularly along Russia’s flanks have now been permitted to “nest” for the first time in Norway, a neighbor of Russia in the “High North.” Likewise, America’s most advanced submarines have visited the region recently in the wake of NATO’s largest exercises since the end of the Cold War. U.S. forces, including tanks and attack helicopters, have deployed into the Baltic states with new regularity and are now a permanent fixture in Poland. Meanwhile, American drones now patrol along Russia’s sensitive southern flank, including within Ukraine and all along the perimeter of the Crimean Peninsula. Is it any wonder that Russia has at least five major modernizations underway simultaneously for its nuclear strike forces, including new ICBMs, bombers, submarines, drones, and tactical nuclear weapons too?

Too many Washington defense analysts prefer to talk about cyber weaponry while peddling projects for new patches with upgraded cyber defenses. Yet, the broader public remains quite in the dark regarding hundreds of billions going to feed the intensifying nuclear arms race, not to mention the new forces now deploying to Europe—admittedly a friendly locale for the troops. Yet, are these escalatory steps warranted?

Conventional coverage of the Ukraine issue asserts that the country was invaded by Russia after an allegedly corrupt pro-Russian leader was ejected from office by angry protests—the so-called Euro-Maidan events of early 2014. After Crimea was seized by “little green men,” Moscow was unsatisfied and decided to lop off a few more slices of Ukraine in the Donbass region too. While the storyline is not completely false, it fails to recognize some important nuances. For example, the leader of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, may indeed have been corrupt, but he was also elected in a legitimate, democratic election. An angry mob is hardly the ideal way to remove a democratically elected president, it must be admitted. Moreover, the “invasion thesis” does not quite comport with facts on the ground. For example, there occurred in early May 2014 a major flare-up of pro-Russian sentiment in Odessa that included grave atrocities.  Such events fit better into the civil war explanation than the invasion narrative that is so popular in Washington today.

Memories in Washington do not seem to go back any further than the disputed 2016 election or the Euromaidan of 2014. The pervasive lack of historical knowledge in the American capital is, unfortunately, feeding escalating tensions in Eastern Europe. Indeed, American strategists should consider how it was that Americans were highly sympathetic to Tsarist Russia during the Crimean War when Russia faced off against perceived French and British imperialism.  Likewise, they should reflect on the fact that if Soviet forces had not paid so dear a price defending the fortress at Sevastopol until mid-1942, they likely could not have prevailed at Stalingrad subsequently.  In other words, the Kremlin’s stubborn hold on Crimea in the face of Nazi aggression proved exceedingly important to the Allied victory in 1945. Finally, there is no understanding in the American foreign policy establishment that Soviet internal borders were of little importance, so their impact on post-Soviet politics is also limited. No wonder a giant Russian naval base existed in Crimea after 1991 through 2014 to the present. In other words, the Crimea situation and that of Ukraine generally is much grayer, and less black and white than most Americans appreciate.

So, what is to be done ultimately, besides dusting off some history books? First, the United States should take overt and obvious steps to uproot the militarized rivalries now in full bloom from the Arctic to the Caucasus to see if such steps aimed at de-escalation might be reciprocated by the Kremlin. Second, Washington should seek to re-energize the so-called “Normandy process” that brings Russia and Ukraine into a negotiating format with the leaders of Germany and France to stabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine. 

Finally, American diplomats should consider a “grand bargain” that accords full NATO membership to Ukraine in exchange for complete diplomatic recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea. While neutralization of Ukraine would be preferable for U.S. national security, such a step is probably necessary in order to get Kiev (not to mention Washington’s myriad hawks) to sign on to any larger compromise that could lead to a relaxation of tensions. For Moscow, the extensive economic benefits would almost certainly outweigh the security concerns. This agreement to “meet halfway” may be the only way Europe can escape the ever-tightening grip of the new Cold War.

Lyle J. Goldstein, Ph.D., is research professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He was the founder of the China Maritime Studies Institute there and is also an affiliate of the college’s Russia Maritime Studies Institute. The opinions in the article are entirely his own and do not reflect any official assessment of the U.S. Navy.

Image: Reuters

Pestilence Continues to Plague Us: Revelation 6

CDC director warns of “impending doom” as COVID cases increase – Axios

Marisa Fernandez

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky went off script at a briefing Monday and made an emotional plea to Americans not to let up on public health measures amid fears of a fourth wave.

What they’re saying: “I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Walensky said, appearing to hold back tears. “We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.”

Driving the news: The White House coronavirus response team is seeking to confront the current dichotomy in the U.S., in which immense optimism from the speed of the vaccine rollout must be balanced with continued restraint in moving forward with normalcy.

• “The thing that’s different this time is we actually have it in our power to be done with this scale of vaccination and that will be so much slower if we have another surge to deal with as well,” Walensky said.

• “I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer. I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done. We are just almost there, but not quite yet.”

The big picture: Coronavirus cases are rapidly rising in places including Michigan, New York, New Jersey and other Northeastern states, partially a result of variants of the virus becoming more widespread, experts say. An uptick in travel and states loosening restrictions are also factors.

• The 7-day daily average of new cases increased 10.6% from the previous week to 59,773, while the 7-day daily average of deaths increased 2.6% to 968.

• Even though a remarkable 72% of Americans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, millions of Americans — particularly younger Americans with underlying conditions — remain vulnerable.

What to watch: Walensky said she is speaking with governors tomorrow to address the rise in cases.

• “We’re essentially pleading with people even though we have an urge particularly with the warm weather to just cut loose,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci said.

• “We’ve just got to hang in there a bit longer,” he said. “I think the reason we’re seeing this plateauing and the increase that I hope doesn’t turn into a surge is because we are really doing things prematurely right now with regard to opening up.”

The Russian nuclear horn sends a warning to UK

Russia warns UK nuclear arsenal plan harms global security

The Kremlin has said the UK’s decision to increase its nuclear arsenal represents a serious blow to arms control. Moscow also said it would take Britain’s move into account when working on its own military planning.

Russia on Wednesday said it regretted the UK’s decision to significantly bolster its stockpile of nuclear weapons by the end of the decade.

Britain says it plans to increase its arsenal from 180 to 260 nuclear warheads, reversing a previous commitment to reduce its stockpile.

What was the Russian response?

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the UK’s move, at odds with a recent agreement between Moscow and Washington, was regrettable.

“We are very sorry that the UK has chosen this path of increasing nuclear warheads. This decision harms international stability and strategic security,” Peskov told reporters.

“The presence of nuclear warheads is what threatens peace throughout the world,” he added.

The spokesman complained that the UK had cited “an ephemeral threat” from Russia without “an explanation”.

“This is not true,” he added. “No threat comes from Russia.”

Russia said it would take the UK move into account when it came to future military planning

What prompted the UK’s decision?

The British policy document, outlining a recalibration of foreign policy, identified Russia as the “most acute direct threat to the UK,” posing “the full spectrum” of dangers.

The review calls for Britain to increase its cap by the middle of the decade to counter threats from Russia and China.

While it identified China as a threat, the document’s language on the threat posed by Beijing was markedly less explicit than it was about Moscow.

The move potentially puts the UK at odds with the US and NATO allies after the signing of a new START treaty in January. Russia and the United States in January agreed to extend the key pact, which is the last remaining arms reduction agreement between the Cold War rivals.

Britain also said it planned to replace its current type of nuclear warhead with one that will be able to be used during the lifespan of four new nuclear submarines that are due to enter service in the early 2030s.

Moscow and London have seen their relations greatly deteriorate over the Novichok poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

Russia’s relations with NATO members more generally are at their worst since the Cold War, amid allegations that Moscow is behind election interference and cyberattacks on Western targets.

rc/rt (Reuters, AFP)

Our Allied Nuclear Horns: Daniel 7

When Allies Go Nuclear

How to Prevent the Next Proliferation Threat

By February 12, 2021

The year is 2030. Seismic monitors have just detected an unforeseen underground atomic explosion, signaling that yet another country has joined the growing club of nuclear-armed states. There are now 20 such countries, more than double the number in 2021. To the surprise of many, the proliferation has come not from rogue states bent on committing nuclear blackmail but from a group of countries usually seen as cautious and rule abiding: U.S. allies. Even though they had forsworn acquiring nuclear capabilities decades earlier when they signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), these allies changed their minds and withdrew from the agreement, a move that triggered yet more defections as nations across the world raced to acquire the bomb. And so the number of nuclear decision-makers multiplied, raising the odds of a terrifying possibility: that one of these powerful weapons might go off.

Far-fetched? Perhaps, but this scenario is more plausible now than

Russia WILL Lower Its Nuclear Weapons Use Threshold

Will Russia Further Lower Its Nuclear Weapons Use Threshold?}

The day before the snap drill was announced, the Russian Defense Ministry indicated there would be a drill involving the Iskander-M nuclear-capable missile system in the Southern Military , which is one of the areas for the snap drill. In August 2020, Russia announced a “special tactical exercise,” which involved simulated Iskander missile launches and the inspection of the “special hardware of the missile .” “Special” is a word used in Russia to describe nuclear weapons.

In late July 2020, the Russian nuclear-armed ICBM force (the RVSN) staged a major exercise involving operations in a nuclear war, including radiological decontamination of the ICBM launchers, which were on “combat patrol routes.” They were clearly fighting a mock nuclear war. In late June, July and August 2020, there were also threatening flights by Russian nuclear-capable bombers and other aircraft near the U.S., NATO allies, Ukraine and Finland. In August 2020, on the same day as the Iskander exercise involving “special weapons,” General Shoigu participated in an exercise of the mobile ICBM force.[iii]

The Caucasus 2020 (Kavkaz 2020) exercise, the largest planned exercise for 2020, will be, according to the Russian Defense Ministry and its Chief of the General Staff General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, a “special exercise.” The Russian Defense Ministry announced that the exercise will involve 80,000 troops, but Russia will not honor the Vienna document’s mandatory inspection provisions because of a contrived interpretation of this agreement. The probability of Russian simulated nuclear weapons use in such an exercise is very high. Kavkaz-2016 reportedly simulated the Russian launch of cruise missiles carrying non-strategic nuclear weapons.

In August 2020, Russia conducted a major naval exercise near Alaska, involving 50 ships and 40 aircraft, which involved cruise missile launches.

This pattern of preparation for war will likely continue and involve nuclear-capable forces.

In June 2020, Russia released a decree by President Putin on Russian nuclear deterrence policy, the first of its kind made public, which indicated a much lower threshold for nuclear weapons first use than was evident in the unclassified military doctrine publications released in 2010 and 2014. While much of the substance of Putin’s nuclear decree apparently goes back a long time, it clearly has new elements in it. Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolay Patrushev has characterized it as a “new Doctrine.” As Dr. Stephen Blank observed over 20 years ago, in Russian military doctrine, “Essentially there is no clear firebreak between conventional and nuclear scenarios in the open sources.” The 2020 decree presents a major but incomplete victory for the most hardline elements in the Russian military. The most fanatic of Russia’s generals want an open declaration of nuclear preemption as Russian strategy. In November 2018, the Russian Federation Council voted to urge the Kremlin to adopt a pre-emptive nuclear strike strategy against NATO and authorized it. (It already was secret Russian policy).

Putin’s decree indicates that Russian state-run RT (formerly Russia Today) and the independent Interfax[iv] news agency were accurate when they both reported Russian nuclear doctrine allows for nuclear weapons first use “…if the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation are under threat.” [v] (Emphasis in the original). Paragraph 4 of Putin’s 2020 decree states, “The state nuclear deterrence policy is of a defensive nature and is directed at supporting the capabilities of nuclear forces at a level sufficient to ensure nuclear deterrence and to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state and to deter a potential adversary from aggression against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies in the event of the emergence of an armed conflict by preventing the escalation of military activities and ending them on conditions acceptable to the Russian Federation and (or) its allies.”[vi]

In reviewing Putin’s decree, Russian expatriate Dr. Nikolai Sokov has pointed out, “Today, it is also easy to imagine a situation when the “existence” of Russia would not be threatened, but its ‘territorial integrity’ would—for example, an attempt to use force to return Crimea to Ukraine. The change of language may be explainable, but the presence of two very different definitions of nuclear threshold is not.” It actually is. The decree is not the entire Russia nuclear weapons use policy, which has always been included in classified documents.

In 2014-2015, there were a number of high level Russian nuclear threats relating to Ukraine, which were inconsistent with the announced Russian nuclear doctrine. Dmitry Adamsky of the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy noted regarding Ukraine that Russia was “…engaged in nuclear signaling aimed to distance Western support out of fear of escalation, possibly also to soften further sanctions.” In 2015, President Putin said that during the Crimea crisis, he would have put Russian nuclear forces on alert if it were necessary. In July 2014, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a nuclear threat relating to Crimea by referencing their nuclear doctrine. In September 2014, then-Ukrainian Minister of Defense Colonel General Valeriy Heletey wrote, “The Russian side has threatened on several occasions across unofficial channels that, in the case of continued resistance, they are ready to use a tactical nuclear weapon against us.”

The importance of these nuclear threats is that they were made to support blatant Russian aggression. Putin’s justification for the possible use of nuclear weapons in the Crimea crisis was that Crimea “is our historical territory. Russian people live there. They were in danger. We cannot abandon them.” As Dr. Stephen Blank has pointed out, protection of ethnic Russians was the rationale for Russian military intervention in Georgia, Crimea, Donbas, and Moldova. In 2015, Putin linked the protection of ethnic Russians to nuclear weapons use. Thus, the territorial integrity of Russia was changed to include the just conquered territory. In June 2017, Putin declared Russia would defend Crimea “with all means available to us.”[vii] The reason these statements appear to go beyond published Russian nuclear doctrine at that time is that that the published version was never complete. It still isn’t complete, but it is apparently closer to it than ever before.

Russian linkage of nuclear weapons first use to “sovereignty” is very disturbing because of the ambiguous nature of this concept and its potential permissiveness. In 2008, General of the Army Yuriy Baluyevskiy, then-Chief of the General Staff, declared that to “defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia and its allies, military forces will be used, including preventively, including with the use of nuclear weapons.” In 2007 Putin declared, “The nuclear weapons remain the most important guarantee of Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and play a key role in maintaining the regional balance and stability.” Putin has said some amazing things about the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia, making these criteria potentially very permissive. President Putin has characterized cyber espionage (not cyber-attack) as “a direct violation of the state’s sovereignty…” In August 2020, President Putin stated that the Union State Treaty with Belarus obliges the parties to “to help each other protect their sovereignty, external borders and “stability. This is exactly what it says.”

Paragraph 19 of Putin’s decree listed four specific conditions for nuclear weapons first use:

The conditions which determine the possibility for the use by the Russian Federation of nuclear weapons are:

a) the receiving of creditable information concerning the launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territories of the Russian Federation and (or) its allies;

b) the use by an enemy of a nuclear weapon or other types of weapons of mass destruction against the territories of the Russian Federation and (or) its allies;

c) enemy actions against critically important state or military facilities of the Russian Federation, the disablement of which will lead to a disruption of retaliatory operations of the nuclear forces;

d) aggression against the Russian Federation involving the use of conventional weaponry, which threatens the existence of the state itself.[viii]

All four of Putin’s announced conditions allow for nuclear weapons first use in non-nuclear warfare. Paragraph 19(A), (B) and (C) all contain conditions for first use that are somewhat lower than even what appeared in the most alarming of the open source reports concerning Russian willingness to use nuclear weapons first. The supposed limitation of nuclear weapons first use in conventional war in previous editions of Russian military doctrine to situations in which there was an existential threat to Russia turned out to be a deception since all four of the conditions allow for first use of nuclear weapons in non-nuclear war.

The condition allowing for a nuclear response to the use of “other types of weapons of mass destruction…” (paragraph 19[C]) is broader than the three previous formulations in the military doctrine documents which spoke specifically about chemical and biological attack. This is clearly a change in declaratory policy. Michael Kofman from the Center for Naval Analysis has pointed out it is “…unclear how weapons of mass destruction are defined, some Russian military writing posits conventional capabilities as having strategic effects similar to nuclear weapons.” There are other possibilities, such as a very damaging cyber-attack.

The condition on the use of nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear attacks on “nuclear forces” rather than “strategic nuclear forces” in paragraph 19(C) opens up the possibility of a nuclear response to a non-nuclear attack on a vast number of Russian military facilities, airbases, naval ships and Army bases and units. This is because dual capability (conventional and nuclear capability) is almost universal in Russia.[ix] The Russians are trying to use the threat of nuclear escalation to negate effectively our conventional and cyber capabilities. If they impose this targeting constraint upon us, we lose the war. Kofman’s suggestion that this is limited to cyber-attacks on nuclear command and control facilities contradicts the plain meaning of the provision. It clearly includes nuclear delivery vehicles and weapons. The provision can also be read to include cyber-attacks, but it certainly is not limited to cyber-attacks on nuclear command and control, which are not even mentioned. State documents on nuclear weapons use issues that do not contain “sloppy language.” Russian doctrinal writing in 1999 indicated that a nuclear strike might be used in response to conventional attacks on targets that are not even military.

The implicit meaning of the condition in paragraph 19(A) is that the launch of a single ballistic missile at Russia would be a justification for a Russian nuclear strike even before it was known what type of warhead the missile carried. This was made explicit in August 2020 when two senior officers of the Russian General Staff, Major General Andrei Sterlin and Colonel Alexander Khryapin, writing in the official newspaper of the Defense Ministry Red Star, noted that “. . . there will be no way to determine if an incoming ballistic missile is fitted with a nuclear or a conventional warhead, and so the military will see it as a nuclear attack.” They added, “Any attacking missile will be perceived as carrying a nuclear warhead” and, “The information about the missile launch will be automatically relayed to the Russian military-political leadership, which will determine the scope of retaliatory action by nuclear forces depending on the evolving situation.”

This is irresponsible in light of the potential consequences to Russia, but it is classic Putin. Indeed, in 2015, Putin declared that “Fifty years ago, the streets of Leningrad taught me one thing: If a fight’s inevitable, you must strike first.” Applying street fighting tactics to nuclear war is not the smartest thing to do if a nation wants to survive. Yet, In March 2018, Alexander Velez-Green of the Harvard Belfer Center wrote, “Military Thought has published at least 18 articles in support of preemption against NATO from 2007 to 2017.” Military Thought is the journal of the Russian General Staff. In 2014, Dr. Sokov wrote that “nuclear exercises have been conducted with targets in Europe, the Pacific, Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, and even the continental United States,” further adding that, “…all large-scale military exercises that Russia conducted beginning in 2000 featured simulations of limited nuclear strikes.” In January 2016, the annual report by the Secretary General of NATO indicated Russia in its Zapad (West) exercises not only simulated nuclear attacks against NATO but that in 2013 Russia simulated nuclear attacks against Sweden, which is not a NATO nation. This is inconsistent with Russia’s declaratory policy concerning so-called negative assurances. Negative assurances pledge no nuclear weapons use against non-nuclear nations that are not allied with a nuclear power.

This emphasis on pre-emption is particularly dangerous because Russia plans to use nuclear weapons, including nuclear armed ICBMs, as part of its “escalate to de-escalate” or “escalate to win” strategy.[x] Part of it is the concept of “escalation dominance.” According to Dr. Blank, “arguably [escalation dominance] is merely a part of a much broader nuclear strategy that relies heavily upon the psychological and intimidating component of nuclear weapons.” In 2009, Lieutenant General Andrey Shvaychenko, then-Commander of the Strategic Missile Force (RVSN), outlined the role of the nuclear ICBM force in conventional war. He said, “In a conventional war, [the nuclear ICBMs] ensure that the opponent is forced to cease hostilities, on advantageous conditions for Russia, by means of single or multiple preventive strikes against the aggressors’ most important facilities.”[xi] The most amazing thing about this statement is the implication that the introduction of strategic nuclear weapons in conventional war would not start a nuclear war.

In 2017, then-Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart affirmed that Russia is “the only country that I know of that has this concept of escalate to terminate or escalate to deescalate but they do have that built into their operational concept, we’ve seen them exercise that idea and it’s really kind of a dangerous idea…”[xii] He also said that he had seen no evidence that this policy was changing.[xiii]

Despite what Russia says about its possible response to the launch of even a single Western ballistic missile, Russia will clearly be launching nuclear-capable Kinzhal ballistic missiles against NATO in the event of a war. Paragraph 19(A) and (C) may be intended to deter conventional attacks on Russian territory in the event of a Russian invasion of NATO Europe. Paragraph 19(C) can justify a nuclear response to a conventional attack on almost any Russian military facility because virtually all Russian forces are nuclear-capable. Indeed, in 2018, President Putin stated Russia is developing nuclear weapons for “all types of forces.”

Putin’s decree contained implicit nuclear attack threats directed against NATO. In August 2020, the government-owned Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta made these threats explicit:

We will not analyse what kind of warheads they have, nuclear or not, and in any case, at the time of launch, decision will be made on a retaliatory strike to deliver a missile strike on the territory of the state from which the launch was carried out in our direction,” said military analyst Alexander Perendzhiev, member of the Officers of Russia expert council. Moreover, according to him, we are talking not only about countries where such missiles are produced but also about the countries that have allowed to host such missiles.[xiv]

Putin’s June 2020 nuclear decree clearly is not the entirety of Russia’s nuclear first use strategy. It did not supersede Putin’s 2017 decree on the Russian Navy. There are classified elements, including provisions for pre-emptive nuclear strikes. (Russian announced in 2009 that is was classifying its nuclear doctrine. Putin’s 2020 decree appears to be a partial reversal of this policy.) [xv] In September 2014, General of the Army (ret.) Yuriy Baluyevskiy, who developed the 2010 revision of Russia’s nuclear doctrine when he was Deputy Secretary of the Russian National Security Council, stated that the “…conditions for pre-emptive nuclear strikes…is contained in classified policy documents.”[xvi] In 2003, then-Russian Minister of Defense Colonel General Sergei Ivanov explained why these plans were kept secret. He told a reporter:

What we say is one thing. That sounds cynical, but everything that we plan does not necessarily have to be made public. We believe that from the foreign policy viewpoint, it is better to say that. But what we actually do is an entirely different matter.

There are certainly other secret aspects of Russian nuclear weapons use doctrine. According to state-run RT, “It follows from the document that nuclear deterrence is aimed at ensuring that the potential adversary understands the inevitability of retaliation in the event of aggression against Russia and its allies.” This is more permissive than Paragraph 19. In March 2020, state-run Sputnik News said that Russian nuclear doctrine provided for nuclear first use “…in response to large-scale conventional aggression.” This could allow a nuclear response to a conventional attack that would not be a threat to Russia’s existence. Moreover, what Russia is really talking about is not a response to aggression against Russia but a counterattack against Russian aggression, as was indicated in their nuclear threats related to Ukraine.

A hardline but very well-connected Russian journalist, Colonel (ret.) Nikolai Litovkin talked about what it would take for Russia to “push the button.” (Emphasis in the original). He wrote that while Russian strategy was defensive:

At the same time, a number of scenarios have been identified in which Russia could deploy nuclear weapons.

First, this pertains to the “build-up of general forces, including nuclear weapons delivery vehicles, in territories adjacent to the Russian Federation and its allies, and in adjacent offshore areas.”

Second, the “deployment of anti-ballistic missile defense systems and facilities, medium- and shorter-range cruise and ballistic missiles, precision non-nuclear and hypersonic weapons, strike drones, and directed-energy weapons by states that consider the Russian Federation to be a potential adversary.”

Third, the “creation and deployment in space of anti-ballistic missile defense facilities and strike systems.”

Fourth, the “possession by countries of nuclear weapons and (or) other types of weapons of mass destruction able to be used against the Russian Federation and (or) its allies, as well as the means to deliver them.”

Fifth, the “uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons, their means of delivery, and technologies and equipment for their manufacture.”

And sixth, the “deployment of nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles in non-nuclear states.”

Moscow also sets forth additional situations in which it is ready to take “extreme measures.” Among them is the “receipt of reliable information about the launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of Russia and (or) its allies,” as well as the “enemy deployment of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction against Russia and (or) its allies.”

Furthermore, the command to deploy nuclear weapons will be given in the event of an “enemy attack on critical state and military facilities of the Russian Federation which, if incapacitated, would disrupt a nuclear response,” as well as “aggression using conventional weapons that threatens the existence of the Russian state.”

According to Marek Menkiszak, head of the Russian Department at Poland’s Centre for Eastern Studies in Warsaw, “…the list of moves which could fall under the Russian definition of ‘threatening’ is impressive, and contains both offensive and defensive actions by a potential adversary.” The Litovkin version of Russian nuclear first-use policy indicates that these “concerns” are really conditions for “pressing the button.” He is apparently saying that in addition to Paragraph 19 criteria in the Putin decree, just about any serious threat to Russia justifies first use of nuclear weapons. Moreover, it appeared in Russian state media without any disclaimer concerning whether or not this is state policy. Litovkin’s conditions for nuclear weapons’ first use are actually similar to Russia’s nuclear missile targeting threats, which have involved missile defense facilities, troop deployments and non-existent U.S. INF missile deployments in Europe. Russia, including President Putin, has even threatened nuclear decapitation attacks against the U.S. with hypersonic missiles. Under Putin’s information warfare policy, nuclear threats are used “to achieve immediate strategic advantage.”

An August 2020 Red Star article, attributed to the General Staff, characterized the four conditions in the Putin decree as “redlines.” It also indicated that the political leadership would determine the scale of the nuclear response before they knew if the ballistic missile attack against Russia was nuclear. The response to a single missile launch against Russia, even without knowing the kind of warhead it carried, “will no doubt be crushing.”[xvii] Again, this is monumental stupidity because the consequences to Russia are ignored. This is irresponsibility turned into an art form.

The strong emphasis on escalation control in the original public discussion of nuclear first use in 1999 may be eroding, although there is still a considerable difference on initial nuclear first use. Keep in mind that the description of Russian targeting by General Shvaychenko cited above involves nuclear ICBM attacks “against the aggressors’ most important facilities.” This sounds more Soviet-like than the description of escalation in the doctrinal literature of 1999, which said Russia would “not to provoke the aggressor into escalating the use of nuclear weapons without a justified reason,” according to a First Deputy Defense Minister.

The new Russian nuclear doctrine in the context of massive modernization of Russian nuclear forces and constant nuclear first use exercises is very disturbing. It makes it critically necessary to modernize the U.S. nuclear deterrent capability.

Dr. Mark B. Schneider is a Senior Analyst with the National Institute for Public Policy. Before his retirement from the Department of Defense Senior Executive Service, Dr. Schneider served in a number of senior positions within the Office of Secretary of Defense for Policy including Principal Director for Forces Policy, Principal Director for Strategic Defense, Space and Verification Policy, Director for Strategic Arms Control Policy and Representative of the Secretary of Defense to the Nuclear Arms Control Implementation Commissions.  He also served in the senior Foreign Service as a Member of the State Department Policy Planning Staff.

Notes:

[i] “Are Russian Military Deliveries to Armenia during Fighting in Tovuz Accidental?,” Turan News Agency, August 13, 2020, available at https://dialog.proquest.com/professional/professionalnewsstand/docview/ 2433241217/ fulltext/1735CF59B993DB8DD7A/2?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=1735CF59B993DB8DD7A/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_173f7746b79

[ii] “In a Broad Context,” Krasnaya Zvezda Online, April 30, 2011. Translated by World News Connection. World News Connection is no longer available on the internet

[iii] “Russian defence chief visits nuclear missile unit – TV report,” BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union, August 11, 2020, available at https://dialog.proquest.com/professional/professionalnewsstand/docview/2432434299/fulltext/173 5CFAB5F96948C9F9/3?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=1735CFAB5F96948C9F9/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_173f785a34a

[iv] “Updated Russian military doctrine has no preemptive nuclear strike provision – source,” Interfax, December 10, 2014, available at http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?pg=6&id=558118

[v] “Preemptive nuclear strike omitted from Russia’s new military doctrine – reports,” RT, December 10, 2014, available at http://rt.com/politics/213111-russia-nuclear-preemptive-strike/

[vi] “Putin approves state policy on nuclear deterrence – text,” BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union, June 4, 2020, available at https://dialog.proquest.com/professional/professionalnewsstand/docview/2409183356/fulltext/ 171E6F03B7B7D7382ED/2?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=171E6F03B7B7D7382ED/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_1728171393a

[vii] “Russia will defend Crimea with all possible means: Putin,” United News of India, June 15, 2017, available at https://dialog.proquest.com/professional/professionalnewsstand/docview/1909584353/fulltext/173CA7D85A64B2AA7/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=173CA7D85A64B2AA7/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_17464fc5947

[viii] “Putin approves state policy on nuclear deterrence – text,” op. cit.

[ix] Alexander Mladenov, “Best in the Breed,” Air Forces Monthly, May 2017, p. 51

[x] “Senate Committee on Armed Services Hearing on U.S. Strategic Command Programs,” Political Transcript Wire, April 4, 2017, available at https://dialog.proquest.com/ professional/professionalnewsstand/docview/ 1902238886/fulltext/167BE8951294B52C4B4/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=1 67BE8951294B52C4B4/1&t:cp=maintain/Resultitationblocksbrief&t:zo neid=transactionalZone_16859081e63

[xi] “Russia may face large-scale military attack, says Strategic Missile Troops chief,” BBC Monitoring Former Soviet

Union, December 16, 2009, available at https://dialog.proquest.com/professional/professionalnewsstand/docview/ 460433852/fulltext/173438170CB2F81FF58/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=173438170CB2F81FF58/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_173de004188

[xii] “S Armed Services Hearing on Worldwide Threats,” Political Transcript Wire, May 23, 2017, available at  https: //dialog.proquest.com/professional/professionalnewsstand/docview/1902238886/fulltext/1738266AFAE364AFE88/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=1738266AFAE364AFE88/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_1741ce58604

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] “Russian pundits discuss new rules for use of nuclear weapons,” BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union, August 19, 2020, available at https://dialog.proquest.com/professional/professionalnewsstand/docview/24351 60686/ fulltext/1738C5577584F127A6B/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=1738C5577584F127A6B/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_17426d445a8

[xv] “Army; Closed Part of New Military Doctrine to Define Legal Aspects Of Forces’ Employment, Nuclear

Weapons―Gen. Staff,” Interfax, August 14, 2009, available https://dialog.proquest.com/professional/professional newsstand/ docview/443749342/fulltext/173D4BAD9862D0C73B8/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewss tand&t:ac=173D4BAD9862D0C73B8/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_1746f39a927

[xvi] “Russia classifies information on pre-emptive nuclear strikes – military,” BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union, September 5, 2014, available at Interfax-AVN military news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0728,0752,0826Sep

14/BBC, available at https://dialog.proquest.com/professional/professionalnewsstand/docview/1560021754/fulltext/ 17344A2E7A6775A1A7F/1?accountid=155509&site=professionalnewsstand&t:ac=17344A2E7A6775A1A7F/1&t:cp=maintain/resultcitationblocksbrief&t:zoneid=transactionalZone_173df21b673

[xvii] “Russian pundits discuss new rules for use of nuclear weapons,” op. cit.

Britain threatens the Iranian nuclear horn

UK says Iran must be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapon

LONDON: Iran must be prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapon, UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab said during a meeting Wednesday with US Vice President Mike Pence.

Raab posted a tweet saying he and Pence discussed the “latest on progress in Middle East peace, our commitment to Hong Kong, the need to prevent Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon and support for COVID-19 vaccine development,” following the meeting at the White House.

The US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and has since called on Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany to follow suit.
Raab’s comments came a day after a joint statement from UK, Germany and France called on Iran to fully fulfil its nuclear obligations and maintain the JCPOA.
The statement said that Tehran’s failure to fulfil its obligations was a matter of concern, and seriously damaged the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The three countries expressed their concern about Iran’s announcement to construct a building to produce advanced centrifuges near the Natanz nuclear plant and called on Tehran to halt production.
Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran has exceeded the limit on uranium enrichment stipulated in the agreement, and had increased its stockpile tenfold.
The UN nuclear watchdog confirmed that it is still investigating Iran’s undeclared materials and activities and that is working to verify the nuclear materials declared by Iran are not diverted according to the agreement.
The meeting took place a day after a historic US-brokered signing ceremony where the UAE, Bahrain and Israel inked the Abraham Accord, officially recognizing and normalizing ties with the Jewish state.

Fears of the First Nuclear Rocket: Revelation 16

World War 3 fears rocket after India storms out of Pakistan meeting over Kashmir dispute

FEARS of open conflict between India and Pakistan surged after a New Delhi delegation stormed out of a meeting over the two countries’ border disputes.

By James Bickerton 03:40, Wed, Sep 16, 2020 | UPDATED: 08:31, Wed, Sep 16, 2020

Pakistan forces seen launching attack in north Kashmir

The virtual meeting featured security aides from Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states. India’s delegation, led by national security advisor Ajit Doval, quit the event after Pakistani representatives displayed a map depicting disputed territory as belonging to Islamabad.

The Pakistani map showed all of Kashmir, the sovereignty of which is hotly contested, as being under their authority.

According to the Times of India the New Delhi team dropped out of the event after seeing the Pakistani flag.

Muslim majority Kashmir is currently divided between Indian and Pakistani zones.

Since 1989 an armed insurgency has been taking place in Kashmir against Indian control.

The Indian delegation stormed out of a virtual SCO meeting (Image: GETTY)

The scene after India’s representative left the meeting (Image: YouTube/Indiplus News)

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Up to 100,000 are estimated to have been killed in the conflict.

The SCO meeting, which incorporates a number of regional powers, was being chaired by Russia.

The Russian delegation tried to persuade their Pakistani counterparts to remove the map but without success.

In August Imran Khan, the Pakistani prime minister, released a new map showing the entirety of Kashmir under the control of Pakistan.

READ MORE: Pakistan-India crisis unravels after military attacks in Kashmir

The Pakistani SCO delegation with the controversial map behind them (Image: YouTube/Indiplus News)

The territory had been broken up and was being administered as two separate Pakistani territories.

It was this map which caused controversy after it was displayed during the SCO meeting.

The Pakistani move was sharply condemned by Anurag Srivastava, spokesman for India’s ministry of external affairs.

He said: “This was in blatant disregard to the advisory by the host against it and in violation of the norms of the meeting.”

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An Indian warplane was shot down by Pakistani forces in 2019 (Image: GETTY)

Anti-India protesters rally in Kashmir (Image: GETTY)

Pakistani officials, quotes in local media, claimed the row began after their envoys rejected India’s “spurious claims” over the territory.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars, in 1947, 1965 and 1999, over the control of Kashmir.

The two nuclear armed rivals also battled against each other in 1971 during Bangladesh’s ‘liberation war’ from Islamabad.

According to an Indian source after the event Nikolai Patrushev, who runs Russia’s national security council, spoke out against the Pakistani action.

India: Protesters clash with armed officers in Kashmir

It is reported to have said: “Russia does not support what Pakistan has done and hopes that Pakistan’s provocative act will not affect India’s participation in SCO.”

From March to April 2019 several people were killed in a series of skirmishes along the India-Pakistan border.

The violence began when Indian forces bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed, an extreme Islamist group it blamed for suicide attacks, over the Pakistani border.

Pakistani and Indian aircraft then staged a series of incursions into each other’s air space.

India has been fighting a decades long insurgency in Kashmir (Image: GETTY)

On February 27 an Indian MiG-21 warplane was shot down over Pakistan.

The pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured and later released.

Next month both India and Pakistan agreed a deal to reduce tensions between the two countries.

The world is helping the Saudi nuclear horn: Daniel 7

China and IAEA are helping Saudi Arabia achieve its nuclear ambitions

Although Saudi Arabia has pledged that its nuclear program is strictly peaceful, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said the kingdom would develop a bomb if Iran did so.

Jonathan Tirone

16 September, 2020 10:39 am IST

File photo of Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince | Luke MacGregor | Bloomberg

Vienna: The United Nations nuclear watchdog has been working in parallel with Chinese officials to help Saudi Arabia exploit uranium — the key ingredient for nuclear power and weapons — despite its inspectors being frozen out of the kingdom.

The International Atomic Energy Agency published a document ahead of its annual conference next week showing the Vienna-based organization assisting Saudi efforts to make nuclear fuel. An institute in Beijing affiliated with the IAEA has been prospecting for uranium in Saudi Arabia.

“It’s very important that the agency is present and is engaged with any country that wants to perform any activity related to the nuclear fuel cycle,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Monday.

Grossi said his agency had offered only limited advice on how to make fuel from uranium, and was “in dialog” with Saudi authorities over granting inspectors access to more people, places and data so they can monitor how uranium potentially produced in the kingdom is used.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry didn’t immediately reply to emails or phone calls requesting comment.

The Saudis have stepped up their pursuit of nuclear technologies in recent years, piquing the interest of companies from South Korea to Russia and the U.S. The kingdom is nearing completion of its first reactor, a low-powered research unit being built with Argentina’s state-owned INVAP SE. It has repeatedly pledged that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes, but Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said the kingdom would develop a bomb if its regional rival Iran did so.

Nuclear non-proliferation experts have long warned that without adequate safeguards, IAEA technical cooperation can unwittingly help countries develop weapons capabilities.

Chinese geologists have helped Saudi counterparts identify uranium deposits located in the northwestern region of the country, where the kingdom is planning the futuristic city of Neom, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg.

Promising locations were presented to Saudi Arabia’s vice minister for mining affairs, Khalid Saleh Al-Mudaifer, at the end of last year, according to a statement by the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology, or BRIUG.

BRIUG referred follow-up questions to the China National Nuclear Corp., which didn’t respond to phone calls and emails requesting comment. The geology institute operates a joint technical center and has cooperation agreements with the IAEA, according to its website.

While Saudi Arabia has been open about its ambitions to generate nuclear power, less is known about the kinds of monitoring the kingdom intends to put in place. President Donald Trump’s administration sent a letter to Saudi Arabia a year ago setting requirements to access U.S. atomic technology. The baseline for any agreement is tougher IAEA inspections that include a so-called Additional Protocol — the same monitoring standard applied in Iran and more than 130 other nations, which allows inspectors wider access to sites including uranium mines.

The kingdom is among only 31 countries worldwide that still applies an old set of IAEA regulations that don’t allow inspections. On Monday, the agency said it was beginning a new initiative to roll back those rules because they can’t provide adequate assurance that all activity is for exclusively peaceful purposes.

“I’m approaching them, telling them that in 2020 this is no longer adequate,” Grossi said. “We have to be up to a minimum standard.”

The IAEA provided financial and technical aid to develop Pakistan’s uranium mines and improve plutonium-producing reactors even after the country tested a nuclear weapon in 1998 in defiance of a non-proliferation treaty. While that aid was intended for civilian nuclear power, scientists involved in those projects said Pakistan used uranium mined with agency help for weapons.

The IAEA similarly helped North Korea develop its uranium mines before it kicked inspectors out in 2003. Syria, under investigation since 2007 for allegedly building a secret atomic-weapons reactor, used an IAEA-built lab to produce uranium.

“The Additional Protocol is the standard we all want, we all aspire to,” Grossi said. But adopting those stricter monitoring measures still isn’t a pre-requisite for countries receiving technical assistance, he said. – Bloomberg