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

The Stealth of the Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Russia’s nuclear missile with global reach is capable of attacking from ‘unexpected directions’

Russia is developing a nuclear-powered missile that can fly around the atmosphere for years on end ready to strike at any moment.

This does mark the first time this missile has made the headlines. Last year, this so-called missile was involved with a mysterious explosion in Russia, which reportedly left at least 5 scientists dead.

This explosion had also led to a major spike in the radiation levels in the area.

Now British intelligence claims that Russia is “pushing the boundaries of science, and international treaties” in developing novel weapons.

So what do we know about this cruise missile?

Russia calls the missile “Burevestnik” or “Storm Petrel”, while the NATO calls it “Skyfall”

Putin first unveiled the Burevestnik on March 1, 2018, claiming that it was invincible. Essentially, it is a cruise missile that features a small nuclear-powered engine.

This is the first of its kind, for it can fly long distances for hours or even days.

The missile can also exploit loopholes in enemy defence networks. Russian president Vladimir Putin had earlier said that the testing of Burevestnik was going on successfully.

The British chief of defence said the missile had global reach and could “attack from unexpected directions”.

The mention of this missile came up during the Five Eyes intelligence hub including experts from the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

How China is helping the Saudi Horn: Daniel 7

UN nuclear watchdog, China reportedly helping Saudi Arabia develop uranium

By Mark Moore

September 15, 2020 | 3:16pm | Updated

The International Atomic Energy Agency is working with a Chinese-linked institute to find and develop uranium for Saudi Arabia even though the UN nuclear watchdog’s inspectors are not allowed in the kingdom, according to a report Tuesday.

The IAEA published a document showing it is helping the kingdom make nuclear fuel — a key component for nuclear power and weapons, Bloomberg News reported.

At the same time, Chinese geologists are working with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia to find uranium deposits in the country’s northwest, and promising locations were presented to the Saudis’ vice minister for mining affairs at the end of last year, according to a statement by the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology, the report said.

The institute has cooperation agreements with the IAEA, Bloomberg reported.

“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.

Saudi Arabia has said it wants to develop uranium for peaceful uses, but Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has said it would develop nukes if regional rival Iran did.

Grossi also said the Vienna-based agency has given the Saudis limited information on how to make fuel from uranium and is negotiating with Saudi officials to allow inspectors to monitor how fuel is produced and used.

Grossi said the agency is considering rolling back those rules if it can determine the nuclear development is for 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.”

Saudi Arabia, which is coming close to completing the construction of its first reactor, is one of 31 nations that come under old IAEA regulations prohibiting inspectors.

The geology institute referred follow-up questions from Bloomberg to the China National Nuclear Corp.

Saudi Arabian Nuclear Is Being Fueled by a UN Watchdog

Saudi Arabia’s Atomic Ambition Is Being Fueled by a UN Watchdog

Sep 15 2020, 4:02 PM

(Bloomberg) — 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.

The sole purpose for nuclear weapons is about to be lost: Revelation 16

Nuclear Weapons: It’s Time for Sole Purpose | The National Interest

The “sole purpose” of U.S. nuclear weapons should be to deter and—if necessary, retaliate against—a nuclear attack. This would mark a significant change in U.S. nuclear policy, eliminating ambiguity that preserves the option to use nuclear weapons first in response to a conventional attack.

The Democratic Party platform states that Democrats believe that the “sole purpose” of U.S. nuclear weapons should be to deter and—if necessary, retaliate against—a nuclear attack. Presidential candidate Joe Biden has said the same. The sole purpose would mark a significant change in U.S. nuclear policy, eliminating ambiguity that preserves the option to use nuclear weapons first in response to a conventional attack. Adopting the sole purpose is a sensible step that would foreclose an option that no president has ever chosen . . . or ever would. 

Extreme Circumstances 

The U.S. government has long taken the position that it would use nuclear weapons only in “extreme circumstances” in which the vital interests of the United States, its allies or partners were at stake. That formulation leaves ambiguity as to whether an American president might in some cases decide to use nuclear weapons first. Indeed, it explicitly preserves that possibility.

When the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact held large numerical advantages in conventional military forces during the Cold War, U.S. and NATO officials maintained an explicit option for deliberate escalation to nuclear weapons in the event of a conflict where they were losing at the conventional level. That might have contributed to the deterrence of a conventional conflict, but such escalation would have entailed enormous risks: once the nuclear threshold was crossed, where would matters stop? Many analysts question the ability to control escalation once nuclear weapons enter into use. As reported by Fred Kaplan in The Bomb, in 2017, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis asked a group of senior Pentagon officials if they believed that nuclear war could be controlled; only one thought that it was possible. 

The Obama administration’s 2010 nuclear posture review sought to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy. The document stated that “the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.” If such a non-nuclear weapons state attacked America or an American ally or partner with conventional, chemical or biological weapons, this negative security assurance meant that the U.S. military response would not be nuclear. (The review did contain a footnote to the effect that developments in biological weapons might lead Washington to revisit the negative security assurance.)

The 2010 nuclear posture review also stated that the United States would resort to nuclear weapons only in extreme circumstances and that the “fundamental purpose” of U.S. nuclear arms was to deter a nuclear attack on America, its allies or its partners. That language left open the possibility of a nuclear response to a conventional attack by a nuclear weapons state or another country not covered by the negative security assurance. The review added that the United States would “continue to strengthen its conventional capabilities and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks” with the goal of making deterring nuclear attacks the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The Trump administration’s 2018 nuclear posture review reflected continuity with its predecessor in some ways but diverged in others. Instead of reducing the role of nuclear weapons and rejecting new nuclear weapons, the 2018 review called for new “supplemental” nuclear capabilities: a low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead and low-yield warhead for a sea-launched cruise missile. While reiterating that the United States would use nuclear weapons only in extreme circumstances, the review said that those circumstances included “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” on U.S., allied and partner civilian populations, U.S. and allied nuclear forces, nuclear command and control systems, or warning and attack assessment capabilities. Many observers believed that the language broadened the circumstances for nuclear use, at least compared to Obama administration policy, particularly given President Donald Trump’s threats, some veiled and others more explicit, to use nuclear weapons. 

The Trump administration’s nuclear posture review did restate the Obama administration’s negative security assurance, though its version reserved an unnecessarily broader right to reconsider the assurance. (The Obama administration’s footnote, which focused solely on developments in the biological weapons field, is more appropriate.) 

Nuke a Nuclear Weapons State? 

The Obama/Trump negative security assurance covers 95 percent of the nations in the world. The possibility of the United States using nuclear weapons relates to just a handful of countries: nuclear weapons states and countries which Washington judges not to be in full compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations (only Iran and Syria are thought of in this context). The countries of greatest relevance boil down to Russia, China and North Korea. 

Of the two major potential adversaries, China has long had a declared policy of no first use of nuclear arms, though some question whether Beijing would abide by this declaration in all scenarios. Russian declaratory policy states that Russia would resort to nuclear weapons only if nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction were used against Russia or a Russian ally, or if there were a conventional attack on Russia that put the existence of the state at stake. 

What scenarios might lead to U.S. consideration of nuclear first use? One could be a conventional NATO-Russia conflict in the Baltic region in which the Russian military attains or is on the verge of attaining victory given its regional advantages. NATO overall has more powerful conventional forces, but marshaling them would take time. In this scenario, would an American president really decide to launch a nuclear attack on Russian forces on a NATO member’s territory or Russia itself? He or she would have to weigh the high probability of nuclear retaliation, including against the U.S. homeland. The president almost certainly would set aside the nuclear option, opting for time to build up American and NATO conventional forces for a counter-offensive.

Another scenario could involve a conflict with China in which the Chinese military, using its large arsenal of conventionally-armed ballistic missiles, pushes back U.S. naval and air forces. How successful a Chinese offensive might be given the spectrum of U.S. conventional capabilities, perhaps augmented by those of U.S. allies, is unclear. However, going nuclear would mean striking China directly. Again, the president would have to consider the very real prospect that Beijing would respond with a nuclear attack against American military bases in the Pacific, such as Guam, or against the United States. Again, he or she almost certainly would look for conventional options, even if they would take time. 

The Trump administration’s nuclear posture review raised another scenario: a significant non-nuclear strategic attack. Say that Russia launched a cyber strike on the U.S. electric power network, bringing down most of the grid from Boston to Washington, DC. That could prove a calamity, but would a U.S. president conclude that using nuclear weapons against the attacker, and then absorbing a nuclear counter-attack, would improve the situation? No, he or she almost certainly would order conventional and cyber counter-strikes, especially if there was the slightest doubt about correctly attributing the attack—a real question in the murky cyber world. 

As for North Korea, if struck first by U.S. nuclear weapons in a conflict, is there any doubt that Kim Jong-un would strike back with his nuclear arms? 

Escalating a conflict by introducing the use of nuclear arms is a scary, if not terrifying, proposition. It entails opening a Pandora’s box of unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences—especially when U.S. nuclear weapons would be used against a country that could strike back with its own nuclear arms. 

A Declaratory Policy That Lacks Credibility 

Those opposed to the sole purpose argue that the current ambiguity about U.S. readiness to use nuclear weapons first contributes to the deterrence of adversaries and the assurance of allies. That is a serious argument, but it made far more sense during the Cold War when the choice that might confront U.S. and NATO leaders was to use nuclear weapons or lose the war. Maintaining that ambiguity carries risks. Given the prospect of nuclear escalation once any nuclear weapons are used, and the changes in conventional force balances over the past thirty years, the chance that an American president would choose to use nuclear weapons first is vanishingly small. In virtually every conceivable scenario, he or she would look for other options, since the likely nuclear retaliation for a first-use effort by the United States would inevitably turn a bad situation into something much worse. 

Does it make sense to continue a declaratory policy aimed at deterring adversaries and assuring allies and partners that, on serious examination, neither foes nor friends would find credible? As America’s allies and partners see the U.S. threat to use nuclear weapons first lacking credibility, that could undermine their confidence in the U.S. threat to use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack on them. 

Eliminating the ambiguity by adopting the sole purpose might not provide a huge security bonus, but it would have a positive security impact. Russia likely would not follow, at least not in the near term. However, the change could help defuse the current situation, in which both Washington and Moscow believe that the other seeks to lower the nuclear threshold and thus is adjusting its own nuclear policy accordingly. It is not in the U.S. interest that the Russians believe America might go nuclear first and develop (or further develop) a posture to beat Washington to the nuclear punch. That fosters conditions that could be very dangerous in a conventional crisis or conflict and make nuclear use more likely.

Adopting the sole purpose would send an interesting signal to China. Some analysts question whether Beijing will continue to adhere to a no first use policy, but the Pentagon reports that “China almost certainly keeps the majority of its nuclear force on a peacetime status—with separated launchers, missiles, and warheads,” a posture consistent with that policy. Adoption of the sole purpose could open the path to a strategic security dialogue with Beijing that has eluded Washington for years. It would raise the political costs to China of abandoning its no first use posture. A change in American policy might even help avoid the development of a U.S.-China nuclear standoff somewhat similar to that between Washington and Moscow during the Cold War. 

The adoption of a sole-purpose policy would reduce the ability of a U.S. president to use nuclear weapons for saber-rattling. But giving up the option to rattle a saber that the adversary believes Washington would never draw seems to give up little.

A Nuclear Taboo?

It has been seventy-five years since the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan at the conclusion of World War II. Since then, neither America nor any other country has used nuclear arms in anger. Some suggest a taboo against nuclear use has developed. 

The taboo is informal, not fixed by international agreement. It would benefit U.S. and allied security were non-use of nuclear weapons to become a widely accepted and entrenched international norm. The United States has powerful conventional forces, favorable geography and the world’s largest network of allies, so reducing the possibility of nuclear use seems very much in the U.S. interest, reducing one of the few existential threats to America’s existence. Sole purpose would help bolster that norm.

Adopting sole purpose would mark a significant change in U.S. policy. Washington should do so only after consulting with NATO and key allies in the Pacific region. Importantly, the sole purpose would not close the U.S. nuclear umbrella; it would mean that U.S. nuclear weapons would be used in an ally’s defense only after the other side had gone nuclear. Unlike nuclear first use, the threat of nuclear retaliation after a nuclear attack is credible. 

The next U.S. nuclear posture review should, following such consultations, adopt sole purpose as the reason for U.S. nuclear weapons. That would change a dynamic that now has possible adversaries designing potentially dangerous policies and postures in a belief that the United States is lowering its threshold for use of nuclear weapons and could go nuclear first. It would boost the establishment of an international norm against any nuclear weapons use. It could help make Americans safer. And the only cost: abandoning an option that an American president would never use and whose threat has little credibility.

Steven Pifer is a William Perry Research Fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer.

Image: Reuters

The Iranian nuclear horn continues to grow Daniel 8/4

Iran uranium stockpile more than 10 times limit set in 2015 deal: IAEA

TEHRAN, Oct. 14, 2019 (Xinhua) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani waves after a press conference in Tehran, Iran, on Oct. 14, 2019. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that his country does not endorse Turkey’s approach to the current issues in northern Syria. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua/IANS)

VIENNA (RAHNUMA): The UN’s nuclear watchdog said Friday that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium now stands at more than ten times the limit set down in the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The limit was set at 300 kilogrammes (661 pounds) of enriched uranium in a particular compound form, which is the equivalent of 202.8 kg of uranium.

Measured against the latter figure, Iran’s stockpile now stands at over 2,105 kg, the report said.

Meanwhile, the watchdog also said that Iran had granted its inspectors access to one of two sites where undeclared nuclear activity may have taken place in the early 2000s.

“Iran provided Agency inspectors access to the location to take environmental samples,” an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report seen by AFP said.

“The samples will be analysed by laboratories that are part of the Agency’s network,” it added.

An inspection at the second site will take place “later in September 2020 on a date already agreed with Iran,” the report said.

Iran announced last week it would allow the IAEA access to the two sites, following a visit to Tehran by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi.

Iran had denied the agency access earlier this year, prompting the IAEA’s board of governors to pass a resolution in June urging Iran to comply with its requests.

Iranian Horn Spins Even More Uranium: Daniel 8:4

Iran says 1,044 centrifuges being used to enrich uranium at Fordow plant

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-13 23:00:01|Editor: huaxia

TEHRAN, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) — Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Sunday that 1,044 centrifuges are being employed in the uranium enrichment activities at Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, official IRNA news agency reported.

These centrifuges are used “in line with the policy to reduce commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Ali Akbar Salehi, the AEOI chief, was quoted as saying.

“Th enrichment is carried out according to our needs and we will stockpile it,” Salehi added, without elaborating on the purity of enriched uranium at Fordow.

Iran has been able to counter the challenges caused by the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA, or the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, he noted.

Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments under JCPOA since last year in response to the U.S. unilateral decision to withdraw from the international agreement between Tehran and the major world powers in May 2018. Enditem