India and China Go To War

20 Indian Soldiers Killed; 43 Chinese Casualties: ANI

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a “violent face-off” with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, the army said on Tuesday, in the most serious escalation between the two countries along the border in five decades. News agency ANI claimed that sources had confirmed 43 Chinese soldiers have been killed or seriously injured because of intercepts, though the army’s statement did not refer to this. A statement on Tuesday confirmed the death of a Colonel and two jawans spoke of “casualties on both sides”. India blamed the clashes on “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo there”, rebutting China’s claims that Indian soldiers crossed the border.

Here are the top developments in this big story:

Colonel B Santosh Babu of the Bihar regiment, Havildar Palani and Sepoy Ojha laid down their lives for India, the army confirmed earlier on Tuesday. “17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries. Indian Army is firmly committed to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation,” the army’s fresh statement said tonight.

The statement opened by saying Indian and Chinese troops “have disengaged” at the Galwan area where they earlier clashed on the night of June 15/16, indicating that they do not expect any fresh violence in the area.

India said the clash arose from “an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo” on the border. “India is very clear that all its activities are always within the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control. We expect the same of the Chinese side,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava.

The clash took place just as Chinese troops were getting ready to move away from a location per an agreement that was part of recent talks between the two sides to defuse tension. The Colonel was reportedly assaulted with stones and Indian soldiers retaliated, which led to close unarmed combat for several hours. The soldiers disengaged after midnight.

Beijing, in an aggressive statement, accused India of crossing the border, “attacking Chinese personnel”. China’s Foreign Ministry was quoted by Reuters as saying India should not take unilateral actions or stir up trouble.

The only admission of casualties on the Chinese side came from the editor of their government mouthpiece Global Times. “Based on what I know, Chinese side also suffered casualties in the Galwan Valley physical clash. I want to tell the Indian side, don’t be arrogant and misread China’s restraint as being weak. China doesn’t want to have a clash with India, but we don’t fear it,” tweeted Hu Xijin, Editor-in-Chief of Global Times.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held meetings with Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met with military chiefs twice as India discussed a response to the escalation.

For more than six weeks, soldiers from both sides have been engaged in a stand-off on at least two locations along the Line of Actual Control — the 3,488 km de-facto boundary between India and China, and rushed additional troops to the border. They have been facing each other at the Galwan River, which was one of the early triggers of the 1962 India-China war, and at the Pangong Tso — a glacial lake at 14,000 feet in the Tibetan plateau.

As part of the talks to defuse tension, the Chinese Army pulled back its troops from the Galwan valley, PP-15 and Hot Springs. The Indian side also brought back some of its troops and vehicles from these areas.

AFP quoted Indian sources and news reports as suggesting that Chinese troops remained in parts of the Galwan Valley and of the northern shore of the Pangong Tso lake, which caused the clash. China has been upset about the Indian construction of roads and air strips in the area, say diplomats. The government has pushed for improving connectivity and by 2022, 66 key roads along the Chinese border will have been built. One of these roads is near the Galwan valley that connects to Daulat Beg Oldi air base, which was inaugurated last October.

The Growing Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

China boosts its nuclear arsenal as world’s stockpile shrinks

China, India and Pakistan are modernising their weapons while Russia and the US shed old nuclear arms, say monitors

New threats such as chemical and biological weapons emerge, adding to global instability, finds peace research institute

Kristin Huang

Published: 7:30pm, 15 Jun, 2020

Updated: 10:25pm, 15 Jun, 2020

China is one of the six countries that increased its nuclear arsenal in the past year, adding 30 warheads since a 2019 tally, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Monday.

The five other countries were India, Britain, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, the report said, but all increased by fewer than 20 warheads.

“China is in the middle of a significant modernisation and expansion of its arsenal, and India and Pakistan are also thought to be increasing the size of their nuclear arsenals,” the report said.

In China, military vehicles carrying DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles pass Tiananmen Square in October, 2019. Photo: Reuters

Despite six countries having increased the number of their nuclear warheads, global inventories continue to decline, according to the report. This is mainly because the owners of the two largest arsenals – Russia and the United States – have decreased their number of warheads, mostly to dismantle retired stocks.

“At the same time, both the USA and Russia have extensive and expensive programmes under way to replace and modernise their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities,” the report said.

The US has 1,750 deployed warheads – placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces – and 4,050 reserve warheads or retired warheads awaiting dismantlement. Russia has 1,570 deployed warheads and 4,805 warheads either stored or to be dismantled.

At the start of 2020, nine states – the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – had an estimated total of 13,400 nuclear weapons, of which 3,720 were deployed with operational forces. About 1,800 of these were kept in a state of high operational alert, the report said.

India is capable of striking anywhere in China with a nuclear warhead, India’s government has said. Photo: Universalashic

Though six countries had increased their stocks, the combined number of their nuclear warheads was little more than 2,000, less than one-third of Russia’s total stockpile.

Outside nuclear armaments, new threats such as chemical and biological weapons kept emerging, making the world less stable than before, according to the report.

The report also warned of an arms race in outer space. Since 2017, the US has notably declared space to be a domain of war or an area for both offensive and defensive military operations, and France, India and Japan have followed the American lead by announcing dedicating military space units.

The SIPRI report comes after US President Donald Trump’s officials in May discussed conducting the first US nuclear test since 1992.

Zhou Chenming, a military expert based in Beijing, said the changes in the world’s military build-up signalled an increasingly precarious balance of peace.

“Many countries are now developing their own anti-missile systems that protect countries from being hit by a nuclear warhead, but once the systems are highly developed, it will lead to military adventurism – some countries might take the initiative to attack other nations – and make the world even more dangerous,” Zhou said.

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The Rise of the Chinese Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

NATO must pay attention to China, Stoltenberg says

The head of the military alliance has urged the West not to ignore China’s growing military might. He says Beijing’s expanding stockpile of nuclear weapons capable of reaching Europe, demands a stronger response.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Saturday that China’s increasing influence had created a “fundamental shift in the global balance of power” that should not be overlooked. 

In an interview with Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper, that was released in advance, the Norwegian official said that Beijing had the second-largest defense budget in the world after the United States, and was investing heavily in nuclear weapons and long-range missiles that could reach Europe.

“One thing is clear: China is coming ever closer to Europe’s doorstep,” he said. “NATO allies must face this challenge together.”

Read more: China unveils plans to step up military power

New opportunities, new challenges

NATO’s mission has expanded since its creation in 1949 as a counterweight to the power of the Soviet Union. Its security remit is limited to North America and Europe, but the military alliance has also acknowledged that China’s rise posed new challenges.

Stoltenberg stressed that no member country was “directly” threatened by the Asian powerhouse, but he did flag several concerns, which he said required a strong NATO response.

He noted Beijing was investing heavily in European infrastructure and cyberspace, as well as expanding its presence in Africa, the Arctic and the Mediterranean.

China has also increasingly sought to boost its claims over parts of the South China Sea, in some cases by hindering ships traveling there in international waters.

Stoltenberg said he found developments in the sea worrying, calling on Beijing to respect international shipping rules, but added that there was no reason to send NATO troops to the region. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said earlier this week that China does not pose a threat to any country. “We hope that NATO can continue to hold a correct opinion about us and view our development rationally,” she said.

nm/mm (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

America Threatens the China Nuclear Horn

An experimental version of a new cruise missile is fired from San Nicolas Island, Calif., last August, part of the Pentagon’s effort to develop new intermediate range missiles that could be based in Asia.

(Defense Department/Scott Howe)

The Pentagon wants to base missiles in the Pacific to counter China. Some allies don’t want them | Task & Purpose

Jun 10, 2020 1:24 PM EDT

By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times

The governor of a Japanese territory where the Pentagon is thinking about basing missiles capable of threatening China has a message for the United States: Not on my island.

“I firmly oppose the idea,” said Gov. Denny Tamaki, the governor of Okinawa, in an email to The Times.

Officials in other Asian countries are also signaling they don’t want them.

But Pentagon planners aren’t backing down after the Trump administration withdrew last year from a 33-year-old arms-control treaty that barred U.S. land-based intermediate range missiles in Asia.

Senior officials now say that putting hundreds of American missiles with non-nuclear warheads in Asia would quickly and cheaply shift the balance of power in the western Pacific back in the United States’ favor amid growing Pentagon concern that China’s own expanding arsenal of missiles and other military capabilities threaten U.S. bases in the region and have emboldened Beijing to menace U.S. allies in Asia.

The missile plan is the centerpiece of a planned buildup of U.S. military power in Asia projected to consume tens of billions of dollars in the defense budget over the next decade, a major shift in Pentagon spending priorities away from the Middle East.

But it also highlights the complex relationship between the U.S and its Asian allies, many of whom feel increasingly threatened by China but are reluctant to back new U.S. military measures that might provoke Beijing, which has built the biggest navy in the world in the last decade.

Australia and the Philippines publicly ruled out hosting American missiles when the Trump administration first floated the idea last year. South Korea is also considered an unlikely location, current and former officials say.

In Japan, the decision on whether to allow U.S. missiles on its territory will be made by the central government in Tokyo. Gov. Tamaki said officials at the Pentagon and in Tokyo have told him there are no definite plans to put missiles on Okinawa. But Tamaki isn’t reassured.

With a Japanese mother and an American father who served with the Marines on Okinawa before abandoning the family, Tamaki personifies the complex relationship between the U.S. and its allies in Asia. He was elected two years ago after pledging to oppose expansion of the already-substantial U.S. military presence on the island.

More than half of the 50,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan are in Okinawa, most concentrated at a Marine base surrounded by residential areas in the largest city. Opposition to the 70-year-old U.S. military presence has sparked local protests for years, which would likely intensify if there were a move to base missiles there.

“If there is such a plan, I can easily imagine fierce opposition from Okinawa residents,” Tamaki said.

For the last year, the Pentagon has been testing several new types of short and intermediate range missiles — those with ranges up to 3,400 miles — including a ballistic missile that could be placed in Guam, a U.S. territory, and mobile missiles carried on trucks.

The first of the new weapons could be in operation within two years, though no decision has been announced about where they will be based. Similar missiles are now carried on U.S. warships and planes based in Asia, but there are no land-based systems.

U.S. officials say that many allies are privately supportive of the missile plan and may come around to permitting them on their territory but don’t want to provoke opposition from Beijing and their own public before decisions are on the table.

The U.S. has a defense treaty with Japan, as it does with South Korea, the Philippines and Australia. Taiwan is not a formal ally but has close, unofficial defense ties with Washington.

“We are very attentive to our allies’ concerns, and we recognized their political challenges,” said a senior defense official, who agreed to discuss Pentagon planning if he was not identified. “Everything that’s said in the media is not necessarily what’s said behind closed doors.”

To lessen the political opposition, the U.S. could rotate missile batteries in and out of locations around the region or place them in strategic locations without publicly disclosing it.

“It wouldn’t make much sense to announce plans now, which would stoke Chinese anger and possibly play into the domestic politics,” said Randy Schriver, who was a senior Pentagon official responsible for Asia until his resignation last year.

A decision to go ahead in Asia would intensify an arms race between the region’s two biggest powers whose relations — already tense over President Trump’s confrontational trade agenda and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s hawkish policies — have nosedived since the coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s naïve and dangerous,” said Alexandra Bell, a former Obama administration arms control official and a critic of deploying U.S. missiles. “Instead of looking at how we can prevent a full-out arms race, that’s our opening salvo?” added Bell, a senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington.

Putting land-based missiles in Asia capable of attacking China is not a new strategy.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. kept them at bases across the region, including in Okinawa, where hundreds of nuclear-armed warheads were stored secretly for decades even though Japan’s constitution prohibited the presence of nuclear weapons on its territory.

The missiles were gradually taken out of service in the 1960s and 1970s, due to budget cuts and a shift in U.S. strategy away from defense of the region focused on nuclear weapons. In 1987, the Reagan administration signed an arms control treaty that prohibited the U.S. and the Soviet Union (and later Russia) from deploying any land-based intermediate range missiles, including in Asia.

China was not a signatory, leaving it free to build up its missile arsenal.

The Trump administration withdrew from the treaty last year after accusing Russia of developing new land-based missiles that violated its terms. The exit opened the way for the Pentagon to consider reintroducing ground-launched missiles in Asia.

With mobile missiles around the region, the U.S. could pose an even bigger challenge for China, forcing it to hunt for hundreds of launchers capable of targeting its planes, ships and bases, strategists say.

“Ground-based missiles aren’t some kind silver bullet,” said Eric Sayers, a former consultant to U.S. commanders in the Pacific and a fellow at the Center for New American Security, a Washington think tank. “But they are a way in the near term … to create dilemmas for the [People’s Liberation Army] planners.”

Although the risk of large-scale conflict with China seems low, tensions have continued to ratchet up over Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong, its military maneuvers near Taiwan, its border dispute with India and its offshore maritime claims in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

Nearly a quarter of world trade travels through the South China Sea, making the contest between Beijing and Washington over control of its sea lanes and rich resources especially tense and certain to continue, no matter who wins the U.S. presidential election in November.

The U.S. Navy for decades dominated the “first island chain,” as strategists call the area of the western Pacific stretching from Japan to Taiwan to the Philippines that fell within America’s defense umbrella after World War II.

But American reliance on bases, warships and airfields in the region has become increasingly risky, officials and analysts say.

China has developed its own missiles, sophisticated radars and anti-satellite weapons as well as a growing fleet of warships and submarines in recent decades that could threaten American bases and other targets early in a conflict, said Collin Koh, a research fellow in Asian maritime security at the Rajatnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

China’s People’s Liberation Army can project significant firepower on U.S. and allied military installations in the western Pacific and “threaten to overwhelm” American forces “in times of armed conflict,” Koh said.

The Chinese weapons in many cases have ranges that exceed those on U.S. warships, though the U.S. retains a significant advantage in attack submarines and in advanced fighters and bombers armed with cruise missiles that can be fired from long distances.

“Their capability and their reach has created vulnerabilities for our legacy basing structure,” said the defense official, who agreed to discuss U.S. planning on the condition that he not be identified.

———

©2020 the Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The China Horn Will Not Be Coerced Into Arms Control

Can China Be Compelled Into Arms Control?

There is little reason to believe that Chinese leaders will see incentives to enter arms control arrangements anytime soon.

Robert Farley

Credit: CCTV YouTube screen capture

Arms control is always complicated, and a multilateral agreement across multiple weapons systems between China, the U.S., and Russia would tax even the best diplomats. The Trump administration has adopted an adversarial approach to China, attempting to threaten China into compliance by withdrawing from other arms control agreements, to test nuclear weapons, and to overwhelm China through a massive increase in defense spending. But is there any reason to believe that China can be compelled?

States certainly do engage in arms control in order to protect their physical security, as well as their economic and financial well-being. Concerns about the economic impact of the arms race informed both the Soviet and American approaches to arms control in the 1980s. Fear that the industrial power of the United States might swamp them both convinced Japan and the United Kingdom to pursue naval arms limitation in the 1920s.

But the United States cannot, at present, threaten to swamp China. Both Japan and the Soviet Union struggled to compete with the U.S., devoting far greater percentages of their economies to defense spending than Washington. Today, the opposite holds; China spends less as percentage of its GDP than the United States. There surely are concerns about the vitality China’s long-term economic growth (although the same can be said of the United States) but China nevertheless has sufficient slack in its defense spending to maintain its military position relative to the United States without risking bankruptcy.

Moreover, unlike the Soviet Union, China has demonstrated a willingness to accept military vulnerability in its relationship with the United States. The Soviet Union sought first to balance U.S. strategic advantages with massive conventional superiority in Central Europe, then directly matched U.S. strategic nuclear forces. China has never sought nuclear equality with the United States, and is only now approaching a point in which it can threaten conventional parity in the Western Pacific. An arms race can only bring an enemy to its knees if the enemy decides to run the race, and Beijing has yet to indicate it’s willing to commit.

Finally, it should go without saying that the cavalier fashion with which the United States has treated arms control agreements as of late inspires no confidence in Beijing, Moscow, or anywhere else that Washington will adhere to any agreements in the long-term. The pervasive sense that the United States has either given up on arms control or that it will give up on any agreement as soon as the next Republican President enters office will make any foreign leader with any sense at all reluctant to pay the costs and take the risks associated with a major arms limitation initiative.

Authors

Contributing Author

Robert Farley

Robert Farley is an assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce.

China Will Not Be Compelled Into Arms Control

Credit: CCTV YouTube screen capture

Can China Be Compelled Into Arms Control?

There is little reason to believe that Chinese leaders will see incentives to enter arms control arrangements anytime soon.

Robert Farley

Arms control is always complicated, and a multilateral agreement across multiple weapons systems between China, the U.S., and Russia would tax even the best diplomats. The Trump administration has adopted an adversarial approach to China, attempting to threaten China into compliance by withdrawing from other arms control agreements, to test nuclear weapons, and to overwhelm China through a massive increase in defense spending. But is there any reason to believe that China can be compelled?

States certainly do engage in arms control in order to protect their physical security, as well as their economic and financial well-being. Concerns about the economic impact of the arms race informed both the Soviet and American approaches to arms control in the 1980s. Fear that the industrial power of the United States might swamp them both convinced Japan and the United Kingdom to pursue naval arms limitation in the 1920s.

But the United States cannot, at present, threaten to swamp China. Both Japan and the Soviet Union struggled to compete with the U.S., devoting far greater percentages of their economies to defense spending than Washington. Today, the opposite holds; China spends less as percentage of its GDP than the United States. There surely are concerns about the vitality China’s long-term economic growth (although the same can be said of the United States) but China nevertheless has sufficient slack in its defense spending to maintain its military position relative to the United States without risking bankruptcy.

Moreover, unlike the Soviet Union, China has demonstrated a willingness to accept military vulnerability in its relationship with the United States. The Soviet Union sought first to balance U.S. strategic advantages with massive conventional superiority in Central Europe, then directly matched U.S. strategic nuclear forces. China has never sought nuclear equality with the United States, and is only now approaching a point in which it can threaten conventional parity in the Western Pacific. An arms race can only bring an enemy to its knees if the enemy decides to run the race, and Beijing has yet to indicate it’s willing to commit.

Finally, it should go without saying that the cavalier fashion with which the United States has treated arms control agreements as of late inspires no confidence in Beijing, Moscow, or anywhere else that Washington will adhere to any agreements in the long-term. The pervasive sense that the United States has either given up on arms control or that it will give up on any agreement as soon as the next Republican President enters office will make any foreign leader with any sense at all reluctant to pay the costs and take the risks associated with a major arms limitation initiative.

Contributing Author

Robert Farley

Robert Farley is an assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce.

China Sends Nuclear Warning to Babylon the Great

China Warns U.S. Not to Start Nuclear Testing Again After Trump Administration Reportedly Debates Defying 30-Year Ban

DPRK Calls U.S. Country of ‘Extreme Racists’ After George Floyd Protests

BY TOM O’CONNOR ON 6/08/20 AT 1:08 PM EDT

China has urged the United States not to resume nuclear testing after reports that officials within President Donald Trump’s administration had discussed doing so after nearly a 30-year pause.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters Monday in Beijing that China is “gravely concerned about this internal discussion in the U.S. administration on resuming nuclear tests.” She joined Russia in voicing support for a recent statement issued by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), which also called on Washington not to restart nuclear tests.

“The CTBT, which sets out international norms in prohibiting nuclear tests, serves as an important pillar of the international nuclear arms control system and is of great significance in promoting nuclear disarmament, prohibiting nuclear proliferation and upholding world peace and security,” Hua said of the 1996 agreement.

“We also hope that the U.S. side will heed the call from the international community and contribute to safeguarding the international nuclear disarmament and international non-proliferation regime,” she said. “It should take no more steps down the wrong path of undermining global strategic stability.”

The Priscilla nuclear test, part of Operation Plumbbob in 1957 at the Nevada Test Site.

GALERIE BILDERWELT/GETTY

Reports that the U.S. officials had discussed resuming nuclear testing first emerged late last month in The Washington Post, which cited a senior administration official and two former officials saying the U.S. intended pressure Beijing and Moscow into entering into a trilateral, more restrictive version of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) set to expire in February.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended an offer to renew the agreement, which limits the number of nuclear warheads and weapons in the U.S. and Russian arsenals and provides channels for mutual verification and inspection measures. Trump, however, has called for a new deal that addressed new technologies such as highly maneuverable hypersonic weapons, and other countries, such as China, which has repeatedly rejected the proposal.

The Trump administration has not publicly indicated it was preparing for a nuclear test but Drew Walter, who is performing the duties of deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear matters, told reporters last month that previous National Nuclear Security Agency heads have discussed “a very quick test with limited diagnostics, though certainly diagnostics, within months.”

A U.S. nuclear weapons test would mark a major departure from one of the most widely-observed moratoriums in arms control and set the stage for other countries to ramp up nuclear weapons development in the post-Cold War era.

The last recorded U.S. nuclear test was conducted in 1992 as negotiations for a multilateral testing ban began to take place. China continued to detonate nuclear devices until 1996 and since that year, only India, Pakistan and North Korea—non-parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty—are known to have conducted such tests. These countries have not signed the test ban treaty. Egypt, Iran and Israel, like the U.S. and China, have signed but not ratified the accord.

In the latest edition of its annual arms control compliance report, the State Department accused Beijing of potentially violating Washington’s “zero-yield” standard of international commitments to not testing nuclear weapons. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian dismissed the allegations as “irresponsible” at the time.

Russian officials have also rejected U.S. allegations of Moscow violating its treaty obligations.

The ascending fireball of the world’s first atomic cannon, the U.S. Army’s experimental 280-mm M65, is seen during the 15-kiloton Operation Upshot-Knothole test at the Nevada Proving Grounds. Frenchman’s Flat, Nevada. The United States was the first country to develop a nuclear weapon and the only one in the world to have used one in combat.U.S. Army/National Nuclear Security Administration

No Chance of a China Nuclear Deal

China could lose 95% of ballistic, cruise missiles under strategic arms control pact, says new analysis

Mike Yeo

MELBOURNE, Australia — China could stand to lose almost all of its ballistic and cruise missiles if it were to sign a new strategic arms control treaty, according to a new regional security assessment.

The analysis, titled “The End of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty: Implications for Asia,” is one of the chapters of the annual Asia-Pacific regional security assessment published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank. IISS’ report was released June 5 and covered regional security topics such as Sino-U.S. relations, North Korea and Japanese policy.

China could lose 95 percent of its ballistic and cruise missile stockpile if it signs a treaty similar to the 1980s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, according to the chapter’s co-authors Douglas Barrie, a senior fellow focused on military air power; Michael Elleman, the director of the Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Program; and Meia Nouwens, a research fellow focused on Chinese defense policy and military modernization.

The treaty, signed between by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, banned all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles systems with ranges between 310 and 3,420 miles (500-5,500 kilometres). The U.S. withdrew from the INF Treaty in August 2019, citing Russian violations of the agreement with its development and fielding of the 9M279 missile, although Russia denies that the missile violated range restrictions.

However, the IISS report suggested the U.S. withdrawal was done with an eye toward China’s missile arsenal, which has grown to what is believed to be the world’s largest inventory of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. IISS’ own figures estimate China possesses more than 2,200 missiles that fall under the INF Treaty’s restrictions.

These short- and medium-range missiles are important assets in exerting pressure on Taiwan, which China sees as a rogue province and has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary, although it continues to describe its fielding of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles as solely for defensive purposes.

Given these missiles provide China with what Barrie described as a “comparative advantage” in the region, it’s unlikely the country would willingly sign a potential arms control treaty like the INF Treaty.

The U.S, for its part, has already started testing missiles previously prohibited by the treaty, and there have been suggestions that the country might deploy such missiles to the Asia-Pacific region to address an imbalance in such weapons between itself and its rivals without solely relying on air- and sea-launched cruise missiles. (Those cruise missiles existed under the INF Treaty, as they did not violate the pact.)

The report cautioned there is a two-fold risk in deploying such weapons to the Asia-Pacific. Chief among those: exacerbating Chinese concerns that the missiles will be positioned for use against it, increasing the potential for a response from China that could lead to an “action-reaction cycle of weapons development and deployment” and continued regional instability.

The U.S. is also faced with the quandary of basing any potential INF-busting systems, with regional allies and partners unlikely to accede to locating such missiles on their territory, partly because of the diplomatic and economic reprisals Beijing could inflict on them. And there’s precedent here: China targeted South Korea’s economy in response to and expressed its distaste at the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system on South Korean soil in 2017.

As for the U.S. territory of Guam, basing missiles there would limit their utility due to the distances involved.

The IISS report also raised questions about whether U.S. moves to develop and deploy weapons previously prohibited by the INF Treaty will bring China to the arms control negotiating table. However, the think tank conceded that not deploying such weapons is also unlikely to persuade China, noting that that Beijing has shown little appetite for participating in any form of strategic and regional arms control.

 

The impact of Indo-Pacific nuclear boats on the first nuclear war

Pakistan's tool of war: Agosta 90B, our submarine in the deep ...Increasing Indo-Pacific nuclear boats and the impact on strategic stability

Stephen Kuper

As the Indo-Pacific continues to evolve economically and strategically, one of the traditional measures of great power status – nuclear attack and missile submarines – will become more prominent. For ASPI academic Stephan Fruehling, this will have a dramatic impact on the strategic stability and calculus Australia depends upon.

Next-generation submarines are emerging as another battleground for the competing superpowers, with both the US and China seeking to develop and introduce ever more deadly, silent and persistent submarines to sea.

Much like the submarine competition between the US and Soviet Union, this new arms race is resulting in fleets of hunter-killers and strategic missile submarines stalking the depths, however the US and China are far from the only emerging and established Indo-Pacific nations seeking to leverage the power of nuclear submarines. 

The growing proliferation of advanced nuclear weapons systems, including the relatively crude, yet still capable submarine launch ballistic missiles recently tested by North Korea, and the increasingly capable nuclear-powered submarine fleets introduced by China and Russia, South Korea has moved to address a tactical and strategic shortfall: a lack of nuclear-powered submarines. 

While seemingly a shock move, the South Korean strategic policy institute, the Korea Defense Network (KDN), commissioned a research review into the feasibility of developing an indigenous nuclear-powered attack submarine. 

It is reported that the results suggested that South Korea consider building a nuclear-powered attack submarine modelled after the French 5,300-tonne Barracuda Class submarine, the design model for Australia’s own fleet of $50 billion Attack Class submarines. 

India also fields a growing array of domestic and foreign nuclear submarine designs in both the attack and ballistic missile variants providing an already tense regional balance of power with yet another platform to complicate the tactical and strategic decision making processes for many nations, including Australia.

Contemporary combat submarines are typically broken down by role and either conventional or nuclear propulsion into three different classes, namely: 

• Attack submarines (SSK/SSN): These vessels designed specifically to hunt and kill enemy submarines, surface combatants and merchant vessels. These submarines also serve a protective role, escorting major naval strike groups, logistics and troop convoys and merchant vessels. Recent advances in propulsion, power generation and weapons systems have also enabled these vessels to conduct long-range land strikes using torpedo or vertically-launched cruise missiles. 

• Ballistic missile submarines (SSBN): Significantly larger than their smaller, more nimble hunter-killer focused cousins, ballistic missile submarines serve as the sea-borne leg of a traditional nuclear deterrence triangle, armed with submarine-launched ballistic missiles capable – these submarines, often termed ‘boomers’, serve as the ultimate in strategic insurance for great powers like the US and China. 

• Cruise missile submarines (SSG/SSGN): Often modified ballistic missile submarines, cruise missile submarines leverage the unlimited range of nuclear-powered vessels combined with advances in weapons technology to pack vast numbers of land attack and anti-ship cruise missiles into specially modified vertical launch systems to provide immense levels of conventional strike capabilities.

Towards a nuclear region?

Recognising the mounting challenges, ASPI academic Stephan Fruehling has penned a piece, ‘Nuclear-armed submarines and strategic stability in the Indo-Pacific’, highlighting the challenges facing Australia as it seeks to navigate the demise of the post-Second World War strategic order, guaranteed by the US nuclear umbrella, in the face of a multipolar, nuclear-armed region.

“No other weapon system embodies the menacing, but also out-of-sight, presence of nuclear weapons better than the stealthy nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) that have, for six decades, ceaselessly prowled the world’s cold ocean depths, waiting for an order that has never come,” Fruehling articulates. 

“SSBNs on continuous at-sea deterrence missions remain the mainstay of the nuclear forces in the United States and France, and the sole platform carrying British nuclear weapons. Despite Russia’s significant investment in road-mobile missiles, SSBNs also remain an important element of its nuclear forces.”

While the Cold War balance of power between the nuclear powers maintained a relative peaceful status-quo, the advent of nuclear powered and, critically, armed submarines in the Indo-Pacific presents a significant and new challenge for Australian consideration. 

“In Asia, however, nuclear-armed submarines are a newer phenomenon. China has had a longstanding interest in developing SSBN technology, but has only in recent years put them into service, in numbers comparable to Britain’s and France’s,” Fruehling says. 

“Israel has reportedly fielded nuclear-armed (cruise) missiles on its conventionally powered submarines, and India, Pakistan and North Korea have also all shown an interest in moving nuclear weapons under the sea. As these countries’ programs mature, undersea nuclear deterrence will cease to be a preserve of the major powers.

“The relevance of nuclear-armed submarines for strategic stability in the Indo-Pacific area will thus increase — but what will their impact be?”

Fruehling poses this important question for Australian consideration, particularly as we close in on a new Defence White Paper. 

How will SSBNs impact the balance of power?

Fruehling is quick to highlight the pivotal role the concept of ‘mutually assured destruction’, or MAD, played in keeping the Cold War ‘cold’ is somewhat of an ambiguous concept in light of a radically evolving regional balance of nuclear power. 

“Whether the increased deployment of SSBNs in the Indo-Pacific will thus be stabilising or destabilising — in arms competition as well as in crises and war — remains an open and important question for regional security,” Fruehling states. 

“Given the multiple centres of power in the Indo-Pacific, its connected conflict dyads, and its regional order that lacks both the informal rules and clear dividing lines of the Cold War, conceiving of a regional concept for ‘stability’ is fraught in general.”

For Australia, this raises the question, can the nation depend on the nuclear umbrella provided by the US or, for that matter, the UK at a stretch? If not, what is the solution for Australia? How does the nation respond and what role will Australia’s conventionally powered Attack Class submarines play in a nuclear-armed, contested region?

Questions to be asked

As an island nation, Australia is defined by its relationship and access to the ocean, with strategic sea-lines-of-communication supporting over 90 per cent of global trade, a result of the cost effective and reliable nature of sea transport.

Indo-Pacific Asia is at the epicentre of the global maritime trade, with about US$5 trillion worth of trade flowing through the South China Sea and the strategic waterways and choke points of south-east Asia annually.

While the Indian Ocean and its critical global sea-lines-of-communication are responsible for more than 80 per cent of the world’s seaborne trade in critical energy supplies, namely oil and natural gas, which serve as the lifeblood of any advanced economy.

Submarines are critical to the nation’s ability to protect these strategically vital waterways and key naval assets, as well as providing a viable tactical and strategic deterrent and ensure the nation’s enduring national and economic security – recognising this, the previously posed questions will serve as conversation starting points.

However, given the geographic area of responsibility Australia will become increasingly responsible for and dependent on, is the RAN and the recapitalisation and conventionally-focused modernisation program for Australia’s submarine fleet enough for Australia to maintain its qualitative and quantitative lead over regional peers?

Traditionally, Australia has focused on a platform-for-platform acquisition program – focused on replacing, modernising or upgrading key capabilities on a like-for-like basis without a guiding policy, doctrine or strategy, limiting the overall effectiveness, survivability and capability of the RAN.

Trump Asks For The Impossible Nuclear Trinity

U.S. Plans New Arms Talks Aimed at Limiting Russian, Chinese and U.S. Nuclear Warheads – WSJ

Updated May 21, 2020 9:31 pm ET

The Trump administration says that it plans to propose more intrusive verification measures than under New START. This includes a demand for greater sharing of missile-test telemetry and measures that allow faster on-site inspections.

The British and French nuclear forces wouldn’t be part of the accord under the U.S. plan, though Russian officials have sometimes argued that they should.

Negotiating a major arms-control treaty is a yearslong process, raising the question of what constraints will be kept in place once the negotiations are under way.

The New START treaty can be extended for as many as five years by mutual consent. But Trump officials have hinted the U.S. may not do so unless the new three-way negotiations have begun and are making headway.

The collapse of the New START constraints, and the verification provisions it includes, would mark a further unraveling of the arms-control regime. Last year, the U.S. withdrew from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which it alleged Moscow was violating.

Of all the looming obstacles toward a new accord, the principal one is persuading China to join.

China has about 320 warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists. That is a fraction of the 1,750 nuclear weapons the U.S. has deployed on its long-range and shorter-range systems, among the 3,800 warheads in the U.S. stockpile, according to the group’s estimate.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has said, however, that the Chinese arsenal is expected to at least double over the next decade.

Frank Klotz—a retired three-star general and the former head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the development of the U.S. nuclear arsenal—said that the idea of drawing China into a new three-way accord was fraught with difficulties.

Establishing equal limits on Chinese, U.S. and Russian forces wouldn’t be an option in seeking a new agreement because Washington doesn’t want to allow China to match the current American level. Nor does the Pentagon want to cut its force to China’s level.

“Why would the Chinese agree to be locked into a three-way agreement at significantly lower numbers than the U.S.?” Mr. Klotz said. “Why would Russia or the U.S. agree to allow China to have numbers equal to Russia and the U.S.”

—Gordon Lubold and James Marson contributed to this article.

Write to Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com