Preparing for the South Korean nuclear horn: Daniel 7

South Koreans walk past replicas of missiles at the Korean War Memorial.

Talk of a Nuclear Deterrent in South Korea

North Korea’s resumed activity at Yongbyon has reawakened calls for Seoul to go nuclear.

September 9, 2021, 11:50 AM

SEOUL—Recent resumption of activity at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex, which is suspected of producing the plutonium needed for the country’s nuclear weapons, has fueled existing convictions among some conservative South Korean politicians that Pyongyang will never agree to give up its nukes so Seoul needs a nuclear deterrent of its own.

The issue has stormed into the early days of the upcoming presidential election, with primary candidates openly pushing for South Korea to host nuclear weapons. Yoo Seong-min, a former lawmaker and primary candidate for the People Power Party, said he would “persuade the U.S. government to sign a nuclear-sharing agreement” with Seoul if he became president. Such an agreement would again allow the deployment of tactical and nonstrategic nuclear weapons on South Korean soil for the first time since the end of the Cold War. Another conservative contender, Hong Joon-pyo, has also argued that a nuclear-sharing agreement is needed lest South Korea end up “slaves to North Korea’s nuclear weapons.”

For some in South Korea, it’s not just about hosting U.S. weapons but also about developing their own. Lee Jong-kul, a representative from the Liberal Party, has said South Korea should “choose tactical nuclear weapons as the last negotiating card” against North Korea. In 2017, a conservative group, the Korean Patriotic Citizens’ Union, organized protests that included chants like “South Korea should immediately begin to arm itself with nuclear weapons.” Nuclear boosterism has grown so much that the leading primary candidate for the Liberal Party, Lee Jae-myung, decried it as “dangerous populism.”

South Korea, which suffered an invasion by its northern neighbor in 1950, is regularly taunted by Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities, tests, and parades of increasingly capable missiles.

“The idea of nuclear weapons in South Korea, in contrast to Japan, has never been fringe. The argument is something like: If North Korea has it, we should have it too,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

According to polls, almost half of all South Koreans surveyed support the development of their own nuclear weapons to deter North Korea’s threat. The urge to unfurl their own nuclear umbrella has grown in recent years due to both Pyongyang’s fissile and missile advances and after four years of former U.S. President Donald Trump disparaging the Korean alliance and urging the country to develop its own nuclear shield.

But it’s not just politicians and polls. South Korea is the latest member of an exclusive club: countries that have successfully firedsubmarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Seven other countries have done that, but they all have nuclear warheads to stick on top. So what are Seoul’s ambitions? 

South Korea “is the only country to develop SLBMs without first developing nuclear weapons, so it makes one wonder,” said Vipin Narang, a professor of nuclear security and political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

SLBMs are hidden underwater, so they offer survivability that could ensure South Korea can hit back against a first strike. But hit back with what? 

“Even with a heavy conventional warhead or multiple warheads on each SLBM, does six tubes on a submarine really provide a credible conventional retaliatory capability if all of South Korea’s land-based missiles were wiped out?” Narang asked.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un listens to US President Donald Trump (not pictured) during a meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 27, 2019. (

It’s not the only nuke-adjacent technology being advanced. With the removal of the country’s range cap on its missiles, South Korea is pushing for missiles that can carry bigger payloads for longer distances. Those “would be good delivery vehicles” if Seoul ever thought about developing nuclear weapons, Narang said.

The problem is nuclear weapons would not actually deliver security for South Korea. Pyongyang has an arsenal of its own and knows it can poke and prod—whether through cyberattacks or other conventional provocations—with little fear.

“In terms of South Korea’s security, nuclear weapons do very little,” Lewis said. “A nuclear-armed North Korea can be much more aggressive in terms of conventional provocations because [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un knows he is safe from being invaded by the United States or South Korea. South Korean nuclear weapons don’t solve this problem.”

It’s much like the problem facing Israel, which is widely believed to have its ownnuclear capability yet has fought vehemently for years to constrain Iran’s ability to enrich enough uranium to build a bomb.

“Israel has nuclear weapons but is terrified of Iran getting them. Why don’t the Israelis believe deterrence will protect them? Because they are worried that a nuclear-armed Iran will be much more aggressive in terms of using proxies to attack them,” Lewis said. “It’s a very similar problem for South Korea.”

In addition to not delivering deterrence, South Korean nuclear weapons could end up blowing up the Korean economy. It’s one of the most trade-dependent countries on Earth, with trade making up about 70 percent of the country’s GDP; those export industries are dependent on its status as a proliferation-limiting state. A particular concern could be the country’s successful civilian nuclear energy program. South Korea is halfway through a 20-year plan to export 80 nuclear reactors worth $400 billion—deals that could be jeopardized if South Korea opts for proliferation. 

“South Korea is very much a trade-dependent country, basically an economy based on the international economy, and the repercussions from developing nuclear weapons will damage this,” said Yim Man-sung, director of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Education and Research Center at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Seoul. 

South Korea, a signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, could withdraw from the accord. But that would create a cascade of legal liabilities, especially for the multibillion-dollar exports of civilian nuclear technology. And that, once realized, could take the wind out of the South Korean public’s push for nukes of their own.

“Initially, when people know nothing about the implications, they may say, ‘oh, we should develop nuclear weapons.’ But once they realize the implications, repercussions of that decision, most of them say no,” Yim said.

North Korea expands her nuclear Horn

New satellite images show development is underway at a uranium enrichment plant in North Korea, which might enable the regime to enhance manufacturing of weapons-grade nuclear materials.
Revealing the images, CNN reported Thursday that the latest renovations at the facility located within the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility complex, could allow the North to increase production of weapons-grade nuclear materials by as much as 25 percent.
Citing a weapons expert, it also noted the latest development is in line with the regime’s previous efforts to expand the facility’s floor space, so it can house more centrifuges.
This, CNN says, could ultimately enable the regime to enrich more uranium on a yearly basis.
The article also says U.S. government officials were aware of the latest activities, but the National Security Council, Department of Defense, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and CIA all declined to comment.
Signs that Pyeongyang is moving to ramp up production of nuclear material could also heighten concerns stemming from a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which explained the regime appears to have restarted a nuclear reactor within the same complex.
Adding these were the first signals of activity at the reactor since late 2018, the report described the new developments as “deeply troubling.”
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.Reporter :

North Korea Threatens the South Korean Horn

Viewers watching a TV news program in Seoul on Monday showing a handout image from the North Korean government of the North’s long-range cruise missiles tests.
Viewers watching a TV news program in Seoul on Monday showing a handout image from the North Korean government of the North’s long-range cruise missiles tests. Lee Jin-Man/Associated Press

North Korea Fires 2 Ballistic Missiles as Rivalry With the South Mounts

The launch on Wednesday was the country’s first ballistic missile test in six months, and violated multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Sept. 15, 2021Updated 5:12 a.m. ET

SEOUL — North Korea launched two ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, the country’s first ballistic missile test in six months and a violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from conducting such tests.

Hours after the missiles were launched, South Korea announced that its president, Moon Jae-in, had just attended the test of the country’s first submarine-launched ballistic missile, making South Korea ​the seventh country in the world to operate S.L.B.M.s, after the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and India.

​The missile tests by both Koreas on the same day dramatically highlighted the intensifying arms race on the Korean Peninsula as nuclear disarmament talks between Washington and North Korea remained stalled. They also underscored the growing concern over regional stability, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan calling the North Korean missile launch “outrageous” and a threat to peace.

In its announcement, South Korea revealed that it had successfully developed a supersonic cruise missile and a long-range air-to-land missile to be mounted on the KF-21, a South Korean supersonic fighter jet, and that it had developed a ballistic missile powerful enough to penetrate North Korea’s underground wartime bunkers.

The North’s missile launch occurred a day after the special envoy from the United States urged the country to resume nuclear disarmament talks, saying that the United States had no “hostile” intent toward Pyongyang. Neighboring countries have also stepped up efforts to get North Korea to return to the negotiating table.

North Korea conducted its  previous ballistic missile test in March and test-fired what it called newly developed long-range cruise missiles over the weekend. But the United States has not imposed fresh sanctions against the North for weapons tests in recent years. When North Korea resumed testing short-range ballistic missiles in 2019, Donald J. Trump, then the president, dismissed them for being short range.

The Biden administration has said it would explore “practical” and “calibrated” diplomacy to achieve the goal of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But North Korea has yet to respond to the administration’s invitation to dialogue.

“Rather than strengthen sanctions and military exercises, the allies have emphasized a willingness for dialogue and humanitarian cooperation,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “The problem with less than robust responses to North Korea’s tests is that deterrence can be eroded while Pyongyang advances its capabilities and normalizes its provocations.”

The North Korean missiles on Wednesday — launched from Yangdok, in the central part of the country — flew 497 miles and reached an altitude of 37 miles before landing in the sea between North Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said. South Korean and United States defense officials were analyzing the data collected from the test to determine exactly what type of ballistic missiles were used, it said.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying that it “assumed” the missile did not reach the country’s territorial waters or its exclusive economic zone.

The news of the North Korean missile test broke shortly after Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, North Korea’s biggest supporter and only remaining major trading partner, finished a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, in Seoul.

“It’s not just North Korea, but other countries as well that engage in military activities,” Mr. Wang said when asked by reporters to comment on the North’s weekend cruise-missile test. “We must all work together to resume dialogue. We all hope to contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Mr. Wang didn’t elaborate, but appeared to be referring to the joint military exercises conducted by the United States and South Korea last month. North Korea has accused Washington and Seoul of preparing to invade the North, and usually counters joint military drills between the two allies with its own military exercise or weapons tests.Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China meeting with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in Seoul on Wednesday.Yonhap, via Reuters

“The United States has no hostile intent toward” North Korea, Sung Kim, the Biden administration’s special envoy, said on Tuesday in Tokyo, where he met with representatives from Japan and South Korea to discuss the North’s arsenal. He said Washington hoped that North Korea would “respond positively to our multiple offers to meet without preconditions.”

The latest tests showed that North Korea continued to improve its arsenal of missiles despite a series of resolutions from the United Nations Security Council that banned North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula rose sharply in 2017, when North Korea tested three intercontinental ballistic missiles and conducted its sixth underground nuclear test, leading to the sanctions from the United Nations. After the tests, the country claimed an ability to target the continental United States with a nuclear warhead.

Mr. Trump met with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, three times between 2018 and 2019, but the leaders failed to reach an agreement on lifting sanctions or rolling back the North’s nuclear and missile programs. Mr. Kim has since vowed to boost his country’s weapons capabilities.

With the recent tests, “North Korea is seeking to increase its leverage in coming talks” with Washington, said Lee Byong-chul, a North Korea expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.

By timing its latest test to Mr. Wang’s visit to Seoul, North Korea also appeared to “express discontent with Beijing” that it was not providing enough economic assistance during the global health crisis, Mr. Lee said.

North Korea’s economy, already battered by years of devastating international sanctions, has suffered greatly as trade with China has plummeted in the coronavirus pandemic

The Chinese Nuclear Horn large-scale buildup of nuclear forces: Daniel 7

China following Russian model with large-scale buildup of nuclear forces, says DIA

Intelligence leaders outline efforts to retool spy agencies to counter China

By Bill Gertz

China‘s large-scale buildup of nuclear forces is part of a Beijing strategy to emulate the nuclear forces of Russia, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency disclosed Tuesday.

Army Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the DIA chief, said Chinese military forces are advancing on both the conventional and nuclear front, with the nuclear elements among the most concerning aspects.

“When we talk about existential threats, the nuclear triad that the Russians have is credible and it’s effective, and I think the Chinese see that nuclear triad as a goal that they would like to have,” Gen. Berrier said.

Gen. Berrier made the comments during a conference Tuesday along with five other senior intelligence leaders who all said that U.S. spy agencies are retooling to confront the challenge of Communist China while continuing to support efforts against Islamic extremism. The panel offered a dramatic snapshot of the ways China‘s rise has posed new challenges for the U.S. on an increasing number of security, economic and political fronts.

Gen. Berrier said Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a three-pronged strategy of disciplining leaders of both the ruling Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army, financing the national power with the Belt and Road Initiative, and pursuing a vigorous buildup of the military.

China‘s nuclear triad includes the deployment of up to 400 new long-range missiles in silos recently disclosed in commercial satellite photos in western China. The silos will house China‘s new DF-41 missile that is expected to be armed with up to 10 warheads for each missile.

Other elements of the Chinese nuclear triad include new missile submarines and new nuclear-capable stealth bombers.

The U.S. officials appeared at the Intelligence and National Security Summit hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electrons Association International and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance at the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor.

The DIA and other spy agencies are monitoring the Chinese nuclear build-up “very carefully,” Gen. Berrier said. “So we have an eye on that and we’re watching it.”

Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency and commander of Cyber Command, said Chinaremains a key focus of electronic spies, while threats posed by terrorists remain a priority as well. Gen. Nakasone said China in particular is engaged in influence operations aimed at creating divisions within American society and targeting efforts to battle the pandemic.

The Joint Task Force-Ares, an effort to combat Islamic extremism online, has shifted to countering cyberactivities by strategic competitors like China and Russia, he said.

Deputy CIA Director David Cohen revealed that the CIA is conducting a major review to revamp its spying efforts on China, hiring more Mandarin language speakers and moving more CIA officers closer to China.

“One of the things that we are looking to do as part of our review is to think about how we approach the China issue not specifically from the Beijing station but how we approach it globally,” Mr. Cohen said.

The competition with China involves economic, diplomatic, technological and other areas of confrontation that are global in scope, he said.

Moving more people — operations officers, analysts and technologists — closer to Chinaand other locations around the world is based on the CIA‘s past “playbook,” Mr. Cohen said.

While rapidly hiring new CIA officers, Mr. Cohen warned that Chinese intelligence “runs people at us” and noted the need for strong counterintelligence to prevent penetrations of the agency by Chinese agents. The CIA suffered a major setback starting in 2010 when a security compromise resulted in the loss of more than two dozen recruited agents in China.

“Part of our job in bringing people on board is to ferret out folks who are not there for good and patriotic reasons,” Mr. Cohen said.

The CIA is working to improve its ability to oversee networks of spies in the digital age, when it is difficult to provide cover for agents because of what is called ubiquitous electronic surveillance.

Looking to influence

Gen. Nakasone, the NSA director and Cyber Command chief, said foreign influence operations expanded beyond the Russians to include Chinese, Iranians and other adversaries.

China has sought to disrupt U.S. efforts to counter the COVID-19 pandemic by influencing public views of vaccines, Gen. Nakasone said. China also is targeting Australia with negative influence operations, he said.

“From our adversaries’ perspective, [influence operations] are cheap, easy and effective,” the general said.

Asked if the U.S. government is improving its ability to blunt such interference, Gen. Nakasone said, “Yes, we’re better at it not only for elections, but also better at recognizing other different spheres when it comes up.”

A number of unspecified “proxies” for foreign nations are preparing to intervene in the 2022 elections, he noted.

“The cast of characters is still to be developed and so we’re still watching that very carefully,” Gen. Nakasone said.

Deputy FBI Director Paul Abbate said Russian government-linked cyberattacks, including ransomware operations, have shown no sign of decreasing despite the Biden administration’s direct appeals to Moscow.

“Based on what we’ve seen, there is no indication that the Russian government has taken action to crack down on ransomware actors that are operating in the permissive environment that they’ve created there,” Mr. Abbate said.

Space threat

Chris Scolese, director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which builds and operates satellite systems, said Chinaposes a significant threat to space assets.

China clearly wants to be the leader in space,” Mr. Scolese said. “And they want to make sure that they erode our capabilities up there.”

China has ground-launched anti-satellite missiles as well as space-based weapons that can disarm satellites or hamper their operations, he said. The NRO is working with the Pentagon’s new Space Command to detect and counter space threats.

Advanced technology and new space architectures are among the ways of dealing with space threats. “We have to change our architecture so that it’s much more resilient to attack,” Mr. Scolese said.

One way of reducing the threat is to increase the number of satellites and support systems to make it more difficult for the Chinese to target them.

NRO officials are working with Space Command and American allies to promote norms of space operations that would be similar to those for maritime operations outlined in the U.N.’s Law of the Sea Treaty. The agency is also developing tactics and procedures for “if things get hot … we all know how to operate, what we’re going to protect and how we’re going to protect it,” Mr. Scolese said.

Army Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, associate director of operations for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which conducts imagery spying, said China is seeking to surpass the United States by deploying its own spy satellites.

China has set up its own version of the Global Positioning System that will provide the Chinese military with intelligence and precision military targeting capabilities, Gen. Cleveland said.

“In many ways, [the Chinese] have the ability now to do to us what we have been doing for quite a while, the ability to have very precise timing and targeting,” Gen. Cleveland said, noting China now is also observing U.S. military activities from space.

The NGA, as the imagery agency is called, is working to increase its ability to conduct imagery spying and analysis on China and its activities, he said.

Terror threat

Both Gen. Berrier and Mr. Cohen said the defeat of the American-backed government in Afghanistan has increased the danger that the al Qaeda terrorist group will launch another attack on the United States very quickly, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency said Tuesday.

“The current assessment conservatively is one to two years for al Qaeda to build some capability to at least threaten the homeland,” said Gen. Berrier.

The chaotic withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan last month in the face of a lightning Taliban offensive reduced the ability of the military and intelligence agencies to monitor terrorists in Afghanistan. Gen. Berrier said his agency is seeking ways to regain access into Afghanistan and is focusing on the problem of terrorist threats through a DIAcounterterrorism center.

Mr. Cohen agreed that the al Qaeda threat is increasing and that the group will be capable of new attacks within a couple of years.

“We are already beginning to see some of the indications of some potential movement of al Qaeda to Afghanistan,” Mr. Cohen said. “But it’s early days and we will keep a very close eye on that.”

Terror attacks could also be carried out in that time frame by the Afghan-based Islamic State offshoot known as the Islamic State-Khorasan, Mr. Cohen said. Both groups were already operating inside Afghanistan before the collapse of the 300,000-troop Afghan military.

The decision to pull American and allied troops out of Afghanistan also impacted the CIA, Mr. Cohen said, noting the spy agency’s capability in Afghanistan “is not what it was six months ago, or a year ago.”

But he also noted that the CIA has extensive experience gathering intelligence in locations that are difficult to access and is capable of intelligence work with or without a physical presence on the ground, Mr. Cohen said.

The CIA will work “from over the horizon, principally,” he said. “We will also look for ways to work from within the horizon” of Afghanistan.

Regarding invisible beam attacks on American diplomats and intelligence personnel around the world, Mr. Cohen, the deputy CIA director, said the agency is close to identifying the source of the attacks that have impacted between 200 officials.

“We’re not close enough to make the sort of analytical judgment people are waiting for,” he said of the so-called Havana Syndrome. “We’ll get there.”

Why the US WILL NEVER to go to war with China

Why US is afraid to go to war with China

Illustration: Liu Rui/GTGeneral John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday, “Our goal should be to never go to war with China, to never go to war with Russia. Because that day is a horrible day for the planet, and a horrible day for our countries.” Retired US admiral and former head of US Pacific Command Harry Harris also said that “it’s very important that we do everything that we can to prevent an escalation and open warfare” with China.
Recently, there have been more voices in the US emphasizing that the US should not have military conflicts with China. This is obviously because the tensions in the relations between the two countries have been escalating. The frontline troops are getting closer and closer, and the US has had real worries of accidental and serious confrontation between the two militaries and even accidental discharge of fires. 

The risk of a China-US military confrontation has increased. The reason is that the two countries’ strategic hostility has continued to increase, and their mutual trust has dropped to almost zero. Metaphorically, if the wind blows the door shut now, both countries would believe that the other side is slamming the door. If an incident like the 2001 in-flight collision in the South China Sea happens again today, it is difficult for the two sides to cool the incident down and resolve it peacefully.

Who is to blame for such an awkward situation? 

China has absolutely no way to retreat. The one-China principle is the fundamental principle that we must insist on. When the Democratic Progressive Party authority wants to promote “Taiwan independence,” how can we not stop it? If the US really doesn’t want conflicts with the Chinese mainland in the Taiwan Straits, there are two ways. First, it should put pressure on the DPP authority, not allowing it to make trouble. If both the mainland and the US are against “Taiwan independence,” the DPP authority will chicken out. Second, the US should stop interfering. It should not intervene if the Chinese mainland launches attacks against Taiwan secessionists. In that case, no conflicts will erupt between China and the US in the Taiwan Straits.    

But the problem is: The US is instigating the DPP authority to provoke, continuously sending signals that Washington will offer support even if the island touches the bottom line, while at the same time, it asks the mainland to prevent the so-called competition between the mainland and the US falling into conflicts. We have to ask: Is what Washington has done in the Taiwan Straits “competition”? We advise Washington to straighten out its logic. Political hooligan tactics cannot work with the Chinese mainland. 

To prevent military conflicts between China and the US and ensure 100 percent security, the US must retreat from provoking China’s core interests. As the “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea has never been a problem, why do US warships always sail so close to China’s islands and reefs? The South China Sea is so wide that lanes are everywhere. Why must they come to China’s islands and reefs to find trouble? This is not navigation at all, but undisguised provocations and threats.  

The Chinese people have already seen it through. There is no way that we can talk to the US with reason, we can only talk to the US with strength and actions. I noticed that when Hyten said the US should never go to war with China and Russia, he particularly mentioned that “a war with a nuclear power is a bad thing.” See? What the US is really afraid of are the nuclear weapons of China and Russia. 

So, my conclusion is strong military strength, especially strategic nuclear power, has made the US in deep awe of confronting China. Under the condition that China doesn’t proactively attack it, the US knows that it should stick to the bottom line and not push China into a life and death fight with it. Therefore, as long as what China is doing is defending its core interests, China has the morality and has nothing to fear.   

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times.

China’s nuclear build-up: The great distraction from the End

China's nuclear build-up: The great distraction

China’s nuclear build-up: The great distraction

By Rose Gottemoeller, Opinion ContributorSeptember 13, 2021 – 02:30 PM EDT

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill 

President Biden is reviewing America’s nuclear posture. By January, we should know what he thinks about U.S. nuclear weapons, what policies should govern them and how many we need. Congress is watching closely, and the Senate and House of Representatives are sure to debate the results; they always do. 

But this year will be different. A new player has entered the field — China. 

China is modernizing its nuclear forces. The recent discovery of three intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silo fields in remote regions west and north of Beijing point to a big build-up of weapons and a different strategy for their use. Since acquiring nuclear weapons from the Soviets, the Chinese have taken the stance that they would not build up a large and highly alert force but instead would be ready to retaliate. This “second strike deterrence posture” has served them well, but now the Chinese seem to have decided it is not enough. 

Which is why it is urgent that the Biden administration (and the Kremlin) get them to the table to ask them. Chinese nuclear force posture and strategy should be an equal concern in Washington and Moscow.

We can ask the Chinese separately, or together, but ask them we should. All three countries might even agree to take some early steps, such as exchanging deployment plans and information about nuclear doctrine. Such confidence-building measures would build mutual predictability and may stave off a nuclear arms race. 

Most importantly, we must not panic. Even if the Chinese deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles in each of their new silos, the U.S. will still have a large and capable nuclear force structure and many more nuclear warheads. Some authorities have predicted that the Chinese may be able to quadruple their warhead numbers in coming years. If one goes by the Stockholm Peace Research estimate of 350 Chinese warheads, then China would end up with 1,400 total warheads. That compares with over 4,000 warheads available for deployment in both the United States and Russia. We need to keep a sharp eye on what they are doing but not rush into making rash changes in our own nuclear forces. 

China may be a rising nuclear power, but its bigger agenda is building up its science and technology prowess. And this is where we need to focus as a competitor. We should ask ourselves: What is in the long-term U.S. national security interest? Where can we best spend our national treasure to ensure our future defense? Our defense budget funds are finite; we have to balance how best to spend them.

The focus should be not on nuclear weapons but on the new and emerging technologies that are rapidly maturing into military assets. Innovations in artificial intelligence, big data analysis, quantum computing and quantum sensing and biotechnology are where future defense capacity is being born. 

The Chinese have sworn to beat us at acquiring and exploiting every one of them. Their China 2025 and 2050 plans are designed to ensure that China will dominate the science and technology space at mid-century.

The United States needs to do everything it can to disrupt this Chinese rush to technological superiority. But we cannot do so if we let 100 ICBM silos distract us. These 70-year-old weapon systems have nothing to do with the future capabilities we must deploy if we are to maintain our national defense.

To achieve that goal, we must push the frontiers of science and innovation and prevent Chinese dominance. The U.S. has the talent and the institutions to do so — as long as we spend our resources wisely. 

But we are moving in the wrong direction. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), between 2000 and 2017, the share of basic research funded by the federal government declined from 58 percent to 42 percent. Other NSF indicators, such as the number of patents granted, also show a decline in U.S. performance.

Putting more resources into science and innovation does not mean that we should fail to modernize our nuclear forces. The program of record for nuclear modernization first put in place by President Obamacontinued to develop momentum during the Trump presidency as we began to exchange new weapons systems for old.

Some of them, such the Ohio-class submarines, are nearly 50 years old. They need to be replaced with new, quieter and more capable nuclear-armed submarines. It is still true that, for as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal.

But let us not let the Chinese push us into pouring our national treasure into nuclear weapons that we do not need. They will continue to go for broke to dominate science and technology achievement in this century, and this is where our attention needs to be.

We must keep a sharp eye on China’s nuclear deployments. But we have a long head start on them and can ensure that they do not surprise us in the nuclear space. If we fail to stay focused, we may find one day that they have achieved strategic superiority with entirely new military systems that we can neither defend against nor match.

Rose Gottemoeller is the Steven C. Házy Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation. Before joining Stanford, Gottemoeller was the deputy secretary general of NATO from 2016 to 2019. Prior to NATO, she served for nearly five years as the under secretary for arms control and international security at the U.S. Department of State.

The apocalyptic scenario unfolding in the Middle East: Revelation 16

US Afghanistan Withdrawal Aided Iran in Its Apocalyptic Mideast Vision

Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Reverend Johnnie Moore

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of the Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rev. Johnnie Moore is president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and founder of the KAIROS Company.

The ignoble withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan – a withdrawal commanded before vulnerable American civilians and military assets were safely evacuated – only served to benefit Iran’s apocalyptic vision for the Middle East, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to frame the decision differently.

Whatever Washington says about Afghanistan, Americans need to recognize this withdrawal was never about numbers. It was about a creeping change of heart, and it augurs potential disengagement from America’s loyal friends and allies and an eroding resolve to defend endangered minorities from threats of oblivion.

Before we get to the potential losers, we want to be crystal clear: If the Biden administration continues this course, there will be only one big winner – Iran’s megalomaniac Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose innate hatred for the United States is only matched by his genocidal loathing for Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Only one nation in the world has been the target of more terrorist missiles than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: the State of Israel. In the case of Israel, the treatment is courtesy of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah. In the case of Saudi Arabia, it comes from the Houthis in Yemen.

Whatever the source of the deadly trajectories, the missiles flung toward Saudi Arabia and Israel are virtually identical. That’s because they come from the same source: Iran. They also serve the same purpose: Kill innocent people to destabilize the Middle East in order to advance a Khamenei-led Iranian apocalyptic death cult. Khamenei’s vision – whatever his numerous suave puppets and apologists profess – involves the total destruction of the State of Israel and the total subjugation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Khamenei’s vision hasn’t changed despite the change of presidential administrations in the United States.

Now, the Biden presidency is seeking to tread down a disastrous path that will empower Khamenei in pursuing his vision. Indeed, President Joe Biden’s Iran envoy Robert Malley may have discovered that the administration can leverage America’s exhaustion with wars in the Middle East, and in Afghanistan, to grant Iran the ultimate prize without most Americans even noticing: a near-total American withdrawal from the Middle East.

This is why the Biden administration announced on July 27 its intention to also withdraw from Iraq altogether (another dream of Tehran), and why their “come hell or high water” approach to withdrawing from Afghanistan, whatever the human or reputational cost, continued undeterred. Could the US contingent in Syria be far behind?

It’s a new version of an old idea often floated by former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. He advocated for a so-called “new security framework” in the Middle East which – as a prerequisite – involved the expulsion of the Americans.

“We need a strong region, not a strong man in the region. We have to recognize, all of us in the [Arabian] Gulf region, need to join Iran in recognizing that nobody can be the hegemon of the region. All of us need to work together in a strong region,” Zarif said in 2018.

With a heavy dose of Persian chutzpah, Zarif lauded with a straight face the virtues of “territorial integrity” and called for “no interference in the internal affairs of others” and “respect for national boundaries.”

All one needed to do was to start with “confidence-building measures.”

The confidence-building measures imagined by Zarif look a lot like what we’re seeing in the Middle East today as America disengages while Iran plays host to a regime whose new government is the most extreme since the onset of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolution.

No one seems to notice or care but one party in the Gulf isn’t buying it: the actual Iranian people. Iranians have had it with less food on the table, less water to drink, more misery, and more repression. This is why Iran’s summer was marked by more protests and more brutal crackdowns by the regime’s revolutionary guards. While the rest of the Gulf is planning for a brighter 21st century, the Iranian people are stuck with a regime fueled by the hatreds of the 12th century.

Rather than expending so much energy trying to change the Iranian government’s trajectory, it’s time for the Biden administration to read the region and amplify the voices of those in the line of Tehran’s fire, beginning with the Iranian people and continuing with those whose cities face Iranian rocket fire and the threat of nuclear blackmail.

Instead of pushing its Arab allies into normalizing their relations with Iran, the Biden administration ought to be building upon the peace-through-strength successes of the Abraham Accords. That’s what the American people supported and that’s what our allies in the Middle East desperately need. The nations of the Gulf, along with Egypt, Israel and other nations near Iran, don’t have the luxury of waiting for the results of the 2022 midterm US elections, let alone the 2024 presidential elections. They will instead have to forge their own collective path to defend themselves from more “confidence-building” demands from Tehran.

And if Washington is unwilling to do so then it may be time for the Arab countries to just move forward in the right direction without the Americans. They shouldn’t care too much about it either because Washington won’t be able to resist taking credit for their successes during midterm elections in 2022 and presidential elections in 2024.

In the meantime, it behooves American citizens – Democrats and Republicans – to demand action from their elected representatives in Congress. They must declare in a clear bipartisan voice: There will be no deals with Iran that endanger our allies. It’s time to show the pollsters and pundits at least that the American people are paying attention and do care about the fate of the Middle East.

If there is an actual, attainable deal with Iran that really reduces terrorism, violence, and nuclear threats, share those details with the American people, but from where we sit all we see are American diplomats promising Tehran everything they’ve demanded and more for the privilege of a useless piece of paper and the privilege of being serially lied to.

The author of this blog or other opinion piece is a third-party contributor who is independent of The Media Line Ltd and its partners or supporters. All assertions, opinions, facts, and information presented in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and are not necessarily those of The Media Line and/or all parties related thereto, none of whom assumes any responsibility for its content.

Babylon the Great prepares for nuclear war under the sea: Revelation 16

A ‘persistent, proximate threat’: Why the Navy is preparing for a fight under the sea

Sep 10, 12:44 AM

As Russia and China bolster their own submarine fleets and capabilities, the U.S. Navy has renewed its focus on undersea threats and has labeled anti-submarine warfare a priority for all sailors — and perhaps some Marines, too.

In August, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to acquire two nuclear submarines equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles, and two diesel-powered submarines. And China, which owns four ballistic missile submarines, boasts a force of 50 diesel-electric attack submarines, the Nuclear Threat Initiative reported in February.

To counter these threats, the Navy reactivated its 2nd Fleet in 2018 to focus on threats from Russia — including those under the ocean — and more recently it has held exercises to improve its ability to fight enemy submarines.

“This is where the fight is … where the competition is,” retired Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, then the commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet, told reporters in September 2020.

“Anti-submarine warfare is a primary mission for everybody in the United States Navy, regardless of what you wear on your chest,” Lewis said.

In recent years, Navy leaders have cautioned about increased Russian undersea activity in the Atlantic Ocean, and have warned that the continental United States is no longer a sanctuarysafe from such threats.

“Over the past several years, we’ve realized that there is a persistent proximate threat in the western Atlantic, primarily from Russian Federation Navy Forces, that has drawn a lot more attention due to the challenges that poses to our homeland defense,” Rear Adm. Brian Davies, commanding officer of Submarine Group 2 and deputy commander of the 2nd Fleet, told Navy Times.

“Specifically, Russian submarines now have advanced cruise missiles that have the range and accuracy to strike military and civilian targets throughout the U.S. and Canada and as a result, we put a lot more focus in the area of theater undersea warfare,” Davies said.

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine Illinois (departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled deployment in U.S. 7th Fleet March 30. (MC1 Michael B. Zingaro/US Navy) 

Although the Russian submarine fleet is dramatically smaller than it was at the height of the Cold War, it still has 11 ballistic missile submarines and 17 nuclear-powered attack submarines, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative. These ballistic missile submarines are capable and technologically on par — at least in some ways — with the U.S. submarine fleet, said Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

“You’ve got this numbers challenge from the China side, the capability challenge from the Russian side, which in some ways demands different approaches to anti-submarine warfare, but it creates for both cases a big problem,” Clark said.

Bryan McGrath, a former destroyer captain who runs the FerryBridge Group, a defense consulting firm, noted that while the Chinese fleet is not as technologically advanced nor as capable as the Russian fleet, they do have a “ridiculously capable shipbuilding base” that’s churning out submarines.

The undersea threat has become critical now, given the investment Russia and China have made into expanding their submarine forces, McGrath said.

“Bottom line for why now is that both of our major competitors are putting money, resources and technology into this domain,” McGrath said.

Why the Navy re-established the 2nd Fleet

When the U.S. 2nd Fleet was dissolved in 2011 amid the war on terror, undersea warfare was put on the backburner. But the command was resurrected in 2018in response to greater levels of Russian activity in the North Atlantic and Arctic, including undersea.

For the same reason, NATO’s Joint Force Command Norfolk was stood up and the command reached full operational capability in July 2021. According to Lewis, who was also the commanding officer of JFC Norfolk, the command “creates a link between North America and Europe and helps to further develop the desired 360-degree approach for our collective defense and security.”

It is the only operational NATO command on the North American continent, and has air, surface and subsurface capabilities.

The Virginia-class attack submarine Indiana departs Newport News Shipbuilding in 2018 to conduct Alpha sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean. (Matt Hildreth/General Dynamics Electric Boat via Navy) 

The Navy also revived Submarine Group 2 in September 2019 to streamline the Navy’s ability to command and control undersea warfare assets in the Western Atlantic.

Similar to combatant commands, the Navy has theater undersea warfare commanders in Naples, Italy, working with the 6th Fleet, and a theater undersea warfare commander in Yokosuka, Japan, working with 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet. Still another in Pearl Harbor works primarily with the 3rd Fleet. But that same structure was absent for 2nd and 4th Fleet, Davies said.

“We really didn’t have a theater undersea warfare commander that was dedicated to a fleet on this side of the Atlantic serving, basically, NORTHCOM and U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and that made it a natural fill in,” Davies said, referring to SUBGRU2.

The command will soon celebrate its second anniversary, and recently became the organization responsible for training and certifying the other theater undersea warfare commanders to ensure they are fully trained, have all the necessary equipment they need and have the appropriate personnel.

“The command, although not in final operating capability yet, is getting closer every day as we get to train and exercise like we would one day fight,” Davies said.

The Navy had the opportunity to do just that while honing its undersea warfare skills in a new exercise called Black Widow — which just wrapped up its second iteration in August. The exercise aimed to explore new tactics, techniques and procedures, and refine existing ones, Davies said.

An unmanned aerial vehicle delivers a payload to the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine Henry M. Jackson around the Hawaiian Islands. (MC1 Devin M. Langer/Navy) 

Specifically, the exercise relied on a mixture of scripted scenarios, coupled with cutting edge technologies and existing force structure technology that will be used for the next decade, Davies said.

While many of the concepts tested were classified, Davies said “our tactics, techniques and procedures really centered on finding an undersea threat that was very adept at using the environment and the topography to their advantage.”

The Undersea Warfighting Development Center in Groton, Connecticut, is responsible for establishing the exercise’s objectives, and will then use the data collected from Black Widow to provide an assessment of the exercise.

Those results will then be shared with the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center and the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, he said.

“One of the things that the Navy can continue to work on is looking for every available opportunity to train together as this system of systems or team of teams, however you want to refer to it,” Davies said.

“When we have available bandwidth, we ought to be continuing to scratch and claw for every opportunity to get out there and work together in advancing this art of undersea warfare,” Davies said.

Will the Marine Corps get involved in anti-submarine warfare?

Although the U.S. Navy has historically been the service primarily responsible for anti-submarine warfare, that could change since the Marine Corps wants to become involved.

Commandant Gen. David Berger said in November it’s imperative for the Marine Corps to step in and suggested the service could provide logistics support and air defense as ways to counter the undersea threat.

“The undersea fight will be so critical in the High North and in the western Pacific that the Marine Corps must be part of it,” Berger wrote in a U.S. Naval Institute article from November 2020.

Specifically, Berger proposed that the Marine Corps deploy to bases in the Atlantic’s North Sea or the South China Sea to restrict the movement of Russian or Chinese submarines in the event of undersea war.

“By offering forward logistics and support, as well as sensor and strike capabilities, Marine expeditionary advanced bases (EABs) could make a significant contribution to undersea warfare campaigns, including holding Chinese and Russian submarines at risk,” Berger said.

These EABs could also house Navy P-8A Poseidons and MH-60R Seahawks, and the Marine Corps could offer air-defense and logistical support for these aircraft, Berger said.

Another role the Marine Corps could assume is operating unmanned aerial vehicles outfitted with anti-submarine warfare sensors and sonobuoys, and then “deploy and operate passive and active acoustic arrays in adjacent littoral waters,” Berger said.

“In the event of hostilities, when cued by these organic sensors or other joint ISR capabilities, EABs could harass and potentially neutralize Russian submarines with ground-launched ASW missiles or light torpedoes from Marine aircraft,” Berger said.

McGrath agreed there’s benefit in having Marine EABs equipped with a series of launchers with land-attack weapons, along with weapons that could sink ships and take down ballistic missiles, as part of a larger architecture within the joint force.

But McGrath has reservations about the Marine Corps becoming too involved in undersea warfare, given the cost of purchasing anti-submarine warfare platforms like P-8 Poseidons and Virginia-class submarines.

“Anti-submarine warfare is a science and an art and it’s difficult, and it is a mission that pretty much only the United States Navy does within the Joint Force,” McGrath said.

“There’s a lot of money that goes into that, and I want the Marine Corps busy doing Marine Corps things,” McGrath said. “And I don’t think finding submarines is among them.”

Clark believes the Navy first must get down to business incorporating unmanned systems before the Marine Corps jumps in to tackle anti-submarine warfare.

Cmdr. Bennett Christman, commanding officer of the Virginia-class attack submarine New Hampshire gives visitors a tour of the boat’s torpedo room. (MC2 Cameron Stoner/Navy) 

“The Navy’s going to have to first work through the use of unmanned systems to a greater degree, because the Marines aren’t going to be doing anti-submarine warfare unless they’re able to tap into what unmanned systems are going to be doing for the sensing,” Clark said.

The role of unmanned vehicles

Experts believe one solution to modernize anti-submarine warfare is to use autonomous systems to track, trail and potentially engage enemy submarines to neutralize the threat, which would then free up other resources like destroyers for other tasks and cut down on operating costs.

“The unmanned systems give you this ability to do persistent anti-submarine warfare, at a lower cost in peacetime than your manned systems,” Clark said.

According to a report from the Hudson Institute issued in September 2020, the U.S. Navy’s anti-submarine warfare approach likely can’t contend with undersea threats in the event of a conflict or crisis.

The report detailed how the Navy currently relies on a complex web for anti-submarine warfare involving seabed sensors, maritime patrol aircraft, destroyers and ultimately, submarines. But that approach could become challenging in the event these manned platforms are required elsewhere — such as in a time of crisis, the report said.

This strategy could also run into problems if enemy submarines were to overwhelm an area. In addition, the cost of operating systems such as a destroyer and a P-8 Poseidon aircraft could become too expensive if there’s a persistent need during periods of flat or declining budgets, the report says.

For example, Clark said it is cheaper to purchase a medium unmanned surface vessel than a destroyer, and then use the unmanned vessel either infrequently or not at all. However, in the event of a conflict, that medium unmanned surface vessel could be deployed while destroyers are conducting other engagements not related to anti-submarine warfare, he said.

The General Atomics MQ-9B is in development for maritime use. A modified MQ-9A was recently used in an anti-submarine warfare demonstration. (Rendering via General Atomics) 

“ASW is really a lot of searching around and following and chasing submarines,” Clark said. “It’s not like air defense where it happens very quickly, and so it’s more like just a long-term surveillance mission. So, in peacetime, it is a lot of just waiting around for a submarine to come by, detecting the submarine, and then following the submarine.”

The report called for using unmanned systems, including medium unmanned surface vessels and medium-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicles like the MQ-9B SeaGuardian, but noted that not all of the systems it cited are employed operationally yet. As a result, the report suggests that this unmanned approach could occur over the next five to 10 years to allow such systems to mature.

The Navy has focused on developing drones that could participate in anti-submarine warfare, and has started to test out unmanned systems that could be used in tracking submarines.

In November 2020, during the development process for the MQ-9B SeaGuardian drone, the Navy and General Atomics deployed 10 sonobuoys from an MQ-9A Block V Reaper and tracked a simulated submarine target.

Never before had an aerial drone dropped a self-contained anti-submarine warfare system. The testing “paves the way” for additional development of more anti-submarine warfare capabilities from MQ-9s, according to General Atomics.

What’s next for the Navy?

Safe havens don’t exist anymore, and that means the Navy must be poised to carry out combat near its home turf, according to Vice Adm. Daryl Caudle, the head of Submarine Force Atlantic.

“Russia took a knee for over a decade and allowed a lot of folks to think the homeland is a sanctuary from Russian forces,” Caudle told reporters in September 2020. “Our homeland is no longer a sanctuary. We have to be prepared to conduct high-end combat operations in local waters.”

If faced with a crisis or outright hostilities, Clark envisions Russia capitalizing on its submarine force, including threatening the continental United States or heading toward Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia to harass U.S. ballistic missile submarines trying to get in or out of port.

Meanwhile, the Chinese’s large submarine fleet would likely try to “flood the zone” to overwhelm U.S. undersea warfare assets, threaten U.S. Naval forces with attack, or try to blockade Guam or Taiwan, he said.

“For the U.S., going against the Chinese, the goal is just keep them away from ships,” Clark said. “It doesn’t matter if they continue to operate or not, as long as they stay away from the ships.”

“Whereas with the Russians, there may be a need to actually sink those submarines because they will — once they get towards the East Coast — they’re going to be a constant threat,” Clark said.

A Russian nuclear submarine breaks through Arctic ice during military drills March 26 at an unspecified location. (Russian Defence Ministry via AP) 

McGrath is worried that the type of equipment to deal with these potential threats won’t receive adequate support in future budgets. The Navy’s proposed budget for fiscal 2022 includes a request for two Virginia-class attack submarines with a topline budget of $211.7 billion — an overall increase of $3.8 billion from what was enacted in FY2021.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday has emphasized that the service can afford a fleet of approximately 300 ships, but has said that the request aligns with the U.S. Navy’s future fleet design plans.

“My fear is that the expense associated with building the Navy that seriously contends with these threats will not receive the attention it deserves, in and among all of the other priorities that our nation seems to have,” McGrath said.

For the future, McGrath suggested the U.S. build unmanned acoustic sensors, both for undersea and surface vessels, and for the Navy to acquire more P-8 Poseidon aircraft and attack submarines. That’s what “we do better than anyone else in the world is attack submarines,” he said.

“That advantage is something that I think we need to never forget, we need to continue to invest in, and we need to double down on.”

The Chinese nuclear horns is building more ICBM Missiles: Daniel 7

China ICBM Missile Production: Implications for the US Nuclea Deterrent

September 9, 2021

CNN – Regional 


By Security Television Network, Author: by Peter Huessy, Warrior Maven Senior Fellow & James Howe, VP of Vision Centric, Warrior Maven

    September 9, 2021 (Security Television Network) — Six decades ago, the US built 800 silos and fielded 800 ICBMs in 4 years. China can match the historical US construction pace and probably has no interest in arms control.

Peter Huessy is Director of Strategic Deterrent Studies at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

James Howe is Vice President of Vision Centric an aerospace company

In February 2021 an ICBM field of 120 silos was discovered near Yumen, China. One month later, in March 2021 a second ICBM field was identified near Hami with 110 silo. And in Mid-May 2021 a third site with 29 silos was identified.

According to the STRATCOM Commander, China’s major ICBM silo building was a “strategic breakout” and “breath-taking”, giving China the ability to “execute any plausible nuclear strategy it wishes to pursue”.

China’s decision to build these new silos fields coincided with increased nuclear testing at the Lop Nur nuclear test site in 2019 for the DF-41 warhead, after Chinese President Xi Jinping called for accelerating the Peoples Liberation Army Rocket Force strategic deterrence capability.

China’s Silo Construction & ICBM Deployment The key question is how quickly China can build these new silos and deploy ICBMs in them. For reference, the history of US silo construction and Minuteman missile (MM) deployments can give analysts some important reference data.

In March 1961 construction started and the first MM went on alert the day President Kennedy announced the Soviets had placed nuclear armed missiles in Cuba. By October 1983, 300 silos and missiles were completed. And in roughly 4 years, the US constructed and deployed in silos some 800 MM missiles and by April 1967 one thousand MM missiles were on alert.

American construction crews worked 24/7, 3 shift/day and were capable of digging five silo emplacements simultaneously, with each taking 4-10 days. At peak construction operations 1.8 silos/day were being built.

The MM missile itself was authorized for production on 26 March 1960, with the first successful launch on 17 November 1961 and first deployed MM on alert in October 1962. Average MM production rate was 130-160 missiles/year, filling the silos as they were completed. Six decades ago, the US built 800 silos and fielded 800 ICBMs in 4 years. Given China’s advanced construction techniques, China can at least match the historical US construction pace. The US built 300 silos in 2 years—and the Chinese have more than 300 silos under construction.

In March 1961 construction started and the first MM went on alert the day President Kennedy announced the Soviets had placed nuclear armed missiles in Cuba. By October 1983, 300 silos and missiles were completed. And in roughly 4 years, the US constructed and deployed in silos some 800 MM missiles and by April 1967 one thousand MM missiles were on alert.

American construction crews worked 24/7, 3 shift/day and were capable of digging five silo emplacements simultaneously, with each taking 4-10 days. At peak construction operations 1.8 silos/day were built.

The MM missile itself was authorized for production on 26 March 1960, with the first successful launch on 17 November 1961 and first deployed MM on alert in October 1962. Average MM production rate was 130-160 missiles/year, filling the silos as they were completed.

Six decades ago, the US built 800 silos and fielded 800 ICBMs in 4 years. Given China’s advanced construction techniques, China can at least match the historical US construction pace. The US built 300 silos in 2 years—and the Chinese have more than 300 silos under construction. China’s Nuclear ICBM Silos – Shell Game?

The ICBM silo fields that China is building is not a shell game with lots of silos and just a few missiles. Modern intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance prevents that.

Furthermore, such a shell game as contemplated by the US some 50 years ago was jettisoned as it is prohibitively expensive and not workable. And if as some analysts have alleged, China is building up to parity with the US and Russia in order to join a three-way future arms agreement, a shell game is hugely disadvantageous. Each silos under the START arms deals counts as a missile, irrespective of whether a missile is a decoy or real. It is claimed that silos are “sitting ducks” and can easily be killed. However, with a combination of active and passive defenses, ICBMs are very difficult and costly to target as they can require a large number of enemy warheads to kill them.

For example, Russia which is cooperating with China on many military activities, is deploying a layered defense of their fixed ICBM silos and road mobile ICBMs against ballistic and cruise missiles with the Pantsir, SA-300/400 air defense and the soon to be deployed S-500 anti-ballistic missile system.

Russia also has silo terminal defenses which can throw-up a mass of shrapnel to shred an incoming warhead as well as electronic warfare systems to cause the fuze in an enemy RV to detonate early, above the lethal range.

In addition, passive defenses can include not only camouflage and concealment for mobile ICBM’s and fixed silos but for silos the use of ultra-hard concrete. The US Dense Pack sub-scale prototype silo system was tested at 50,000 psi and survived. China also has the necessary command and control to enable ICBM launch policies/strategies if they choose to use these new ICBMs in a:

(1) first strike, 2) pre-empt an enemy first strike, or 3) launch on warning or under attack.

Why? Now what is the answer to the “why” of the China breakout?

One obvious reason is that China is indeed “breaking out”—they intend to be a peer nuclear competitor in order to coerce the US to stand-down in the face of Chinese aggression.

China’s 2019 NWDP or “China’s National Defense in a New Era” called for establishing a “Community of common destiny” guaranteeing China’s “emergence as a great power with global influence” with the objective of transforming “the system of global governance and create a new security architecture.”

And to achieve this, the document underscores that a “powerful military [is] essential” with the Belt and Road initiative and the Digital Silk Road being the economic and political means for China “…establishing itself as the preponderant power in Eurasia and a global power second to none.”

Why Now? The next question is “Why now?”

Three reasons stand out.

(1) Prevent the US from using its extended deterrent as a foundation for the creation of an allied coalition to contain China’s hegemonic goal to dominate Eurasia and threaten the current world order;

(2) Act now before unfavorable demographics kick in—a declining and rapidly aging population and a gender mis-match due to China’s one-child policy;

(3) Resolve the Taiwan and South China Sea issues on terms favorable to China before the US and its allies fully modernize their current military forces.

China’s Silos, Warheads & Missiles

China currently has 259 DF-41 silos under construction with a potential capability of deploying near 2600 warheads, of which 99% could be on alert at any one time, around 266% of currently on alert deployed US warheads, calculated on a day-to-day basis.

China can also back-fit the six Jin Type 094 SSBN missies, for the new JL-3 SLBM with 6 warheads each or 360 warheads. While additional submarines and associated missiles are slow to produce and expensive, an additional six type 096 SSBNs with 24 missiles each are expected to start construction in early 2020’s, could thus around 2030 provide an additional 864 warheads.

In China’s concept of “Integrated Strategic Deterrence” strategic nuclear forces would be integrated with cyberwar, psyops/influence operations, strategic conventional, space and other elements of national power to achieve a dominant “Comprehensive National Power” position.

And this conclusion may in turn be driven by the Chinese Korean war experience where US nuclear power brought an end to the war favorable to the US, which China’s “minimum nuclear deterrent strategy” can not reverse if faced with US power again. Now while China may have strategic nuclear forces that could carry upwards of roughly 4100 warheads in 2-4 years, some analysts doubt China’s capacity to produce the required fissile material. Most analysts however do acknowledge there is great uncertainty over past production and current and future production capability for plutonium, weapons grade uranium and tritium stocks.

There is also the issue of unknown production facilities given Chinese historic capability to construct massive underground facilities, the most recent (known) being the 5,000 km of lighted, ventilated tunnels. Also, little is known about China’s nuclear warhead technology level and the degree to which they have been able to apply reportedly stolen US nuclear warhead designs.

According to Cochran & Paine (NRDC, 1995) a country with advanced technical capabilities only needs 3 kg of Pu 9 (plutonium) or 5 kg of HEU (highly enriched uranium) for a 20 kt WH—which can then be boosted to ~60-200 kt with a few grams of tritium.

It is highly unlikely that China would embark on a massive strategic nuclear force breakout without sufficient stocks of fissile material to produce the needed warheads with the required yields to meet mission requirements.

US Options So, if China does match (or exceed) the US MM rate of deployment and deploys nuclear forces comparable in size to the US, what options does the US have? Right now, five options could be on the table:

1) For the current nuclear modernization program, maintain the course—and accelerate programs where feasible.

2) Upload existing strategic nuclear forces, but to what force level? The US is currently treaty limited to 1550. The US can upload an additional 800 RVs from the active hedge on the 400 deployed MM III as well as deploy an additional 50 MM III in 50 silos for a total of 1350 warheads, but the upload time will take about 4 years.

The D-5 SLBM’s can be uploaded from the current 4-5 to 8 which is the limit that the existing bulkhead can hold providing 1920 warheads in roughly 6-8 months as the SSBN’s return from patrol. The extra W-76 WH are stored at the SSBN bases in Washington and Georgia. There are 3,030 W-76 warheads of which 2000 were recently received life extensions and 1,000 placed in the inactive hedge. The US bomber force has 850 nuclear warheads– 528 ALCM and 322 bombs and can be uploaded relatively soon… 3) Taken together, the complete upload completed over 4 years provides roughly 4120 total nuclear warheads, or roughly an additional 2000 from today’s treaty limited deployment.

4) Deploy defenses (terrestrial and space based) for an integrated offense/defense superior to Russia and China’s. Candidates are land-based SM-3s, additional GBIs and a space-based system (likely most cost-effective with advanced satellite technology and dramatic drop in cost of access to space. All could be deployed in 3-5 years. 5) Develop intercontinental conventional strike and cyber-attack capabilities that will enable the US to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.

And the US upload potential does have some barriers. US tritium stocks (with a 12-year half-life) will have to be accelerated as the current plans were based on maintaining the existing stockpile. Bringing back inactive warheads will deplete tritium reserves and current tritium production plans will not be sufficient. Construction of a new reactor based on advanced technology that produces tritium gas far cheaper than existing sources may be necessary.

China & Russia: US Nuclear Adversaries In summary, the US is potentially facing two nuclear-capable peer adversaries. According to the STRATCOM Commander, the US has been “challenged to revise its 21st-century strategic deterrence theory that considers U.S. adversaries’ decision calculus and behaviors and identifies threat indicators or conditions that could indicate potential actions.”

It appears China has embarked upon a massive strategic nuclear breakout and will deploy a strategic nuclear force of sufficient size and capabilities in order to coerce the US and be prepared to use nuclear weapons to achieve their national objectives.

China probably has no interest in arms control and certainly does not accept US notions of strategic stability. Not only the US and the West but China’s breakout also may place Russia at risk. Russia may have to rethink its collaboration with China, or risk losing Siberia and the Far East to China in the future—the largest storehouse of resources in the world next door to the largest resources consumer in the world.

Connecting the nuclear “dots” tells us the Chinese nuclear build is huge, can be finished quickly, and is required by their hegemonic objectives.

The current US deterrent strategy needs thus to be examined in that light.

Peter Huessy is Director of Strategic Deterrent Studies at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

James Howe is Vice President of Vision Centric an aerospace company

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Dr. James Hall
(202) 607-2421

Here come the Bowls of Wrath! Revelation 16

Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Weeks Away

3 Tishri 5782 – September 9, 2021

Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

Since the Biden administration assumed office, the nuclear talks with Iran have gone nowhere. Six rounds of negotiations have been concluded with no results. In contrast, two other issues have gone too far: the Biden administration’s appeasement policies towards the Iranian regime, and the advancement of the mullahs’ nuclear program.When the Biden administration took office, it announced that it would curb Iran’s nuclear program by returning to the 2015 nuclear deal — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which by the way Iran never signed — and by subsequently lifting sanctions against the Iranian government.Advertisement Apparently desperate to revive the nuclear pact, the Biden administration at once began appeasing the ruling clerics of Iran. The first concession was delivered when the administration changed the previous administration’s policy of maximum pressure toward Iran’s proxy militia group, the Houthis. Even as the evidence — including a report by the United Nations — showed that the Iranian regime was delivering sophisticated weapons to the Houthis in Yemen, the Biden administration suspended some of the sanctions against terrorism that the previous administration had imposed on the Houthis.Soon after, the Biden administration revoked the designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group. In addition, in June 2021, the Biden administration lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and several energy companies. Then, in a blow to the Iranian people and advocates of democracy and human rights — a few days after the Iranian regime handpicked a mass murderer to be its next president — the Biden administration announced that it was also considering lifting sanctions against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.From the perspective of Iran’s mullahs, Biden’s desperate efforts to resurrect the nuclear deal manifested his weak leadership and therefore a delectable opportunity for Tehran to buy time, get more concessions, advance its nuclear program and become a nuclear state.Notwithstanding all these policies of incentives and appeasements, Iran’s mullahs continued to make excuses seemingly to drag out the nuclear talks. One of the latest overtures was that the world powers ought to wait until Iran’s newly elected president, Ebrahim Raisi, took office before resuming the nuclear talks.By now, Raisi has been president of Iran for more than a month but there has not been the slightest effort by the Islamic Republic to restart any talks; in fact, all the while, the regime appears to have accelerated its enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade. This escalation has even caused concerns among some European leaders and has, surprisingly, led the EU to pressure Tehran immediately to return to the negotiating table. “We vehemently ask Iran to return to the negotiating table constructively and as soon as possible. We are ready to do so, but the time window won’t be open indefinitely” a ministry spokesperson from Germany warned.After stating that they would resume talks when Raisi assumed office, Iran’s leaders are now saying that they are not likely to restart the nuclear negotiations for another 2-3 months. “the… government considers a real negotiation is a negotiation that produces palpable results allowing the rights of the Iranian nation to be guaranteed,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said during an interview broadcast by Iran’s state television. He added that the nuclear talks are “one of the questions on the foreign policy and government agenda… the other party knows full well that a process of two to three months is required for the new government to establish itself and to start taking decisions.”As Iran’s nuclear policy, however, is not set by the president or its foreign minister, this declaration sounded like just another excuse by the regime to buy time and advance enrichment. It is, of course, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who enjoys the final say in Iran’s nuclear and foreign policy issues.At the moment, the Iranian regime is reportedly 8-10 weeks away from obtaining the weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon. “Iran has violated all of the guidelines set in the JCPOA and is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told ambassadors from countries on the United Nations Security Council during a briefing at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on August 4, 2021. “Now is the time for deeds – words are not enough. It is time for diplomatic, economic and even military deeds, otherwise the attacks will continue.”Once again it seems that the mullahs of Iran are masterfully playing the Biden administration and the EU by stalling the nuclear talks, buying time to get more concessions, and accelerating their enrichment of uranium and nuclear program to reach a weapons-grade nuclear breakout.{Reposted from the Gatestone Institutewebsite}