The danger of the Russian and China nuclear horns: Daniel 7

Russia and China’s Nuclear Weapons are Becoming More Dangerous

What does that mean for U.S. nuclear doctrine and strategy? One top U.S. official has some ideas. 

The U.S. must massively “revise” its nuclear weapons-oriented 21st-Century Strategic Deterrence Theory to reinvigorate its arsenal of current and future weapons of mass destruction as a way to stay in front of fast-modernizing rivals, the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command said. 

Adm. Charles Richard told a prominent think tank that the U.S. must quickly and efficiently prepare to face two major nuclear-armed rivals in the coming years, citing Chinese and Russian nuclear-weapons modernization as well as fast-emerging threats posed by North Korea and Iran. 

Having not faced a major nuclear rival in decades, the U.S. needs to fortify and strengthen its deterrence posture through the construction of new nuclear-weapons and maintenance of current systems, Richard said, according to a Pentagon report. 

“Given Russia and China’s expanding capabilities in increasingly aggressive behavior, and those posed by nuclear North Korea and possibly Iran, we must reinvigorate the national conversation on the importance of strategic deterrence,” Richard told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The fundamental concept of deterrence theory is of course grounded upon the premise that the massive amount of destructive power contained in nuclear weapons help, if even somewhat paradoxically, keep peace and prevent war. The current climate, however, is one in which major rivals such as Russia have built new low-yield nuclear weapons and, as Richard put it, blurred the line between conventional and nuclear weapons. This blurring, some suggest, could lower the threshold to nuclear war of some kind. 

Russia’s addition of new low-yield tactical nuclear weapons is likely one reason why the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review has inspired the U.S. to create new, low-yield sea-launched nuclear-armed cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.

 “Our post-Cold War experiences of operating in uncontested domains are over. Our adversaries took advantage of this period, emboldened … their aggressive behavior, expanded their capabilities and reconsidered their tactics and strategies.” 

What would it mean to revise deterrence theory?

Perhaps an even larger nuclear arsenal than that which is currently planned? Richard could be referring to a number of possibilities, including the continued acceleration of the Pentagon’s new ICBM program, Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent. DoD plans to build as many as 400 new, more resilient, reliable and accurate ICBMs to replace the 1960s-era Minuteman IIIs. As part of this strategy, Richard also stressed the importance of upgrading and maintaining the Minuteman IIIs for the purpose of preventing a lapse in weaponry as GBSD comes online. 

It may also be possible that Richard intends to advocate for the Pentagon to acquire larger numbers of its now-in-development SLBM, Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile. This nuclear-armed SLBM has already been engineered as a new, lower-yield variant of the well known Trident II D5 weapon. 

Kris Osborn is Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Creative Commons. 

Iran Slams Macron for the Truth

Tehran slams France’s Macron over Islamophobic remarks

TEHRAN – Iran has strongly criticized French President Emanuel Macron over his anti-Islam stance after Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide.

“#Macron’s irrational behavior in public #AntiIslamism shows his crudeness in politics, otherwise he would not have dared to embrace Islam in his quest for leadership in #Europe,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), wrote in a tweet on Monday.

“I suggest that he read more history and not rejoice in the support of a declining America & #Zionism,” Shamkhani added.

Earlier this month, Macron pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”, which he said was threatening to take control in some Muslim communities around France.

“In extremism the bodies of people are targeted and in insult their souls,” Velayati says.

His comments, along with his backing of satirical outlets publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), has led to a social media campaign calling for the boycott of French products from supermarkets in Arab countries and Turkey.

Hashtags such as the #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #NeverTheProphet trended across countries including Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

“Muslims and monotheists of the world condemn in the strongest form the blatant enmity of the foolish and stubborn leaders of France toward the prophet of mercy (PBUH) unanimously,” Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf tweeted on Monday.

Ghalibaf added that such wickedness shows the French leaders’ enmity toward all the heavenly religions.

On Friday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned what it said was France’s continued attack against Muslims by insulting religious symbols.

The secretariat of the Jeddah-based organization said in a statement it is surprised at the official political rhetoric issued by some French officials that offend French-Islamic relations and fuels feelings of hatred for political party gains.

Velayati calls extremism and offending the prophet two sides of the same coin

Ali Akbar Velayati, a top foreign policy adviser to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, said extremism and offending the prophet are two sides of the same coin which the international Zionism and the global arrogance have adopted against Islam.

“In extremism the bodies of people are targeted and in insult their souls,” Velayati said, criticizing the French government’s pretext of freedom of expression to foment hatred between people.

The veteran politician also called on all Muslims across the world to be vigilant in the face of such conspiracies against Islam.

France has for long tried to impose its own secular culture on its Muslim population, but this has disastrously backfired.

With this regard, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that the West’s imposition of its culture on others is a form of “silent violence”, saying that terrorist groups such as Daesh are the result of such cultural invasion.

“I do not deny the importance and value of cultural interaction,” Ayatollah Khamenei wrote in an open letter to the youth in Western countries after the November 2015 attacks in France.

“Whenever these interactions are conducted in natural circumstances and with respect for the receiving culture, they result in growth, development and richness. On the contrary, inharmonious interactions have been unsuccessful and harmful impositions,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated.

“Vile groups such as Daesh are the spawn of such ill-fated pairings with imported cultures,” he added.

Ayatollah Khamenei maintained that if the issue of terrorism was simply theological, “we would have had to witness such phenomena before the colonialist era, yet history shows the contrary.”

“Historical records clearly show how colonialist confluence of extremist and rejected thoughts in the heart of a Bedouin tribe, planted the seed of extremism in this region,” he said.

“How then is it possible that such garbage as Daesh comes out of one of the most ethical and humane religious schools which as part of its inner core, includes the notion that taking the life of one human being is equivalent to killing the whole of humanity?” Ayatollah Khamenei noted.

The China horn balks at U.S. efforts for nuclear arms talks: Daniel 7

China balks at U.S. efforts for nuclear arms talks

Ramesh Thakur

Sep 30, 2020

Beijing perceives U.S. policy as being increasingly aggressive and aimed at containing China. Nuclear forces are seen as the ultimate guarantor of national security. | REUTERS

During the Cold War, the nuclear landscape was dominated by the globe-spanning U.S.–Soviet bipolar rivalry. Russia and the United States still account for over 90 percent of the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. The emerging strategic rivalry, however, is between the U.S. as the weakening hegemon and China as the rising comprehensive national power. This is why Washington decided it could no longer ignore the nuclear challenge to its interests in the vast Indo–Pacific maritime space posed by China’s absence from the missile prohibitions of the INF treaty. About 95 percent of China’s missiles are in the INF range, enabling it to target forward-deployed U.S. forces and allied territory, including Japan, Guam and Australia, with relatively inexpensive precision-strike conventional capability.

Without INF restrictions, the U.S. can develop and station ground-launched intermediate-range cruise missiles in Guam, Japan, South Korea, and northern Australia that could reach deep into China’s interior. However, the search for Pacific allies prepared to host intermediate range conventional U.S. missiles aimed at China will be challenging, with the downsides in bilateral relations with China and domestic political opposition likely to outweigh potential military advantages.

Speaking after the INF’s demise in August last year, U.S. President Donald Trump said he wanted Beijing to be party to any new nuclear pact with Moscow. China has rejected requests to save the INF by trilateralizing it. Its stockpile of 320 nuclear warheads is not comparable to 6,375 Russian and 5,800 U.S. warheads. On Aug. 6, 2019, Disarmament Ambassador Li Song expressed China’s deep regret and opposition to the “irresponsible unilateral” U.S. withdrawal from the INF. On the same day Fu Cong, director of arms control in China’s Foreign Ministry, cautioned Asia-Pacific countries against permitting INF-ranged missiles to be deployed on their territory.

In an agenda-resetting speech in October 2018, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence outlined a thick catalog of predatory practices and aggressive behavior across a broad front by China. American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo updated the administration’s strategic approach to China in a speech on July 23, depicting China as an existential threat and calling for “a new alliance of democracies.” Where then-President Ronald Reagan had based his arms control dealings with the Soviet Union on the bon mot “trust but verify,” Pompeo said with China’s communist regime, “we must distrust and verify.”

At a news conference on Jan. 22, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang bluntly rejected U.S. calls for trilateral arms control talks: “The U.S. constantly makes an issue of China on this to dodge and shift its responsibilities for nuclear disarmament.” Beijing has concluded that Trump doesn’t believe in arms control is scapegoating China to pursue his real goal of dissolving the existing U.S.–Russia nuclear arms control regime in order for his country to compete more effectively with China. Nuclear analyst Tong Zhao explains: “China views the U.S. push for trilateral arms control as purely insincere, hypocritical, and hostile against China.” Beijing is also suspicious of arms control as a tool for the strong to undermine the security of the weak.

Washington has remained persistent. In May the new presidential senior envoy on arms control, Marshall Billingslea, expressed interest in a new far-reaching accord to limit all Chinese, Russian, and U.S. nuclear warheads, including those on short-range delivery systems and those kept in storage. This would replace New START but would also require very intrusive verification measures to cover stockpiles. It will be challenging either to persuade China to accept significantly lower numbers of warheads than Russia and the U.S., or alternatively to persuade Moscow and Washington to permit China to reach parity. A third way doesn’t exist. Fu Cong said, “if the U.S. says that they are ready to come down to the Chinese level, China will be happy to participate the next day.” However, “we know that’s not going to happen.”

Especially when Beijing perceives U.S. policy as being increasingly aggressive and aimed at containing China, nuclear forces are seen as the ultimate guarantor of national security. To the Chinese, U.S. refusal to acknowledge mutual vulnerability and efforts to enhance damage-limitation and long-range precision strike capabilities signal a higher nuclear risk threshold. This is an updated version of the classic security dilemma where one side’s defense-cum-deterrence preparedness to bolster national security is perceived by the other side as strengthened offensive capability and hence a threat to its security. This is why China has warned against the development and deployment of missile defense systems that could trigger a “high-tech arms race” which aggravates “the international strategic imbalance.”

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the militantly nationalistic Global Times, argues that “China needs to expand the number of its nuclear warheads to 1,000 in a relatively short time and procure at least 100 DF-41 strategic missiles.” But Zhao responded: “If China were to significantly build up its nuclear arsenal, it would seriously damage its international image and potentially threaten the efficacy and stability of the international nonproliferation regime.” This would undermine China’s “own interest in maintaining regional and international stability.” He notes that China successfully safeguarded its national security against far superior numbers of U.S. and Soviet nuclear warheads during the Cold War. Its current nuclear technological prowess is comparable to Russia and the U.S., and it has hugely better survivability and counter-attack capabilities compared to its assets during the Cold War. Zhao’s warning that “a major expansion of nuclear weapons may bring more fear than respect” deserves to be taken to heart by all nuclear-armed states.

China’s stockpile has remained stable over decades, despite fluctuations in Russian and U.S. numbers, because Beijing doesn’t believe nuclear weapons can be used militarily to fight a war. Rather, they are political weapons to deter nuclear attack and prevent nuclear blackmail. This permits China to adopt asymmetric deterrence postures vis‑a‑vis the U.S. with significantly lower stockpiles. Instead of engaging in a sprint to parity that would fuel the nuclear arms race, China relies on buttressing the survivability and penetrability of its nuclear forces. For example greater maneuverability of the DF-21D missiles makes it difficult for enemy weapons to intercept them, while enhancing the precision of their munitions makes it easier to target moving enemy vessels with them. Multilateral nuclear arms control agreements will have to accommodate the asymmetries in numbers and types of warheads and missiles, doctrines and force postures as they affect the relative military balance of the countries concerned.

Ramesh Thakur is an emeritus professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

America Will Say Nyet to Any Nuclear Warhead Freeze Russia Wants

America Should Set Nyet to Any Nuclear Warhead Freeze Russia Wants | The National Interest

Russia is only open to a nuclear freeze because they are nearly done modernizing their nuclear force. Freezing the U.S. nuclear force as-is would be catastrophic.

Even a one-year temporary freeze may have detrimental consequences as the Defense Department warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that nuclear modernization was at a “tipping point” in September.

The latest New START negotiations have mirrored the Soviet Union’s strategic use of arms control. The Soviets would threaten aggression when the United States began outpacing their technology, scaring the West into negotiations. The negotiations would drag out or result in the West reducing their forces. Once the Soviets caught up, talks would fall apart, or they would simply cheat on an existing agreement.

Arms control is worth pursuing if it serves American national-security interests. Since Russia has continued the Soviet tradition of cheating on almost every-arms control agreement to date, that is unlikely. A nuclear freeze is not a diplomatic victory, it could be the death knell of the U.S. nuclear triad.

Morgan Wirthlin is the Chief of Staff at the Center for Security Policy, a national security think-tank in Washington, D.C. Follow her @morganwirthlin on Twitter.

Image: Reuters

Thank you Macron for standing for the truth

The Islamist movement Hamas, the governing authority of the Gaza Strip, also denounced Macron’s words, as did Islamic Jihad.

Hundreds of Jaffa residents gathered Saturday night to protest in front of the residence of French Ambassador to Israel Eric Danon, setting trash cans on fire, Ynet reported, adding that a stone was also thrown at a bus.

The fires reportedly occurred following dispersal of the protesters, though no one was hurt, according to Ynet.The protests were sparked by French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent comments where he refused to condemn cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad after the beheading of a French school teacher.

Protesters, holding up banners written in Arabic, called for the defense of the Prophet Muhammad at the rally which began after evening prayers in Jaffa.

The prophet “is the most sacred thing in Islam, and he who attains his honor, reaches a whole people,” said Amin Bukhari, a protester accusing the French president of playing the “far-right wing” game, reported the French newspaper Le Figaro.

“Moses must be respected among the Jews, Jesus Christ must be respected as well – he is also our prophet – and we must respect the prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him,” added Bukhari.

The Islamist movement Hamas, the governing authority of the Gaza Strip, also denounced Macron’s words, as did Islamic Jihad.

“Insulting religions and prophets is not a matter of freedom of speech but rather promotes a culture of hatred,” Hamas said in a statement, adding that it wants “to prevent consequences” that these statements could have.

For its part, the Islamic Jihad – Gaza’s second largest armed group, after Hamas – argued that “offending” Islam, and its Prophet Muhammad, was a “redline” that “could not be tolerated.”

In Khan Yunnis in the Gaza Strip, demonstrators burned photos of Macron and called for the defense of both the prophet and Islam, according to Le Figaro.

Macron spoke Thursday during a tribute to Prof. Samuel Paty, beheaded by an Islamist assailant after showing his students drawings of Muhammad to teach them what is freedom of speech.

Since then, calls for a boycott of French products have increased in several countries in the Middle East, after the stir aroused by the words of the French president, who promised not to “renounce to the cartoons” of the Prophet Muhammad.

Representation of prophets is strictly prohibited by Sunni Islam; ridiculing or insulting the Prophet Muhammad is punishable by death in some Muslim countries.Aaron Reich contributed to this report.

The rising Chinese nuclear horn: Daniel 7

How China has been upping its nuclear arsenal while preaching peace to the world

Chinese MFA had also claimed to be in talks with five nuclear powers

Col Vinayak Bhat (Retd)A recent interview of a Chinese foreign ministry official by a Russian newspaper on the need to control arms race concealed more than it revealed. The interview of FU Cong, director-general of the department of arms control and disarmament, published in ‘Kommersant’ on October 15, makes one thing clear China will not lift the veil of secrecy surrounding its nuclear programme.

FU Cong has had talks with India and Pakistan earlier this year, but refused to share figures of nuclear warheads it possesses. China, however, refuses to participate in talks with the United States and Russia without achieving parity with them in numbers.

The Chinese MFA had also claimed to be in talks with five nuclear powers, obviously not including India and Pakistan, but later hastily retracted the words from its site. So does China really want a world without nuclear arms? India Today OSINT team tries to get the answer to this pertinent question.

Conventional missile power

The US Department of Defence (DoD) Report on Chinese Military Power 2020 indicates that the People’s Liberation Army has become the largest conventional missile power in the world.

The PLA has more than 1,250 land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles. These are ground-launched ballistic missiles (GLCMs) and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with a range between 50 and 5,000 kms.

Such a wide range of conventional missiles may serve dual purposes for Beijing. While the US is considering converting nuclear warheads into conventional ones, PLA, on the other hand, is planning to convert conventional warheads into nuclear ones. And it won’t be very difficult for China to convert its conventional missile force to a large nuclear force within a short timeframe.

Hypersonic power

China, just like Russia, has achieved technological advancements in the hypersonic field. PLA has already deployed DF-17 missiles with hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) mount DF-ZF that was displayed during the National Day Parade in Beijing on October 1 last year.

DF-17 is the first fully operational hypersonic weapons system in the world with a total range of more than 4,000 km possibly even 5,000 km. The speed of Chinese HGV is likely to be between 5 and 10 Mach, making it impossible to intercept by present ballistic missile defence (BMD) systems in the world.

The risks will be multiplied manifold if China plans to put nuclear warheads on these systems. If deployed in South China Sea’s reclaimed islands or on Hainan islands, they could well be used to block sea lines of communications (SLOCs). Deployment of hypersonic weapons will also certainly affect strategic stability.

Submarine construction at Huludao

The new facility at Huludao, as indicated earlier by India Today OSINT team, would be able to construct anything up to 10 or more submarines simultaneously. This facility is supposedly fully operational and ready to begin construction of Type 94 and Type 96 submarines with possibly JL-3 missiles.

JL-3 missiles are intercontinental-range submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) expected to carry multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs). The solid-fuelled missile could carry these MIRVs directed at separate targets over a range of more than 12,000 km.

The first Type 96 submarine with new JL-3 missile systems is likely to be launched anytime soon and runs the risk of shattering the fragile strategic balance in the region.

H-6N bombers

Recently, a video shot by a possible aircraft enthusiast went viral on Twitter and other social media, showing the PLAAF new bomber aircraft H-6N carrying a new type of missile under its belly.

The H-6N aircraft was to carry an air-launched derivative of DF-21D anti-ship version named CH-AS-X-13, but it was observed carrying a missile more akin to an air-breathing missile fitted with a possible hypersonic glide vehicle mount at the front.

The video was possibly shot at the northern end of Neixiang airbase, an

active airbase with newly built underground and overground storage systems. The underground facility has at least three 50-metre wide entrances/exits, which will possibly have strong automated entry systems.

The new construction of overground storage and checkout facilities, created along with barracks similar to PLARF architecture, suggests pretty strongly that this base would be a nuclear base for PLAAF. The new H-6N fielding at this base indicates that the new missile observed in the video would most probably be carrying a nuclear warhead.

Risk mitigation

China’s missile force has seen exponential growth in the last five years. The risk of a nuclear conflict is clearly increasing with missiles such as DF-26 carrier-killers with a range of 4,500 km expanding at a phenomenal rate, with at least four units deployed with dual-use thermo-nuclear and conventional warheads.

New weapon systems in PLAAF and expected JL-3 systems on future submarines increase the risks, necessitating their management. FU Cong’s words and PLA’s deeds only indicate that China is buying time to build up enough arsenal to equate itself with the US before coming to the negotiating table.

The international community must pressurise China into joining treaties and agreements that could be bilateral or multilateral to control expansion or proliferation of missiles. China must become more transparent about its nuclear weapons and undertake confidence-building measures (CBMs) with its neighbours.

Until China joins various transparent multilateral arms control agreements or undertakes CBMs, the world will always doubt its intentions and so-called ‘no first use’ policy.

The powerful communist nuclear horns: Daniel 7

AXIS OF EVIL Vladimir Putin warns of Russia-China alliance with three times the tanks & warships of US & 6,810 combined nukes

VLADIMIR Putin has hinted about a future military alliance between Russia and China that would be more powerful than the US.

The two powers combined would outnumber the US Army some two to one, have three times as many tanks and warships, and have more nuclear weapons.

Missile launchers rumble through in Moscow during a military paradeCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Vladimir Putin hinted of a new alliance between Russia and ChinaCredit: AP:Associated Press

China and Russia have the world’s second and third most powerful militaries – and a formal alliance could help tip the scales against the US.

Putin signaled deepening ties between Moscow and Beijing as both have ongoing tensions with Washington.

Russia continues to try and thrash out a new arms treaty, while facing ongoing allegations of election interference in the US along with military tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

China meanwhile has seen relations with the US plunge to new lows due to the coronavirus pandemic and rows over the South China Sea and Taiwan.

Vlad was quizzed on whether he could envision a military alliance between Moscow and Beijing during a conference call on Thursday.

He replied: “‘We don’t need it, but, theoretically, it’s quite possible to imagine it.”

Russia and China have hailed their “strategic partnership”, but have so far stopped short of creating a formal military alliance.

It would be worrying for the rest of the world as well, especially if Donald Trump wins the US election on November 3.

Trump has long insisted on an “America First” policy, and wants the US to have less involvement in foreign conflicts while also showing scepticism over alliances such as Nato.

Russia and China would outnumber the US – and every other military in the world – but also have advantages in several key areas.

However, even combined the two massive nations lag behind the US in military spending – with a duel total of $302billion, compared to America’s mammoth $430billion.

China has the largest number of active soldiers in the worldCredit: AFP or licensors

Russia and China combined would have 3.2million troopsCredit: Alamy Live News

Russia and China would outnumber the US two-to-one in terms of active military personnel, comparing 3.2million to 1.4million.

They would also have a vastly larger fleet of tanks – with 16,450 total – and warships, with a total of 1,380.

And with Russia already having the largest nuclear stockpile in the world, combining with China’s nukes pushes them in further ahead.

The US however would maintain advantages in some areas, such as having many more warplanes – with 13,264 compared to 7,373.

Aircraft carriers are also one of the most important ways of projecting power worldwide – and the US have 11 with two more under construction.

China has two with one under construction, and Russia has just one extremely old vessel – with the infamous, smoke belching Admiral Kuznetsov.

The US has as many aircraft carriers as the rest of the world combined, and the weapons are essential to asserting global dominance since World War 2.

Russia and China would have three times as many warshipsCredit: Alamy Live News

And an alliance would give them three times as many tanksCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Putin said recent war games Russia and China have carried out highlight how well the two country’s cooperate.

He also hinted that Russia has shared military technology with China, but declined to go into any specifics.

“Without any doubt, our cooperation with China is bolstering the defense capability of China’s army.” Putin said.

“Time will show how it will develop. We won’t exclude it.”

Putin has been key in pushing Russia to develop new weapons, including modernising its nuclear weapons.

He has repeatedly pushed for his country to be on the forefront of development of technologies such as hypersonic missiles, seen as a new frontier in weapons tech.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have been deepening ties amid tensions with the USCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Putin however did say he continues to be eager to signing a new weapons treaty, with the New Start agreement set to expire in February.

The deal was signed in 2010 with US President Barack Obama, and the pact act limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bomber.

Trump has however said they would only renew the agreement if China also joins, but Beijing has refused.

US officials are now trying to push through a new agreement – with the Trump administration keen to do so before the election – with a one-year extension.

Henry Holloway

13:48, 23 Oct 2020Updated: 14:14, 23 Oct 2020

The cost for Babylon the Great to nuke up

Pentagon estimates $95 billion cost for new ICBM nukes to replace Minuteman III

The Pentagon’s cost estimate for a new fleet of nuclear missiles to replace the Minuteman 3 arsenal has been raised to $95.8 billion — an increase of about $10 billion dollars from 2016 estimates, The Associated Press reported Monday.

The new fleet is composed of weapons known as intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, that are part of a plan to replace the majority of the American nuclear force over the next several decades. The project will cost a total of more than $1.2 trillion.

While some critics of the plan’s cost, including former Defense Secretary William J. Perry, say United States national security can be secured without ICBMs, the Pentagon believes they are crucial to preventing war.

After reviewing nuclear policy in 2018, the Trump administration echoed the Pentagon’s views and solidified its commitment to developing a new ICBM generation.

“The ICBM force is highly survivable against any but a large-scale nuclear attack,” the review stated according to The Associated Press. “To destroy U.S. ICBMs on the ground, an adversary would need to launch a precisely coordinated attack with hundreds of high-yield and accurate warheads. This is an insurmountable challenge for any potential adversary today, with the exception of Russia.”

Four hundred Minuteman missiles based in underground silos in Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska make up the current fleet. Each missile is armed with one nuclear warhead.

The number of nuclear warheads is partly managed by the New START treaty with Russia. Set to expire in February, the Trump administration has set new conditions that must be met in order to extend the treaty, but Moscow has yet to accept the new terms.

The United States is also in the process of building a new taskforce of ballistic missile submarines. The new fleet would replace the current Ohio-class strategic submarines. Additionally, the Pentagon is building a new “long-range nuclear-capable bomber” and a “next-generation air-launched nuclear cruise missile,” The Associated Press reported.

Updated warheads are also underway, including a roughly $14.8 billion ICBM warhead replacement.

President Trump has continued the nuclear modernization program that was launched under the previous administration, but Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden has said he would look for ways to scale back the program if he is elected in November.

This post was last modified on October 23, 2020 5:58 am

Trump asked for the impossible out of China

US wants China, new nuclear weapons included in Russia deal

Russia and the United States on Tuesday were edging closer to breaking an impasse in long-running talks aimed at extending a landmark nuclear arms deal, due to expire within months. US officials said they were ready to meet Russian diplomats as soon as possible, shortly after Moscow stated it could compromise on an American demand.

The two sides have struggled to find common ground over the fate over the New START treaty, which limits both sides to 1,550 deployed warheads but is due to expire next February.

While the US wants to rework the deal to include China and cover new kinds of weapons, Russia is willing to extend the agreement for five years without any new conditions — and each side has repeatedly shot down the other’s proposals. The agreement was signed in 2010 at the peak of hopes for a “reset” in relations between the two countries.

Together with the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, it was considered a centrepiece of international arms control. However, the United States withdrew from the INF last year after accusing Moscow of violations.

Election pressure

As recently as last week, the US seemed unwilling to compromise on New START — officials dismissing a proposal from Russian President Vladimir Putin to extend the deal for a year without restricting new weapons development as a “non-starter”.

But with US President Donald Trump trailing in polls for next month’s election, his administration has indicated it would support preserving the treaty.

And Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday signalled a willingness to compromise, saying it would agree to a US demand for a one-year freeze on developing weapons.

“We appreciate the Russian Federation’s willingness to make progress on the issue of nuclear arms control,” state department spokeswoman Morgan Ortgaus said. “The United States is prepared to meet immediately to finalise a verifiable agreement. We expect Russia to empower its diplomats to do the same.”

Over the course of months of talks, Washington had demanded that tactical nuclear weapons be covered by the treaty and insisted China must be included — even though Beijing had shown no interest. But Russia is believed to hold a bigger, more varied arsenal of tactical weapons.

In general, the Kremlin sees nuclear weapons as a key strategic asset, as it is massively outspent on defence by Washington.

Russia had 6,375 nuclear warheads at the start of the year, including those that are not deployed, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

Nuclear War Makes a Comeback: Revelation 16

Photograph Source: United States Department of Energy – Public Domain

On websites where policy makers, scholars, and military leaders gather, concern about the possibility of nuclear war has been rising sharply in recent months as China, the United States, and Russia develop new weapons and new ways of using old ones.

On War on the Rocks, an online platform for national security articles and podcasts, Tong Zhao, a senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, reported August 11 on public calls in China “to quickly and massively build up its nuclear forces” on the theory that only a “more robust nuclear posture” would prevent war with the United States.

The biggest nuclear arms budget ever is nearing approval in the US Congress, and the Trump administration has raised the possibility of resuming nuclear tests. President Trump has pulled the United States out of the1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia, while the New Start Treaty capping Russian and U.S. nuclear warheads and delivery systems is set to expire next February if the two countries don’t agree to extend it.

For its part, Russia appears poised to equip its navy with hypersonic nuclear strike weapons, and according to the British newspaper The Independent, “The Russian premier has repeatedly spoken of his wish to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons that can be targeted anywhere on the planet.”

Meanwhile, momentum to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons has faltered. Nine nations now hold nuclear arms in an increasingly unsettled international scene. Recent research has shown that a nuclear exchange between just two of those with lesser arsenals—India and Pakistan— “could directly kill about 2.5 times as many as died worldwide in WWII, and in this nuclear war, the fatalities could occur in a single week.” Burning cities would throw so much soot into the upper atmosphere that temperatures and precipitation levels would fall across much of the earth—bringing widespread drought, famine, and death.

Clashes between India, Pakistan, and other nuclear armed states have become frequent enough that the International Red Cross marked the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a warning: “[T]he risk of use of nuclear weapons has risen to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War.”

For 75 years, the nuclear Sword of Damocles has dangled over the earth. There is widespread agreement among analysts that the long lull may soon be over—due in part, to the end of the Cold War. During those decades, the United States and the USSR cooperated not only to avoid bombing each other into oblivion but also to discourage other nations from gaining their own nuclear arms, in part by spreading their nuclear umbrellas over their allies.

That international system has dissolved. In addition to the United States, Russia, and China, other nations have nuclear weapons and more are likely to acquire them. And a new possibility has appeared on the horizon: the increased likelihood that nuclear weapons could be introduced into conventional warfare in regional wars.

In a monograph published by Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, US defense policy and strategy analyst John K. Warden writes that “in the capitals of potential adversary countries,” the idea is taking hold “that nuclear wars can be won because they can be kept limited, and thus can be fought—even against the United States.”

What can the United States do to convince adversaries not to introduce nuclear weapons into a conventional war—to make clear, in advance, that taking such a step would lead to fatal consequences for the country that took it?

The answer from the US national security establishment, as the fiscal 2021 defense budget suggests, is a readiness to fight fire with fire: If the “adversaries” of the United States hold out the threat of introducing nuclear weapons in a conventional war, then (the argument goes) they should expect that the United States will respond in kind.

How many weapons and delivery systems would that require? A lot, according to the nuclear budget for the Departments of Defense and Energy now going through Congress. At a time when Covid-19 has shaken the foundations of the federal budget, Congress is close to approving $44.5 billion for fiscal 2121 to modernize nuclear warheads, delivery systems, and the infrastructure that supports them.

Sierra Club Nuclear Policy Director John Coequyt has called on Congress “to resist the current renewal of the nuclear arms race and to ban the use of nuclear weapons,” and Sierra Club members have mobilized to try to stop funding for nuclear war projects in their neighborhoods.

In South Carolina, for instance, Tom Clements, Sierra Club member and director of Savannah River Site Watch, has joined other groups in challenging plans for expanded plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site. And the Ohio Sierra Club’s Nuclear Free Committee has opposed production at the Portsmouth Nuclear Site in Piketon of “high-assay low-enriched uranium” that could be upgraded for weapons use, in the United States or elsewhere.

While such efforts often focus on local effects of nuclear weapons production, they also manifest a larger concern. Says the Club’s Nuclear Free Core Team’s Mark Muhich, the renewed nuclear arms race is “an existential threat both to human civilization and to the earth.”

This article originally appeared on the Sierra magazine website.