It’s time for Babylon to reconsider our nuclear forces: Daniel 7

It’s time to reconsider our nuclear forces

By Patty-Jane Geller, Opinion ContributorMarch 14, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT

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

We’ve known about China’s massive nuclear expansion for some time now. Last year, Admiral Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, testified that we are on a trajectory to face two nuclear peers – Russia and China – for the first time in its history.

But things have changed. This week, Richard testified that this three-party nuclear-peer reality has already arrived.

This constitutes a significant shift in threat environment. Richard said the nuclear forces we have today are “the absolute minimum” and that the Pentagon will need to make “immediate and significant” changes to our nuclear posture.

Disarmament advocates greeted his statement with skepticism, but Richard is right. There is no time to waste when it comes to deterring nuclear attack.

The basic design of our current nuclear force posture dates to around 2010, when the overall threat of nuclear attack was expected to lessen over time. Russia was our only peer competitor, and President Obama’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review considered Russia to no longer be an adversary. China maintained its historic “minimum deterrence” posture of fewer than 100 nuclear missiles and was expected to stay the course. 

These faulty assumptions drove many decisions about our nuclear posture. For example, the Columbia-class nuclear submarine is designed to hold fewer nuclear missiles than its predecessor, the Ohio-class. That decision “was based in part on the assumption that the multi-decade reduction in U.S. nuclear delivery systems is unlikely to be suddenly and dramatically reversed,” according to a recent RAND report.

The Obama administration generally failed to anticipate the scope and size of China’s subsequent nuclear buildup. Nor did it anticipate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling in Ukraine.

Considering that our nuclear arsenal of around 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons was designed for the 2010 environment (with the expectation that threats would decrease) it is surely insufficient to meet the deterrence demands of today’s far more dangerous world.

There is a direct relationship between our adversaries’ capabilities and what the U.S. needs for deterrence. Deterrence hinges on the ability to hold at risk those assets our adversaries value most, including their nuclear forces and accompanying infrastructure. For deterrence to be credible, the United States must maintain the amount and types of nuclear weapons required to convince our adversaries that we can strike these targets if necessary.

Now facing double the number of peer threats that existed in 2010, the U.S. will need to adjust its nuclear forces in kind. That’s not to say that we must match China’s new capabilities one for one, but it does mean that our current nuclear force is insufficient to counter two major nuclear threats.

The U.S. cannot risk a deterrence posture that enables it to defeat only one nuclear adversary and not the other. When it comes to the most dangerous weapons in the world, the U.S. should want to deter all threats at all times.

If the United States fails to adjust its nuclear force posture, risks go up. If Russia and China do not perceive the U.S. nuclear threat to be credible, they will become further emboldened in their aggressive pursuits in Europe and Asia. Worse, they may calculate that the benefits of using nuclear weapons would outweigh the costs.

The Biden administration is expected to release its Nuclear Posture Review soon. If it has not already considered future adjustments to U.S. nuclear forces, it must do so immediately. In particular, it should review options to add more nuclear warheads to our current forces as well as to develop additional kinds of tactical weapons.

With something as dangerous as nuclear war – the only existential threat to the United States – the United States cannot afford to skimp on deterrence.

Patty-Jane Geller is a policy analyst specializing in nuclear deterrence and missile defense in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense.

America Has No Choice But To Nuke Up: Daniel 7

Russia, China Developments Ending Debate Over Nuclear Modernization

March 10, 2022 | By John A. Tirpak

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, along with China’s threatening moves toward Taiwan and its new campaign to build up its strategic nuclear forces, likely signal an end to debate about modernizing the full nuclear triad, according to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.

“I think that sort of removes some of the arguments that maybe we should have a smaller nuclear deterrent, maybe without as many legs of the triad, Kendall said at the annual McAleese conference March 9. “I think those arguments are pretty well put to bed now, given what China’s doing.”

The Air Force, Kendall said, is likely to get the green light to move forward with the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent intercontinental ballistic missile system, B-21 bomber, nuclear Long Range Stand Off missile, and command and control modernization.

“You’ve all seen … that China is modernizing its nuclear [force] and expanding it significantly,” Kendall said. “That’s a problem we have to deal with.”

Russia’s move on Ukraine was unthinkable to some in government just a few weeks before but has demonstrated that the unthinkable can happen and that the U.S. must do what’s necessary to deter them both, Kendall said:

Russia’s invasion shows that war between big nations “still happens” and that war with China in the Pacific is a “real … possibility.”

“A lot of people didn’t think that he would do it,” Kendall observed of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion. “We’ve been watching this. I’ve seen him build up his forces multiple times on the borders of Ukraine. And as we watched this one, this time was different. It was clearly not a show of force this time. He was serious about it. And a lot of people didn’t expect that.”

Now, however, “I think, for better or for worse—certainly for worse for the Ukrainian people, ultimately, for worse for the Russians—we’ve had a wake-up call. We’ve had an emotional event that says that, ‘Yes, war at scale, among great powers, among modern powers, can actually happen.’ It can also happen in the Pacific.”

Despite the Ukraine invasion, Kendall said his priority is still “China, China, China” because that country has invested for 30 years in creating a military capable of challenging the U.S. in every domain, including space. Making America’s space assets “resilient” is the top priority of Kendall’s seven “operational imperatives.” Also, “we cannot give the other side impunity to operate in space,” and other countries’ assets there must be held at risk by the U.S., Kendall asserted.

“So, we’re in a whole new world, there.”

That said, “there is a huge unfunded requirement coming in space,” Kendall warned. “When you look at what we need to have”—and some of those space architectures are being built now—“there’s a bill there, that’s coming. “We’ll start to pay it … when you see [the fiscal year 2023] budget,” but bigger bills will come later. In answer to a question, Kendall said he’s “not terribly worried” about the Space Force being able to absorb a lot of new funding, should it be appropriated. “We’re pretty good at spending money in the Pentagon,” he dryly observed.

Kendall said he is “comfortable” with the fiscal 2023 budget.

“I think we’ll be able to balance those things that we’ve talked about … and move forward. But as I look beyond that, I do see challenges ahead. We have tough choices ahead of us in the next several years as we better define the things we need and then figure out how we’re going to pay for it.”

Although he would not discuss particulars about the unreleased fiscal 2023 budget, Kendall hinted that it doesn’t have as much in it for missile defense as he would like.

“What I became alarmed about in 2010 … and what I’ve been watching progress ever since, is the purchase of ballistic and cruise missiles” by China, “targeted at our high-value assets.” The Air Force needs “good warning and tracks, particularly for ballistic missiles. So if there were one area where I think we would need much more robust capability” and funding, “that would probably be it.”

More generally, he said, if he had “extra” money, he would spend it on more analysis to make sure the programs being selected to pursue, “and modernization in general,” are optimized to USAF’s true needs. Although in the past few years, “‘going fast’ has been emphasized … it’s really important that you go in the right direction … about where you make those investments.” His seven “imperatives” are about “making sure we get all that right.”

Kendall also said there will not be as many efforts to divest aircraft, meant to free up money for new programs, in the fiscal 2023 request as there were in the fiscal 2022 budget plan.

“We made the case last year,” he said, and Congress “came through pretty well. I’m pretty happy with what they did last year. The exception was the A-10.” But “I will tell you … I don’t think you’re going to see the same scale of requested retirements in this budget as you did last year. There will still be some. Going forward, there will be some hard choices, further out.”

Kendall said his new imperatives for tactical and strategic uncrewed aircraft are priorities because the manned aircraft force now envisioned is just too expensive. He also said the F-35’s sustainment costs are not going down to where the Air Force needs them to be.

“What we’re looking at is a force in which the F-35 is the ‘low end’ of a ‘high-low mix.’ That is not going to work,” Kendall said.

“We’re not going to get the F-35 sustainment cost down to a level where that’s realistic.” While he hopes production costs will keep going down—something the program office and Lockheed Martin have said are unlikely—even at $80 million a copy, the F-35 is “not a cheap airplane. So we’ve got to figure out a way to get the capacity and quantity that we need.” He quoted the trope that “quantity has a quality all its own,” and added, “that’s very true.”

The Air Force, he said, “needs numbers, particularly in a situation where you can expect attrition. You need the ability to expand to deal with these threats. The higher-end, more expensive aircraft are not going to get you there.”

In the omnibus defense bill, the hypersonic AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) took a major cut, giving up half its funding to longer research and development. Kendall noted that “there was a lot of enthusiasm for hypersonics in the previous administration, and I think I’ve made the comment why I think China is developing hypersonic capabilities. And we have to think more carefully about what we need” in that arena, and not just “mirror what they’re doing.” Kendall said. “We need to take a look at our whole portfolio, not just hypersonics.” But with regard to ARRW, he noted a series of test failures and said he’d spoken to Lockheed Martin recently, saying, “They think they’re working their way through that” and will get back to flight testing “shortly.”

However, “ARRW still has to prove itself,” he said.

Why the Other Horns Will Nuke Up: Daniel

Should Ukraine Have Kept Soviet Nuclear Weapons?

Posted March 8, 2022 by Målfrid Braut-Hegghammer & filed under Regions and Powers

It is widely believed that Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons that it could have used to deter Russia from the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war of aggression launched last month. This is problematic for several reasons.

Photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine / CC BY-SA 2.0

Russia is using nuclear threats in order to deter NATO and European countries from direct military engagement in the war in Ukraine. Last week, Russian forces this week attacked Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant. The Russian nuclear threat poses an important challenge for European and international security.

For Ukraine, Russia’s nuclear threats and its attack on a nuclear reactor are doubly tragic and concerning.

The country experienced the world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986. In the 1990s, the Ukrainian authorities sent nuclear weapons inherited from the dissolved Soviet Union to Russia. Now the Russian government is accusing Ukraine of attempting to obtain nuclear weapons. In addition, Russia described the attack on the nuclear power plant as an act of provocation by Ukraine.When it comes to nuclear threats and the prospect of
nuclear war, the prevailing perspective is often that of the superpowers.

When it comes to nuclear threats and the prospect of nuclear war, the prevailing perspective is often that of the superpowers. The discussion about Russia’s nuclear threats has primarily focused (with good reason) on what Putin is actually willing to do, and what steps NATO and the USA should take to avoid further escalation. These are crucial questions and challenges that Norway and our allies will continue to debate in the years to come. It is important, however, that the Ukrainian perspective on its nuclear history and the current events is not allowed to disappear or be misinterpreted.

There is a widespread belief that Ukraine gave up Soviet nuclear weapons that it could have used to deter Russia from both the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war of aggression launched last month. This belief is problematic for several reasons.

Ukrainian nuclear weapons?

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the stockpile of Soviet nuclear weapons left in Ukraine comprised what was then the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal. These weapons had been under the operational control of Soviet forces.

The United States were concerned that several former Soviet states might gain control over Soviet nuclear weapons, and that a lack of control over former Soviet nuclear expertise and materials could create new challenges for nuclear proliferation. Senior U.S. officials preferred that Russia became the sole inheritor of the Soviet nuclear arsenal.… the Ukrainian government was concerned about Russia receiving a monopoly on
nuclear weapons among the former Soviet states.

For their part, the Ukrainian government was concerned about Russia receiving a monopoly on nuclear weapons among the former Soviet states. According to Harvard scholar Mariana Budjeryn, whose forthcoming monograph sheds new light on Ukraine’s nuclear options and choices, the new Ukrainian government was deeply concerned about the implications of a Russian nuclear monopoly among former Soviet states for regional and Ukrainian security.

The Ukrainian government initially sought security guarantees in exchange for sending the Soviet nuclear weapons to Russia. Ukraine also proposed a gradual phasing out of the Soviet nuclear arsenal and also took certain limited steps toward assuming military command over the remaining Soviet nuclear forces in the period 1992–1994.

Ultimately, however, Ukraine decided to transfer the remaining ex-Soviet nuclear weapons to Russia. After several years of negotiations and diplomatic pressure, Ukraine, the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom signed the so-called Budapest Memorandum in December 1994. This memorandum contained assurances that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be respected. Ukraine accordingly did not obtain the security guarantees it wanted. Even so, Russia undertook to respect Ukraine’s borders and sovereignty. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea in violation of this undertaking.

Russia is not confining itself to nuclear threats in order to achieve its military goals in its war in Ukraine. The Russian government is also making allegations about Ukraine’s nuclear capacity in an attempt to justify the war. Russian officials, including the foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, claim that Ukraine has Soviet nuclear technology and delivery systems. It also accuses the Ukrainian government of having plans to develop nuclear weapons within a few months. This week, Lavrov said, among other things, that Russia was forced to intervene to prevent Ukraine from developing its own nuclear weapons.

Russia is unlikely to persuade many that this war was a preemptive or preventive attack intended to deny Ukraine from developing nuclear weapons. Even so, the allegation supports a Russian narrative that blames the Ukraine (and NATO) for the war.

Iraq, Libya and Ukraine?

  • What should we make of Ukraine’s choice to give up the Soviet nuclear arsenal in light of current events?
  • Should Ukraine have kept its Soviet nuclear weapons?
  • Could this have allowed Ukraine to avoid annexation and war?

The answers to these questions have become part of the broader debate about the current crisis, and are likely to feature in future debates about nuclear weapons and international security.

U.S. accounts of this process suggest that Ukraine did not have adequate control over the nuclear arsenal, and had no realistic choice but to hand over the weapons. From this perspective, then, Ukraine did not really have much of a choice with regards to the fate of the inherited Soviet nuclear arsenal.

In contrast, one might argue that Ukraine’s government could have chosen a different path in the 1990s. Notably, Budjeryn emphasizes that the Ukrainians did have a choice, and that they made the right one by not retaining the Soviet weapons, despite their misgivings about Russia’s intentions. Ukraine was under strong diplomatic pressure, including from the United States, which limited the set of feasible options available to the new state in the early 1990s.

Countries such as North Korea and Iran have previously pointed to countries such as Iraq and Libya, which phased out their nuclear weapons programmes and whose regimes were later toppled, as an argument for being wary of dismantling nuclear weapons programs due to pressure or as part of agreements with other states.

Last week, North Korea conducted a new missile test. Negotiations about a much-weakened Iran agreement are at a critical juncture. It is possible that the case of Ukraine will be perceived or cited by other states as an example of why a country should not disarm of nuclear weapons due to risks of future aggression.

For this reason, it is important to emphasize that the situation of Ukraine differs from that of countries that dismantled nuclear weapons programmes, such as Iraq and Libya, prior to acquiring nuclear weapons. Ukraine chose to give up Soviet nuclear weapons in return for a Russian assurance that it would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As Ukraine’s nuclear history is becoming part of Russia’s narrative about the war, and even its casus belli, it is important to emphasize these facts.

What does this mean for Norway?

Russia’s nuclear threats and behavior illustrate how nuclear weapons states can use nuclear weapons as a shield for conducting conventional aggression against other states.… it could become even more
challenging to put in place nuclear risk reduction measures and arms control agreements that can reduce the risks of a
destabilizing arms race …

This is, unfortunately, not an unprecedented challenge for NATO or other states with nuclear-armed adversaries. Pakistan has adopted similar tactics against India in the past. There are fears that China will do the same against Taiwan. The best response to such threats in Europe and Asia is to strengthen conventional military capabilities. This will be a key challenge for Norway and our NATO allies in the future.

These challenges have implications for Norwegian security. For several years, Norway’s intelligence service has pointed to arms races and regional rivalries as a key concern. The Russian nuclear threats illustrate the challenges that this can entail for European security.

Looking ahead, it could become even more challenging to put in place nuclear risk reduction measures and arms control agreements that can reduce the risks of a destabilizing arms race near our borders.

Babylon the Great Needs to Nuke Up: Daniel 7

Vadim Savitsky

In the wake of Russia’s invasion, the US must refocus on nuclear deterrence

Doug Lamborn

Wed, March 9, 2022, 7:20 AM·4 min read

Following its unconscionable invasion of Ukraine, Russia has appallingly chosen to cast a nuclear shadow over the already unimaginable situation it created.

While this is likely an ill-advised attempt to broadcast Russian strength as its invasion of Ukraine proceeds at a much less successful pace than he expected, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and posturing are highly provocative and unprecedented. Russia’s brandishing of its nuclear capabilities when its security is not threatened is further evidence of an unsafe security environment that requires a continued commitment to a strong American nuclear deterrent.

To some degree, Russia’s force structure design makes it inevitable its nuclear weapons will be flaunted any time it uses military power. It has reportedly deployed its Iskander missile systems to fire short-range conventional missiles into Ukraine, but these systems are dual-capable, meaning they can also launch nuclear-armed missiles. Media reports also indicate Russia sent its Kinzhal nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles to Kaliningrad as a part of its force buildup in advance of its invasion of Ukraine. Deployment of these systems signals anyone seeking to challenge Russia to back off.

On multiple occasions during the Ukraine crisis, Russia has directly told the West to stay out of the war. As Russia made its final preparations to invade Ukraine, Vladimir Putin rescheduled and executed a strategic nuclear weapon exercise designed to send a signal to the West. After it began invading, Putin piled onto this warning by saying that countries that interfered in defense of Ukraine would suffer “consequences you have never seen,” a clear nuclear threat. And a few days later, Putin put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert into a “combat readiness” posture.

Despite paying lip service to the principle that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” signed onto by the P5 countries in January, Russia has blatantly demonstrated it does not adhere to this long-held norm. While it is unlikely Russia would use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, Putin’s nuclear brandishing while conducting the largest land war in Europe since World War II clearly shows that nuclear weapons remain a prevalent 21st-century concern.

Unfortunately for the Biden administration’s ambitions to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in America’s military strategy, the adversary gets a vote. Russia has the most nuclear weapons on Earth. This stark reality contrasts with the picture painted by the arms control community that treaties with Russia have achieved an equitable nuclear relationship.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is often held up as an ideal arms control arrangement that keeps both American and Russian strategic nuclear weapon systems at 1,550 each. However, upon enactment of New START in 2011, Russia made a conscious decision to pursue an expansion of its non-treaty-covered non-strategic nuclear weapon systems, otherwise known as battlefield nuclear weapons. As a result, Russia now has about 2,000 non-strategic nuclear weapons, while the United States has only 200. Some of these Russian non-strategic systems were even developed in violation of the long-standing Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, resulting in America’s prudent withdrawal in 2019.

When negotiating the renewal of New START, the Biden administration opted to maintain the status quo. As the administration develops its Nuclear Posture Review, rumors abound it may even aim to reduce America’s nuclear weapons.

During the Trump administration, the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) recommended a continued commitment to modernization of the air, land and sea legs of America’s nuclear triad. The 2018 NPR further suggested two supplemental nuclear capabilities be added to enhance deterrence of Russia’s growing non-strategic nuclear arsenal: a low-yield ballistic missile and a nuclear sea-launched cruise missile. Russia’s nuclear brandishing during the Ukraine crisis makes the supplemental capabilities put forward in 2018 even more necessary.

We have found ourselves in a precarious situation. Russia’s larger nuclear arsenal is almost entirely modernized, while the United States is just now starting the process of acquiring new systems to replace decades-old platforms. Many of our nuclear systems are even being replaced on a one-to-one basis, meaning any delay would result in the reduced capacity of our nuclear deterrent.

The United States must demonstrate resolve and recommit to a strengthened nuclear deterrence posture. It is essential for the protection of our homeland and forces, as well as our allies to whom we extend nuclear deterrence. The credibility of our nuclear deterrent rests on the capability of our nuclear forces, and at this moment, we must choose strength over weakness.

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., is ranking member of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee.

Russia is Ready to Start a Nuclear War: Daniel 7

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference at the Moscow Manege on December 23, 2021 in Moscow, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual news conference at the Moscow Manege on December 23.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

‘All bets are off’: Russia has a massive arsenal of battlefield nukes, and there’s heated debate about whether a desperate Putin might use it

Julie Coleman,John Haltiwanger

Wed, March 9, 2022, 11:56 AM·5 min read

A few days after ordering the invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin shifted his country’s nuclear forces to a state of alert he called “special combat readiness,” stirring fears of nuclear war.

Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling, while alarming, is at this point most likely a blaring signal for NATO not to get involved in Russia and Ukraine’s conflict, experts said. But concerns are rising of the still-slim possibility that Russia could try to strengthen its stalling offensive with a tactical nuke. This is a subject of pressing debate among experts Insider interviewed.

“We certainly should be worried about his saber-rattling — that is irresponsible and reckless,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

“Whether we should be worried about whether he will actually use them I think is another question,” he continued, “because there are no indications that I’ve heard of that he has taken any steps, unique steps to ready the forces to do such a thing.”

If Russia were to use nuclear weapons, it’s likely they would use tactical weapons, also known as battlefield nukes, which are designed to be used on a smaller scale — on the battlefield or for a limited strike. These Russian warheads can be fitted to cruise missiles, torpedoes, or bombs to obliterate a bunker, naval base, or air defenses. While powerful, their blasts are typically smaller by a factor of 60 or more from Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, some of which carry multiple thermonuclear warheads.

While both the United States and Russia have decreased their tactical nuclear arsenal since the Cold War, Russia is estimated to have about 2,000 tactical nukes — far and away the world’s largest low-yield arsenal — while the US has about two hundred. This disparity could encourage Russia to take greater nuclear risks against a non-NATO enemy like Ukraine, as well as make Moscow more likely to undermine NATO’s nuclear credibility, according to an analysis by the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation.

Kristensen said Putin’s move could be a “bravado type of chest-thumping,” but, more than that, it’s “a very pointed message to NATO not to get involved.”

Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and a nuclear-proliferation expert, echoed Kristensen in a March 1 interview.

“Every time Putin has talked about nuclear weapons in the last week, it has been with a view to warning NATO,” he said. “It has not been with any reference to Ukraine. So as long as NATO stays out of the fight, I think that it’s less of a concern,” he said of tactical nuclear warfare.

The consequences of nuclear combat are so extreme, with deaths measured in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, that some argue the West can’t assume Putin is bluffing, a view that is shaping the Biden administration’s response. And as Putin’s offensive struggles and NATO reiterates it will not defend Ukraine, some experts warn that an increasingly desperate Putin could have reasons to turn to a battlefield nuke.

The Project 955A (Borei A) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Knyaz Oleg sets off on its first sea trial in the White Sea.
The Project 955A (Borei A) nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine Knyaz Oleg sets off on its first sea trial in the White Sea.Oleg Kuleshov\TASS via Getty Images

If Russia were to use tactical nukes, the results would almost certainly be catastrophic, with researchers at Princeton University estimating more than 91 million people in Russia, the US, and NATO-allied countries could be killed within three hours. The researchers, from Princeton’s Science and Global Security lab, created a simulation that shows one tactical “nuclear warning shot” from Russia could quickly devolve into full-blown nuclear war.

“This project is motivated by the need to highlight the potentially catastrophic consequences of current US and Russian nuclear war plans. The risk of nuclear war has increased dramatically in the past two years,” the project states on its website.

President Joe Biden has made it clear that the US has no interest in provoking Russia and is trying to walk a fine line of hammering Russia with economic sanctions and continuing to arm Ukraine’s military without being viewed by Russia as a combatant.

“Provocative rhetoric like this regarding nuclear weapons is dangerous, adds to the risk of miscalculation, should be avoided and we’ll not indulge in it,” the White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in late February.

Although most experts agree that the chances of nuclear war are extremely low, some are concerned that Putin would use a tactical nuke if he were to become desperate enough.

Retired Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, a former defense attaché to Russia and senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, is worried that Putin, in his desperation, could use a “small nuclear weapon” to keep the US and NATO out of the conflict.

“It’s not a good thing, and it’s not something I think everybody wants to jump to — including Putin,” Ryan said. “But this is everything for him now,” he said of the war with Ukraine. “If he doesn’t accomplish this, his own people will take him out.”

Jonathan Katz, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, said that Putin’s nuclear threats should be taken “quite seriously.”

“The difference between this conflict and Chechnya, Syria, and other attacks in the past is that NATO and the United States are standing right now on the other side of the border, directly arming and supporting Ukraine and Ukrainians to defend their country,” Katz said.

“Putin is calculating right now, if this spills over into something more significant he may decide to use whatever weapon is at his disposal,” Katz continued. “If he feels that this is going beyond Ukraine into these other spaces, including with NATO and the United States, I think all bets are off the table.”

The Russian Horn Threatens the Obama Deal

Iran regime’s nuclear talk at a ‘sharp and dangerous turn’

ByJUBIN KATIRAIE

MARCH 7, 2022

With the nuclear talks reaching their final hours, and the Iranian regime remaining steadfast in promoting positive progress, Iran’s state media are now expressing scepticism and despair. They have stated that the negotiations, at its ‘final turn’, have reached a ‘dangerous, sharp and bumpy turn.’ A turn that has increased the possibility of the regime’s demise.

The media outlets are now speaking about the failure of the Vienna talks. In an interview with the state-run daily Jahan-e Sanat on March 3, Ali Bigdeli, one of the regime’s international affairs experts, said: “The status of the talks has changed slightly since Tuesday afternoon. The reason for this change may be partly due to our comments and positions on Russia. In other words, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine greatly affected the negotiating environment, which is why Mr. Ulyanov has left the negotiating path. On the other hand, the Westerners have said because of the positions and statements of our senior officials in support of Russia that they may leave the negotiating table by the end of the week if the talks do not reach the desired result.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also called for inspections of undisclosed sites with their own inspectors. If the agency does not report positively on the inspections, the negotiation process will be greatly affected.

The result of this critical situation has put the Iranian regime in a strange position. This coupled with the prospects of European and American sides withdrawing from the negotiation process, we will get a clearer picture of the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s weakness.

Bigdeli has also admitted that the regime’s efforts to lift all sanctions have completely failed. He said, “The Americans have separated the four areas of the (nuclear) sanctions, human rights, missiles, and regional issues, and are now ready to lift the sanctions (related to the JCPOA), but in three other areas, they suggest that negotiations continue after the JCPOA. But Iran does not want to accept this. Given that by no means it is possible that the Americans close their eyes on none JCPOA sanctions, the situation has become increasingly difficult in many ways.

The state-run daily, Javan, affiliated with the regime’s Revolutionary Guards, also expressed the same frustration. It wrote, “Evidence shows that the US-based mafia has not responded positively to any of Iran’s legal demands and continues to beat the drum with its arrogant and mafia-style bullying and refuses to be flexible and give Iran the slightest concessions.”

The dailywarned of the regime’s ‘sheer loss’ and ‘chain JCPOAs until the complete erosion of (the regime’s) power’, noting that that it would have to address the missile, regional, and human rights issues In the next phase of negotiations.

As such, it can be said that with the start of the current war in Ukraine, the regime mistakenly thought it could play an offensive role in the nuclear talks by supporting Russia and changing the situation in its own favor. However, now it is worried that Russia will use the regime as its card in the negotiations to strike a balance with the West.

As it stands right now, the regime is on a deadly path. Either it chooses to accept the current situation and makes ‘tough decisions’ under the threat of its western counterparts leaving the negotiations, or it will leave the talks itself and accepts the danger awaiting them.

The last scenario, as Bigdeli said, is equivalent to the regime’s confrontation with the IAEA, which would likely lead to the IAEA’s Board of Governors urging the adoption of a resolution by the UN Security Council, as well as the return of all six previous sanction resolutions.
If the regime does not comply with the demands of its western interlocutors will be crushed under the weight of increasing social crises and protests, and the hammer of international political and economic pressures. The accelerating developments will not just stop here, and the situation will change from bad to worse. It is apparent that the newly created parameters show us that time is against the regime.

We Are On The Brink Of Nuclear War: Revelation 16

RT editor-in-chief on Tuesday Maria Baronova resigned after publicly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Maria Baronova fears ‘we’re on the brink of a nuclear war’ after quitting Russian state-run media over Ukraine

‘I wouldn’t lose my salary and job if I was sure that we are going to be alive for many years,’ Baronova told Fox News Digital

March 7, 2022 1:07pm EST

EXCLUSIVE – Maria Baronova resigned as editor-in-chief of Russia Today, a state-run media operation also known as RT, last week after condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. She’s well aware that anyone who speaks out against the Kremlin could be in danger – but personal safety is the least of Baronova’s concerns.

“The problem is, I know these people very well. They never send threats, they just kill, so there is kind of [a] weird silence around me, but I really think we’re on the brink of a nuclear war right now. I’m not exaggerating,” Baronova told Fox News Digital from Moscow, via a WhatsApp call. 

“I have a son, I can’t leave because his father won’t allow me to leave with him, and so I just prefer to stay in Moscow … It seems like we’re either in North Korea or we are going to be killed by a thermonuclear mushroom,” she said. “I wouldn’t quit, and I wouldn’t lose my salary and job if I was sure that we are going to be alive for many years, but I really don’t know what is going to happen to all of us next.”  

While many around the globe are gravely concerned Putin would resort to nuclear weapons, Baronova is worried his behavior will make Russia the target of a catastrophic attack. 

“I suspect the Western world will use it,” Baronova said. “This is a very dangerous situation.” 

The blunt Baronova agreed to talk to Fox News Digital until her son’s food was ready. She explained that the last straw before quitting RT wasn’t any sort of on-air propaganda, but rather an Instagram message from her colleague who wrote, “If you are now ashamed of being Russian, don’t worry, you are not Russian,” as Putin’s invasion of Ukraine intensified. 

“I was really disturbed by that tone and level of support,” Baronova said, noting that she publicly responded to her now-former coworker’s message.

“If I chose to be with Russia, this does not mean that I should walk in a totalitarian system, be silent or, for example, rejoice that the regime, which I do not want for my country, is being exported somewhere else,” Baronova wrote. “And this regime will finally turn our life into one endless hell. What’s there. Already turned.”

Baronova then stepped down from the state-run network. 

“That was the moment I decided, ‘OK, that’s it,’” she said.  

Baronova said she hasn’t garnered much support from fellow Russians since leaving RT and is seen as an opposition activist. But this isn’t the first time Baronova found herself in the public eye for opposing Putin’s regime. 

She was featured in a 2012 New York Times piece headlined, “A Face of the Russian Protest Movement,” that detailed the time she was charged with inciting a riot while protesting Putin winning a third term. In 2014, Rolling Stone said she was “for a short while, one of the most visible protesters in Moscow,” in a piece that detailed anti-Putin activism led by the punk band Pussy Riot.

Her life was upended after the arrest and she eventually went to work for Dozhd, Russia’s top independent TV channel which is also known as TV Rain and famously critical of Putin. 

Baronova, who was by then a single mother, jumped ship to RT in 2019, irking fellow Putin oppositionists who felt she was abandoning the movement by joining state-run media. 

“People felt betrayed when I decided to join RT,” she said. “But I decided on purpose in order to have a reasonable conversation with people who are in power right now in Russia.”

Last week, Russian authorities accused TV Rain of peddling “false information regarding the actions of Russian military personnel as part of a special operation” in Ukrainec, and Baronova’s prior network was promptly forced off the air as Putin purged non-state media.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to female flight attendants in comments  broadcast on state television on Saturday, March 5, 2022. (Image: Reuters Video)(Reuters Video)

Baronova’s two previous employers have suffered different fates over the past few days, as RT remains on air and has echoed Putin’s message throughout the Ukraine invasion. 

Baronova, who was the managing editor of RT’s Russian language unit, said she wanted to bring positivity to the state-run outlet and much of her responsibilities focused on covering problems with social institutions. Baronova said she also spent much of her time at RT working on a fundraiser for mothers of children with cerebral palsy, and she was largely kept out of conversations regarding which Kremlin talking points would be spouted by the outlet despite her editor-in-chief title.

Roughly three years after joining the state-run news organization with hopes of forcing change, the activist-turned-journalist had seen enough after Putin’s ruthless attack on Ukraine that was supported by many of her now-former RT colleagues. 

“I have nothing else to talk about with them,” she said. “Our own government is bombing our relatives, our friends.”

Baronova feels many Russians are “brainwashed” and some even buy Putin’s claim that the attack was needed to help “denazify” Ukraine, which the Kremlin has insisted was the true aggressor. Putin has claimed he wants to purge Ukraine of fascism; such messages, experts have told Fox News Digital, are appealing in Russia since loathing for the defeated Nazi Germany regime runs deep.

“I try to talk with people on the streets… they even had arguments like, ‘We are fighting with Hitler,’ but look, I’ve got some news. Hitler died 80 years ago,” she said. “It seems like they’re really brainwashed.”

Putin has cracked down on non-state news since the invasion of Ukraine began, with social media platforms and independent news operations forced to shut down for refusing to parrot propaganda. Some locals don’t mind that Putin has silenced non-state media and a Moscow taxi driver even told Baronova the now-shuttered TV Rain was filled with “traitors” who opposed the Kremlin.  

“A lot of people have these kind of sentiments,” she said. 

Despite Putin’s attempt to control messaging related to the Ukraine invasion, Baronova is baffled that people still buy into his narrative when accurate information can be found by anyone eager to find it. 

“We have internet like everybody else in this world, and you can’t hide information from people in the era of the internet, so I don’t understand how they can be brainwashed. How can they be saying that Russia is fighting with Hitler collaborators in Ukraine when Hitler died 80 years ago? But they really have these kinds of conversations,” Baronova said, noting that some Russians have begun to open their eyes because of sanctions and American companies pulling out of the nation. 

“People were in favor on [the] first day of invasion. Now they are less convinced and much more skeptical because they understand now that they are going to lose their jobs, they are going to lose their cars, their iPhones, their everything,” she said. “So, let’s see what that are going to say in a month … The whole world is in a bad position.”

Painting a bleak picture, Baronova said it feels like 1945, the final year of World War II before quickly correcting herself.

“Probably more like 1939,” she said, referring to the year that World War II began. “It is really pointless to predict anything … We are watching a lie on my TV.” 

Suddenly, Baronova had to go, as her son’s meal was ready – she told him to please put down his phone and eat. Before hanging up, she had one final message for Americans.  

“Russians love their children, too,” she said. “Stay safe. Everybody, stay safe.” 

Fox News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.

Will the Russian Horn Go Nuclear? Daniel 7

Russian leader Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with the head of Russia's Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, a big business lobby group, at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 2, 2022.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with the head of Russia’s Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, a big business lobby group, at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 2, 2022. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Will Russia Go Nuclear?

Probably not, but that ultimately depends on factors out of our control, including Putin himself.

BY TOM Z. COLLINA

POLICY DIRECTOR, PLOUGHSHARES FUND

MARCH 4, 2022

President Joe Biden had a quick answer when he was asked on Monday whether Americans should be concerned about nuclear war. “No,” he said.

Well, not so fast. The question was motivated by Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s recent threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, where he is leading a brutal and unjustified war. Putin will probably not go nuclear, but that ultimately depends on factors out of our control, including Putin himself. Given the catastrophic consequences of atomic weapons, that should be deeply concerning.

Indeed, according to recent polling, 63 percent of Americans are worried about Russia launching a nuclear attack. And no wonder. Before the invasion even started, Russia test-fired nuclear-capable missiles as part of “planned” exercises as tension rose. Soon after the invasion, Putin reminded the world that Russia “remains one of the most powerful nuclear states” and he threatened “consequences you have never faced in your history” for “anyone who tries to interfere with us,” a clear nuclear threat to anyone who might come to Ukraine’s aid.

Then on Sunday, Putin told his top defense officials to put Russian nuclear forces on “special combat readiness,” a heightened alert status that could raise new dangers. The Biden administration did the right thing by not raising its alert levels in response, which could have led to Russian escalation. Instead, U.S. ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield rightly criticized Putin for “another escalatory and unnecessary step that threatens us all.”

Soon after, Moscow’s ally Belarus approved a constitutional change that would allow Russian nuclear weapons to be based there—again. Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko said he could ask Russia to return nuclear weapons to Belarus if the West transfers nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania. (For what it’s worth, Russian state media confirmed that Lukashenko said this, then denied he said it.) Thus, we could have nuclear weapons back in Belarus, and possibly Ukraine, after they were removed 30 years ago.

So, is this just saber-rattling or a more serious reflection of Putin’s intensions?

It is not inconceivable that Putin could use nuclear weapons in Ukraine if he thought he might lose the war without them. A defeat in Ukraine would be a severe blow to Putin’s standing back home, one that he might fear could cripple his ability to survive as president. Putin also has reason to worry about increased economic sanctions from the West, which so far have sent the ruble crashing by almost 30 percent. At what point does a threat to Russia’s economy become a threat to Putin himself?

At the same time, Putin must be aware of the international backlash that using nuclear weapons in Ukraine would cause. A nuclear attack, depending on the size, could kill tens of thousands to millions of people in a country that has no nuclear weapons because it gave them back to Russia in 1994. The Bomb has not been used in combat for 77 years and its use now would be devastating not only to Russia’s already-low standing but to global peace and security. Yet Putin might not be deterred from going nuclear against Ukraine, because he may think he could get away with it. Washington, for example, would be highly reluctant to attack Russia with conventional or nuclear weapons for the obvious reason that Moscow might then attack the United States. 

Russia could also blunder into using nuclear weapons by mistake. Even if Moscow does not increase its alert levels, some of its forces are already ready to launch within minutes. A paranoid Putin who imagines signs of an incoming attack might give such an order. False alarms have happened before and are a particular concern in an age of cyberattacks where nuclear command-and-control systems in both the U.S. and Russia are vulnerable.   

What if Putin has become unstable? James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, said, “I personally think he’s unhinged. I worry about his acuity and balance.” In Russia, as in the Unites States, the president has unilateral authority to launch nuclear weapons. This must change.

Russia bears full responsibility for its shockingly irresponsible actions. And yet there is much that both sides could have done to avoid this situation. Nuclear history is filled with missed opportunities. Thirty years after the Cold War, we still have excessive U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals on alert, ready to launch in a first strike. We must revive the political will to change these dangerous policies.

The United States and Russia, which together control 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, have downplayed their dangers for far too long, and now we are paying the price. If we can get out of this crisis without a nuclear bomb being used in anger, we need to refocus our energies on reducing nuclear risks. Should Americans be concerned about nuclear war? Unfortunately, yes. Ignoring it will not make us safer.

Tom Collina is director of policy at Ploughshares Fund and co-author, with former Defense Secretary William Perry, of the book “The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump.” 

Nuclear threats from Russia and China will ‘become a reality’

Nuclear Threat: Should we be worried about Russia’s nuke move? on Feb 28, 2022. (Sky News/Screenshot via TheBL/Youtube)

US Admiral: Nuclear threats from Russia and China could ‘become a reality’

TheBL Staff a day ago 44 views

Admiral Charles Richard, head of the U.S. Strategic Command, warned on March 1 that the United States is facing two governments ready to deploy nuclear arsenals.

His statements came amid the backdrop of Russia’s readiness to conjure nuclear warheads in the invasion of Ukraine while it is under constraining sanctions from world powers.

Moscow’s behavior has somewhat indicated its close ally China’s potential actions in the face of international condemnation.

Richard told the House Armed Services Committee that “Today, we face two nuclear-capable near-peers who have the capability to unilaterally escalate a conflict to any level of violence in any domain worldwide, with any instrument of national power, and that is historically significant.”

He said it has become “imperative” for the United States to pay attention to countering both Russia and China. The hazards from both governments were still perceived as significant concerns just last year.

But he said that concern “has now become a reality.”

China last fall astonished expectations of its arms advances when it tested nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles. A situation in which Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley referred to as a “Sputnik moment.”

There were also reports that China was building hundreds of additional nuclear silos. The Pentagon warned that China might develop 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030.

Richard was confident that the U.S. is still on track with its weaponry advances, saying that “The nation’s nuclear command and control is in its most defended, most resilient lineup that it’s ever been in its history.”

However, noting that the U.S. doesn’t know “the endpoint of where [China] is going,” he said it was critical to maintaining close supervision of the country’s arms development.

He said, “While I’m very confident we’re going to wind up with a very good strategy, I think it will need to be a question that we continue to ask ourselves as we see where China goes, as we see where others go. What are the overall capability and capacity that the United States requires in order to execute that strategy against a changing threat.”

“We’re going to have to ask that question much more frequently than we have in the past.”

China Horn Worried About Russia: Daniel 7

Business Insider
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Getty Images

China broke its silence on Russia’s invasion to say it is ‘gravely concerned’ about Ukraine’s nuclear plants after Russia attacked one

Sophia Ankel

Fri, March 4, 2022, 4:31 AM·2 min read

  • Russian forces attacked Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Friday.
  • It prompted China to say it was “gravely concerned” about Ukraine’s nuclear safety.
  • The comments mark a break in China’s apparent hesitancy to condemn Russia.

China broke its silence on Ukraine to say it is “gravely concerned” about the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear plants after Russia attacked one on Friday.

Russian forces attacked and later seized Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant early Friday morning. Ukrainian officials said the attack caused a fire that was later subdued, and that radiation levels were stable.

The attack prompted the Chinese foreign ministry to say it was concerned about Ukraine’s nuclear safety and to urge “calm and restraint” by Russian forces, marking a departure from China’s overall avoidance to comment on Russia’s actions in Ukraine so far.

“China attaches great importance to nuclear safety and is gravely concerned about the safety and security situation of nuclear facilities in Ukraine,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a Friday press conference.

“We will continue to closely monitor the developments of the situation, and call on relevant parties to keep calm and exercise restraint, prevent further escalation of the situation and ensure the safety of relevant nuclear facilities.”

Smoke at nuclear plant in Ukraine
Smoke and fires could be seen near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.Screenshot/YouTube

China is one of the nine countries in the world recorded to have nuclear weapons.

Beijing has avoided outright condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin since he launched a full invasion into Ukraine.

Earlier this week, China abstained on voting at the United Nations to sanction Russia and demand the withdrawal of Russian troops. Last week, it also criticized Western nations for imposing sanctions on Russia over the invasion, saying that punishment never works.

That being said, China has appeared to distance itself from Russia in recent days.

On Monday, Wang told reporters that China and Russia were “comprehensive strategic partners of coordination” — a notable change from the Chinese foreign ministry’s announcement just last year that the two countries were “better than allies.”

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also told his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, that China “regrets” the Russia-Ukraine conflict, according to a Chinese foreign ministry readout.