Macron Declares France a Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Macron ‘broke the nuclear taboo’: Poland rebuffs France’s play for European independence from US

by Joel Gehrke  | February 17, 2020 09:29 AM

MUNICH — French President Emmanuel Macron sees his country’s nuclear arsenal as a military key to political leadership in the European Union, according to U.S. and European officials.

“We can say that he broke [the] nuclear taboo, to a certain extent, which is a serious thing for societies to remind that there is such a thing like nuclear threats,” Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told the Washington Examiner in an exclusive interview after the Munich Security Conference. “Everybody knows there are nuclear weapons, but we do not talk about that. You start to talk; you want to show something.”

The full scope of Macron’s ambition remains unclear, but he has invoked France’s nuclear weapons repeatedly in the weeks since the United Kingdom left the EU. He returned to that theme on Saturday, touting the value of that arsenal in political disputes with the United States, such as the fissure between Washington and European capitals over the value of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

We have to create our own capability that bestows credibility on us, so that we can protect ourselves and that we can be able to act,” Macron said during a question-and-answer session at the conference. “If we do not have the ability to act, then in foreign policy, we will not be credible, especially with regards to the United States.”

The French leader offered that exhortation to explain why he believes that “our nuclear forces … strengthen the security of Europe through their very existence, and they have, in this sense, a truly European dimension,” as he put it in a major Feb. 7 speech.

Macron emphasized to the European assembly that he is offering “to conduct joint exercises” involving France’s nuclear weapons, even though Paris refuses to participate in such exercises with NATO, which relies on the American nuclear arsenal.

“We can … talk about U.S. nuclear assets but not about British or French nuclear assets because it always had to go through the United States,” he said before calling for cooperation with Germany in particular. “I know this debate is not easy in Germany, but I do believe that we have to conduct a calm debate, a level-headed debate, so we can not always have to go through the United States. No. We have to think in a European way as well.”

Berlin’s hesitance to yield to Paris the kind of political leadership that would come with a dependence on a French nuclear umbrella might undercut Macron’s attempt to establish a new “strategic culture” in Europe.

The German establishment is quite divided in responding to the reality that in the EU, France is today after Brexit the only nuclear power,” NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said during a recent Washington Examiner interview. “I think there is a long, long way between having these capabilities and eventually offering them. But when it comes to NATO, I think the U.S. nuclear deterrence is the only active policy.”

Czaputowicz, allowing that “France might contribute to common security,” echoed Geoana.

“From our perspective, of course, transatlantic relations are the only guarantor for our security,” he said, noting that the American arsenal is the only one big enough “to create a real deterrence for the Russians.”

India’s Hypersonic Missile Could Start A Nuclear War

February 14, 2020, 7:38 PM UTCKey Point: The situation depends on Pakistan’s reaction.

India’s test of a hypersonic missile signifies more than the advance of Indian weapons technology.

It also is one step closer to triggering a nuclear war with Pakistan.

Ironically, the first launch of the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle, or HSTDV, was a failure. The HSTDV, which is shaped almost like a sailing ship, is supposed to be a testbed for developing future hypersonic weapons such as cruise missiles. It is launched atop an Agni 1, an Indian ballistic missile.

“The vehicle was test launched using the Agni 1 missile platform that was to take it up to a predetermined altitude where scramjet technology—the ability to fly at speeds in excess of Mach 6 while using atmospheric oxygen as oxidizer—had to be validated with separation of the platform and a short flight at high altitude,” according to India’s Economic Times.

“Sources said that while the missile on which the platform was mounted successfully took off from the range, the test could not be completed to demonstrate the vehicle at hypersonic speed as the Agni 1 did not reach the desired altitude for the test. Scientists are looking at the technical reasons behind this and are studying all available data.”

While that doesn’t necessarily mean the HSTDV has a problem, it’s not good news for India’s strategic nuclear deterrent. “The Agni 1 is a nuclear-capable missile that is in service with the strategic forces and has been successfully tested several times in the past,” noted the Economic Times. “Its failure to reach the desired altitude is a reason for concern and is being studied.”

The French Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

France’s Nuclear Weapons Have Kept It A Military Powerhouse In Europe

France’s nuclear weapons arsenal began in earnest on February 13th, 1960, with the country’s first nuclear weapons test.

Key point: The resurgence of Russian military power—and the will to use it—will likely keep Paris a nuclear power for the foreseeable future.

France was the fourth country to join the so-called “Nuclear Club,” and at the height of the Cold War maintained its own nuclear triad of land-based missiles, nuclear-armed bombers and ballistic missile submarines. Today, France’s sea-based nuclear deterrent is the home of most of its nuclear arsenal, with four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, of French design and construction, providing constant assurance against surprise nuclear attack.

France’s nuclear weapons arsenal began in earnest on February 13th, 1960, with the country’s first nuclear weapons test. The test, code-named “Gerboise Bleue” (Blue Desert Rat) confirmed that France had the know-how to build its own weapons. It also confirmed that France had the nuclear know-how to part ways with the United States and NATO and chart its own course versus the Soviet Union.

France began working on its own naval nuclear propulsion program in 1955, under what was known as Project Coelacanth. The first effort to build a nuclear-powered submarine, Q.244, was to be the first of five nuclear ballistic missile submarines. The effort to develop Q.244 was a failure, due to the inability of nuclear engineers to sufficiently miniaturize the reactor, and the submarine was cancelled in 1959. A subsequent project to develop a land-based reactor, PAT 1, was a success and led to development of Q.252, which became the submarine Le Redoutable.

At the same time, France’s defense industry was working diligently to produce a submarine-launched ballistic missile. The result was the M1 MSBS, or Mer-Sol Balistique Stratégique (Sea-Ground Strategic Ballistic Missile). The M1 was a two stage rocket with a 500 kiloton warhead and a range of 1,553 miles. This was sufficient range for a French ballistic missile submarine in the Bay of Biscay to strike Moscow.

France’s first generation missile submarines, the five submarines of the Le Redoutable class and the single L’Inflexible submarine, were all built at the Cherbourg shipyards and completed between 1971 and 1980. The cancellation of Q.244 may have been fortuitous, as it allowed the United States to make pioneer engineering decision in nuclear ballistic submarine design, something also seen in the Soviet Union’s first generation Yankee-class ballistic missile submarine. The overall layout of the Redoutable class was very similar to the U.S. Navy’s second generation Lafayette-class ballistic missile submarines, with fin-mounted hydroplanes and sixteen missile silos in two rows of eight directly behind the fin.

The first two submarines, Le Redoutable and Le Terrible, carried the M-1 missile, while the third, Le Foudroyant, carried the improved M-2 missile with a longer 1,841 mile range. The next two submarines, L’Indomptable and Le Tonnant had a mix of M-2 missiles and the new M-20, which had the same range but a gigantic 1 megaton thermonuclear warhead. The last submarine, L’Inflexible, carried missiles of a completely new design. Designated M4, the missiles had a 2,474 mile range, allowing them to strike as far east as Kazan.

At the height of France’s nuclear weapons arsenal, 87 percent of France’s nuclear arsenal was in submarines. France’s nuclear submarine fleet, the Force Océanique Stratégique (FOST), was based at Ile Longue in Brest, and FOST submarines were sent on two month patrols off the coast of France and Portugal. Three submarines were to be at sea at any one time, with a fourth also ready to go to sea.

Starting in the mid 1980s, all submarines except for Le Terrible were outfitted with improved M-4A and then M-4B missiles with ranges of up to 3,720 miles and multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, allowing each missile to carry six 150 kiloton warheads. The MIRVing of the M4 increased the firepower of each submarine sixfold.

In addition to their nuclear firepower, the Redoutable class submarines had four 533-millimeter torpedo tubes for self-defense, capable of launching the L5 Mod. 3 anti-submarine torpedo and the F 17 dual-purpose torpedo. They could also launch the SM 39 Exocet anti-ship cruise missile, but the primary mission of ballistic missile submarines is always to avoid detection until their nuclear missiles are needed.

France’s second generation missile submarines, the Triomphant class, were built between 1986 and 2010, a remarkably long timeline for just four submarines but par for the course for post–Cold War shipbuilding. The first in class, Triomphant, began construction in 1986 and was finally commissioned in 1997 while the second, Téméraire, entered the fleet in 1999. The third boat, Vigilant, was commissioned in 2004 while the fourth and final boat, Terrible, was commissioned in 2010.

The Triomphant class is larger than the earlier generation submarines, and indeed shares the same nuclear reactor, the K-15, with the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. The first four ships in class were originally armed with the M45 intermediate-range missile, a solid-fuel design with a range of 3,728 miles. The M45 had an identical loadout to the M4B, carrying six 150-kiloton MIRV warheads, but included penetration aids to overcome ballistic missile defenses.

The last submarine, Terrible, was the first equipped with the current missile, M51. M51 has the same number of six 150 kiloton warheads but goes a step further in defeating ballistic missile defenses as each warhead is capable of independent maneuvers during the terminal descent phase. M51 has a range of nearly 5,000 miles. The new missile is being gradually retrofitted to the entire French ballistic missile submarine fleet.

The resurgence of Russian military power—and the will to use it—will likely keep Paris a nuclear power for the foreseeable future. As small as it is, France’s nuclear arsenal is not designed to win a nuclear war, just not lose one. France’s four nuclear missile submarines will ensure that.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This first appeared several years ago and is being republished due to reader interest.

Image: Reuters.

The Rising French Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Ecole Militaire Friday, Feb. 7, 2020 in Paris.   –   AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool

Macron calls for coordinated EU nuclear defence strategy — with France at centre

•   08/02/2020 – 14:48

euronews (in English)

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Macron calls for coordinated EU nuclear defence strategy — with France at centre

Addressing military officers in Paris on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron called for a more coordinated European Union defence strategy, with France and its nuclear arsenal to play a central role in it.

His speech came one week after Britain has exited the EU, leaving France as Europe’s only nuclear-armed state.

Macron’s vision over nuclear weapons laid emphasis on deterrence theory: countries with such weapons should be less likely to attack each other for fear of mutual destruction, the arms serving therefore as guarantors of peace.

“The strategic stability which goes through the search for a balance of forces at the lowest possible level, is no longer guaranteed today,” he declared. “Behind the crisis of the great instruments of arms control and disarmament, it is the security of France and Europe which is at stake.”

You can watch the speech on the player above by press the ‘play’ button.

Keeping balance with a diminished power

France is one of the nine countries in the world to have nuclear force. It has reduced the size of its arsenal, which today stands at fewer than 300 warheads, Macron confirmed.

Russia and the United States are far ahead with more than 6,000 warheads each.

In addition to this list, with a reduced arsenal, stand China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea.

Macron’s speech comes at a time when NATO allies, who would ordinarily look to the United States for help in a nuclear standoff, worry about Washington’s retreat from the multilateral stage.

This address acts as a long-running push for a stronger European defence, as US President Donald Trump has pulled away from European allies and admonished them to pay more for their own protection.

Stronger ties and further engagements?

The central idea in the speech, however, was that of a boosted Europe-wide role for the French nuclear arsenal in a more coordinated European defense policy.

He called for a collective response from European countries:

Macron’s comments were eagerly awaited after his speech Monday in Warsaw in which he had promised to “take into account” European interests, and after remarks the by a German deputy close to Angela Merkel, Johann Wadephul, who said Berlin must “envisage cooperation with France concerning nuclear weapons.”

Wadephul’s reaction on Twitter showed some engagement: “Europeans should take up immediately Emmanuel Macron’s offer. f it is serious, it is the first step towards integrating French nuclear deterrence into European defense,” he said.

Johann Wadephul

@JoWadephul

But Macron did not open the door much further than it already was, Le Monde noted. For him, “Europeans must be able to decide and act alone when necessary”, because “democracy and law without force do not last long.”

Clouds of the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

Clouds of war

by Editorial , (Last Updated 22 hours ago)

• Time to cool things down

The Washington-based Wilson Centre’s Deputy Director Asia Program, Michael Kugelman, has said that there is a good chance of war between India and Pakistan, when speaking on a private TV channel’s talk show on Saturday. When asked about his article in December predicting this, he said that war was not a certainty, but stood firmly by his opinion that war could happen, because India was being unusually belligerent. This danger is enhanced by the fact that India’s Prime Minister is making bellicose noises, and is being echoed by the Army and Naval Chiefs (the Air Chief presumably silent because of the bloody nose his service got last year, when two planes were shot down, and a pilot captured).

The problem seems to be the fact that such anti-Pakistan rhetoric has worked in the past. Last year’s Pulwama incident came just before the general election, and Narendra Modi’s strong actions thereafter are credited with helping his re-election. Mr Kugelman said that the revocation of Kashmir’s special status and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act had provoked the kind of backlash that could lead Modi to belligerence, adding that he was worried by a possible false-flag operation which would let India provoke a war.

With the BJP losing the Delhi Assembly elections yet again, unless there are any premature dissolutions, Bihar is the only Indian state going to the polls this year. It has always been ruled by other than the BJP, but it is a Cow Belt state where it is eager to win. However, before ratcheting up his rhetoric, Modi should consider the lessons of the Delhi election. It seems that anti-Muslim deeds, such as in Kashmir and the CAA, have not helped. Mr Modi should also remember that, once used, military means can take on a life of their own. One scenario is that an Indian false-flag provokes a Pakistani response, which India tries to meet be committing more resources.

That is horrific enough a scenario, but it should never be forgotten that both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. Neither should ever step on the escalatory ladder which ends in a nuclear exchange that could very well obliterate civilisation as we know it, not just from the region, but the entire world.

Revealing of the French Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

French President Emmanuel Macron meets military officials at the Ecole Militaire, in Paris, France February 7, 2020. © Francois Mori/Pool via REUTERS

Macron unveils nuclear doctrine, warns EU ‘cannot remain spectators’ in arms race

07/02/2020 – 16:33

In a much anticipated speech to military officers graduating in Paris, Macron called on EU member states to play a more direct role in halting a new nuclear arms race, saying they “cannot remain spectators” against a threat to the continent’s collective security.

“In the absence of a legal framework, they could rapidly face a new race for conventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, on their own soil,” said Macron.

Setting out his country’s nuclear strategy in a bid to show leadership a week after nuclear-armed Britain officially exited the EU, Macron highlighted how France sees its nuclear weapons as a deterrent against attacks from belligerent foes.

Macron’s speech comes at a time when long-standing accords on limiting the growth of nuclear arsenals appear increasingly at risk.

The US and Russia have abandoned the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, each blaming the other for breaching its limits, and Washington is threatening to quit the New START arms reduction treaty when it expires next year.

Add to that China’s bid for global sway, there is a strong need for Europe to ensure it does not find itself in the middle of a Cold War-style standoff “which could jeopardise the peace obtained after so many tragedies on our continent”, Macron said.

He warned of “the possibility of a pure and unrestrained military and nuclear competition, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the end of the 1960s”.

“The vital interests of France now have a European dimension,” said Macron, circling back to his central message of a need for a more coordinated European defence policy.

European nations should also insist on being signatories of any new deal to limit the development of new intermediate-range weapons, he noted. “Let us be clear: if negotiations and a more comprehensive treaty are possible… Europeans must be stakeholders and signatories, because it’s our territory” that is most at risk.

Waning US engagement and NATO ‘brain death’

Friday’s speech was part of Macron’s long-running push for a stronger European defence, as US President Donald Trump has pulled away from European allies and admonished other NATO members for not paying more for their own protection.

Macron himself ruffled feathers last year when he noted that the lack of US leadership is causing the “brain death” of the military alliance.

@Elysee

EN DIRECT | Discours du Président @EmmanuelMacron sur la stratégie de défense et de dissuasion depuis l’École militaire.

EN DIRECT | Discours du Président @EmmanuelMacron sur la stratégie de défense et de dissuasion depuis l’École militaire.

Reduced number of warheads and disarmament

France has already reduced the number of its warheads to under 300, Macron said, giving it “the legitimacy to demand concrete moves from other nuclear powers toward global disarmament that is gradual, credible and can be verified”.

But he stopped short of offering to share France’s nuclear deterrence capabilities, a pillar of its security strategy since implemented by Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s.

Germany in particular remains strongly opposed to atomic weapons, although a leader in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, Johann Wadephul, said this week that Paris should consider putting its arsenal under the auspices of the EU or NATO.

Macron invited European partners to engage in a “strategic dialogue” on the deterrent role of France’s nuclear capacity as the country embarks on a costly modernisation of its arsenal.

“Our independence in terms of decision-making is fully compatible with an unshakeable solidarity with our European partners,” Macron said.

Macron also warned of the need for “a greater capacity for autonomous action by Europeans”, who must step up their military spending.

“Why are they not ready to make defence a budget priority and make the necessary sacrifices, even as the risks are growing?” Macron asked.

‘Restore trust with Russia’

His speech came as a diplomatic freeze between the EU and Russia since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine has rekindled fears of fresh conflict along Europe’s eastern flank.

France has broken with some EU nations by recently reaching out to restore dialogue with President Vladimir Putin, who controls the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

“There can be no defence and security project for European citizens without a political vision that seeks to progressively restore trust with Russia,” Macron said.

“We cannot accept the current situation, where the chasm deepens and talks diminish even as the security issues that need to be addressed with Moscow are multiplying.”

Macron did not specify whether Britain, Europe’s other nuclear power, should be part of the deeper EU cooperation now that is has quit the bloc.

But he noted that “since 1995, France and the United Kingdom have stated clearly there is no situation in which a threat to one’s vital interests would not also be a threat to the other’s.”

“Brexit doesn’t change this at all.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

The “Church” and the Russian Nuclear Horn

Russian priests should stop blessing nukes – church

By Tim Stickings For Mailonline and Reuters and Afp 18:37 04 Feb 2020, updated 10:13 05 Feb 2020

A church document proposes that the blessing of weapons should be dropped

• Clergymen have appeared in images blessing missiles, submarines and rockets

• Vladimir Putin and his defence ministry have aligned closely with the church

Russian priests should stop blessing nuclear weapons and other destructive military hardware, the Orthodox church has said. 

Clergymen have long appeared in images sprinkling holy water on submarines, ballistic missiles and Soyuz space rockets as part of rituals to bless them.

But proposals drawn up by a church commission say the blessing of weapons that can kill an ‘indefinite number of people’ should be dropped.

The document published by the church on Monday proposes that the military blessings be ‘removed from pastoral practice’.

‘The blessing of military weapons is not reflected in the tradition of the Orthodox Church and does not correspond to the content of the Rite, the document says.

‘Any type of weapons the usage of which can inflict an indefinite number of deaths, including weapons with indiscriminate effects or weapons of mass destruction’ are set to be removed from the priestly remit.

However, it remains ‘appropriate’ to ‘bless transport used by soldiers on land, water and in the air’, to ask God to protect the men using them, it said.

The proposals will be discussed until June 1 and the public are invited to take part in the debate, the church’s Moscow branch said.

An Orthodox priest blesses Russian paratroopers during a military parade in Stavropol in 2017

Russians often ask priests to bless anything from new cars and flats to Soyuz spaceships in the belief that the gesture bestows divine protection.

President Vladimir Putin and his defence ministry have both aligned themselves closely with the Orthodox church.

Defence minister Sergei Shoigu is currently overseeing the construction of a huge cathedral for Russia’s armed forces outside Moscow.

It is to be opened on May 9, the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in what Russia calls the Great Patriotic War.

Priests have been recruited to bless troops, planes and ships, and all sorts of weapons, from Kalashnikov rifles to nuclear-capable Iskander ballistic missiles.

Since 2010 the military has inducted priests into its ranks, including an airborne unit which can deploy with mobile inflatable chapels.

Here Are Five Deadly Weapons India WILL Use Against Pakistan In a War

Here Are Five Deadly Weapons India Would Use Against Pakistan In a War

February 3, 2020, 9:30 PM MST

Editor’s Note: Please see previous works from our “Weapons of War” series including Five Chinese Weapons of War America Should Fear, Five American Weapons of War China Should Fear, Five Japanese Weapons of War China Should Fear, Five Best Weapons of War from the Soviet Union and Five Taiwanese Weapons of War China Should Fear.

Recently India alleged a series of ceasefire violations—in the form of automatic weapons fire—by Pakistan on the border between the two countries. According to India, it was the sixth attack in just five days. Such events are a reminder that tension remains high on the Indian subcontinent.

The nuclear arsenals of both sides—and the red lines that would trigger their use—have made conventional war much more risky to conduct. The 1999 Kargil War is considered the closest the world has come to a nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis. If India were to use its superiority in ground forces to seize a sizable amount of Pakistani territory, Pakistan could respond with nuclear weapons.

The Real Risk of Nuclear Terrorism (Daniel 8 )

Forum draws attention to threat of nuclear terrorism

Sunday February 2 2020

Yigal Unna, Director General of the Israel National Cyber Directorate during the Cybertech Global Conference in Tel Aviv. PHOTO | FAUSTINE NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The seventh annual Cybertech Global Conference has drawn critical attention to the shock waves of cyberthreats on energy, as attackers devise more advanced tools to control social life even as hyperconnectivity in a rapidly changing technology space becomes inevitable.

Speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the forum, Israel’s Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz stressed the need for governments to use artificial intelligence (AI) to proactively prevent nuclear terrorism.

The near future of cyberdefence must use AI because the field is already very complicated,” he said, adding that more emphasis is needed in protecting nuclear power stations all over the world.

“This is because the calamities that can be caused by attacks on nuclear reactors are beyond imagination. Countries like Iraq can create a lot of havoc to other crucial systems like communication and transportation,” he highlighted.

Accentuating the sensitivity of the energy sector in Israel and the world, he expounded that if cybercriminals manage to paralyse the systems in the energy sector such as solar power stations, electricity transmission and water supply chains, it could be a total disaster.

Having detected a very sophisticated potential attack on power stations that aimed at controlling and vandalising Israel’s energy systems a few months ago, the energy ministry embarked on building an energy cyber-laboratory in Beer Sheva, the cyber-capital in the southern region of the “Start-up Nation”.

Yiftah Ron-Tal, chairperson of the Israel Electric Corporation board, said the future of the energy sector lies within decentralised smart power networks for better cybersecurity.

Predicting that 80 per cent of power consumption and retailing will be on a blockchain by 2040, he underscored that any surface exposed to the sun will be able to generate energy.

“Through a decentralised system, every family will generate power for its needs and sell the surplus in digital tokens to the electric corporation. They will both power consumers, producers and retailers. Every home will own the grid system,” he remarked.

Maj-Gen Ron-Tal also painted the picture of a future of energy where a multidimensional and sectoral power system will connect all devices, and termed it the Internet of Electricity (IoE).

“Through an international peer-to-peer blockchain platform, every power consumer will be connected and payments will be made as tokens of the Wattcoin cryptocurrency to give affordable power to one billion humans who live without power in all five continents,” he exemplified.

Blockchain technology has garnered global popularity due its immutability, decentralised, enhanced security, traceable and data protection features.

However, he warned world governments that technology alone is not enough, since the modern cyber-environment comes with existential threats, where 11,000 attacks per second are launched against power systems.

“The attack surface is endless. The border between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) is not clear anymore. Older systems are no longer unique. The world needs real-time collaboration in threat intelligence,” he told delegates of the second largest cyber-forum outside the United States.

The director-general of the Israeli National Cyber Directorate, Mr Yigal Unna, revealed that cyber-insecurity is sixth on the index of the most potential risks to human life.

“The ecosystem has never been as complex and dangerous, but we have national initiatives to guarantee cybersecurity such as the hotline number 119 which citizens can call whenever they feel insecure. We respond immediately and keep monitoring cyber-risk scores of attacks all over the world,” he said.

While no cyberdefence mechanism can guarantee 100 per cent safety on the internet, Israel tops the world with 95 per cent of live cybersecurity, according to Gartner.

More than 540 Israeli IT companies specialise in cybersecurity, contributing to 46 per cent of GDP in exports, according to Bloomberg.

The industry was born in the late 80s and has grown to be the world’s destination for security on the web, cloud, IoT, air and sea.

The forum, founded seven years ago by veteran military correspondent Amir Rapaport, who doubles as the editor-in-chief of Cybertech and Israel Defense, attracts over 2.5 million visitors ever year from around the world. Mr Rapaport was a journalist for Israeli publications Maariv and Yediot Achronot.

Hundred Seconds to the Bowls of Wrath (Revelation 8 )

Hundred Seconds to Doomsday at Midnight

Physicist and JNU professor emeritus, R Rajaraman explains in an interview to Rashme Sehgal why the clock has been moved to just 100 seconds from doomsday for the human race.

01 Feb 2020

The Doomsday Clock is a striking metaphor for the precarious state of the world, especially since it is backed by rigorous scientific scrutiny. The University of Chicago-based Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) issues an annual warning to the public as to just how close human beings are to extinction.

Physicist and JNU professor emeritus, R Rajaraman, is the only Asian scientist who has been a member of the Board of Science and Security of the Bulletin, which sets the clock annually. He explains in an interview to Rashme Sehgal why the clock has been moved to just 100 seconds from doomsday for the human race.

Why has the Doomsday Clock been moved forward this year?

The Doomsday Clock was started soon after the first nuclear explosion, by scientists who were worried about the future of the world. Many top scientists, inspired by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, decided they needed to start a journal that would highlight the level of danger we face. A very clever artist got the idea of a clock on the cover of each month’s issue of this journal, on whose board have been numerous Nobel laureates.

Midnight on the clock represents the Holocaust or end of the world, caused by nuclear weapons. Every year the Science and Security Board of the bulletin sets the clock. This was meant to indicate how advanced, in their judgement, the prospects of Holocaust are. It slowly acquired the name, Doomsday Clock. The public has also come to be involved with it. At the end of every November, a dozen members assess the situation. I was the only Asian Asian on the Science and Security Board. I joined the board seven years ago; it is a three-year term. I was also asked to serve another term.

It was a very enriching experience. The public announcement of the position of the clock has become a PR event, which is held in Washington in January.  This year, to register additional concerns, they decided to move the clock a 100 seconds closer to Holocaust. Some years ago, they added climate change as another existential threat. Climate scientists are now on the board along with nuclear scientists and strategists in international relations.

Why the additional concerns on the nuclear front ?

Because things are getting worse on the nuclear front. Until a few years back, there were various arms control treaties such as NPT in place and though movement towards disarmament was not as fast as we would have liked, the number of nuclear weapons was coming down (although not in India and Pakistan). That was a healthy direction we were moving in. Most importantly, the relationship between Russia and the United States, which had 90% of the weapons, had gradually improved. Their arsenal of 60,000 nuclear weapons had come down to 16,000 because of gradual negotiations. That is a huge reduction, but if exploded together, they could still reduce civilisation to rubble.

Why was this reversal stopped?

These arsenals reduced until and during [former United States President Barack] Obama’s period. He was the first American president committed to disarmament and took several measures to reduce nuclear weapons. The New START Nuclear Arms Treaty is one example. Obama met then Russian president [Dmitry] Medvedev and they made a joint declaration to make the world nuclear weapons-free. But by the end of Obama’s term, the situation began deteriorating.  President Trump’s coming to power was viewed as a disaster, especially by liberal Americans. In 2016, when I went for the meeting, there was massive of gloom amongst my colleagues. Trump had a one-point agenda to undo whatever Obama had done, whether in the field of healthcare or immigration and of course on nuclear matters.

Trump pulled out from the Iran deal which had been a great step forward towards ending hostilities. The treaty with Iran and countries of Europe had been worked out with great difficulty. There were other treaties that Trump pulled out from, including the INF Treaty which banned a certain class of missiles. Meanwhile, Putin has also become very aggressive in his postures and both these countries are behaving very belligerently.

Trump did try to bring about some détente with North Korea?

Trump’s tweets against the North Korean’s president were very aggressive, but then North Korea developed both nuclear bombs and missiles to carry them all the way to the United States mainland. This was a huge threat to the United States. The only other country that could do so was Russia. Though both Russia and the United States have built an armoury, they had deterrents too.  The US had been obsessed with Iran possibly developing nuclear capability, but here was small nation with President Kim Jong-un, whom they had perceived a joker, announce a successful test.

Trump has no embarrassment when he reversed his position and agreed meet with Kim. Both North Korea and the United States held negotiations, but they came to nothing.

Is Iran developing a nuclear bomb?

After the United States pulled out of the Iran Nuclear agreement, Iran may go back to where they had started. It may not have a bomb now, but they are developing the capabilities.

What factors are causing so much alarm amongst scientists?

The United States under Trump has strengthened its nuclear program. They have a Nuclear Policy Review (NPR) every few years. Their NPR of last year suggested all kinds of increases in their arsenal. The present treaty binds them somewhat, so they can’t make more in number, but they are making smaller bombs, and improvements—hypersonic and supersonic missiles. Their plan is to be able to use these bombs.

Trump has given them the license to make usable bombs. This is a huge development. Since Hiroshima, the accepted taboo is that nuclear weapons would not be used. Now bombs that can be used even in small conflicts are being developed. This is a very dangerous development. There is enough indication that Putin is also upgrading his nuclear armoury, though this is not so much in the public domain.

What about India and Pakistan? Is the subcontinent close to a nuclear flashpoint?

I tell my colleagues in the West that we are not so crazy. India and Pakistan have had very hostile relations;Pakistan indulges in terrorist activities against us but wants to keep their level where they are. It does not want a nuclear conflict. A game of bluff is on. We two countries have 100 nuclear bombs each. In the Bulletin, members have always brought up the India and Pakistan conflict. Being the only Asian, I would tell them that the real situation is more complex. Today the situation is not just India versus Pakistan but India versus Pakistan and China. The danger is not of the kind that it will lead to nuclear exchange.

Countries have opted  to go nuclear because of “deterrence”. Do they feel vulnerable to attacks without them?

That is indeed the case. When Iraq was attacked, the Pakistanis used to say, thank god we have (nuclear)  weapons or we might have been attacked instead of them. Today, both the United States and Russia have turned hawkish. Dangers are now back to what they used to be some years ago.

Who is this new situation benefiting?

It is benefiting hawks on both sides. In both countries, weaponisation is a huge industry. Nobody is thinking of the long term.

Will this trend continue?

I don’t know—maybe it will change if the government changes in the United States. For now, the nuclear balance has been disturbed. Pakistan can opt to do the same and make smaller bombs. India can too. This trend is extremely irresponsible and dangerous.

The other problem of course is climate change?

Climate change is real, not something scientists or activists have thought up. Some aspects of it are being measured by scientists carefully year after year; for example carbon emissions released into the atmosphere are measured and it is steadily growing.

More carbon in the atmosphere has raised the levels of temperature. Mean temperatures are rising and for this too there is a scientific record. Melting glaciers are raising the ocean water levels, including in the Himalayas. Many parts of the world including the Maldives and the Sunderbans in Bangladesh will be inundated in the next 50 years or so. Actually, at the rate at which this is happening, it could happen in the next 20 to 30 years, though this [aspect] is speculation…

Melting glaciers means rivers will be inundated, causing floods; but once the water is gone, there will be no or very little water. These changes will affect all the world’s countries.

What do scientists say about reversing this process?

This is not in the hands of scientists. Politicians and industrialists need to act, but you have a president like Trump who says there is nothing like climate change. The Indian government is not in such denial, but the rate of intervention here is much too slow.

We are also witnessing extreme heat and cold weather events.

These are weather anomalies. Extreme heat in Delhi,  very cold weather somewhere else… It is not known whether this is due to climate change. Each case has to be analysed individually, by computers, for scientists do not have enough data. No doubt our entire coastal areas will go under due to rising sea levels. This will cause massive chaos where large numbers of the population will have to be evacuated. It will keep getting worse. Disasters such as these can cause wars. It is, overall, a very bad situation.