Showing posts with label WMD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WMD. Show all posts

16 February 2018


IT WILL START with a flash of light brighter than any words of any human language can describe. When the bomb hits, its thermal radiation, released in just 300 hundred-millionths of a second, will heat up the air over K Street to about 18 million degrees Fahrenheit. It will be so bright that it will bleach out the photochemicals in the retinas of anyone looking at it, causing people as far away as Bethesda and Andrews Air Force Base to go instantly, if temporarily, blind. In a second, thousands of car accidents will pile up on every road and highway in a 15-mile radius around the city, making many impassable.

13 February 2018

The Chance of Accidental Nuclear War Is Growing


Recapitalizing the U.S. nuclear deterrent won't help. What's missing is a strategy and resources to reduce risks of cataclysmic accidents, miscalculation, and human error. 

The Trump administration’s nuclear posture statement comes at a particularly rough time, reminiscent of the transition from President Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan. Back then, an outgoing president had watched his ambitious arms control agenda fall to tatters. Negotiations on nuclear testing and space warfare had gone nowhere, while the prospect of a second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty had been shredded by Soviet tanks rumbling into Afghanistan.

12 February 2018

China’s Evolving Nuclear Strategy: Will China Drop “No First Use?”

By: Nan Li

The PLA Rocket Force is continuing to upgrade its missile forces and shift its emphasis from a posture of immobile and vulnerable positions hidden deep in mountains to a highly mobile and more survivable mode. A new CCTV documentary also reveals that China’s multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV)-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) DF-41 will begin active service in 2018 (PLA Daily, December 25, 2017; People’s Daily Online, November 28, 2017).

11 February 2018

The Nuclear Posture Review and the US nuclear arsenal

The entering into effect of the New START treaty coincided with the completion of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), after a year of preparation. The review is the first opportunity for the Trump administration to make its mark on US nuclear policy and includes several important changes from the Obama administration’s NPR of 2010.

The most significant change is what appears to be a shift away from seeking to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons in US military strategy. Instead, the Trump NPR has a more confrontational tone and presents an assertive posture that seeks to increase reliance on nuclear weapons. This includes plans to develop new nuclear weapons, modify others, and to back away from the goal of a “sole purpose” nuclear role of deterring only nuclear attacks to more forcefully emphasizing a role to also deter “non-nuclear strategic attacks,” even cyber attacks. To achieve that, the NPR declares that “the United States will enhance the flexibility and range of its tailored deterrence options… Expanding flexible U.S. nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression,” the NPR claims.

Wasteful old thinking for a dangerous new age

There is a rich irony in the administration releasing its Nuclear Posture Review on Groundhog Day. We’ve seen this movie before. Much of the security landscape described in the pages of the review and, more dishearteningly, the investments it puts forward to address growing challenges are strikingly familiar to the bygone days of the Cold War, days that many of us hoped we had left behind.

When the Bulletin released its 2018 Doomsday Clock time and statement, some critics on the right howled that it overstated today’s geopolitical dangers. But today’s NPR, which follows on the heels of the National Defense Strategy the Defense Department issued late last month, lays out a similarly grim picture. Like the Bulletin’s Clock statement, the National Defense Strategy argues that “we are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order—creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory” and that “this increasingly complex security environment is defined by rapid technological change, challenges from adversaries in every operating domain.”

The World Doesn’t Need Any More Nuclear Strategies


The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review answers questions nobody should be asking.

The non-use of nuclear weapons since 1945 is a great achievement that we take for granted all too often. Although the number of states possessing nuclear weapons has slowly increased over the past seven decades, no country has used a nuclear weapon since 1945, and despite some worrisome incidents, I know of no case where a nuclear-armed state ever came really close to firing a nuclear bomb at another country. Continuing this lucky streak for as long as possible — ideally, forever — should be a paramount goal for all human beings.

10 February 2018

The Chance of Accidental Nuclear War Is Growing


Recapitalizing the U.S. nuclear deterrent won't help. What's missing is a strategy and resources to reduce risks of cataclysmic accidents, miscalculation, and human error. 

The Trump administration’s nuclear posture statement comes at a particularly rough time, reminiscent of the transition from President Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan. Back then, an outgoing president had watched his ambitious arms control agenda fall to tatters. Negotiations on nuclear testing and space warfare had gone nowhere, while the prospect of a second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty had been shredded by Soviet tanks rumbling into Afghanistan.

9 February 2018

The People Who Would Survive Nuclear War


How an appendix to an obscure government report helped launch a blockbuster and push back the possibility of atomic war


Somehow, some way, nuclear war is once again a live possibility. The most startling incident came earlier this month when a state employee accidentally clicked the wrong choice in a piece of emergency-alert software, sending a notice of imminent destruction to everyone with a phone in Hawaii. But what’s striking is that people believed the message. For much of the past 30 years, it would have been implausible enough to be received as a likely mistake. But 2018 has already seen President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un trade barbs about their nuclear buttons. People are buying potassium iodide pills again. The December 2017 issue of Harper’s magazine featured seven writers “taking stock of our nuclear present.” Atomic weapons—and their horrifying effects—are back in the national consciousness.

6 February 2018

Pakistan's dangerous obsession with nuclear weapons
February 05, 2018
Lieutenant General Kamal Davar (retd).
For the world and India, one of the most enduring challenges of the times is for Pakistan's nukes to be neutralised, before they are ever used by the State, their sponsored non-State actors or any rogue elements from the many terror tanzeems dotting Pakistan's unstable landscape, says 
Pakistan has a total of 15 nuclear sites, of which only three -- Karachi, Chashma and PINSTECH --are under IAEA safeguards.
Others are under the control of the army and remain unsafeguarded. Additional plutonium enrichment plants are coming up at PINSTECH.
Reportedly, Pakistan produces HEU at a rate of 100 kg per year. Its HEU-based warheads require between 15 and 20 kg of HEU each.
Pakistan is also producing plutonium for plutonium-based warheads to which they are changing over from HEU.
It is reported to have the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world with estimates of 120 to 140 warheads in its possession.

The development of Pakistan's nuclear delivery systems has been assisted mainly by China and North Korea, while some systems are indigenously produced.
Pakistan's delivery vehicles include modified F-16A/B aircraft and a few Mirage V and Chinese-built A-5 Fantans, under the control of the Pakistan air force and a variety of surface-to-surface missile systems under the control of the army.
The F-16s are likely based at the Sargodha air base, located 160 km northwest of Lahore.

Reviewing the Nuclear Posture Review: Here’s What You Need to Know

US President Donald J. Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) calls for enhanced deterrence and a larger nuclear arsenal. 
The administration released the new review on February 2. Outlined in the strategy is Trump’s decision to pursue a path toward augmenting nuclear capabilities against the backdrop of increasing tensions with North Korea—as it moves ever closer to its own nuclear weapons—as well as nuclear-armed adversaries such as Russia. He has advocated for increasing the number of low-yield nuclear weapons to bolster US deterrent capabilities. 
Read the full review here
We asked our analysts their thoughts on the new nuclear strategy. Here is their take: 
Elisabeth Braw, nonresident senior fellow in the Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security: 

"While the Nuclear Posture Review may contain no radical departures from the Obama administration's nuclear policy, the public debate is already focusing on the low-yield nuclear weapons. The European public will see this as another dangerous Trump policy at an already tense time in the transatlantic relationship."

The Long Shadow of A.Q. Khan How One Scientist Helped the World Go Nuclear

On February 4, 2004, the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer (A.Q.) Khan, then famous for his role in developing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, confessed on live television to having illegally proliferated nuclear weapons technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea over the course of decades. Today Khan is enjoying a resurrection at home, where he is again touted as the “Mohsin e-Pakistan,” or the savior of Pakistan. He appears as the guest of honor at official ceremonies, and last year Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology declared him a distinguished alumnus in recognition of his “meritorious services and valuable contributions towards scientific research and its practical application for the productive use for mankind.”

Outside of Pakistan, Khan has largely been forgotten, despite the fact that his fingerprints are all over the world’s most volatile nuclear hot spots. Indeed, three of the United States’ most significant national security challenges—Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan—are largely the results of Khan’s handiwork.
Between the start of Khan’s nuclear black market in the mid-1970s and his forced confession in 2004, the United States and other countries had many opportunities to stop him. Yet each time, policymakers decided that preventing the spread of nuclear weapons was less important than pursuing other foreign policy goals. These decisions haunt U.S. leaders today. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent makes it impossible for U.S. commanders to force the country to close its safe havens for Afghan extremists. Iran’s nuclear program—though frozen for now—could still lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. And North Korea, which Khan helped turn from a thorn in the world’s side into an unstable nuclear power, now threatens the lives of millions.

How were Khan’s activities allowed to continue for so long? And what lessons might the failures to contain him hold for policymakers today?

No, the US Won’t Respond to A Cyber Attack with Nukes


Defense leaders won’t completely rule out the possibility. But it’s a very, very, very remote possibility.
The idea that the U.S. is building new low-yield nuclear weapons to respond to a cyber attack is “not true,” military leaders told reporters in the runup to the Friday release of the new Nuclear Posture Review.
“The people who say we lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons are saying, ‘but we want these low-yield nuclear weapons so that we can answer a cyber attack because we’re so bad at cyber security.’ That’s just fundamentally not true,” Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday at a meeting with reporters.
It’s an idea that military leaders have been pushing back against since the New York Times ran a Jan. 16 story headlined, “Pentagon Suggests Countering Devastating Cyberattacks With Nuclear Arms.”
When would the U.S. launch a nuclear attack in response to a non-nuclear event? The Defense Department says the threshold hasn’t changed since the Obama administration’s own nuclear posture review in 2010, but a draft of the new review that leaked online caused a bit of drama in its attempts to dispel “ambiguity.”

5 February 2018

China needs more nuclear warheads to deter US threat, military says

Minnie Chan

China must expand its nuclear stockpile so it can better deter and hit back at an enemy strike as geopolitical uncertainties mount and the US appears bent on a nuclear build-up, according to the Chinese military’s mouthpiece.

In the PLA Daily on Tuesday, a commentary said China had enough nuclear weapons to prevent “bullying” by other nuclear powers

Understanding Turkey’s Afrin Operation

Bulent Aliriza

Q1: Why is Turkey attacking Afrin?

A1: On January 20, Turkey launched a major military operation beyond its southern border code-named “Olive Branch” directed at the Syrian Kurdish canton of Afrin. The move followed months of increasingly harsh statements by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the emergence of a belt immediately beyond the Turkish-Syrian border controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), viewed by Turkey as the Syrian Kurdish affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). On January 13, Erdogan had announced that there would be action “within a week…if the terrorists in Afrin do not surrender,” and four days later the Turkish National Security Council

4 February 2018

No ‘Automaticity,’ But Yes To Low Yield Nukes: NPR

By COLIN CLARK and SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.on February 02, 2018 a

PENTAGON: The United States government sees a fundamentally more threatening world today, one that requires a more nuanced balance of delivery systems than we’ve deployed since the end of the Cold War.
That’s really the change that has driven the results of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, officially released today.
Careful transparency continues to underpin the US crafting of nuclear policy. In fact, the State Department briefed the Russians and Chinese on the NPR today, according to Acting Assistant Secretary of State Anita Friedt, who briefed the press here this afternoon. Actually, she told a somewhat skeptical press corps, “we talked to the Russians a lot.”

Perhaps the most intriguing tidbit we got from this afternoon’s official unveiling of the NPR was the persistent use of the term “automaticity” by John Rood, undersecretary of Defense for policy.“There is no automaticity to this policy,” Rood replied when asked how the US would manage its response to “extreme circumstances,” the undefined occurrences that the NPR says could drive the United States to use nuclear weapons.
The NPR states: “the United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies and partners.”

To better manage the ongoing modernization of the Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals, as well as the proliferation of nuclear weapons to North Korea and other states, the US, Rood said, needs a more flexible set of deterrents. The development of a low-yield submarine-launched nuclear cruise missile would help.

“I view this as a prudent reaction to Russian ‘escalate to de-escalate’ doctrine,” said Bob Work, formerly deputy defense secretary under both Obama and Trump, in an email. “If the Russians employ a small yield nuke for coercive action, and the only responses we can provide the President are large-yield options, that is not a good place to be. We want to be able to respond proportionately, to signal our resolve without undue escalation.”

“Also, as I understand it, these will be delivered by SLBM (Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles), which have a higher probability of penetration than other means,” Work said. Submarine-launched weapons give the adversary less warning time than aircraft or IBCMs launched from the U.S., which makes them more worrying as potential first-strike weapons but also means missile defenses have less time and space to shoot them down.

3 February 2018

FAS 2018 Nuclear Posture Review Resource

The eagerly awaited 2018 Nuclear Posture Review is out!

FAS 2018 Nuclear Posture Review Resource

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is the Pentagon’s primary statement of nuclear policy, produced by the last three presidents in their first years in office.

The Trump NPR perceives a rapidly deteriorating threat environment in which potential nuclear-armed adversaries are increasing their reliance on nuclear weapons and follows suit. The review reverses decades of bipartisan policy and orders what would be the first new nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War. Furthermore, the document expands the use of circumstances in which the United States would consider employing nuclear weapons to include “non-nuclear strategic attacks.”

Nuclear modernization map from the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review with corrections by FAS expert Hans Kristensen.

You can also view the leaked draft document here.

Table of Contents

Major Components of the NPR

The 2018 NPR says US nuclear forces “contribute uniquely to the deterrence of both nuclear and non-nuclear aggression” (208). Conventional forces, it states, “do not provide comparable deterrence effects,” and “do not adequately assure many allies,” (851), many of whom rely on US conventional deployments for their security. In addition, the document states they contribute to assuring allies, achieving US objectives if deterrence fails, and hedging “against an uncertain future” (981). The review also raises the possibility of a nuclear strike against any group that “supports or enables terrorist efforts to obtain or employ nuclear devices,” extending previous language (2051).

The review also creates a new category of cases in which the United States would consider use of nuclear weapons—“significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” to include attacks on “civilian population or infrastructure” (917, 1026). This new category helps serve as justification for “supplements to the planned nuclear force replacement program” (1751). 
George Perkovich (CEIP), “Really? We’re Gonna Nuke Russia for a Cyberattack?,” Politico, 1/2018 
Amy F. Woolf, “Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues,” Congressional Research Service, 8/2017 
Anna Péczeli, “Best Options for the Nuclear Posture Review,” Strategic Studies Quarterly, Fall 2017 
Robert Einhorn and Steven Pifer, “Meeting U.S. Deterrence Requirements: Toward a Sustainable National Consensus,” Brookings Institution working group report, 9/2017 
Keith B. Payne and John S. Foster, Jr, “A New Nuclear Review for a New Age,” National Institute for Public Policy, 4/2017

2 February 2018

Chinese military paper urges increase in nuclear deterrence capabilities

Reuters Staff

BEIJING (Reuters) - China must strengthen its nuclear deterrence and counter-strike capabilities to keep pace with the developing nuclear strategies of the United States and Russia, the official paper of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said on Tuesday.

Members of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) take part in the national flag-raising ceremony to mark the New Year, the first since it took over the duty from paramilitary police, on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Trump Nuclear Plan Requires Big Fixes In Decaying Warhead Industrial Complex

Source Link
Loren Thompson 

The Trump administration's proposed nuclear posture calls for replacing virtually all of the Cold War strategic systems in the nation's arsenal. There will be a new strategic bomber (to be built mainly by Northrop Grumman), a new ballistic missile submarine (to be built mainly by General Dynamics), and a new land-based ballistic missile (to be built either by Boeing or Northrop Grumman). There will also be major upgrades to the nuclear command-and-control network that provides warning of attack and secure communications with nuclear systems.

1 February 2018

India’s Nuclear Safeguards: Not Fit for Purpose

By John Carlson

Currently, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is considering India’s application for membership. In this context NSG members are reportedly discussing membership criteria for states not party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), including a requirement for clear and strict separation of current and future civilian nuclear facilities from non-civilian nuclear facilities. In this paper, John Carlson examines India’s Separation

30 January 2018

How a nuclear attack order is carried out now

 By Lisbeth Gronlund

If the president is not at the White House or other location with secure communication, he or she would use the so-called nuclear football to order the use of nuclear weapons. The football, or Presidential Emergency Satchel, is a briefcase containing various items, including a book laying out various attack options, from striking a small number of military targets to launching an all-out attack against Russian nuclear forces, military installations, leadership facilities, military industry, and economic centers. This briefcase is carried by an aide who stays near the president at all times.