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

23 January 2018

A Visit to One of China’s First Nuclear Weapons Plants

Chris Buckley and Adam Wu

China — Among the yak herds and Tibetan Buddhism prayer flags dotting the windswept highlands of northwestern China stand the ruins of a remote, hidden city that vanished from the maps in 1958.  The decaying clusters of workshops, bunkers and dormitories are remnants of Plant 221, also known as China’s Los Alamos. Here, on a mountain-high grassland called Jinyintan in Qinghai Province, thousands of Tibetan and Mongolian herders were expelled to create a secret town where a nuclear arsenal was built to defend Mao Zedong’s revolution. “It was totally secret, you needed an entry pass,” said Pengcuo Zhuoma, 56, a ruddy-faced ethnic Mongolian herder living next to an abandoned nuclear workshop, whose family once supplied meat and milk to the scientists. “Your mouth was clamped shut so you couldn’t talk about it.”

Really? We’re Gonna Nuke Russia for a Cyberattack?


The front page of Tuesday’s New York Times contained an alarming headline: “Pentagon Suggests Countering Devastating Cyberattacks With Nuclear Arms.” The article, by David Sanger and William Broad, reported on a leaked draft of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which determines what the role of nuclear weapons should be. This draft departs from previous posture reviews by broadening the range of attacks that could trigger a massive U.S. retaliation, including with nuclear weapons.

21 January 2018

Exclusive: Here Is A Draft Of Trump’s Nuclear Review. He Wants A Lot More Nukes.

By Ashley Feinberg

In his first year in office, President Barack Obama gave a landmark address in Prague in which he famously affirmed “clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The commitment to total nuclear disarmament was a major departure from the George W. Bush administration — the first time, in fact, that the United States had declared a nuclear-free world a major policy goal.



The Pentagon plans to build two new nuclear weapons to keep up with the modernizing arsenals of Russia and China, according to a comprehensive Department of Defense review on the U.S. military’s nuclear capabilities, sparking heated debate about the strategy: Will it bolster the U.S. military's ability to deter threats, or make a nuclear war more likely?  "While the United States has continued to reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons, others, including Russia and China, have moved in the opposite direction," an unclassified draft of the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) states. "The United States must be capable of developing and deploying new capabilities, if necessary, to deter, assure, achieve U.S. objectives if deterrence fails, and hedge against uncertainty."

U.S., Iran: The Nuclear Deal Survives Another 120 Days

In Stratfor's 2018 Annual Forecast, we wrote that the United States' continued hard-line policy toward Iran would jeopardize the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action but that the nuclear deal would survive the year. U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to approve the deal, while also promising not to renew it again and pursuing further sanctions against Iran, confirms that forecast.

20 January 2018

As North Korea Goes Nuclear, U.S.-China Relations Sour

By Jacob L. Shapiro
Source Link

The decision to attack North Korea or to allow its government to acquire nuclear weapons was always a choice between the lesser of two evils. One option brings with it the death and destruction that come with war. The other option brings with it the chance, however remote, that the United States could be nuked by an enemy state. Both options bring an additional consequence that must be taken into account: a worsening of U.S.-China relations. China promised to help with North Korea so that the U.S. wouldn’t have to choose either evil. China has failed, and the U.S. appears to be moving toward a decision to accept a nuclear North Korea. That, in turn, creates yet another decision the U.S. must make: whether to hold China accountable.

Here Is What America Should Learn from Hawaii's Missile Scare

Wallace C. Gregson
Source Link

Hawaii endured a now-famous false alarm on Saturday. The alarm this time was about an inbound ballistic missile, not a tsunami. Ridicule of Hawaii’s system and management followed quickly, validating the cliché that no good deed goes unpunished. Hawaii’s effort should be applauded, not scorned, but dismissive scorn is easier. Politicians demand action to find cause, and assurance that it won’t happen again. Translation: Fire the poor blighter who pushed the wrong button, fire all the officials in the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s chain of command from the top to the button, and change the system to require more supervisory layers. Washington’s response is “not our problem, this is a state issue.” Perhaps this belated recognition of the nature of our federal system—with states’ rights and responsibilities—will turn out to be a good thing. But now it sounds like disregard.

19 January 2018

What the Hell Happened in Hawaii?


Early this morning, residents of Hawaii received an emergency alert on their cell phones and on their television screens: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEKIMMEDIATE SHELTER.” If that wasn’t enough to spark panic in a state where Cold War-era nuclear-attack alert sirens have been undergoing testing, the warning ended with those five dreaded words: “THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” Following several minutes of panic and confusion, various authoritative sources confirmed that the alert had been sent in error. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard took to Twitter to say that she had “confirmed with officials” that there was no ballistic missile threat. U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) issued a statement noting that the “Earlier message was sent in error,” and that the State of Hawaii would issue a correction. Thirty-eight minutes after the original alert, a second followed: “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.” Russian, Chinese, or North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) could make it to Hawaii in less than 38 minutes, mind you.

18 January 2018



I managed just over 600 words this weekend, which is no bueno. I have to get more done than that to hit the deadline. I had more words in me than I actually put on paper. This weekend was busy, but only partly because Wellington’s unusually warm and sunny weather beckoned me to the beach. There was also a much written about false-alarm notification to Hawaii residents that a ballistic missile was incoming. For 38 minutes, hundreds of thousands of people thought they were going to die. Many of them had never thought about national security or the threat environment in the Asia-Pacific, leaving them traumatized.

17 January 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). While China’s strategic nuclear capabilities are changing, there is still a high level of uncertainty among analysts about the specifics of China’s nuclear strategy. Though China vigorously censors information about its missile forces, examination of a body of relatively authoritative military texts provides useful context to help understand China’s nuclear strategy beyond the more visible changes in equipment. Importantly, it is evident that as China modernizes its nuclear forces, it is also debating a shift in strategy, including the abandonment of its No First Use (NFU) policy.

Who's Got The Biggest Nuclear Button?

At the top of the list, as compiled by the Federation Of American Scientists (FAS), are of course Russia and the U.S. With a combined arsenal of over 13,000, this particular hangover from the Cold War is still plain to see. Up to now the two have been undergoing programmes of disarmament - of this 13,400, over 5,000 are officially retired and awaiting dismantlement. In Kim Jong-un's New Year's Day speech, he claimed that North Korea's nuclear forces are now "completed", stating that the nuclear launch button is always within his reach. The FAS does indeed estimate that the country is in possession of between 10 to 20 warheads. In response to the claim, U.S. President Trump fired back, pointing out that his button is "much bigger & more powerful" - something which can not be disputed, as our infographic shows.

16 January 2018

North Korea's Nuclear Infrastructure

by Martin Armstrong

At a time when tensions between the United States and North Korea are only getting higher, the threat of an armed conflict erupting has arguably not been greater since the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan and the bombardment of Yeonpyeong island in 2010. Two major differences between 2010 and 2017 though, are a somewhat unpredictable president sitting in Washington and the apparent advancement of North Korea's nuclear programme. In this new climate, our infographic uses information from Nuclear Threat Initiative to show where Kim Jong-un's nuclear infrastructure is located.

Draft Nuke Review: Big NC3 Changes, LRSO OK’d, Small Yield Nukes Back


That’s the most essential message of the leaked Nuclear Posture Review. (Kudos to my colleague Ashley Feinberg at Huffington Post for getting this one.) The Pentagon immediately issued a statement saying it’s pre-decisional and they don’t comment on such documents and it could change, etc. etc. However, as one who has read a number of such documents over the years, this appears to be a very mature draft since it includes the Defense Secretary’s introduction, has no spelling mistakes I could find and is well written in a consistent voice.To our readers, the biggest news is that it charges Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to deliver a plan to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on to change how the Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) “to ensure its effective functioning and modernization.”

Pentagon Panel Urges Trump Team to Expand Nuclear Options

John M. Donnelly

A blue-ribbon Pentagon panel has urged the Trump administration to make the U.S. arsenal more capable of “limited” atomic war.m The Defense Science Board, in an unpublished December report obtained by CQ Roll Call, urges the president to consider altering existing and planned U.S. armaments to achieve a greater number of lower-yield weapons that could provide a “tailored nuclear option for limited use.” The recommendation is more evolutionary than revolutionary, but it foreshadows a raging debate just over the horizon. Fully one-third of the nuclear arsenal is already considered low-yield, defense analysts say, and almost all the newest warheads are being built with less destructive options. But experts on the Pentagon panel and elsewhere say the board’s goal is to further increase the number of smaller-scale nuclear weapons — and the ways they can be delivered — in order to deter adversaries, primarily Russia, from using nuclear weapons first.

US Military Eyes New Mini-Nukes for 21st-Century Deterrence


The future of nuclear weapons might not be huge and mega destructive but smaller, tactical, and frighteningly, more common. The U.S. Air Force is investigating more options for “variable yield” bombs — nukes that can be dialed down to blow up an area as small as a neighborhood, or dialed up for a much larger punch. The Air Force currently has gravity bombs that either have or can be set to low yields: less than 20 kilotons. Such a bomb dropped in the center of Washington, D.C., wouldn’t even directly affect Georgetown or Foggy Bottom. But a Minuteman III missile tipped with a 300-kiloton warhead would destroy downtown Washington and cause third-degree burns into Virginia and Maryland.

15 January 2018

Nuclear Posture Review draft leaks; new weapons coming amid strategic shift

Aaron Mehta

A leaked copy of the Pentagon’s upcoming Nuclear Posture Review includes the development of a new low-yield warhead for America’s submarines, pushing for the creation of a new sub-launched, nuclear-capable cruise missile and a shift in America’s stance on when nuclear weapons may be used. A draft of the review was posted online Friday by the Huffington Post. The Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, is scheduled to be formally released in February, and so the document may change somewhat between now and then. In a statement, the Pentagon did not deny that the draft is authentic, instead saying “Our discussion has been robust and several draft have been written.

13 January 2018

US to loosen nuclear weapons constraints and develop more 'usable' warheads

Julian Borger

Control centre Norad ( Cheyenne Mountain ) near Colorado Springs. The new nuclear policy is significantly more hawkish that the posture adopted by the Obama administration. The Trump administration plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a new low-yield nuclear warhead for US Trident missiles, according to a former official who has seen the most recent draft of a policy review. Jon Wolfsthal, who was special assistant to Barack Obama on arms control and nonproliferation, said the new nuclear posture review prepared by the Pentagon, envisages a modified version of the Trident D5 submarine-launched missiles with only part of its normal warhead, with the intention of deterring Russia from using tactical warheads in a conflict in Eastern Europe.

7 January 2018

The ‘Nuclear Button’ Explained: For Starters, There’s No Button


The image of a leader with a finger on a button — a trigger capable of launching a world-ending strike — has for decades symbolized the speed with which a nuclear weapon could be launched, and the unchecked power of the person doing the pushing. There is only one problem: There is no button. A military aide traveling with President Trump in December carried the so-called nuclear football as he walked toward Marine One, the president’s helicopter. CreditMark Wilson/Getty Images

6 January 2018

Waiting for the Bomb to Drop


The decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem makes a war in Korea more likely. Not because there is any direct connection between the two, nor because it was a bad idea, recognizing as it did the simple fact that the western part of Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital for over 70 years and will most assuredly remain so. The dangerous bit, rather, was when pundits and diplomats wrung their hands and predicted calamity and (far more predictably) nothing happened. The Arab street grumbled, while Cairo, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi looked the other way, and Donald Trump could be forgiven for thinking that his instincts had been proven entirely correct.

5 January 2018

Last Year’s Top 5 Worst Nuclear Nightmares (That Aren’t Going Away)


The top five nuclear nightmares we faced in 2017 will continue to haunt us in 2018. In fact, each has gotten worse this year.  It is not that the past year has been devoid of good news, but the bad outweighed the good.The overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to shrink, thanks to arms control treaties negotiated over the past few decades. The steady defeat of ISIS has reduced the risk of nuclear terrorism. Tensions seem to have eased between India and Pakistan, reducing the risk of war in South Asia.