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

20 July 2017

Why Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal Will Live On

Farhad Rezaei

The Trump administration should focus on pressuring Iran on missiles and support of terrorism.

On July 14, 2015, Iran signed the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement along with P5+1 countries China, France, Germany Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. After an unprecedented lobbying campaign, Congress approved the deal following an acrimonious debate between Republicans who vehemently opposed the agreement and Democrats who sided with the Obama administration. President Donald Trump has been highly critical of the deal, but so far no changes have been made to the situation.

On April 18, 2017, the Department of State certified Iran as being in compliance with the agreement as required by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted that “Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terrorism” and that the administration would conduct a comprehensive review of the Iran policy. The review “will evaluate whether the suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national-security interest of the United States.” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, recently complained that Iran violated the spirit of the agreement by conducting tests of a missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads prohibited under Security Council Resolution 2231. Hailey also noted that Iran violated the JCPOA provision of the arms embargo on Iran, which was further elaborated upon in paragraph five of Annex B of Resolution 2231.

Russia's Next Super Weapons: Big Aircraft Carriers and Nuclear-Powered Destroyers?

Dave Majumdar

Russia is likely to build larger surface combatants in the coming years—with larger corvettes and frigates in the works. However, Moscow is not likely to spend large sums of money to build massive new vessels such as the gargantuan 14,000-ton Leader-class nuclear-powered destroyers or 100,000-ton Storm aircraft carriers. Instead, Russia will likely build scaled up versions of existing warship designs.

“Russia’s corvettes and frigates are set to get bigger in order to accommodate larger magazines and more weapon systems,” Center for Naval Analysis research scientist Michael Kofman wrote in his personal blog.

“The general direction is heavier corvettes and frigates, with modifications in existing designs and some new ‘heavy’ variants afoot.”

Indeed, the Leader-class is unlikely to ever be built. Moscow will more likely build a smaller and more cost effective vessel based on its Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates. The new “Super Gorshkovs” are likely to displace about 8,000-tons, which is about size of a normal destroyer.

“The absence of gas turbines from Ukraine stalled out Gorshkov-class frigate production at two, and created an opportunity for further expansion of the design to the ‘Super-Gorshkov.’ That suggests there will be 2-4 Gorshkov-class frigates in this series, and then something new that’s at least 1000 tons larger,” Kofman wrote.

19 July 2017

Can U.S. Missile Defenses in Asia Stop a North Korean Nuclear Attack?

Kyle Mizokami

The recent test of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile has thrust America’s ballistic-missile defenses in the spotlight. The new missile, known as Hwasong-14, can theoretically reach Alaska or Hawaii. At the same time, there are several U.S. military bases abroad, especially in the Asia-Pacific, vulnerable to North Korean missiles. How does the Pentagon plan to defend American territory and installations abroad?

The Hwasong-14 missile is a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Being a new design, it is likely hobbled by many factors, including a lack of reliability and a warhead that cannot survive reentry. Still, as the small country has repeatedly demonstrated, North Korea’s talented scientists and engineers can overcome engineering obstacles and make missiles that work. It is only a matter of time before Pyongyang fields a reliable ICBM capable of targeting the continental United States.

ICBMs are challenging missiles to shoot down. The long distances ICBM must travel dictate that their warheads come in high and fast. The most practical phase of flight to shoot them down is in the so-called midcourse phase, after the missiles have boosted their warhead payloads into space. The warheads spend several minutes traveling through space, hurtling towards their target, before streaking back down through the atmosphere in the so-called terminal phase.

Trends in World Nuclear Forces, 2017

By Shannon Kile and Hans Kristensen

Key Facts 
At the start of 2017 nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea)—possessed approximately 14 935 nuclear weapons. 

None of the nuclear weapon-possessing states are prepared to give up their nuclear arsenals for the foreseeable future. All of these states are either developing or deploying new weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so. 

India and Pakistan are expanding their military fissile material production capabilities on a scale that may lead to significant increases in the size of their nuclear weapon inventories over the next decade. 

The USA plans to spend $400 billion over the period 2017–26 to maintain and modernize its nuclear forces, buy replacement systems and upgrade its nuclear weapon production infrastructure. 

By some estimates, the USA will spend up to $1 trillion by the mid 2040s on its nuclear modernization programmes. 

North Korea appears to have made technical progress in its military nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and may have built up to 20 nuclear warheads. However, there is no open-source evidence that North Korea has produced nuclear warheads that can be carried on ballistic missiles. 

18 July 2017

Indian nuclear forces, 2017

Hans M. Kristensen; Robert S. Norris

India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal, with at least four new weapon systems now under development to complement or replace existing nuclear-capable aircraft, land-based delivery systems, and sea-based systems. India is estimated to have produced enough plutonium for 150–200 nuclear warheads but has likely produced only 120–130. Nonetheless, additional plutonium will be required to produce warheads for missiles now under development, and India is reportedly building two new plutonium production facilities. India’s nuclear strategy, which has traditionally focused on Pakistan, now appears to place increased emphasis on China. 

India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal with development of several new nuclear weapon systems. We estimate India currently operates seven nuclear-capable systems: two aircraft, four land-based ballistic missiles, and one sea-based ballistic missile. At least four more systems are in development. The development program is in a dynamic phase, with long-range land- and sea-based missiles emerging for possible deployment within the next decade.

15 July 2017

Would America's B-2 Stealth Bombers Work During a Nuclear War?

Kris Osborn
Air Force engineers explain that UHF connectivity, which is able to send and receive voice and data beyond line of sight, is recoverable in the event of a nuclear detonation but could be substantially degraded. Such a scenario underscores the need to build in strengthened communications links and redundancies to ensure connectivity in extremely high-risk or challenged environments such as those caused by nuclear explosions.

The Air Force is upgrading computer and communications technology for its B-2 stealth bomber so the aircraft is prepared to execute attack missions in the event of nuclear war.

The service is integrating more resilient receivers, processors and waveforms better able to function in an environment where there has been a nuclear detonation - a circumstance called high-altitude electro-magnetic pulse environment.

A B-2 crew, for instance, may need to execute mission orders from the President and receive crucial details of enormous consequence, should a nuclear weapons confrontation take place. For this reason, making sure lines of communication are “hardened,” or sufficiently durable to operate in such an extreme nuclear environment, would be of utmost importance in a highly compromised combat communications scenario.

13 July 2017

The New Nuclear Triad


Defense Secretary James Mattis on June 14 gave Congress an update on the 2017 Nuclear Posture Review, saying, “We’re looking at each leg of the triad and we’re looking at each weapon inside each leg.”

“What I’m looking for,” he said, “is a deterrent that will be most compelling to make certain that these weapons are never used.”

This review will establish U.S. nuclear policy and strategy for the near future and shape some of the most important military modernization programs: the new nuclear triad.

These new programs, the Columbia Class ballistic missile submarine, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent ballistic missile, and the B-21 Raider strategic bomber and Long Range Stand-Off cruise missile compose the three legs of this new triad. In this first of two features, The Cipher Brief will examine the Columbia submarine and Ground Based Strategic Deterrent.

The nuclear triad emerged as a strategic concept during the Cold War as the surest means of deterring another nuclear power from attacking the United States. ICBMs act as the first-response weapon; ballistic missile submarines act as an undetectable, and therefore survivable, second strike; and strategic bombers offer the flexibility of first or second strike but can be most easily recalled. Each component complicates an adversary’s decision to attack. In theory, an adversary will not strike unless it can overcome each of the three components of the triad and the expense and low likelihood of success deters it from attacking first.

11 July 2017

Preparing The Cyber Space Battlefield? Suspected Russian Hackers Have Been Targeting U.S. Nuclear Facilities’s senior technology writer Andy Greenberg had an article on the technology publication’s website on July 6, 2017, discussing the worrisome development that a number of U.S. nuclear facilities have recently been victimized by suspected Russian hackers. Mr, Greenberg writes that “as the world watched highly skilled hackers take down the power grid in Ukraine twice in two years, cyber security analysts reached the growing consensus that Russian hackers may be using Ukraine as a testing ground for attacks they’ll someday try [or could use] on the United States.” Reports from numerous media outlets this week have revealed that hackers have been targeting America’s electrical grid — including a Kansas City nuclear facility. But, Mr. Greenberg argues that these activities, while concerning, are nothing to panic over — “noting there’s a big difference between infecting a few machines in an energy company’s Windows machines with malware — and, grabbing the controls of a nuclear power plant.”

The Hack

“The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been scrambling to help multiple U.S. energy firms and manufacturing plants, fight off intrusions from hackers,” according to reports yesterday (July 6, 2017) from the New York Times and Bloomberg News. “Most worrying,” Mr. Greenberg wrote, “the targets of those attacks have included the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant near Burlington Kansas, raising fears that the attack [hack] could not only cause widespread electrical outages; but potentially, disable nuclear safety systems.”

10 July 2017

Hackers Are Targeting Nuclear Facilities, Homeland Security Dept. and F.B.I. Say


Since May, hackers have been penetrating the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power stations and other energy facilities, as well as manufacturing plants in the United States and other countries.

Among the companies targeted was the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, which runs a nuclear power plant near Burlington, Kan., according to security consultants and an urgent joint report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week.

The joint report was obtained by The New York Times and confirmed by security specialists who have been responding to the attacks. It carried an urgent amber warning, the second-highest rating for the sensitivity of the threat.

The report did not indicate whether the cyberattacks were an attempt at espionage — such as stealing industrial secrets — or part of a plan to cause destruction. There is no indication that hackers were able to jump from their victims’ computers into the control systems of the facilities, nor is it clear how many facilities were breached.

The Six Day War and the Nuclear Coup that Never Was

By Guy Laron

On the eve of the June 1967 war in the Middle East, a small group of men in the Israeli elite considered a doomsday scenario. They all supported Israel having an overt nuclear strategy, but the dovish prime minister, Levi Eshkol, had resisted. Now, with war looming, they felt that their hour had come. Behind the scenes, these bureaucrats, scientists and officers prepared the ground for using Israel’s ultimate weapon: the nuclear bomb.

Three weeks ago, The New York Times revealed part of that story which the newspaper described as the “last secret” of the Six Day War. The truth is, evidence of these events has been out in the open for several years now. Yitzchak Yaacov, a top scientist who served as a senior officer in the Israeli army, had published his memoirs detailing the deliberations for the secret operation already in 2011. Based on this book as well as several interviews, Amir Oren, military correspondent for Haaretz, wrote in the same year a long analysis of the decision-making process surrounding this chapter in Israel’s history. And in 2014, Oxford University Press published a monograph by Or Rabinowitz that distilled all these Hebrew-language sources into an English-language text.

7 July 2017

The Increasing Salience of 3D Printing for Nuclear Non-Proliferation

A growing number of defense-industrial 3D printing fairs, print-a-thons and the amount of defense dollars, particularly in the US, going into the technology of 3D printing speak to the fact that the defense industry and some countries’ armed forces recognize the great potential of the technology. 3D printing indeed allows the quicker, cheaper, and easier development of weapons, and even entirely new weapon designs. This applies to the full range of weapons categories: Small arms and light weapons (e.g. guns, guns, guns and grenade launchers), conventional weapon systems (drones, tanks, missiles, hypersonic scramjets) – and possibly even weapons of mass destruction.

3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), is increasingly adopted by various industries for rapid prototyping, the production of very complex objects in small numbers, and even the rapid production of end parts. Because of the features associated with 3D printing, particularly the high flexibility, the technology is, in a sense, the epitome of dual-use: One and the same 3D printer can produce both tools and weapons. A growing concern in the international security realm is that 3D printing could help a proliferating state in its quest for a secret nuclear weapons program.

Trends in world nuclear forces, 2017

Shannon N. Kile and Hans M. Kristensen

At the start of 2017 nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—possessed approximately 4150 operationally deployed nuclear weapons. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possessed a total of approximately 14 935 nuclear weapons. While the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to decline, none of the nuclear weapon-possessing states are prepared to give up their nuclear arsenals for the foreseeable future. This Fact Sheet estimates the nuclear weapon inventory of the nine nuclear-weapon possessing states and highlights some key aspects of the states’ recent nuclear-force developments.

6 July 2017

India’s nuclear industry deserves a place in the sun

Brahma Chellaney

New nuclear power has become increasingly uneconomical in the West but electricity from Indian-made reactors is still competitive.

The Indian government recently approved the construction of 10 commercial nuclear power reactors of indigenous design, initiating the largest nuclear building program in the world since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. The global nuclear power industry is still reeling from that calamity: Just three of Japan’s 42 reactors are currently operating, while France — the poster child for nuclear power — plans to cut its reliance on atomic energy significantly.

New nuclear power has become increasingly uneconomical in the West, in part because of rapidly spiraling plant-construction costs, prompting the U.S. and France to push reactor exports aggressively, including to “nuclear newcomers” such as the cash-laden oil and gas sheikhdoms of the Arabian peninsula. Still, the bulk of the new reactors under construction or planned worldwide are located in just four countries — China, Russia, South Korea and India.

The Indian decision to turn to a “fully homegrown initiative” reflects the continuing problems in implementing a 2005 agreement on nuclear power with the U.S. Nine years after the U.S. Congress ratified the landmark deal, commercialization is still not within sight.

Govt Study: Cyber, Nuclear Attacks Pose Equal Threats

By Larry Bell

A February Department of Defense Science Board (DSB), Task Force on Cyber Deterrence reports, "The United States faces significant cyber threats from a number of potential adversaries, most notably from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and terrorist groups including the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)."

It further warns, "A large-scale cyberattack on civilian-critical infrastructure could cause chaos by disrupting the flow of electricity, money, communications, fuel and water. Thus far, we have only seen the virtual tip of the cyberattack iceberg."

The DSB study determined, "In one sense, the United States has a campaign underway today to deter cyberattacks — but to date, that campaign has been largely reactive and not effective." Its task force counselled, "Although progress is being made to reduce the pervasive cyber vulnerabilities of U.S. critical infrastructure, the unfortunate reality is that for the next decade, the offensive cyber capabilities of our most capable adversaries are likely to far exceed the United States’ ability to defend critical infrastructures."

These threats will rapidly become worse "in coming years as adversary capabilities continue to grow rapidly." Making matters worse: "The introduction of massive numbers of digital sensors (the so-called Internet of Things), processors and autonomous devices of today’s Internet will only exacerbate an already tenuous posture and make defense even more challenging in the coming years."

5 July 2017

** Global Trends & Developments With Respect To Nuclear Weapons: Modernization & Upgrades In Full Swing

(Stockholm, 3 July 2017) The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) today launches its annual nuclear forces data, which highlights the current trends and developments in world nuclear arsenals. The data shows that while the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to decline, all of the nuclear weapon-possessing states are in the process of modernizing their nuclear arsenals and will not be prepared to give them up for the foreseeable future.

At the start of 2017 nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—possessed approximately 4150 operationally deployed nuclear weapons. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possessed a total of approximately 14 935 nuclear weapons, compared with 15 395 in early 2016 (see table 1).

Table 1. World nuclear forces, 2017
Year of first nuclear test
Deployed warheads*
Other warheads
Total 2017
    . .
North Korea
* Deployed warheads refers to warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces. ** Other warheads refers to warheads that are held in reserve or that are retired and awaiting dismantlement.

3 July 2017

India-Israel Nuclear Cooperation: It’s A Radical Idea But One That’s Worth Exploring

Jaideep A Prabhu

Perhaps the most substantial show of friendship that India can make towards Israel is to offer cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. Some might argue that a complete disavowal of the Palestinian cause and close diplomatic alignment with Israel would be a greater commitment, especially given Jerusalem's craving for international recognition and normalisation, but an alliance with a middle power that does not have veto power in the United Nations has too many limitations to be worth much.

Nuclear cooperation, however, holds far more allure for two critical reasons: one, it has an immediately utilitarian dimension, and two, pace what some academics have argued about prestige, nuclear commerce is tightly controlled by an international cabal who have deemed Israel ineligible to receive nuclear material.

Yet what will nuclear cooperation with Israel look like? Is Israel even interested in nuclear energy? Can India conduct nuclear commerce with a country that is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or have any sort of tacit acceptance such as the waiver India received from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)? Will it invoke sanctions? What would be the ramifications for India? Is India capable of becoming a nuclear vendor? There are several questions that deserve careful thought before either country embarks upon such a venture.

29 June 2017

Should the US pull its nuclear weapons out of Turkey?

“Welcome to Incirlik AB, Turkey,” reads the big gold letters over one of the entrances to a key staging base for the fight against the Islamic State, strategically located in southern Turkey, just 70 miles from the Syrian border.

But this month, Germany learned that the friendly greeting is not written in stone, and that the NATO ally can pull in its welcome mat with little notice or explanation.

After the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to guarantee that members of the German parliament could visit German troops at Incirlik, Berlin announced it was moving its forces and planes to Jordan.

Germany’s decision to decamp to more friendly territory starkly illustrates the growing tensions between Turkey and some of its NATO allies, including the United States.

“When our major European ally pulls its forces out of Incirlik because it couldn’t be guaranteed access, it should warn you what happened to Germany could happen to us,” said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a Washington think tank focused on nuclear weapons policy.

“I don’t think many people would count Erdogan as one of our more reliable allies. His agenda has shifted so dramatically over the last few years, you have to be concerned where it’s going,” Cirincione said.

27 June 2017

*** Likely uranium facility identified in Pakistan in satellite imagery

June 26, 2017

New Delhi Times 

Key Points
Although Pakistan has most visibly expanded its plutonium production infrastructure, the country retains a uranium enrichment capability at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) in Kahuta.

Pakistan’s illicit procurement of nuclear dual-use items relevant for uranium enrichment prompted an investigation and identification of a suspected new enrichment facility.
Using commercial satellite imagery, it has been confirmed that new construction at Kahuta is consistent with a uranium enrichment facility.

Pakistanis continuing to broaden its nuclear weapons programme. and expanding activity at Khan Research Laboratories in Kahuta along with a development of a likely new uranium enrichment facility.

As Pakistan continues to refine and enhance its nuclear capability, Pakistani officials insist that such modernisation efforts are the result of indigenous production and that, since the dismantling of the Abdul Qadeer Khan nuclear smuggling network in the early 2000s, the country has had a strong non-proliferation record.

Nevertheless, new analysis suggests that Pakistan remains reliant on obtaining dual-use goods through a global network of front companies and covert overseas agents for at least some dual-use items. New construction at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) site at Kahuta, in the northeastern Punjab province has been examined.

23 June 2017

The Proposed Nuclear Ban Treaty: The Road to Utopia?

By Ephraim Asculai

In late 2016, the United Nations decided to launch discussions on the establishment of a treaty banning all nuclear weapons, and on May 22, 2017 the Chair of the conference dealing with this issue presented a first draft of the proposed treaty. The proposed draft is of a treaty negotiated among states, not taking into account the existence of non-state entities that could be holding a trump card in the case of universal nuclear disarmament. Moreover, in many respects, the draft falls into the same troubling trap of previous treaties. It is a detailed treaty but with a number of loopholes that come to placate the diverse opinions and approaches of the states to the issue. Thus while striving toward nuclear disarmament is a noble goal, one must be realistic and not really expect the proposed treaty to achieve it.

A short time after nuclear weapons were used in World War II, a movement to eliminate these weapons, the most horrific weapons of mass destruction (WMD), began with what is known as the Baruch Plan. Although many governments and hundreds of non-governmental organizations supported and still support nuclear disarmament, their achievements(including the disarmament of South Africa, reductions of stocks, and a moratorium on testing that was not universally upheld) have been partial.

18 June 2017

Keine Atombombe, Bitte Why Germany Should Not Go Nuclear

By Ulrich Kuhn, Tristan Volpe

The election of U.S. President Donald Trump last November confounded Berlin. What, German politicians, policymakers, and journalists wondered, should they make of Trump’s vague or even hostile stances toward the EU and NATO or his apparent embrace of Russia? Some hoped that Trump meant to push NATO members to spend more on defense but would, in the end, leave the long-standing U.S. guarantee of European security intact. Others, less optimistic, argued that the days when Germany could rely on the United States for its defense were over—and that the country must start looking out for itself. 

Those fears have given new life to an old idea: a European nuclear deterrent. Just days after Trump’s election, Roderich Kiesewetter, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said that if the United States no longer wanted to provide a nuclear shield, France and the United Kingdom should combine their nuclear arsenals into an EU deterrent, financed through a joint EU military budget. Then, in February, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, spoke out in favor of the idea of the EU as a “nuclear superpower,” as long as any EU deterrent matched Russian capabilities.