Category Archives: Nuclear

Russian Bombers Flew Within 40 Miles of N. California Coast | Washington Free Beacon

Two Russian nuclear bombers flew within 40 miles of the California coast and one of the pilots relayed a veiled threat during the Fourth of July aerial incident, defense officials said.


Meanwhile, Russia’s across-the-board buildup of nuclear forces and revised doctrine are increasing the danger of a nuclear war, according to a think tank report on nuclear threats.

Defense officials and the Colorado-based U.S. Northern Command said this week that two U.S. F-15 jets intercepted the Russian bombers on July 4 as they flew as close as 39 miles from the coast of Mendocino County, north of San Francisco.

During the intercept, a crew member on one of the bombers issued a warning in a radio message, according to defense officials familiar with the incident this week.

Earlier the same day, the Bear bombers intruded on the U.S. air defense identification zone (ADIZ) near Alaska. The zone is a 200-mile controlled airspace patrolled by U.S. and Canadian jets under the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

One official said the nuclear-capable bomber flights so close to U.S. shores are part of nuclear saber-rattling by Moscow, and much more of a concern than routine U.S. aerial surveillance missions near Russia’s coasts.

“These are nuclear-capable bombers and that is a big problem,” the official said.

The report on nuclear threats, “Foreign Nuclear Developments: The Gathering Storm,” warns that Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are substantially increasing nuclear weapons and delivery systems at a time when the United States is reducing its reliance on nuclear forces.

“Under these circumstances, the possibility that Russia may trigger events leading to their actual use of nuclear weapons cannot be dismissed out of hand.”

Russian Bombers Flew Within 40 Miles of N. California Coast | Washington Free Beacon

Foreign Nuclear Developments: The Gathering Storm

Introduction

While Western leaders, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom, continue to advocate policies supporting the goal of ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons, the nuclear postures of Russia, China, and other states appear to be heading in precisely the opposite direction. This disconnect is growing and worrisome.

Despite the fact that many in the West believe nuclear weapons are Cold War relics with diminishing utility and relevance in the 21st century, Russian military and civilian leaders increasingly brandish nuclear threats and declare nuclear weapons to be of growing importance. Moreover, despite an approximately 80 percent reduction in the number of U.S. nuclear weapons and a planned 50 percent drop in the number of UK nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War, Russia has made nuclear weapons the centerpiece of its military modernization program, while China continues to aggressively increase the size and quality of its nuclear arsenal.

Russia is seeking to reinforce its great power status, establish influence and control along its periphery, and undermine Western influence and alliances. Its national security policy and military doctrine emphasize nuclear forces. Russia is engaged in an extensive and comprehensive nuclear modernization program, developing and deploying modern and more sophisticated nuclear weapons, and upgrading all elements of its strategic nuclear delivery systems. Russian leaders have threatened to launch nuclear attacks on NATO members and have conducted frequent and unprecedented military exercises involving nuclear forces and bomber patrols in Europe, Asia, and the Western Hemisphere exceeding the scope and breadth of what was witnessed during the darkest days of the Cold War. And Russia is knocking down one of the last barriers to a full-scale nuclear buildup by violating its nuclear arms control commitments.

These developments suggest that Russia’s nuclear posture is evolving in ways diametrically opposite those of the United States and the United Kingdom. Aggressive Russian behavior, coupled with Russia’s brandishing of nuclear threats against the United States, the United Kingdom, their allies and friends, and simulated first use of nuclear weapons in many of its military exercises, are a cause of serious concern.

At the same time, China is engaged in an extensive nuclear weapons buildup, developing a range of new capabilities intended to underpin Beijing’s dominant role in the Far East and challenge the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region. China’s modernized nuclear capabilities – including both strategic and non-strategic nuclear systems – serve as the backdrop for its aggressive geostrategic moves to assert sovereignty over territories claimed by its neighbors, including U.S. friends and allies. China has the largest ballistic missile program in the world today and is building up its conventional force projection capabilities, backed by significant increases in military spending.

In addition to Russia and China, North Korea is improving its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities as its leadership becomes increasingly bellicose in its rhetoric. Threats to target nuclear weapons against U.S. allies in the region, as well as against the U.S. homeland itself, are being enabled by the development of new nuclear and missile capabilities. North Korea’s efforts to assist Iran in the development of its nuclear capabilities are ongoing, despite the negotiation of a Framework Agreement intended to limit Tehran’s nuclear breakout potential. Iran appears to be seeking ways to preserve the capability to develop nuclear weapons as a counter to U.S. influence in the region and a means of intimidating U.S. allies and friends like Israel.

In the face of these developments, it may be time for a serious reassessment of the nuclear policies of the United States and its allies.

This brochure is intended to inform and facilitate serious discussion of the challenges to U.S. and international security posed by Russian, Chinese, North Korean, and Iranian nuclear developments.

Conclusion

As the Cold War recedes further into history, the nuclear threats posed by others to the United States and the West have not. In fact, the opposite appears to be the case.

Russia places the highest priority on nuclear weapons because it believes that its status as a “great power” is based upon them. Russia’s statements on nuclear policy, its official doctrine, its extensive across-the-board strategic modernization programs, its direct nuclear threats against others, its unprecedented level of Cold War-type strategic exercises, and its violation of nuclear arms control agreements all suggest a troubling and dangerous move toward a more aggressive overall nuclear posture for the foreseeable future. The implications of these actions, coupled with Russia’s increasingly belligerent behavior on the world stage and willingness to use military force – such as its annexation of Crimea, invasion of Ukraine, and incursions into the sovereign airspace of other countries – threaten the very foundations of peace and stability and challenge the notion that Russia can be a reliable partner in ensuring a tranquil world in the 21st century.

While many in the West believe that the end of the Cold War has meant the end of a confrontational and adversarial relationship with Russia, recent events suggest this hoped-for outcome is more the result of wishful thinking than of a sober and realistic assessment of the current geostrategic environment. Under these circumstances, the possibility that Russia may trigger events leading to their actual use of nuclear weapons cannot be dismissed out of hand. Senior Russian officials, including President Putin, have threatened that NATO allies may be targets for Russian nuclear forces, and President Putin has suggested he would have used nuclear weapons, if necessary, in the Russian invasion of Crimea. The invasion of a Baltic state comparable to Russia’s military action against Ukraine would trigger Article V of the NATO Treaty, which declares “an armed attack against one” will be considered “an armed attack against them all.”

Likewise, China has adopted an increasingly belligerent stance in global affairs, challenging the territorial sovereignty of its neighbors and U.S. regional allies while expanding the military means for implementing its strategic objectives – including enhancing its nuclear arsenal both quantitatively and qualitatively. Beijing appears increasingly reliant on its nuclear forces to underpin its aggressive behavior, with increasing concerns in the West about its adherence to the carefully-calibrated policy of “no first use” on issues it considers to be of the utmost national importance.

North Korea’s militarized state, coupled with its seemingly erratic and eccentric leadership, poses a significant threat to U.S. allies as well as the U.S. homeland. North Korea’s nuclear programs are ongoing, and its continuing development of capabilities to launch nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles of sufficient range to travel intercontinental distances is a cause of serious concern. And, with North Korea’s help, Iran’s clerical leadership appears bent on achieving a nuclear weapons capability that can successfully threaten U.S. allies and deter the United States from acting to protect its own interests in the region.

Although the goal of a nuclear weapons-free world remains official U.S. and British policy and has the support of a number of Western leaders, that goal appears further from reality than ever. The growing emphasis and reliance that others appear to place on nuclear weapons as tools of coercion and intimidation – not to mention the possibility of their actual use in conflict – suggest that continued pursuit of a “nuclear zero” option may be both unrealistic and counterproductive.

Proposals by some in the West, particularly in the United States, to eliminate ICBMs (moving from a strategic nuclear triad to a dyad), eliminate all U.S. non-strategic nuclear forces, and substantially reduce investment in nuclear modernization programs, appear to ignore the greater emphasis placed by others on nuclear weapons and their relative importance as a counter to U.S. conventional force dominance, a deterrent to U.S. military actions, and an enabler of their own aggressive policies.

All of this suggests that the nuclear postures of the East and the West are on divergent paths. This cannot bode well for the continued functioning of deterrence in an increasingly uncertain and dangerous world. Western policy makers should take heed of these developments as they craft national security policies appropriate to the challenges and threats of the 21st century.

Foreign Nuclear Developments: The Gathering Storm [PDF Format]

The Fading U.S. Nuclear Deterrent – WSJ

None of the presidential candidates is talking about it, but one of the most important issues in the 2016 election should be the precarious decline of America’s nuclear forces.

When the Cold War ended in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the U.S. began a debilitating nuclear freeze, establishing ever-broader antinuclear policies and largely ignoring the growing threat posed by these massively destructive weapons.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military strategy focuses on early use of these weapons in conflicts large and small. China is in the midst of an immense strategic modernization. India and Pakistan are expanding and improving their nuclear arsenals. North Korea issues nuclear threats almost weekly. The Mideast is dissolving into chaos, and Iran’s advanced nuclear-weapons program has been on the front pages for two years.

To address these multiplying threats, U.S. nuclear policy must undergo radical changes. …

The Fading U.S. Nuclear Deterrent – WSJ

Report: U.S. Must Modernize, Update Nuclear Strategy for New Century | Washington Free Beacon

America must change its policies regarding its nuclear weapons arsenal if it wishes to remain safe in the coming century, according to a new study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Clark Murdock, an expert in strategic planning and defense at CSIS, writes in the study, ‘Project Atom,’ that the effects of global nuclear proliferation will dominate American foreign policy between 2025-2050 if the United States does not revamp its policies today, including modernizing its nuclear weapons and seeking enhanced tactical nuclear capabilities.

“The value of nuclear weapons as a ‘trump card’ for negating U.S. conventional power was enhanced by the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 to prevent Saddam Hussein from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Murdock writes. “If the United States apparently believes that it can be deterred by an adversary’s nuclear weapons, why wouldn’t a nonnuclear ‘regional rogue’ want one?”

Report: U.S. Must Modernize, Update Nuclear Strategy for New Century | Washington Free Beacon

“America must change its policies regarding its nuclear weapons arsenal if it wishes to remain safe in the coming century”

Yes, it needs some kind of policy that is not centered around cutting and entirely eliminating its nuclear arsenal.

North Korea’s Serious New Nuclear Missile Threat

  • China continues transfer through its own territory, nuclear weapons technology involving both North Korea and Iran.
  • In April, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submerged platform. The North Korean underwater launch test was closely related to the further development of a missile-firing submarine capable of hitting the U.S. — “a first step,” according to Uzi Rubin, “in achieving a very serious and dangerous new military capability… it will take many years to build up the missile defenses, so we had better use the time wisely.”
  • Although the Chinese profess to be against nuclear proliferation, documented evidence illustrates just the opposite — as a means of asserting Chinese hegemony, complicating American security policy and undermining American influence.
  • Unfortunately, no matter how attractive a strategy of diplomatically ending North Korea’s nuclear program might look, it is painfully at odds with China’s established record of supporting nuclear proliferation with such collapsed or rogue states as Iran, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea and Libya.
  • China’s nuclear assistance to Pakistan did not stay just in Pakistan.

It is not as if Chinese nuclear proliferation is a recent development or a “one of a kind” activity. As far back as 1982, China gave nuclear warhead blueprints to Pakistan, according to Reed. These findings indicate that China’s nuclear weapons proliferation activities are over three decades old.[9]

[1] The Washington Post, May 20, 2015, Anna Fifield, “North Korea says it has technology to make mini-nuclear weapons“; and Admiral Bill Gortney, US NORAD Commander, quoted in “NORAD commander: North Korean KN-08 Missile Operational“, by Jon Harper, in “Stars and Stripes”, of April 7, 2015; the Admiral said: “Our assessment is that they have the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland.” He said “Yes sir” when asked if the U.S. thinks North Korea has succeeded in the complicated task of miniaturizing a warhead for use on such a missile. North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests since 2006.

North Korea’s Serious New Nuclear Missile Threat

Book Review of ‘The Nuclear Express’ – WSJ

Ranging widely over the subject, Messrs. Reed and Stillman assemble a mass of details, technical and political, to tell us how the world reached this parlous state. Both are retired designers of thermonuclear weapons, the former from Livermore National Laboratory, the latter Los Alamos. Two themes predominate in their account. First, the technological know-how to build nuclear weapons has become impossible to contain. The nuclear express, they say, is a train that long ago left the station and is now hurtling down the tracks without an engineer at the throttle. On one of his visits to his counterparts in China, Mr. Stillman tells us, he observed American-educated Chinese engineers and physicists laboring away on every aspect of weapons design. As “The Nuclear Express” makes clear, the Chinese — assiduous students of American achievements — have been improving on our best techniques and then, in turn, disseminating this technological know-how to clients abroad.

Book Review of ‘The Nuclear Express’ – WSJ

The Saudis are ready to go nuclear – Telegraph

In the past two years, it has beaten Britain into fourth place in the world’s military spending league with a defence budget of around £37?billion (compared with the UK at around £34?billion). The military offensive in Yemen has seen Saudi Arabia deploy an estimated 150,000 troops – nearly twice the size of the British Army – while Saudi fighter jets, many of them British-made, have flown thousands of sorties.

Now the Saudis have raised the alarming prospect of the Middle East becoming embroiled in a nuclear arms race after the country’s blunt warning that “all options are on the table” if Iran fails to resolve the international stand-off over its nuclear programme.

Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s long-serving ambassador to London, says that for many years the kingdom upheld the policy established by the late King Fahd that Riyadh would not pursue a policy of developing nuclear weapons. “Then it became known that Iran was pursuing a policy that could be shifted to a weapons-of-mass-destruction programme,” Prince Mohammed explained in an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph. “This has changed the whole outlook in the region.”

The Saudis are ready to go nuclear – Telegraph

US is weighing a range of aggressive responses to Russia’s alleged violation of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty

The Obama administration is weighing a range of aggressive responses to Russia’s alleged violation of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty, including deploying land-based missiles in Europe that could pre-emptively destroy the Russian weapons.

This “counterforce” option is among possibilities the administration is considering as it reviews its entire policy toward Russia in light of Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, its annexation of Crimea and other actions the U.S. deems confrontational in Europe and beyond.

The options go so far as one implied — but not stated explicitly — that would improve the ability of U.S. nuclear weapons to destroy military targets on Russian territory.

One of Carter’s nuclear policy aides, Robert Scher, testified in April that “counterforce” means “we could go about and actually attack that missile where it is in Russia.” Another Pentagon official, Brian McKeon, testified in December that this option involved potential deployment in Europe of ground-launched cruise missiles.

Scher said another option would involve “not simply attacking” the Russian missile but seeing “what things we can hold at risk within Russia itself.” Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said this could mean further improving the ability of U.S. nuclear or conventional forces to destroy Russian military targets in addition to missiles deemed to violate the INF treaty.

Kristensen said the public discussion of these options amounts to “one hell of a gamble” that Putin will back down on INF.

The Obama administration is getting impatient with Russia – Business Insider

NATO Needs a Nuclear Strategy Update – WSJ

North Atlantic Treaty Organization ministers meeting in Antalya, Turkey earlier this month heard from the alliance’s supreme military commander that Russia is using threatening rhetoric about nuclear weapons to intimidate the West. It’s designed “to give pause to NATO’s decision making,” said Gen. Philip Breedlove. This has included not only general references to Russia’s nuclear arsenal, the general pointed out, but also Moscow referring specifically to “the possibility of moving nukes into certain areas or employing nukes if something had not gone correctly in Crimea.”

This is part of a pattern in which Moscow has in recent years sharply increased and intensified deployments of nuclear platforms, singled out countries like Denmark for nuclear threats and signaled a readiness to employ nuclear weapons to try to force NATO to back down in the event of war. And to put credibility into its chilling threats, Russia has conducted exercises specifically practicing its ability to use nuclear weapons against NATO—exercises that have, for instance, included simulated nuclear attacks on Poland.

At the same time, the alliance has spent the past 20 years largely relegating nuclear planning to the basement. Most NATO discussions on nuclear weapons in recent years have focused on whether the alliance should get rid of them. But now there are indications that the alliance is rethinking its nuclear-deterrent doctrine.

NATO Needs a Nuclear Strategy Update – WSJ

Saudi Arabia Promises to Match Iran in Nuclear Capability – NYTimes.com

When President Obama began making the case for a deal with Iran that would delay its ability to assemble an atomic weapon, his first argument was that a nuclear-armed Iran would set off a “free-for-all” of proliferation in the Arab world. “It is almost certain that other players in the region would feel it necessary to get their own nuclear weapons,” he said in 2012.

Now, as he gathered Arab leaders over dinner at the White House on Wednesday and prepared to meet with them at Camp David on Thursday, he faced a perverse consequence: Saudi Arabia and many of the smaller Arab states are now vowing to match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is permitted to retain.

Saudi Arabia Promises to Match Iran in Nuclear Capability – NYTimes.com

Showdown: US Slams Russia over Nuclear War Threats | The National Interest Blog

Gottemoeller’s comments come on the heels of another report that former Russian military officials have told their American counterparts that Moscow would consider using nuclear weapons over disputes involving Ukraine and the Baltics.

Specifically, The London Times reported that during a “high-level meeting” between former U.S. and Russia security chiefs last month, the Russian side said that Putin would consider “a spectrum of responses from nuclear to non-military” if NATO continues to build-up its forces in the Baltic states. They also said there was three flashpoints that could lead to a possible nuclear showdown between the former Cold War adversaries: Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and the Baltic States. According to the report, the former security chiefs had been briefed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before the meeting.

Showdown: US Slams Russia over Nuclear War Threats | The National Interest Blog

China’s Nuclear Warning – WSJ

“Twenty years after an Iran-style deal, North Korea has 20 bombs.”

Even China is now raising flags about nuclear proliferation. Beijing helped Pakistan get the bomb in the 1980s and has been North Korea’s patron from one Dear Leader to the next. But in February Chinese officials warned a group of Americans that Pyongyang has many more nuclear warheads than previously believed: up to 20 already, perhaps 40 by next year.

The new Chinese assessment, reported Thursday by the Journal, is based on updated intelligence concerning North Korea’s ability to enrich uranium. The North Koreans had no such capability when they signed the 1994 Agreed Framework with the Clinton Administration, which required them to stop their nuclear-weapons efforts.

But Pyongyang cheated on that deal, not least by developing a uranium-enrichment program first acknowledged to the Bush Administration in 2002. The North Koreans tested their first bomb in 2006 and were later discovered to be building a secret nuclear facility in the Syrian desert, which was destroyed by Israeli warplanes in 2007. The Bush Administration rewarded this behavior with a new nuclear deal—which Pyongyang again violated by testing bombs in 2009 and 2013.

China’s Nuclear Warning – WSJ