Preparing For Nuclear War (Revelation 15)

Nuclear-war-forcetoknow.com_Is there a nuclear war in our future?

  • By Jack Stevenson

A nuclear arms race between the United States and Russia began in the 1960s. At one time, the world had about 30,000 nuclear weapons, and most of those weapons were Russian or American.

The explosive force of a nuclear weapon is measured in megatons. A megaton is equivalent to the explosive force of a million tons of dynamite. A one megaton weapon would be about 50 times more powerful than the bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most of the nuclear weapons tested by the United States were in the 5 megaton to 15 megaton range. The Russians once test fired a 50 megaton nuclear weapon. They had to use a fast, high altitude bomber and drop the bomb on a parachute to allow the airplane to fly several miles before the bomb detonated. An unprotected person in line-of-sight exposure at a distance of 60 miles would have been burned by the heat from the blast.

Eventually, both the Americans and the Russians realized that large scale use of nuclear weapons would return vast areas of the earth to a stone age existence. Efforts were initiated to control, reduce or even eliminate nuclear weapons.

The current nuclear relationship between Russia and the United States is governed by the “New START” treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). That agreement imposes a specified limit on the number of deployed launchers and a maximum of 1550 deployed nuclear warheads for each country. The word “deployed” is important. Deployed weapons are ready to fire. Each side will have additional nuclear weapons in storage. Old nuclear rockets, submarines, and bombers can be destroyed, but there is no way to convert the radioactive bomb material from a “weapon to a plowshare.” It has to be stored and guarded for thousands of years. Anything that we can do to lessen the possibility of nuclear war would be a great blessing for humanity.

The United States has a long-term plan to upgrade our nuclear weapons at a cost of one trillion dollars.

The Reuters news agency reported on Feb. 9, 2017, that, in a phone call between Russia and the U.S., Russia’s President Putin asked about extending the New START agreement. The President of the United States responded unfavorably to that suggestion. In the 1960s, a nuclear non-proliferation treaty was signed by most of the world’s countries. Only India, Israel, Pakistan, and South Sudan have failed to sign the agreement. North Korea withdrew in 2003.

Currently, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, England and the United States possess strategic nuclear weapons. Iraq, Libya, South Africa and the Ukraine voluntarily agreed to give up their nuclear weapons. Subsequently, Russia invaded the Ukraine (Crimea), and the U.S. invaded both Iraq and Libya. That is not reassuring to countries that do not possess nuclear weapons. As a result of a high-pressure negotiation, Iran has agreed to a 15-year moratorium on nuclear weapons development.

Strategic nuclear weapons present a strange quandary. So long as sanity prevails and accidents are avoided, possession of nuclear weapons seems to prevent attack by an adversary. But the actual use of strategic nuclear weapons would likely be an unparallelled human-caused catastrophe with no winners and a lot of losers.

(A retiree who served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer, retired from military service, and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee, as well as in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America — RCA, Stevenson reads history, follows issues important to Americans, and writes commentary for community newspapers.)

Trump Prepares the US for Nuclear War

Despite Campaign Promises, Trump Set To Outdo Obama On Military Adventurism

Donald Trump tours the nuclear aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford, at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON — For some, Donald Trump’s campaign trail claim that he had always been against the Iraq war – a claim that he would also use as a jibe aimed at Hillary Clinton – seemed to signal that he would refrain from sending the United States spiraling into another armed conflict.

“I’m the only one on this stage that said, ‘Do not go into Iraq, do not attack Iraq.’ Nobody else on this stage said that. And I said it loud and strong,” he said in February 2016 during one of several Republican debates. Months later, in June, Trump would use this argument to blame Hillary Clinton for the rise of ISIS.

“It all started with her bad judgment in supporting the war in Iraq in the first place. Though I was not in government service, I was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war, and yes, even before the war ever started,” he claimed.

The only problem? Trump was no dove prior to or after the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And since the destruction of Iraq – and his inauguration – Trump has sent the U.S. into a number of military conflicts and his administration is looking to promote even greater military interventionism in a region already steeped in violence.

When asked about Trump attitudes toward war, MIT professor and renowned linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky told MintPress News that the idea that he was an anti-war candidate “was based on his criticisms of the Iraq and Libya attacks (which, contrary to his lies, he supported) and his ambiguous statements about reducing tensions with Russia – a good thing, if he meant it. But his actual policies are extremely dangerous.

“[This includes] the sharp increase in the military budget, the weakening of restrictions on drone strikes, and the wild charges about Iran,” Chomsky said, adding that what really worries those who pay attention to these issues “is his megalomania and unpredictability…we know how someone who goes berserk over minor slights might react in a moment of crisis.”

Despite what some have claimed, Trump has never given a “loud and strong” argument against invading Iraq. According to a report from PolitiFact, during an interview with Howard Stern in 2002, Trump was asked whether or not he supported the U.S. invasion, to which he responded “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.” In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, he wrote:

“We still don’t know what Iraq is up to or whether it has the material to build nuclear weapons…if we decide a strike against Iraq is necessary, it is madness not to carry the mission to its conclusion. When we don’t, we have the worst of all worlds: Iraq remains a threat, and now has more incentive than ever to attack us.”

There’s no evidence of genuine opposition on Trump’s part regarding the invasion and occupation of Iraq. His few mealy-mouthed anti-war statements are meaningless in light of what he has said previously. And now, with the U.S. military under his command, Trump has already begun exercising armed force and is actively suggesting that his administration will engage in further military action, including putting more troops on the ground in Syria to combat ISIS.

According a report from the Washington Post, marines that have already been deployed there are establishing an outpost in Raqqa so they can fire on ISIS combatants. The report argues that the deployment “marks a new escalation in the U.S. war in Syria and puts more conventional U.S. troops in the battle.” The marines will soon be accompanied by special operations troops and attack helicopters.

Syria is certainly not the only country that will suffer from more U.S.-sanctioned violence. Nearly 19 million people in Yemen are now in need of aid, with more than seven million “not knowing where their next meal will come from,” according to the United Nations. Despite the UN having described Yemen as being “on the brink of famine,” the Trump administration has not been afraid to inflict further harm on the country’s vulnerable population. As millions of Yemenis are on death’s door, the U.S. government is escalating a horrific war in Yemen.

On March 3, the U.S. launched a second round of airstrikes that government officials alleged was part of a larger campaign meant “to roll back territorial gains [an Al Qaeda affiliated group] has made in the past two years.”

The U.S. launched over 30 strikes against alleged combatants and their safehouses between March 2 and 3. This escalation came only a few months after the notorious January raid during which at least two dozen civilians, including 10 children, were reported to have been killed. The media’s pointed focus on the commando raid came after it was revealed that a member of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 was also killed.

The Trump administration has also been escalating tensions with Iran, a country that has faced tremendous pressure from previous administrations for its use of nuclear energy. After ballistic missile tests in February, former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn officially “put Iran on notice.” Donald Trump would later threaten Iran via Twitter: “Iran is playing with fire—they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!”.

In February, James Mattis, who is currently serving as the U.S. Secretary of Defense, described Iran as being “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.” Mattis has held an obsessive hatred towards Iran for decades, with Politico author Mark Perry describing him as having an “anti-Iran animus [that] is so intense that it led President Barack Obama to replace him as Centcom commander.”

Douglas Williams, a contributor for The Guardian and PhD student in political science at Wayne State University, told MintPress News that Trump never genuinely campaigned on being anti-war “aside from a brief moment after he clinched the Republican nomination for president.”

Williams argues, “he always beat that drum about ISIS, and then there was the talk of the ban on Muslims entering the United States.” That said, Williams believes that the anti-war movement has a chance of beating Trump “if they play the ball and not the man.” This would mean responding to Trump’s militarism by “connecting the already-outsized military budget to the things that they care about — health care and the economy.”

There is a demonstrable and significant difference between what Trump says and what his administration actually does. It is clear that his alleged anti-war sentiment is entirely imagined.

Get Ready For Nuclear War (Revelation 15)

What You Need to Know About the Future of Nuclear Weapons Under Donald Trump

Emma Sarran WebsterMAR 22, 2017 1:09PM
In late January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the “Doomsday Clock” 30 seconds closer to midnight. The clock is symbolic, with midnight representing the end of the world; the group moves the minute and second hands based on its analysis of various threats to humanity. Now, at two and a half minutes to midnight, the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand is closer to the catastrophic hour than it’s been since 1953. The decision to move it was in part because of Trump’s recent comments on nuclear arms, as well as nuclear tests by North Korea and new ballistics missiles being built by Russia.

Right now, nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons are estimated to exist in the world (that’s down from the 70,000-plus that existed in the Cold War era), with the U.S. and Russia owning approximately 93% of those. The remaining 7% is owned by six other countries: France, China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, and Israel.

Here’s what you need to know about nuclear weapons.

What are nuclear weapons and proliferation?

Nuclear weapons are explosive devices that derive their destructive force from a combination of chemical explosives and nuclear reactions. They can be fired using airplanes, submarines, or missiles launched from silos. They can destroy entire cities, wipe out millions of people, and cause long-term, devastating effects to the environment and to human health.

The first nuclear weapons were developed during World War II, and they’ve only been used in warfare twice, when the United States bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Since then, other countries have acquired nuclear weapons, and more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted.

Under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the term “nuclear proliferation” refers to the spread of nuclear weapons (including weapon material, information, and technology) to states that don’t already have them, while nonproliferation refers to preventing such a spread.

What is the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons and why is it important?

The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is an international agreement covering three pillars: disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The core of the NPT states that “countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament; countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can access peaceful nuclear technology.”

The NPT was developed in the aftermath of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis (when the U.S. and the Soviet Union teetered on the brink of nuclear war following the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba) and has been in effect since 1970. There are 190 countries that are signatories to the NPT, including five nuclear states: the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, and China. North Korea signed the NPT in 1985 but withdrew in 2003. India, Israel, and Pakistan have never signed the agreement.

“This treaty is just a piece of paper, but it has done a great deal in terms of limiting the creation of new nuclear capable states and fostering international cooperation,” Angelica Gheen, a radiation-health physicist at a large research university, tells Teen Vogue. Along with nonproliferation, “this has led to an environment of global cooperation on nuclear security…and it allowed for [South Africa] to successfully disarm with international resources,” a process that took place from 1989 to 1991, culminating in South Africa joining the NPT in ’91.

Some believe that nuclear proliferation can actually prevent war, with the dangerous weapons acting as deterrents to countries considering attacks. However, some studies state otherwise. Research has also shown that the closer a country is to acquiring nuclear weapons, the more likely it is to be attacked.

What are the main concerns with nuclear weapons?

Despite treaties and presumptions of deterrence, the fear that nuclear weapons could end up in the wrong hands or that existing nuclear states could choose to attack is real. “Terrorists are working every day to try to get their hands on weapons-grade materials that they could use in a bomb,” John Tierney, executive director at the Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization “dedicated to enhancing peace and security” through policy analysis and research, tells Teen Vogue.

There are also concerns associated with nuclear states that aren’t bound by the NPT, like North Korea, which has conducted several nuclear weapons tests over the years, as well as India and Pakistan, which have both conducted nuclear tests and are pursuing new nuclear delivery systems.

Though Syria and Iran don’t currently have nuclear weapons, both are believed to have taken steps toward proliferation, in violation of the treaty’s terms. (The 2015 Iran nuclear deal among Iran, the U.S., and five other countries was developed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.) And then there are China and Russia. A Chinese state-run newspaper, Global Times, recently called for an increase in nuclear capabilities, and U.S. officials believe that China — North Korea’s only major ally — has supplied nuclear technology and materials to other countries. Russia has also caused concern recently: In 2014, U.S. officials said Russia violated the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by testing a ground-launched cruise missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The treaty bans missiles capable of traveling between 310 miles and 3,400 miles, and experts believed the weapon Russia tested had that capability. And in December 2016, Russian president Vladimir Putin said the country needed to “strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces.”

And though in 2010 the U.S. and Russia signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) to further limit nuclear arsenals (requiring each state to limit its number of deployed warheads to 1,550 by February 5, 2018), both countries (as well as China) are undergoing modernization of their nuclear arsenals. But if the goal is to eliminate nuclear weapons, what’s the point of updating them? From the looks of it, some people believe Russia’s modernization is a sign that they’re working on a new bomb and that America’s modernization is in response to that. Then again, the Center for Arms Control states that the U.S. modernization plans are based on maintaining the amount of nuclear weapons (as deterrents) agreed upon under the New START Treaty — and those goals may be necessary, considering some systems still currently exist on floppy disks. “I don’t think anybody would have an objection [to modernization] as long as [the weapons are] serving the purpose of deterrent, and if we’re committed to eventually reducing the numbers and eliminating them, you want them to be safe and secure,” Tierney says. “But if people are using this modernization process as a guise to proliferate [and] to create more dangerous and risky weapons, then that just escalates the risk of a nuclear mistake or a nuclear incident.”

What is the risk of a nuclear mistake or incident?

Which brings us to another important point: Aside from acts of aggression, there’s the very real concern about simple mistakes that could have catastrophic effects. Between 1950 and 2013, there were 32 nuclear weapon accidents, or “broken arrows,” in which weapons were accidentally launched, fired, detonated, stolen, or lost; six lost weapons were never found. Fortunately, those accidents haven’t resulted in a nuclear explosion, but there have been close calls. In 1980, a missile technician dropped a socket from a socket wrench, which fell 70 feet and pierced the side of the underground Titan II missile, causing it to explode, killing one person. But had the incident caused the missile’s nuclear warhead to detonate, it would have wiped out all of Arkansas.

And then there are the close calls that come with making the decision to detonate a nuclear weapon. In 1983, the Soviet Union’s missile-detection systems mistakenly detected an incoming strike from the U.S. that was triggered by the sun’s reflection off of cloud tops. Instead of registering the supposed nuclear attack, the Soviet duty officer, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, acted on a gut feeling and instead registered it as a false alarm, avoiding a nuclear disaster. There have been other close calls with similar outcomes: narrowly avoided catastrophes based on human decisions.

And making that decision is something that has to be done in an incredibly short time frame, given that if a nuclear weapon is on its way, it’s only a matter of minutes before it hits. Thus, the U.S. has weapons that are on “hair-trigger alert,” which enables them to be launched within minutes, but it also means an increased likelihood of accidental launches or launches in response to false alarms.

When an alert happens, the military chain of command has less than 30 minutes to go through the process of assessing the threat, communicating with the president, and launching a retaliation if the president gives the go-ahead. “One of the reasons why these weapons are so dangerous is that unlike sending people to war and having a little bit of process and hopefully a congressional debate, and then a vote about whether or not to go into war, this is a decision that one person is making and in such a short time frame,” Tierney says.

Why is there concern surrounding Donald Trump and nuclear weaponry?

The U.S. has a “first strike” nuclear weapon policy, meaning America can activate weapons against another country without being attacked first. And President Donald Trump has the final say. Though national security advisors can brief him, it’s ultimately up to the president whether or not to attack, a point that came up during the presidential campaign when Hillary Clinton called out Trump’s impulsivity and how it could affect his decisions with the nuclear codes.

And though Trump said that receiving the nuclear codes was “sobering,” his various statements on the topic are cause for concern. Just one month before his inauguration, Trump tweeted that the U.S. should “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability,” a statement in direct contrast with Obama’s stated policy of nonproliferation. When asked about the tweet, Trump told MSNBC in a statement, “Let it be an arms race.” He seemingly reinforced those views just a few weeks ago, telling Reuters that the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be at the “top of the pack.”

“When Donald Trump tweets casually about the U.S.’s need to ‘strengthen and expand its nuclear capability,’ it drastically undermines all of these efforts and years of work to denormalize the escalation of nuclear weapon proliferation,” Gheen says. She notes that the NPT was already weakened by the loss of North Korea, and if the U.S., one of the two remaining major nuclear powers in the agreement, were to ever withdraw, the NPT would likely be dissolved.

On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to do away with the Iran nuclear deal, though his more recent lack of comments on the deal give the impression that he may keep the agreement intact. Even if he does try to renegotiate or withdraw from the deal — which, Tierney says, has already been a success — he’ll likely face pushback from U.S. officials and other countries that support it. “The fact of the matter is … [the deal] has worked,” Tierney says. “It’s done what it was intended to do: It’s put us in a much less risky situation, and the other [nations] that were partners in negotiating this…they want it to stay.”

Not long after that tweet, Trump took to Twitter again, in response to North Korea’s recent missile test, dismissing the country’s claims that it is developing a weapon capable of hitting the U.S. Some experts, however, believe it’s only a matter of time before North Korea develops such a weapon. “With an unpredictable Kim Jong Un [North Korea’s leader]…it is time for a very delicate diplomacy,” Gheen says. “With Donald Trump tweeting without thought for consequence, you have a scenario with two prideful, impulsive, nuclear-armed leaders. Add China into the mix, which is pretty much DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]’s only ally and [a nation that] has nuclear capabilities, and [there’s] a growing anxiety over Donald Trump.”

Part of that also has to do with Trump’s hiring — and firing — decisions. The president nominated former Texas governor Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy (DOE), which oversees the country’s nuclear programs. But unlike his predecessors, like MIT nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, Perry — who once advocated for abolishing the DOE — has minimal education or experience in the field. During his confirmation hearings, Perry gave vague responses to questions about the U.S. nuclear warheads program, and it turns out he may not have been clear on what his role would be when he accepted the offer. Tierney noted that between Trump and Perry, “there’s concern that there’s a lack of technical knowledge [and] a lack of appreciation for the complexity and for the risk involved.”

And those concerns are heightened when you consider the fact that aside from his one-off tweets and eyebrow-raising statements, Trump hasn’t really shared a clear vision for the future of nuclear arms. “Effective nuclear and radiological emergency response, detection, and prevention requires a well-coordinated national effort,” Gheen says. “A unified national message is essential to maintain funding and efficacy of these programs…. The Trump transition team [showed] little interest in making the continuation of these programs a priority.”

What’s next?

Clearly, the issue of nuclear weaponry and proliferation is a sensitive and dangerous one. To maintain safety and avoid large-scale destruction, Tierney believes Trump needs to continue President Obama’s efforts in nonproliferation, and that he and Perry need to hire experts in the DOE and the administration who have significant knowledge and understanding of nuclear weapons necessary to advise the president and the secretary of energy.

As for the weapons themselves, Tierney and others believe the U.S. needs to take weapons off high alert and work with Russia to do the same. “No matter who’s the president, it’s almost too huge a task to expect anybody to encumber and have 100% accuracy all the time,” Tierney says. “If you’ve only got about 30 to 45 minutes to make a decision as monumental as that, that clearly isn’t enough time in most instances for somebody to have a full appreciation of all the facts that are going on and to make good judgment.” Multiple leaders as well as scientists have called for weapons to be taken off high alert.

And in January, Democratic senator Ed Markey and congressman Ted Lieu introduced legislation to restrict the “first use” policy and prohibit Trump from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war from Congress.

Ultimately, Gheen says, Trump and the U.S. need to continue to partner with other countries, particularly nuclear states, to help avoid a disaster. “There is a great tradition of international nuclear cooperation, especially within organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency, an international organization that promotes “safe, secure, and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology,” she says. “Together we can propose creative solutions for [nuclear] issues.”

Tierney notes, though, that this is something that may also require a grassroots effort. “We need to get a public movement in gear again to understand that these risks are out there, and as frightful as they are, they can be dealt with,” he says. “We’ve had success in the past and we need to get people together, but it’s [going to] take a voice of people, a movement, to get people to speak up loudly enough that the people who make these decisions in the capitals of various countries react as they did in the ’80s and start taking action to stop the proliferation of these weapons and eventually keep on decreasing them, and put us in a safer environment.”

US Prepares For Nuclear War (Revelation 18)

US General: Russian ‘Aggression’ Justifies Upgrades to Nuclear Weapons

Says US Overdue for Major Nuclear Upgrades

by Jason Ditz, March 22, 2017

Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein the deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence, today argued for the US to advance on a costly proposal to modernize and upgrade their massive arsenal of nuclear weapons, insisting that the “much more aggressive” behavior by Russia justified such a move.

Weinstein, an Air Force general whose puvieww is mostly the US nuclear arsenal, argued that history had shown that keeping huge numbers of nuclear weapons on hand “basically kept the peace” since World War II, and that he sleeps very well at night knowing the US has such a large arsenal.

Weinstein’s argument that the move is “justified” ignores the question of whether it is affordable, as estimates have put the modernization scheme’s overall cost well in excess of a trillion dollars, above and beyond an already massive military budget that continues to grow annually.

But like most generals, he wants more and newer weapons. Indeed, Weinstein argued that the US nuclear arsenal is mostly the product of the 1960s, and that while there was an upgrade in the 1980s that the US should’ve done similar upgrade around 2001, and was overdue.

The push will likely be welcomed by the Trump Administration, as President Trump has argued that the US has “fallen behind” in nuclear weapons, and needs to have the top arsenal in the world, even though by most metrics, they already have one.

The Aging American Nuclear Horn

America’s Nuclear Bombers Are Old—and in Desperate Need of an Upgrade

Will Wiley
March 19, 2017

Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva told the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) during a March 8 congressional hearing that “the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear forces is to deter a strategic attack against the United States, its allies and its partners. Simply put, nuclear weapons pose the only existential threat to the United States and there is no substitute for the prospect of a devastating nuclear response to deter that threat.” To deter this existential threat to the nation, the United States maintains nuclear weapons in a nuclear triad made up of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, and air-launched missiles and gravity bombs carried by U.S. Air Force strategic bombers. All of these platforms are aging and require modernization. General Selva expressed the commitment of the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff to replacing the triad by stating that “there is no higher priority for the Joint Force than fielding all components of an effective nuclear deterrent, including weapons, infrastructure and personnel.” However, the modernization required to maintain effectiveness does face criticism and some are looking to eliminate a portion of the triad in an effort to save money and minimize the nation’s reliance on nuclear weapons.

During the same hearing, some HASC members pressed Gen. John Hyten, the commander of Strategic Command, to name the triad leg most in need of replacement. General Hyten said it was impossible to answer that question because it was like picking a favorite child. You just cannot pick one triad leg because the ability of the nuclear triad to provide deterrence to the nation relies on all three working together.

While General Hyten did not select a triad leg in his testimony, the nation’s sixty-six strategic bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons constitute the oldest nuclear assets in the arsenal. These bombers are about forty-five years old and some of the bombers entered the service in the 1960s. Today, the Air Force uses two types of strategic bombers to make up the air-based leg of the nuclear triad—the Vietnam-era B-52H Stratofortress and the stealthy B-2 Spirit. These bombers are based inside the continental United States at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The B-52H and B-2 fly strategic-bomber missions from these bases and are air refueled. The B-2 carries variants of the B61 nuclear gravity bomb, while the B-52H carries a nuclear-armed air- launched cruise missile (ALCM).

This leg of the nuclear triad provides its own vital attributes to ensure the nation has a survivable and reliable nuclear deterrent force. These attributes are unique to the bomber force and different from the sea-based and ground-based legs of the triad. First, bombers are a visible deterrent to aggressors and can influence how another country acts toward the United States or its allies. If a crisis is looming, national leadership can forward deploy these bombers to overseas bases and conduct strategic deterrent bomber missions in close proximity to the aggressive nation. The leader of the other nation and its citizens see this action and may be compelled to reverse their aggressive actions. It also visibly assures regional allies that the United States stands with them against aggressive actors. Second, bombers provide leaders a great deal of operational flexibility. Specifically, they can conduct their missions from the relative safety of bases inside the United States and refuel enroute to their targets. They have the ability to launch their weapons so they will not overfly a country which could lead to confusion in a nuclear exchange. These bombers can also carry conventional weapons. This capability minimizes the different types of bombers in the U.S. inventory and leads to cost savings through economies of scale both when the aircraft is purchased and when it is maintained. Additionally, the president can recall the bombers while enroute to their targets if the president decides not to launch nuclear weapons. This increases the president’s decision timeline. Finally, the strategic bomber force carries the complete array of weapons in the nuclear arsenal from a damage-producing standpoint. The weapons range from ones able to inflict a great deal of damage to ones that inflict a relatively small amount of damage. These weapon “yields,” which control the amount of damage caused, can be changed more easily than nuclear weapons in the other legs of the triad. This gives the president the ability to respond to a nuclear attack with a nuclear weapon that will inflict a calculated amount of damage.

As previously stated, the current inventory of strategic bombers is already old and must be replaced to maintain the attributes of this leg of the nuclear triad. The Air Force plans to do this by purchasing a minimum of one hundred B-21 Raider long range strategic bombers with an average procurement cost of $564 million in 2016 dollars. The first B-21 is expected in the force by the mid-2020s. While the B-21s are coming into the force, the B-2s will need multiple upgrades to keep them viable until the late 2020s. The Air Force is also taking measures to upgrade and modernize the existing B-52Hs, which will allow them to remain in service until 2050. Such improvements would give this airframe an impressive ninety-year service life.

Along with upgrading the current bombers and building the B-21, the Air Force is developing a long-range standoff (LRSO) cruise missile to replace the ALCM and also working on life-extension programs for the B61 gravity bomb. The ALCM is twenty-five years beyond its life expectancy and it is in the middle of a third life-extension program to allow it to last until the LRSO is ready for use. The legacy B61 bombs in the inventory require a service-life extension, termed B61-12, which will improve the overall performance of the weapon while enabling the Air Force to save money by reducing the total stockpile of weapons through the consolidation of four weapons versions into one.

The most scrutinized portion of this modernization program is centered around the introduction of the LRSO missile. Some argue against this new weapon if the Air Force plans to also upgrade the B-61 gravity bomb and build the stealthy B-21 Raider. Opponents of this new missile fail to look to the future and realize the stealth capability of the B-21 could be obsolete while it is still in service. Adversary air defense systems are improving, and some suggest only 12 percent of the current bomber force is survivable from the air. The nonstealth B-52H bomber relies on the ALCM to launch at targets outside of the effective range of these systems. By choosing to not replace the ALCM with the LRSO, the government risks rendering this entire leg of the triad obsolete if adversaries learn how to overcome the stealth of the B-21 in the future. Additionally, the ALCM and replacement LRSO missile allows one bomber to launch multiple missiles at different targets. This is an advantage over the B61 gravity bomb, which has to be flown over or near the target prior to being dropped. Therefore, one bomber can cover several different targets with multiple ALCMs/LRSOs. This allows the overall size of the bomber force to be smaller, which minimizes the cost to modernize and maintain this leg of the triad.

The only future certainty is unpredictability. The United States will face challenges from state and nonstate actors that may not be on anyone’s radar in 2017. However, the United States must take steps today in order to maintain a deterrent against future aggressive actors. Such steps should include deciding how it wants to modernize its nuclear weapons and their delivery platforms. Because of the age of the current nuclear triad, the window for debate is ending. The oldest of all the triad’s platforms reside in the strategic bomber leg. The Air Force’s plans to upgrade and extend the life of the B-2, B-52H and associated weapons (ALCM and B61-12) while simultaneously building the B-21 and LRSO, are wise investments. The B-21 coupled with the LRSO provides the nation with an operationally flexible platform with the stealth capability to penetrate enemy air defense systems or deliver a standoff cruise missile if aircraft cannot penetrate those systems. These upgraded air assets and associated weapons, when paired with the capabilities of the other two legs of the nuclear triad, will provide the nation with a sound strategic deterrent for the majority of the twenty-first century.

Will Wiley is a submarine warfare officer in the U.S. Navy. The opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not represent the official position of the U.S. Navy, Department of Defense or the U.S. government.

Trump Expands America’s Nuclear Power

Trump budget: An extra billion dollars for nuclear weapons

by Patrick Malone and R. Jeffrey Smith, CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY

His draft 2018 budget would drastically curtail State Department spending and foreign aid and end financing for the U.S. Institute of Peace, but boost the budget for nuclear weapons production by 11 percent.

President Trump has proposed to boost federal spending on the production of nuclear weapons by more than $1 billion in 2018 while slashing or eliminating spending on many federal programs related to diplomacy, foreign aid, and social needs, in a budget proposal that reflects the first tangible expression of his defense priorities.

The $1.4 billion budget increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration amounts to just a small fraction of the overall $54 billion boost he requested over the military’s roughly $639 billion 2017 budget, but it is a proportionally higher increase (11 percent) than the Defense Department itself would get (8 percent), signaling that he and his advisers feel the U.S. nuclear weapons program deserves special treatment.

The 64-page budget document released by the White House on March 16 — and entitled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” — contained only a few sentences about the proposal, which would give the NNSA a total of $14.3 billion in fiscal year 2018. But the blueprint said the new spending would support “the goals of moving toward a responsive nuclear infrastructure and advancing the existing program of record for warhead life extension programs.”

That language refers to an existing effort to modernize three types of warheads, so they can be deployed with bombers, submarine-launched missiles, and land-based missiles, some of which will themselves be modernized in years to come. That warhead work is well under way, although the budget document suggested it had been slowed by Obama-era defense spending caps. Some independent experts have cautioned, however, that the speed of the work is limited mostly by its sheer complexity, rather than by fund shortages, and expressed doubt that it could be accelerated.

Trump’s budget proposal also says the additional NNSA funds would address its “critical infrastructure maintenance” needs — which is Washington-speak for everything from laboratories and test tracks to office buildings — which NNSA director Frank Klotz has pegged in public statements at roughly $3.7 billion. That tally includes both nuclear weapons-related work and nonnuclear work related to the cleanup of wastes from past weapons production activities.

Much of the agency’s infrastructure is “antiquated,” having been built during the Cold War, Klotz told a well-timed hearing before the House Armed Services Committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee just a few hours after the proposed budget was released. “NNSA is presently busier than we have been for many, many years” but “operations are subject to increasing risk” due to spending shortfalls.

When Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) asked Klotz to provide more detail about how the new funds would be expended, however, he declined to answer. In a written statement, the Department of Energy — of which the NNSA is a part — said the current proposal represents only an overview, and that further details will be divulged in May.

Many in Washington say that Congress is unlikely to approve Trump’s budget. Nonetheless, the special status Trump has assigned to nuclear weapons work is exemplified by the fact that even as the NNSA’s budget would expand under his proposal, the rest of the Energy Department’s budget would decline by around 20 percent, or $1.7 billion.

Gone would be the department’s weatherization, gas mileage, and clean energy programs. The Office of Science, which supports research into new technologies and basic physics as well as climate change, would be cut by nearly twenty percent. Elsewhere in the government, the State Department would get a 28 percent budget cut, funds for U.N. peacekeeping would be scaled back, humanitarian aid would be focused on fewer nations, and all federal spending for the U.S. Institute of Peace would disappear.

The current U.S. nuclear weapons modernization program, which was initiated and strongly supported by former President Obama, was already estimated to cost $1 trillion or more over the next three decades. But Trump, in a Dec. 22 tweet, said “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” — implying that this should be beyond what Obama had set in motion.

As if to hammer that point home, Trump on March 16 also announced the appointment to the position of Pentagon policy chief of a defense analyst who helped write a new U.S. nuclear policy in 2001 that supported research on new types of nuclear warheads. The policy, overseen in part by Trump nominee David J. Trachtenberg, a former Pentagon deputy assistant secretary under President George W. Bush, also downplayed the significance of arms control, and supported an expansion of U.S. ballistic missile defense programs.

In Feb. 2013, Trachtenberg joined other conservative analysts in sending a letter to Obama that urged the president to withdraw his public pledge to pursue the global elimination of nuclear weapons. This agenda, the letter said, would “only result in the unilateral disarmament of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.” It also urged Obama not to endorse further cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal, arguing that such a move would “put our country, its allies, and our peoples at ever-greater risk.” Trachtenberg separately has criticized Obama’s nuclear policy for ruling out “new nuclear weapons, missions or capabilities.”

Trump’s budget document says his choices demonstrate “the Administration’s strong support for the United States’ nuclear security enterprise and [it] ensures that we have a nuclear force that is second to none.”

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, an advocacy group based in Washington, said the budget choices Trump has made will send “a signal that will worry our erstwhile adversaries, Russia, China.” But it will also puzzle our allies, Kimball said, because “they recognize American diplomacy is critical to their security.”

The Center for Public Integrity is a non-profit, independent investigative news outlet. A list of its funders can be found here. For more of its stories on this topic go to publicintegrity.org.

America Overdue For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New Study: America Overdue For Major Earthquake … In States You Didn’t Suspect

New York Destroyed

Written by: Daniel Jennings Current Events

Most Americans have a reasonable chance of experiencing a destructive earthquake within the next 50 years, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has concluded.

The survey’s new National Seismic Hazard Map show that the risk of earthquakes in parts of the country — such as the Midwest, Oregon and the Rocky Mountains — is far higher than previously thought. All total, Americans in one-third of the country saw their risk for an earthquake increase.

“I worry that we will wake up one morning and see earthquake damage in our country that is as bad as that has occurred in some developing nations that have experienced large earthquakes,” Carl Hedde, a risk management expert at insurer Munich Reinsurance America, said of the map in The Wall Street Journal. “Beyond building collapse, a large amount of our infrastructure could be immediately damaged. Our roads, bridges and energy transmission systems can be severely impacted.”

Among the findings:

  • The earthquake danger in parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and South Carolina is as high as that in Los Angeles.
  • 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing a damaging earthquake in the next 50 years.
  • Parts of 16 states have the highest risk of a quake: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina

“We know the hazard has increased for small and moderate size earthquakes,” USGS scientist William Ellsworth told The Journal. “We don’t know as well how much the hazard has increased for large earthquakes. Our suspicion is it has but we are working on understanding this.”

Frightening Results From New Study

The USGS used new computer modeling technology and data collected from recent quakes such as the one that struck Washington, D.C. in 2011 to produce the new maps. The maps show that many Americans who thought they were safe from earthquakes are not.

New Relocation Manual Helps Average Americans Get Out Of Harms Way Before The Coming Crisis

Some of the survey’s other disturbing findings include:

    • The earthquake danger in Oklahoma, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, New York and parts of New England is higher than previously thought.
    • Some major metropolitan areas, including Memphis, Salt Lake City, Seattle, St. Louis and Charleston, have a higher risk of earthquakes than previously thought. One of the nation’s most dangerous faults, the New Madrid fault, runs right through St. Louis and Missouri. It is the nation’s second most active fault. On Dec. 16, 1811, the New Madrid Fault was the site of the most powerful series of earthquakes in American history.

Geological Tectonic Survey

Geological Tectonic Survey

“Obviously the building codes throughout the central U.S. do not generally take earthquake risk or the risk of a large earthquake into account,” USGS Seismologist Elizabeth Cochran told The Journal. Her take: Earthquake damage in the central US could be far greater than in places like California, because structures in some locations are not built to withstand quakes.

Others agree.

“Earthquakes are quite rare in many places but when they happen they cause very intense damage because people have not prepared,” Mark Petersen, the project chief for the USGS’s National Seismic Hazard Map, told The Journal.

This new map should be a wakeup call for Americans.

Trump’s Comrade States The Obvious

BN-JB080_russia_P_20150623091509Russia Could Annihilate U.S. With Nuclear Weapons, Trump Nominee Warns

The man President Donald Trump was set to nominate Thursday for a key Defense Department position once wrote an editorial that slammed Russia’s aggressive nuclear posture and the U.S.’ response.

The White House announced it intended to nominate David J. Trachtenberg to serve as the principal deputy under the secretary of defense for policy. In a December 2015 opinion piece for Defense News, Trachtenberg—the president of a national security consulting firm and former Department of Defense staffer—wrote that Russia had taken on a “threatening nuclear posture” and that the current approach left “Americans hostage to nuclear annihilation by Russia” in the name of strategic stability.

“In the most critical areas of nuclear deterrence and defense, it’s time to square the circle between Russia’s actions and America’s response,” Trachtenberg concluded in his Defense News piece. “Bolstering our nuclear offensive and defensive capabilities is long overdue. Let’s get on with it.”

The Trump administration’s ties to Russia have regularly come into question. The U.S. intelligence community determined that the country worked to help Trump get elected over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton through a hack of the Democratic National Committee and an “influence campaign.”

Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn stepped down after he misrepresented a conversation with a Russian ambassador to Vice President Mike Pence. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, recused himself this month from an ongoing investigation of ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia after it was revealed that he did not disclose his meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the run-up to the election.

Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump have expressed a desire to further their nation’s nuclear capabilities.

Russia must “enhance the combat capability of strategic nuclear forces, primarily by strengthening missile complexes that will be guaranteed to penetrate existing and future missile defense systems,” Putin said in December.

Trump tweeted around that time, the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.”

“Let it be an arms race,” Trump said in a statement to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” the day after that tweet. “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

The Real Iran Deal

What future for the Iran nuclear deal?

US-Iran relations have always been complex, but they are likely to become more so due to President Donald Trump’s opposition to the nuclear deal. The issue becomes all the more important at a time when they may need to cooperate in their fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

The nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed on July 14, 2015, after protracted negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — China, France, Russia, the UK and US — plus Germany.

The deal set a framework that looked more or less acceptable to all sides, but its opponents in the US and Iran did not wait long to point at various discrepancies. A rule in international relations says the longest-lasting deals are usually those that make all parties equally unhappy. We may therefore hope the deal outlives the Trump presidency.

Scrapping it was top of his to-do list during his election campaign. Referring to Iran’s frozen assets that would be released due to the deal, he said: “Allowing access to billions of dollars in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program is not in America’s or the world’s interests.” Negative reactions to this attitude poured in from the capitals of all other parties to the deal.

Trump must have later realized the difficulty of translating into action all his election promises. He softened his rhetoric during his telephone call with Saudi King Salman, when he spoke of “the strict implementation of all provisions of the deal” rather than scrapping it.

The deal limits the number of centrifuges to be deployed in the next 10 years, and the level of enriched uranium under 3.67 percent for at least 15 years. The stockpile of enriched uranium will be kept under 300kg. Iran has abided by these and many other scrupulously worded restrictions, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recognized its full compliance.

President Hassan Rouhani promised during his election campaign in 2013 to open up Iran’s economy. He may maintain the same promise while campaigning for presidential elections due to be held in May. Improvement in Iran’s economy will bring more votes to any political contender. It would be wise to let the public reap the benefits.

Scrapping it was top of Donald Trump’s to-do list during his election campaign. He must have later realized the difficulty of translating into action all his election promises.

Yasar Yakis

Iran is in no hurry to resume its nuclear program because since it has already acquired nuclear technology, it can do so at any time in the future if it becomes necessary. Trump, for his part, does not need to stick to his initial promise of undoing the deal because there are several unrelated means the US can use unilaterally if it wishes to make life difficult for Iran.

For instance, UN Security Council Resolution 2231 abolished all punitive measures imposed on Iran, but unilateral US sanctions blocking Tehran’s access to the international banking system are still in place. These sanctions are outside the scope of the JCPOA. They were imposed by Washington due to Tehran’s support for terrorist groups.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), with its 125,000 soldiers, is part of Iran’s army and is tasked by the constitution with protecting the country’s Islamic system. As well as its military activities, the IRGC is a vast conglomerate involved in missile batteries, oil, gas, petrochemical industries and nuclear programs.

It controls multibillion-dollar businesses in all sectors. Its annual income is estimated at $12 billion in business and construction. Such a big economic actor has business relations with all financial institutions in the country.

The US considers the IRGC a terrorist organization, so international financial institutions are worried that they may face sanctions if they do business with Iranian banks that deal with the IRGC. After the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, then-President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry tried to reassure international banks they could do business with Iranian banks, but this verbal reassurance did not dispel their worry.

They asked for a clear guarantee that they would not be sanctioned. Despite the positive approach of Obama and Kerry, the question is still hanging because of the US Treasury Department’s unclear attitude. The irony is that international financial institutions face problems because of US sanctions against the IRGC, but it is the strongest force inflicting losses on Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

• Yasar Yakis is a former foreign minister of Turkey and founding member of the ruling AK Party.

Trump And The Nuclear Button (Ezekiel 17)

Not since the 1970s, at the height of the Cold War, have most Americans been jittery about the prospect of a nuclear holocaust. Back then, it seemed like such an immediate possibility that suburban families were constructing fallout shelters and schoolkids were subjected to bomb drills. But after the fall of the Soviet Union, atomic war came to feel like an abstraction, the stuff of sci-fi movies. Then, during the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton started talking about Trump having “access to the nuclear codes,” which has turned out to be more than simple campaign fearmongering. As recently as two weeks ago, the 45th president effectively called for a new nuclear-arms race, and he’s also threatened to revoke the nuclear agreement with Iran and to invade North Korea on account of its recent nuclear tests. Of all the threats Trump poses, surely the gravest (if, let’s hope, the most far-fetched) is that he could set off a firefight that would incinerate the globe.

Atomic-weapons expert Philip Coyle was the head of nuclear-weapons testing under President Bill Clinton and an adviser to the Carter and Obama administrations. And as a scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California, he spent 30 years helping design both nuclear arms and the only anti-missile weapon ever deployed by the U.S. Now mostly retired and living in Sacramento, he consults for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a group that lobbies for arms reduction. In other words, there are few people better equipped to explain just how terrified we should be of global annihilation. Below, he discusses the best way of responding to North Korea, why we should be concerned about India and Pakistan, and his own worst nightmares of our nuclear future.

Is there anything about nuclear weapons that would keep us up at night if we knew about it?
Well, for one thing, because I’m old enough, and because of the work I used to do, I’ve actually seen nuclear weapons go off. It’s an amazing, amazingly powerful thing. Once you’ve seen it … It’s something you don’t ever want to see happen during war.

I would watch from miles away. If it’s in a place like the Nevada test site, then you’re in a bunker, protected. Or if it’s underground, then you see the ground heave, which is amazing. If it was in the Pacific, you would watch, perhaps, from a Navy ship. I was the director of the largest underground test the United States ever did — five megatons — in Alaska. On the web, you can see pictures of the ground rising as the explosion goes off. It just goes up and up and up, and it looks like it’s never going to stop. We begin to get an idea [of what it’s like] in violent storms, tornadoes. Violent landslides. But it’s just not the same.

What do you think of the outlook for the Trump administration’s nuclear policy?
It’s a little hard to tell. President Trump has said that nuclear weapons are terrible, or awful, something like that. But on the other hand, he told Mika on Morning Joe, ‘Bring on an arms race!’

Trump has gone back and forth on whether he supports a “No First Use” doctrine. Could you explain what this means and the ramifications?
Yes. It means we pledge we will never be the first to use nuclear weapons. If the other side does, we might use them in retaliation, but we would never start a nuclear war. It’s a way of adding security and stability to the peace process. It has always been set by the president. We don’t know yet what President Trump’s view is.

What was the significance of the North Korea nuclear test, the one in January, that Trump responded to from his Mar-a-Lago dinner table?
North Korea has tested nuclear weapons several times now, and while some of the early tests appeared to be fizzles, the more recent tests look like they have actually achieved relatively small nuclear devices. By ‘small,’ I mean about the size of Hiroshima. They’re not the big thermonuclear weapons of the sort that the United States, Russia, France, and China have. And they don’t have many. And they don’t have many. Congress estimates 10 to 16; other estimates are less than 10—but essentially, a handful. But they’re continuing to test them, and also testing missiles that might carry those weapons. So far, North Korea does not have a missile that can reach the United States, but people worry that given enough time, it could develop one.

The significance [of the January test] was that it was about the same size as the previous one, so it appears they can do it twice in a row. And the previous test may — we don’t know this for sure — may have helped them make some progress toward making their nuclear device smaller. That is, more easily mounted on a missile of some kind.

Mostly their problem so far has been that their missile tests simply haven’t been intercontinental-range. They’ve been short-to-medium range. So they don’t even have the capability to reach Hawaii, let alone the continental United States. However, they certainly are a threat to South Korea and Japan. They’ve tested missiles with enough range to reach either of those countries.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Trump administration is considering military action and regime change in North Korea, among other options, for dealing with the nuclear threat there. What’s your take on that news?
I think the administration is simply considering the options, and that’s not so surprising. I think every administration looks at the options. Some will be more attractive than others. The main thing North Korea wants is for the United States to stop threatening it. Instead, just last week, the U.S. started military exercises in South Korea.

Is the nuclear threat at a level that could warrant an action like regime change?
Certainly it’s a threat that we should be very concerned about. But threatening regime change — all that does is threaten them even more with the very thing they’re worried about. That’s not going to work. What North Korea wants is for us to stop threatening them and to talk with them, and to sit down and try to reach an agreement, perhaps with the help of other countries: namely, South Korea, Japan, and China. When we’ve done that in the past, it has produced salutary results. North Korea has followed the agreements that we’ve made until we do something to break them.

For instance, the Clinton administration had reached an agreement with North Korea, which they were following. The guidelines were not exactly parallel with what has recently happened in Iran, but conceptually they were the same. Then President George W. Bush was elected and immediately began threatening North Korea — and the deal had been that we wouldn’t do that.

So North Korea stopped abiding by the terms as well?
Yes. And that’s the problem with these agreements: They’re very fragile, and it doesn’t take much from either side to trigger an overreaction.

Besides North Korea, which countries should we be most concerned about?
There are also Pakistan and India. People worry that they could get into a regional conflict involving nuclear weapons that would bring in the rest of the world, and all hell would break loose. It could involve large nuclear-weapon states like Russia and China picking sides. Pakistan is estimated to have about 130 nuclear weapons, and India about 120. They tend to match each other. They’ve done exactly the same number of nuclear tests. They keep track and deliberately don’t do more, in order to avoid setting off an imbalance.

Are there any areas where our fears are overblown?
I don’t think you can be too concerned, where nuclear weapons are involved, because they’re so destructive.

You’ve criticized our nuclear defenses for the way they focus on intercepting “limited” attacks. Could you explain what this means and why it’s inadequate?
The missile-defense system that we’ve deployed in Alaska and California involves interceptors which would fly out into space and try to hit, head-on, a missile coming from, say, North Korea. The trouble is, that system has done very poorly in flight-intercept tests — and it’s been getting worse over time, when it ought to be getting better. If you go back over each test since, say, 2000, and look at why it failed, the reasons have varied. A couple failed because the interceptor never got off the ground; a couple failed because the interceptor never separated from its rocket booster.

It’s one of the most difficult things the Pentagon has ever tried to do. You’re trying to hit an enemy target that’s going 15–17,000 miles an hour. You’re going so fast that if you miss by an inch, you can miss by a mile.

Meanwhile, what our development of this intercept system is doing is encouraging other countries to build better offense systems, so that they can overwhelm our missile defenses. Typically in the tests, there’s only one target. You’re trying to shoot down one missile with another missile. There’s no reason why, if Russia were intent on attacking the United States, they would do it that way. They wouldn’t just shoot one missile out of the blue and see what happened — they would fire large numbers of them.

Recently Russia tested an intermediate-range missile that could be nuclear — that could hit Europe, let’s say. If Russia builds a bunch of those, the missile defenses we’re building in Europe right now, in conjunction with NATO will be overwhelmed also. Our system in Europe has interceptors deployed in Romania, and proposed to be deployed, in a year or two, in Poland. Russia hates it because they think it’s aimed at them, and conservative members of Congress say it ought to be aimed at Russia — just reinforcing what Russia worries about. So Russia’s inclination is to be able to overwhelm that system by building more and more missiles.

So it’s a vicious cycle?
Yes, that’s how it works out. If Russia were deploying missile-defense systems in Cuba or Mexico, close to our borders, in the way that Romania and Poland are close to their borders, we wouldn’t like that either. And if the numbers got very large, we’d be just as concerned as Russia is.

What is your worst nightmare of a nuclear disaster?
I have two. One is that somebody builds or steals a nuclear weapon, overseas somewhere. A military faction, for instance. William Perry, the former secretary of Defense under Clinton, has a video outlining how this could happen.

The other is that the United States and Russia will get into another nuclear-arms race and create a much more dangerous world than we’ve had heretofore. You see this in Congress, where various members are calling for new nuclear capabilities on the part of the United States — which, obviously, Russia and China would feel they had to respond to. You see it also in a recent Defense Science Board report, where they recommend low-yield nuclear weapons as a way of deterring Russia — the idea being that, because they’re low-yield, it’s more believable that we would actually use them. But, of course, if the idea is to make them more usable, that makes them more dangerous — because they might actually get used!

There’s a new bill Congress is working on called the Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty Preservation Act. It’s ironic that they call it that. It would be more accurate to call it the Violation Act, because the things it recommends would all be violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty [a 1987 agreement that the U.S. and Russia would eliminate all their ground-launched missiles with a certain range capacity]. It hasn’t been voted on or anything, so maybe it will never happen. But for example, they’re calling for a dual program of a dual-capable — meaning they could be nuclear or nonnuclear — road-mobile missile-launch system, with ranges between 500 kilometers and, say, 6,000 kilometers. Obviously, if the United States did something like that, Russia and China would feel very concerned and feel they had to respond.

So this kind of sword-rattling could ultimately make the world a much more dangerous place.

By and large, Americans aren’t viscerally afraid of nuclear war in the way they were in the 1950s and ’60s. But how close are we actually to the threat of a nuclear holocaust, compared to the situation during the Cold War?
Until very recently, I would have said that we were moving farther and farther away from nuclear war, because the U.S. and Russian stockpiles have been going down, and because other countries that have nuclear weapons have been restrained. They could have built many more than they have so far. And because of this general attitude that nuclear weapons are simply not acceptable anymore, as a moral matter, and that no sane U.S. president would ever use them. But more recently, with the sword-rattling we are talking about, I’ve become more concerned.

You mean since the last campaign cycle began?
Exactly.