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.)

Korea Prepares For Another “Iranian” Nuclear Test


Visitors walk by a TV screen showing a news program with a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 22, 2017. North Korea's latest missile launch ended in failure Wednesday. The Korean letters read: "Launch a missile."

Visitors walk by a TV screen showing a news program with a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 22, 2017. North Korea’s latest missile launch ended in failure Wednesday. The Korean letters read: “Launch a missile.”

North Korea has maintained readiness to conduct a nuclear test at any time, a South Korean military official said Friday, amid a report of a possible test within days as Pyongyang defies international pressure.

U.S. and South Korean military surveillance assets were closely monitoring the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site on the reclusive state’s east coast, said the official, who declined to be identified.

North ‘ready … any time’

Speaking by telephone, the official also declined to comment on whether there were fresh signs pointing to an imminent test.

“North Korea is ready to carry out a nuclear test at any time, depending on the leadership’s decision. We are keeping a close eye on its nuclear activities,” the official said.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, and is believed by experts and government officials to be working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that could reach the United States.

Fox News in the United States reported Thursday that the North was in the final stages of preparing for another nuclear test, possibly within the next few days. The network cited U.S. officials with knowledge of recent intelligence.

It quoted one of the officials as saying the test could come as early as the end of the month.

Satellites show activity

The Washington-based think tank 38 North said in February satellite imagery showed the North’s nuclear site continued low-level activity in a possible sign that it could conduct another test soon. However, it said it was unclear exactly when such a test might take place.

The South Korean military has said several times since the September test that Pyongyang was ready to conduct another nuclear blast at any time, and that a tunnel was available at the site to do so.

North Korea said last year it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile and has been ratcheting up a threat that its rivals and the United Nations appear powerless to contain.

A North Korean missile appeared to have exploded just after it was launched Wednesday, the latest in a series of weapons tests that have alarmed the region.

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.

Iran Is Already A Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Does Iran Already Have Nuclear Weapons?

What happens to the Iran nuclear deal if Iran already has a nuclear weapon?

Both Iran and North Korea were part of the A.Q. Kahn proliferation network, and bilateral trade in oil and weapons has continued despite UN resolutions designed to stop it. Ballistic missile cooperation is documented, and nuclear cooperation has been an unspoken theme in Washington. Pyongyang helped Damascus, Iran’s ally, build a secret reactor. There are reports that North Korean experts visited Iran in May to help Iran with its missile program. Pressed by reporters on the subject of North Korea-Iran nuclear cooperation a few weeks ago, even the State Department acknowledged that it takes reports of such cooperation seriously.

In 2006, again in 2009, and more recently in 2013, North Korea carried out what appear to have been nuclear tests. The tests were all small, well below the blast that was achieved by the first Hiroshima atomic bomb and the subsequent Nagasaki explosion.

When America dropped a uranium-fueled simple bomb on Hiroshima (August 1945) it achieved a blast rated at about 15 kilotons (KT). The plutonium bomb with a sophisticated triggering system, used at Nagasaki three days later, had a yield of about 20 KT. The most recent North Korean nuclear explosion, by contrast, was approximately 6 KT, much smaller and it was detonated underground. Such a bomb is not trivial: its fireball would cover about four Manhattan blocks. It is, by itself, not sufficient to destroy the city of New York, but it would do a lot of damage.

Experts think the North Koreans have been developing small nuclear warheads, which they believe explains why the blasts were so small. DIA expressed “moderate confidence” that North Korea had mastered a nuclear weapon small enough to mount on a ballistic missile, and other senior American officials agree. But in May, an NSC representative said, ““We do not think that they have that capacity.” Both sides caveat their views with the fact that there is no direct, observable evidence — only extrapolations from events in a closed country.

If North Korea can make a small nuclear weapon, why would it?

The main threat for North Korea lies to its south. If Pyongyang wanted to use its ballistic missiles to attack South Korea with atomic warheads, U.S. spy satellites would surely pick up the preparation and preemptive action could be taken to make sure they were never launched. Thus the better nuclear option for North Korea is to do it in a more stealthy way: perhaps by using a mini submarine or a fishing boat in a key South Korean harbor. In that case, the bigger the bomb the better.

Of course, the North Korean ambition does not stop at South Korea and perhaps it wants a nuclear capability to threaten the United States and Japan, two archenemies.

On the other hand, North Korea desperately needs cash to prop up a regime that has been teetering for a long time.  A good part of that cash comes from abroad, and outside of illicit activities the big money seems to be from Iran.

Given relations between the two and North Korean capabilities, it is quite possible that the North Korean tests have either been of Iranian-made warheads or of warheads made for Iran by North Korea. Which may mean Iran is shipping uranium (and possibly plutonium) to North Korea and the North Koreans are developing the warheads and testing them.

If Iran already has nuclear weapons, the agreement with the United States, Europe, and Russia is a canard, enabling Iran to bring in a lot of cash and technology while continuing to expand its nuclear program outside its borders. Ending the UN arms embargo against Iran would also allow it to ship items (warheads?) into the country without international inspection.

There is nothing new about Iran operating outside its borders. On September 5, 2007, Israeli aircraft and commandos attacked and destroyed Deir al-Zor in Syria and the nearby complex of Kibar. The complex was confirmed by the IAEA as a nuclear weapons development site, operated by Iran with the participation of North Korea.

It was not the only nuclear site in Syria. Marj as-Sultan, a facility near Damascus, is believed to be a uranium enrichment facility. With fighting taking place around this town, the German magazine Der Spiegel reports that the uranium and other material and equipment have been moved “to a well-hidden underground location just west of the city of Qusayr, not even two kilometers from the border with Lebanon.” And Der Spiegel believes that yet another nuclear facility was built this year at a secret location. According to Der Spiegel, Assad’s goal is nuclear capability, but how would this help him deal with the civil war raging in Syria? A more likely explanation is that this is an Iranian operation supported by North Korea.

Countries developing nuclear weapons often follow multiple tracks and build significant redundancy into their program so that a single point of failure won’t block progress in development. The U.S. pursued both uranium and plutonium weapons and created multiple facilities and different processes to get to its goal. Ditto for Russia, Britain, France, Iraq, India, and Pakistan. Iran is pursuing multiple paths to weaponization, but it is doing it with a twist. Because it needs a deal for sanctions relief, Iran is pursuing both domestic and extraterritorial nuclear weapons development. There is no doubt about its close ties to North Korea, and Syria provides concrete evidence of the convergence of the main players.

The nuclear deal with Iran does not consider these external relationships, or even officially recognize that they exist. Nor does it take into account that the explosions in North Korea could have been Iranian bombs. Although American intelligence is not completely confident on the matter, it is clear that the administration has heard voices of concern from within its own establishment.

This is another example of the ardor with which the Obama administration has pursued the Iran nuclear deal without regard for Iranian behavior before and during the negotiation.

What happens to the Iran nuclear deal if Iran already has a nuclear weapon?

Both Iran and North Korea were part of the A.Q. Kahn proliferation network, and bilateral trade in oil and weapons has continued despite UN resolutions designed to stop it. Ballistic missile cooperation is documented, and nuclear cooperation has been an unspoken theme in Washington. Pyongyang helped Damascus, Iran’s ally, build a secret reactor. There are reports that North Korean experts visited Iran in May to help Iran with its missile program. Pressed by reporters on the subject of North Korea-Iran nuclear cooperation a few weeks ago, even the State Department acknowledged that it takes reports of such cooperation seriously.

In 2006, again in 2009, and more recently in 2013, North Korea carried out what appear to have been nuclear tests. The tests were all small, well below the blast that was achieved by the first Hiroshima atomic bomb and the subsequent Nagasaki explosion.

When America dropped a uranium-fueled simple bomb on Hiroshima (August 1945) it achieved a blast rated at about 15 kilotons (KT). The plutonium bomb with a sophisticated triggering system, used at Nagasaki three days later, had a yield of about 20 KT. The most recent North Korean nuclear explosion, by contrast, was approximately 6 KT, much smaller and it was detonated underground. Such a bomb is not trivial: its fireball would cover about four Manhattan blocks. It is, by itself, not sufficient to destroy the city of New York, but it would do a lot of damage.

Experts think the North Koreans have been developing small nuclear warheads, which they believe explains why the blasts were so small. DIA expressed “moderate confidence” that North Korea had mastered a nuclear weapon small enough to mount on a ballistic missile, and other senior American officials agree. But in May, an NSC representative said, ““We do not think that they have that capacity.” Both sides caveat their views with the fact that there is no direct, observable evidence — only extrapolations from events in a closed country.

If North Korea can make a small nuclear weapon, why would it?

The main threat for North Korea lies to its south. If Pyongyang wanted to use its ballistic missiles to attack South Korea with atomic warheads, U.S. spy satellites would surely pick up the preparation and preemptive action could be taken to make sure they were never launched. Thus the better nuclear option for North Korea is to do it in a more stealthy way: perhaps by using a mini submarine or a fishing boat in a key South Korean harbor. In that case, the bigger the bomb the better.

Of course, the North Korean ambition does not stop at South Korea and perhaps it wants a nuclear capability to threaten the United States and Japan, two archenemies.

On the other hand, North Korea desperately needs cash to prop up a regime that has been teetering for a long time.  A good part of that cash comes from abroad, and outside of illicit activities the big money seems to be from Iran.

Given relations between the two and North Korean capabilities, it is quite possible that the North Korean tests have either been of Iranian-made warheads or of warheads made for Iran by North Korea. Which may mean Iran is shipping uranium (and possibly plutonium) to North Korea and the North Koreans are developing the warheads and testing them.

If Iran already has nuclear weapons, the agreement with the United States, Europe, and Russia is a canard, enabling Iran to bring in a lot of cash and technology while continuing to expand its nuclear program outside its borders. Ending the UN arms embargo against Iran would also allow it to ship items (warheads?) into the country without international inspection.

There is nothing new about Iran operating outside its borders. On September 5, 2007, Israeli aircraft and commandos attacked and destroyed Deir al-Zor in Syria and the nearby complex of Kibar. The complex was confirmed by the IAEA as a nuclear weapons development site, operated by Iran with the participation of North Korea.

It was not the only nuclear site in Syria. Marj as-Sultan, a facility near Damascus, is believed to be a uranium enrichment facility. With fighting taking place around this town, the German magazine Der Spiegel reports that the uranium and other material and equipment have been moved “to a well-hidden underground location just west of the city of Qusayr, not even two kilometers from the border with Lebanon.” And Der Spiegel believes that yet another nuclear facility was built this year at a secret location. According to Der Spiegel, Assad’s goal is nuclear capability, but how would this help him deal with the civil war raging in Syria? A more likely explanation is that this is an Iranian operation supported by North Korea.

Countries developing nuclear weapons often follow multiple tracks and build significant redundancy into their program so that a single point of failure won’t block progress in development. The U.S. pursued both uranium and plutonium weapons and created multiple facilities and different processes to get to its goal. Ditto for Russia, Britain, France, Iraq, India, and Pakistan. Iran is pursuing multiple paths to weaponization, but it is doing it with a twist. Because it needs a deal for sanctions relief, Iran is pursuing both domestic and extraterritorial nuclear weapons development. There is no doubt about its close ties to North Korea, and Syria provides concrete evidence of the convergence of the main players.

The nuclear deal with Iran does not consider these external relationships, or even officially recognize that they exist. Nor does it take into account that the explosions in North Korea could have been Iranian bombs. Although American intelligence is not completely confident on the matter, it is clear that the administration has heard voices of concern from within its own establishment.

This is another example of the ardor with which the Obama administration has pursued the Iran nuclear deal without regard for Iranian behavior before and during the negotiation.

Korea Increases Its Nuclear Arsenal (Daniel 8)

North Korea has expanded its enriched uranium facility, U.N. nuclear inspector says

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks at a rocket warhead tip in this undated handout photo.
WASHINGTON — North Korea has doubled the size of its facility for enriching uranium in recent years, according to the United Nations’ top nuclear inspector, who voiced doubt that a diplomatic agreement can end leader Kim Jong Un’s weapons programs.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, described North Korea as rapidly advancing its capacity to produce nuclear weapons on two fronts: the production of plutonium at its Yongbyon nuclear facility and the enrichment of uranium.

Amano played a leading role in negotiating the landmark nuclear agreement reached between world powers and Iran in 2015 to scale back Tehran’s nuclear program.

The Japanese diplomat, who was tapped this month to serve a third term as the IAEA’s chief, played down the chances for a similar diplomatic approach with Kim and his military government. “This is a highly political issue. A political agreement is essential,” Amano said, but added. “We can’t be optimistic. The situation is very bad. We don’t have the reason to be optimistic.”

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

 

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.

North Korea Ready to War

N. Korea says it’s not afraid of US threat of military strike

North Korea said Monday it is not frightened by U.S. threats of possible pre-emptive military action to halt its nuclear and missile buildup.

A spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry slammed U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent talk of tougher sanctions, more pressure, and possible military action, and said the North would not be deterred in its nuclear program.

“The nuclear force of (North Korea) is the treasured sword of justice and the most reliable war deterrence to defend the socialist motherland and the life of its people,” the official Korean Central News Agency quoted the spokesman as saying.

Tillerson recently visited Japan, South Korea and China on trip that focused on North Korea’s nuclear program. On Friday, he signaled a tougher strategy that left open the possibility of pre-emptive military action.

“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” he said after visiting the heavily militarized border between the rival Koreas. “We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table.”

A day earlier, in Japan, Tillerson had described the past 20 years of U.S. policy toward North Korea as a failure and vowed a comprehensive policy review under U.S. President Donald Trump.

KCNA quoted the unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying the U.S. should accept that North Korea is a nuclear-capable nation that “has the will and capability to fully respond to any war the U.S. would like to ignite.”

“If the businessmen-turned U.S. authorities thought that they would frighten (North Korea), they would soon know that their method would not work,” he said.

On Saturday, North Korea conducted a ground test of a new type of high-thrust rocket engine that leader Kim Jong Un called a revolutionary breakthrough for the country’s space program, KCNA reported earlier.

North Korea has accelerated its weapons development, violating multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions without being deterred by sanctions. It conducted two nuclear test explosions and 24 ballistic missile tests last year. Experts say it could have a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland within a few years.

Korea Continues To Push Nuclear Threshold

By Stephanie Nebehay | GENEVA

North Korea has nothing to fear from any U.S. move to broaden sanctions aimed at cutting it off from the global financial system and will pursue “acceleration” of its nuclear and missile programs, a North Korean envoy told Reuters on Tuesday.

This includes developing a “pre-emptive first strike capability” and an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), said Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the North Korean mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Reuters, quoting a senior U.S. official in Washington, reported on Monday that the Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions as part of a broad review of measures to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat. (For Monday’s story, click reut.rs/2n9HZ5a)

“I think this is stemming from the visit by the Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson) to Japan, South Korea and China…We of course are not afraid of any act like that,” Choe told Reuters.

“Even prohibition of the international transactions system, the global financial system, this kind of thing is part of their system that will not frighten us or make any difference.”

He called existing sanctions “heinous and inhumane”.

North Korea has been under sanctions for “half a century” but the communist state survives by placing an emphasis on juche or “self-sufficiency”, he said. His country wants a forum set up to examine the “legality and legitimacy of the sanctions regime”.

He denounced joint annual military exercises currently being carried out by the United States and South Korea on the divided peninsula and criticized remarks by Tillerson during his talks with regional allies last week.

“All he was talking about is for the United States to take military actions on DPRK,” Choe said, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea rejects claims by Washington and Seoul that the military drills are defensive. They involve strategic nuclear bombers and a nuclear submarine, Columbus, that recently entered South Korean ports, he said.”In the light of such huge military forces involved in the joint military exercises, we have no other choice but to continue with our full acceleration of the nuclear programs and missile programs. It is because of these hostile activities on the part of the United States and South Korea.”

PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE CAPABILITY

“We strengthen our national defense capability as well as pre-emptive strike capabilities with nuclear forces as a centerpiece,” Choe said.

Asked to comment on Choe’s remarks, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Anna Richey-Allen, called on North Korea “to refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric…and to make the strategic choice to fulfill its international obligations and commitments and return to serious talks.”

Choe declined to give technical details of North Korea’s latest rocket engine test on Sunday – seen as a possible prelude to a partial ICBM flight – calling it a great historical event that would lead to “fruitful outcomes”.

“I can tell you for sure that the inter-continental ballistic rockets of the DPRK will be launched at any time and at any place as decided by our Supreme Leadership,” Choe said, recalling leader Kim Jong Un’s pledge in a New Year’s address.

Analysts say North Korea has likely mastered the technology to power the different stages of an ICBM and may show it off soon, but is likely still a long way from being able to hit the mainland United States.

“The United States has been talking about launching pre-emptive strikes at North Korea,” Choe said. “And we have been prepared to deter, to counter-attack such attacks on the part of the United States.

“We would utilize every possible means in our hands and the inter-continental ballistic rocket is one of them.”

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; editing by Ralph Boulton and Jonathan Oatis)

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.