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

21 March 2018

Why we must break the Syria-North Korea WMD trade, and how we can

By Joshua Stanton

Last night, the U.N. Panel of Experts published its latest report. There is sufficient material in it for several posts, but some of the most alarming facts in it have to do with North Korea’s assistance to Syria with its ballistic missiles and chemical weapons, so that’s where I’ll begin.

20 March 2018

The global impacts of a terrorist nuclear attack: What would happen? What should we do?

Irma ArguelloEmiliano J. Buis

As seen by recent events such as the bombing in Manchester, UK, terrorism can occur anywhere, at any time. So far, the terrorist incidents have been relatively low-tech – such as improvised explosive devices detonating inside pressure cookers, trucks driving down crowded sidewalks, or bombs exploding in backpacks containing metal bolts and screws. But what if terrorists were to build a dirty bomb that contained radioactive materials instead of bits of metal shrapnel, and set it off in a major city? Or, worse, what if they managed to build a fully functioning nuclear weapon, cart it to the downtown of a city, and then detonate it – even a small, rudimentary one that was much smaller than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima? What would the social, economic, and political impacts of the successful terrorist use of a nuclear weapon look like? What planning has the international community done for such an event? 

NATO’s Next Nuclear Challenges


A more competitive international environment, and in particular Russia’s assertive policies, has sparked renewed interest in the concept of nuclear deterrence in Western defense strategies. For NATO, this rediscovery has manifested itself (among other things) in a thorough analysis of Russia’s nuclear policy and posture, renewed attention to NATO’s own nuclear arrangements, and a stronger emphasis on nuclear deterrence and nuclear arms control in public statements. But there’s more. Major changes in the global nuclear landscape, including in nuclear governance, may soon put renewed pressure on this important part of NATO’s deterrence strategy. Allies need to look not only at the challenges posed by Russia’s nuclear modernization, but also ponder the implications of other—potentially much more far-reaching—changes. Three areas stand out.

19 March 2018

Why China stopped making fissile material for nukes

Hui Zhang

Some western scholars have expressed growing concern about China’s expansion of its nuclear arsenal and what they see as a “sprint to parity” with the United States. One scholareven claimed that China could have built as many as 3,000 nuclear weapons, far above the estimate of Western intelligence agencies, which assume that China has between 200 and 300. As a comparison, the United States and Russia each keep roughly 7,000 nuclear weapons. If China had any interest in parity, that would leave it with an awfully long way to go.

The Evolution of Chinese Nuclear Doctrine: Updating or Overhauling?

By Lorenzo Termine

What role is played by the atomic weapon in Chinese defense strategies? How has nuclear doctrine changed since 1964? The historical root of Chinese nuclear doctrine dates to the traumatic experiences of the Taiwan Strait crises during the 50’s when the United States, then politically and militarily bound to Taiwan, kept on the table a nuclear attack option against Beijing. Meanwhile, the unbalanced nuclear partnership of PRC with the Kremlin got stuck in a dead end when the USSR abandoned the cooperation in June 1959. Before the first nuclear weapon was tested in 1964, two major theorists had given their contribution to the future Chinese nuclear approach, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. The former elaborated the concept of “people’s war” that, coherently with the Marxist-Leninist war theories, gave very little relevance to the atomic weapon. Mao used to utterly disparage atomic weapons, “paper tigers” in his words. Nuclear capacities could be a part, but not the core of PRC’s strategies. The latter supported a more active nuclear approach with his concept of “existential deterrence.” China had to join the nuclear and thermonuclear clubs on its own terms to ensure its survival in a world of “mass destruction.”

Disarming the Weapons of Mass Distraction

Kamil Kotarba

“Are you paying attention?” The phrase still resonates with a particular sharpness in my mind. It takes me straight back to my boarding school, aged thirteen, when my eyes would drift out the window to the woods beyond the classroom. The voice was that of the math teacher, the very dedicated but dull Miss Ploughman, whose furrowed grimace I can still picture. We’re taught early that attention is a currency—we “pay” attention—and much of the discipline of the classroom is aimed at marshaling the attention of children, with very mixed results. We all have a history here, of how we did or did not learn to pay attention and all the praise or blame that came with that. It used to be that such patterns of childhood experience faded into irrelevance. As we reached adulthood, how we paid attention, and to what, was a personal matter and akin to breathing—as if it were automatic. 

18 March 2018

India and Pakistan: Inching Toward Their Final War?

Mohammed Ayoob

Both India and Pakistan have between 120 and 140 nuclear warheads, according to estimates provided by the Arms Control Association. However a report produced in 2015 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center asserts that Pakistan may be outpacing India in terms of its nuclear stockpile, and may possess 350 nuclear warheads in the next five to ten years. A 2016 SIPRI report confirmed the assessment that Pakistan has more nuclear warheads than India.

16 March 2018

Size And Composition Of Nuclear Arsenals Around The World

by Dyfed Loesche

It calls for the introduction of new and smaller nuclear weapons. Critics argue, this might set off a Cold War-era escalation, as Russia, China and North Korea are named as possible adversaries. In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump vowed to build a nuclear arsenal "so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression." Though the United States and Russia have dismantled many weapons since the height of the Cold War stand-off, their arsenals remain formidable compared to the other seven nuclear armed nations - and they've actually got many of them on stand-by, called strategic deployment in military lingo. Those warheads are ready to be delivered by ballistic missiles or bombers. (The ones that would drop first if Donald Trump pressed his huge red button.)

Deterring Russian First Use of Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons

By Mark B. Schneider

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review concluded that the U.S. must deploy a small number of low-yield nuclear warheads on its Trident missiles to deter Russian first use of low-yield nuclear weapons for limited nuclear strikes in conventional warfare. It states, “Russia’s belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage is based, in part, on Moscow’s perception that its greater number and variety of non-strategic nuclear systems provide a coercive advantage in crises and at lower levels of conflict. Recent Russian statements on this evolving nuclear weapons doctrine appear to lower the threshold for Moscow’s first-use of nuclear weapons. Russia demonstrates its perception of the advantage these systems provide through numerous exercises and statements. Correcting this mistaken Russian perception is a strategic imperative.”[1]

14 March 2018

Chinese Views on the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, and Their Implications

By: Michael S. Chase

DF-26 missiles participating in a military parade in Beijing

The 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), released in February, appears to be focused mainly on the challenges presented by Russian nuclear weapons and strategy. Nonetheless, the document also has some potentially important implications for China, where analysts continue to discuss and debate China’s approach to strategic deterrence generally as well as Chinese nuclear policy and strategy and nuclear force modernization in particular (China Brief, January 12). Unsurprisingly, China’s reaction to the latest U.S. NPR has been critical. The PRC Ministry of National Defense spokesperson stated: “We hope the U.S. side will discard its ‘cold-war mentality,’ shoulder its own special and primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament, understand correctly China’s strategic intentions and take a fair view on China’s national defense and military development” (Xinhua, February 5). Similarly, an article in Global Times criticized the NPR, stating that its focus on “defining China as a threat…is an excuse to develop even more nuclear weapons when Washington already possesses the world’s strongest deterrent” (Global Times, Feb 5).

12 March 2018

The Need for Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapon Systems: The NPR Got It Right

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) released last month called for the development of a new low yield warhead and new delivery systems to address shortfalls in existing deterrent capabilities. It proposed that a present capability, dual-capable aircraft, to deliver low-yield nuclear weapons be augmented by the development of a low-yield ballistic missile. For sea-based weapons, the NPR called for using existing D-5s to carry a modified, lower-yield W-76 nuclear warhead within the next few years, and a new sea-launched cruise missile added in the 2030 timeframe. These capabilities are sought to address current limitations in the U.S. non-strategic force posture in the face of potential Russian aggression against NATO. 

United States nuclear forces, 2018

Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris

The US nuclear arsenal remained roughly unchanged in the last year, with the Defense Department maintaining an estimated stockpile of some 4,000 warheads to be delivered via ballistic missiles and aircraft. Most of these warheads are not deployed but stored, and many are destined to be retired. Of the approximately 1,800 warheads that are deployed, roughly 1,650 are on ballistic missiles or at bomber bases in the United States, with another 150 tactical bombs deployed at European bases. 

11 March 2018

Putin on the nukes

Steven Pifer

Vladimir Putin devoted one-third of his March 1 state of the union speech to new Russian weapons systems, particularly nuclear weapons that could strike the United States. What he said is worrisome, in part because it suggests he remains obsessed with things nuclear at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are already tense. Remember, however, that the Russian presidential election takes place on March 18. Mr. Putin aimed his speech primarily at his domestic audience. With little to offer to improve the life of the average Russian, he opted to hype the American threat, show some shiny new missiles, and portray himself as defender of the Russian motherland.

10 March 2018

Potential Nuclear Weapons-Related Military Area in Baluchistan, Pakistan

by David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Allison Lach, and Frank Pabian

Pakistan has constructed a hardened, secure, underground complex in Baluchistan Province that could serve as a ballistic missile and nuclear warhead storage site (see figures 1 and 2). The underground complex is near a possible ballistic missile base, first identified in 2016 by Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and Colonel Vinayak Bhat (Ret.), a military intelligence veteran of the Indian Army.1

The hardened underground complex has three distinct entrances and a separate support area. The entrances are large and can accommodate even the largest possible vehicles. As of 2012, the security was relatively modest, with some possible signature suppression (e.g. no obvious perimeter security). Nonetheless, the site did include at least one possible anti-aircraft position with a guard post at that time. In contrast, 2014 DigitalGlobe images show considerably more physical security in the form of added fencing and checkpoints and several new possible anti-aircraft positions. 

What Putin's Exotic New Nuclear Delivery Methods Are Really About

I missed out on yesterday’s missile-heavy news cycle after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced of five new strategic systems during a state of the union address. Each system was designed to strike targets in the United States and add to Russia’s strategic deterrent capabilities. Incidentally, I missed out because I was traveling to speak in Washington, D.C., on the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and regional threats in Asia. (You can watch my panel’s discussion here.) My colleague Franz reported on two of the systems, including the Sarmat intercontinental-range ballistic missile(ICBM) and a new, unnamed, nuclear-powered (yep, that’s right—nuclear powered) intercontinental cruise missile (ICCM).

Vladimir Putin Flexes His Nuclear Muscles


Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the Federal Assembly, including the State Duma parliamentarians, members of the Federation Council, regional governors, and other high-ranking officials, in Moscow, Russia, on March 1.  Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 1 boasted that Russia has developed “invincible” nuclear-capable missiles that can render existing missile defense systems “completely useless.”

3 March 2018

Tomgram: Rajan Menon, Normalizing Nukes, Pentagon-Style

by Rajan Menon 
Source Link

Despite the dystopian fantasies about nuclear terror and destruction that hit popular culture in the Cold War era and those “duck and cover” drills kids like me experienced in school in the 1950s, the American people were generally sheltered from a full sense of the toll of a nuclear cataclysm. Consider, for instance, the U.S. military’s secret 1960 Single Integrated Operational Plan, or SIOP, for loosing the American arsenal against Russia and China at the height of the Cold War. Three thousand two hundred nuclear weapons were to be “delivered” to 1,060 targets in the Communist world, including at least 130 cities, most of which would, if all went according to plan, essentially cease to exist. Estimates of casualties ran to 285 million dead and another 40 million injured (figures that undoubtedly underplayed the effects of both mass fires and radiation). Such a strike would, theoretically at least, only have been launched in retaliation for a Soviet nuclear attack on the United States, yet the figures don’t even include U.S. casualties.

2 March 2018

'Low-Yield' Nukes Are a Very High Threat

In his brilliant book tracing the origins of the First World War, “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914,” Christopher Clark says, “The protagonists were sleepwalkers, watchful but unseeing, haunted by dreams, yet blind to the reality of the horror they were about to bring into the world.” 

As the prestigious Munich Security Conference wrapped up over President’s Day weekend, the pervading feeling of many longtime observers is that we are again sleepwalking toward a conflict nobody wants or needs -- this time with nuclear weapons. The hallways of this conference were jammed as usual, resembling a policy-wonk mosh pit. The conversations on the platform ranged from Senator Lindsey Graham’s suggestion of a European version of Guantanamo Bay to take in the hundreds of Syrian jihadists, to Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s question to the Iranian Foreign Minister as he waved around a piece of an Iranian drone: “Do you recognize this?”

28 February 2018

Nuclear Posture Review Weakens Deterrence

By Dave Adams

Strategic deterrence—underpinned by credible nuclear arsenals—has underwritten the relative peace among the world’s nuclear powers for more than half a century. During the Obama administration, a slow commitment to modernizing our nuclear capabilities coupled with a dangerous absence of clear strategic dialogue—which left uncertainty about the United States’ willingness to use nuclear weapons even if attacked with them—began to erode the credibility of the U.S. deterrent. At first glance, the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) appears to right the nation’s strategic ship by committing to modernizing our nuclear arsenal and by rightly positioning nuclear strategy at the center of the nation’s effort to deter a great power war. 

27 February 2018

Project on Nuclear Issues A Collection of Papers from the 2017 Conference Series and Nuclear Scholars Initiative

Mark F. Cancian

The role that nuclear weapons play in international security has changed since the end of the Cold War, but the need to maintain and replenish the human infrastructure for supporting nuclear capabilities and dealing with the multitude of nuclear challenges remains essential. Recognizing this challenge, CSIS launched the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) in 2003 to develop the next generation of policy, technical, and operational nuclear professionals through outreach, mentorship, research, and debate. PONI runs two signature programs—the Nuclear Scholars Initiative and the Annual Conference Series—to engage emerging nuclear experts in debate and research over how to best address the nuclear community’s most pressing problems. The papers in this volume include research from participants in the 2017 Nuclear Scholars Initiative and PONI Conference Series. PONI sponsors this research to provide a forum for facilitating new and innovative thinking and a platform for emerging thought leaders across the nuclear enterprise. Spanning a wide range of technical and policy issues, these selected papers further discussion in their respective areas.