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

15 December 2017


Dr. Colin S. Gray
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Strategic Sense and Nuclear Weapons Today

Colin S. Gray is the European Director and co-founder of the National Institute for Public Policy, and Professor Emeritus of Strategic Studies, University of Reading.

The Problem

The basic requirements for deterrence have been well understood for millennia, and for nuclear deterrence since the mid-1950s at least—well before the missile age dawned in the close of that decade. For the subsequent fifty years, it appeared to be the case that both the technical and the intellectual challenges of nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence had been met adequately. Would that such a satisfactory condition could hold indefinitely. Of course it could not and has not, which is the reason for this essay.

Microbes by the ton: Officials see bioweapons threat as North Korea gains expertise

Joby Warrick

Five months before North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, U.S. intelligence officials sent a report to Congress warning that secret work also was underway on a biological weapon. The communist regime, which had long ago acquired the pathogens that cause smallpox and anthrax, had assembled teams of scientists but seemed to be lacking in certain technical skills, the report said.“Pyongyang’s resources presently include a rudimentary biotechnology infrastructure,” the report by the director of national intelligence explained.

13 December 2017

Duke's Peter Feaver on the president and US nuclear command and control

John Mecklin

Peter Feaver is a political science and public policy professor at Duke University who has served on the National Security Council for two presidents and is an expert in the sub-field often known as civil-military or political-military affairs. From mid-2005 to mid-2007, he was special advisor for strategic planning and institutional reform on the National Security Council staff in the George W. Bush White House. In 1993­–94, he was director for defense policy and arms control on the National Security Council in the Bill Clinton administration.

7 December 2017

The Story of How South Africa Voluntarily Gave Up Its Nuclear Weapons

Robert Farley
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The Republic of South Africa is the only country in the world to build a nuclear weapons program, then unbuild that program after domestic and international conditions changed. Why did South Africa decide to build nukes, how did it build them and why did it decide to give them up? The answers are largely idiosyncratic, although they may hold some lessons for the future of nuclear weapons development on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere.

Origins of Program

6 December 2017

The Folly of Deploying US Tactical Nuclear Weapons to South Korea


The mudslinging between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the near-daily handicapping of whether the US and North Korea are bound for war have overshadowed an important debate in South Korea over whether the US should redeploy tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) on ROK territory. Proposals that US government officials and defense experts have floated to ease South Korean worries about the credibility of the US extended deterrent have primarily focused on bolstering US/ROK conventional defensesagainst North Korean aggression. These measures, while necessary in the short-term, may not be sufficient to contain South Korean pressure for either US TNW deployments or development of an indigenous nuclear weapons program over the long-run, especially if the conservative party returns to power. If Washington wants to keep the South Korean nuclear genie in its bottle, the administration may need to draw the ROK more closely into US nuclear planning for the peninsula and elevate the visibility of its own nuclear footprint in and around the country. But this path should only be taken if the US is ready to simultaneously take diplomatic initiatives with North Korea to prevent misperceptions and potential escalation. (Photo: Uriminzokkiri)

5 December 2017

Destroyer of Worlds Taking stock of our nuclear present

By Elaine Scarry

In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President Truman, and recommended the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The terms of his unrepentant apologia, an excerpt of which appears on page 35, are now familiar to us: the risk of a dud made a demonstration too risky; the human cost of a land invasion would be too high; nothing short of the bomb’s awesome lethality would compel Japan to surrender. The bomb was the only option.

1 December 2017

Cyber and Space Weapons Are Making Nuclear Deterrence Trickier


Stability was an overriding concern at last week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on nuclear command authority, the first in four decades. Senators wondered aloud whether one individual — the American president — should have the sole authority to direct a nuclear attack. The focus is understandable, but there are other challenges to nuclear stability that deserve more attention than they’re getting.

26 November 2017

With technology, these researchers are figuring out North Korea’s nuclear secrets

By Anna Fifield

There were reports going around last month that North Korea had tested another solid-fuel missile engine, a type of engine that can be deployed much faster than the older liquid-fueled ones. Kim Jong Un’s media outlets hadn’t bragged about it — as they had done previously — so the experts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies’ nonproliferation center got to work. They figured that the North Korean rocket scientists would have used the same immovable concrete block they used for an engine test last year.

25 November 2017

War, Nuclear War and the Law

By George Friedman

The U.S. Senate held hearings last week on the president’s authority to use nuclear weapons. The trigger for the hearings was the North Korea situation, and the fear among some that President Donald Trump might launch a reckless nuclear attack against the North Koreans. The question senators were asking was what the power of the president was to initiate nuclear war unilaterally.

This has long been a burning question, but one that has been intentionally ignored for decades. But this question involves not only the use of nuclear weapons, but the president’s authority to initiate all kinds of war without congressional approval. The Constitution states that the president is commander in chief of the armed forces. It also says that Congress has the power to declare war. On the surface, this seems a fairly clear system. The president is in command of the military; however, the authority to go to war rests with Congress.

24 November 2017



During the tense days of the Cold War, the United States deployed many kinds of small-yield nuclear weapons in the field. The “logic” of the ladder of escalation led Washington to field nuclear landmines, anti-ship demolition mines to be attached to the hulls of ships by atomic frog men, and even close-range rocket-propelled nuclear weapons. We managed to avoid all-out nuclear war at each rung on the ladder through a combination of luck and careful efforts to avoid miscalculation.

23 November 2017



Editor’s Note: This is the eleventh installment of “Southern (Dis)Comfort,” a new series from War on the Rocks and the Stimson Center. The series seeks to unpack the dynamics of intensifying competition — military, economic, diplomatic — in Southern Asia, principally between China, India, Pakistan, and the United States. Catch up on the rest of the seriesEarlier this month, an anonymous senior U.S. administration official offered an explanation for why North Korea pursued nuclear weapons. “North Korea’s goal is not to simply acquire these horrific weapons to maintain the status quo in the Peninsula,” the official noted. “[I]t is seeking these weapons in order to fundamentally change that status quo. Its primary goal, as stated … is to reunify [with] South Korea. These weapons are part of the plan to reunify with South Korea.”

21 November 2017

President Trump and the Risks of Nuclear War


On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing — the first of its kind in over 40 years — exploring the president’s authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. I was one of three witnesses, the others being former STRATCOM commander Gen. Bob Kehler and former Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Brian McKeon. You can read my prepared testimony hereSenator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) convened the hearings in response to concerns raised by many experts and political leaders about President Donald Trump’s fitness to wield the most fearsome power of the presidency: the ability to initiate a nuclear war.

20 November 2017

Can Two Nuclear Powers Fight a Conventional War?

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The Pentagon just wargamed that scenario as part of its effort to determine what it needs for 21st-century deterrence.

As the U.S. military reviews the makeup of its nuclear arsenal, among the questions being asked is: Can two nuclear powers fight a conventional war without going nuclear?

Just last week, this scenario was among the mock battles when U.S. Strategic Command ran its annual Global Thunder nuclear wargame, Army Brig. Gen. Greg Bowen, the command’s deputy director of global operations, said Thursday at the Defense One Summit.

“It gets into a very difficult calculus,” Bowen said. “It’s clearly a place that we don’t want to go.”

15 November 2017

A history of US nuclear weapons in South Korea

Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris


During the Cold War, the United States deployed nuclear weapons in South Korea continuously for 33 years, from 1958 to 1991. The South Korean-based nuclear arsenal peaked at an all-time high of approximately 950 warheads in 1967. Since the last US nuclear weapons were withdrawn from South Korea in 1991, the United States has protected South Korea and Japan under a “nuclear umbrella” using nuclear bombers and submarines based elsewhere. While defense hawks in Seoul and Washington have, in 2017, called for the United States to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea, the authors argue against this idea. Doing so, they say, would provide no resolution of the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and would likely increase nuclear risks. Redeployment would also have serious implications for broader regional issues because it would likely be seen by China and Russia as further undermining their security.

14 November 2017

Entanglement: Chinese and Russian Perspectives on Non-nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Risks

The entanglement of non-nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons and their enabling capabilities is exacerbating the risk of inadvertent escalation. Yet so far, the debate about the severity of this risk has been almost exclusively limited to American participants. So Carnegie teams from Russia and China set out to examine the issue and answer two questions: How serious are the escalation risks arising from entanglement? And, how do the authors’ views compare to those of their countries’ strategic communities?

Defining Entanglement

Entanglement has various dimensions: dual-use delivery systems that can be armed with nuclear and non-nuclear warheads; the commingling of nuclear and non-nuclear forces and their support structures; and non-nuclear threats to nuclear weapons and their associated command, control, communication, and information (C3I) systems. Technological developments are currently increasing the entanglement of non-nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons and their enabling capabilities.

Can Two Nuclear Powers Fight a Conventional War?

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The Pentagon just wargamed that scenario as part of its effort to determine what it needs for 21st-century deterrence. As the U.S. military reviews the makeup of its nuclear arsenal, among the questions being asked is: Can two nuclear powers fight a conventional war without going nuclear? Just last week, this scenario was among the mock battles when U.S. Strategic Command ran its annual Global Thunder nuclear wargame, Army Brig. Gen. Greg Bowen, the command’s deputy director of global operations, said Thursday at the Defense One Summit.

13 November 2017



In the 2010 review of U.S. nuclear posture, President Barack Obama’s administration, based on advice from military commanders and the extant global threat environment, concluded that the United States could ensure effective nuclear deterrence without fielding new nuclear warheads or warheads with new military capabilities. But even while foreclosing such options for the Obama administration, the 2010 review made clear, as did the nuclear posture reviews of the two previous administrations, that the nation must retain a capability to develop and field such warheads if they are required in the future.

12 November 2017

Does Japan Really Want to Go Nuclear?

By Richard A Bitzinge for S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)

What would it take for Japan to create a nuclear weapons program? More specifically, is such an endeavor feasible? To answer this question, Richard Bitzinger outlines and explores the necessary infrastructure requirements, economic investments and political maneuvers that would underpin the creation of a Japanese nuclear program. While Japan might be able to fund a nuclear program, Bitzinger maintains that management of the inevitable public resistance to the project would constitute a significant hurdle.


11 November 2017


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China is the only nuclear weapon state recognized by the Nonproliferation Treaty that is actively expanding its nuclear arsenal. Its nuclear forces have increased modestly from an estimated 130 to 200 warheads in 2006 to an estimated 170 to 260 today. The qualitative changes to its nuclear forces have been more significant, with the introduction of more mobile solid-fueled missiles, multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), and an emerging fleet of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).

Facing Russian threat, NATO boosts operations for the first time since the Cold War

BRUSSELS — As the specter of conflict with Russia looms over Europe, NATO defense ministers decided Wednesday to expand the alliance’s operations for the first time since the Cold War, sharpen its focus on cyber operations, and boost its capability to respond to Kremlin aggression. 

The moves came as tensions with Russia remain the highest they have been in the nearly three decades since the end of the Cold War. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis briefed fellow defense ministers Wednesday morning about Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, underlining the nuclear risk that is a worst-case consequence of the bitter back-and-forth.