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Nuclear War, WMD issues
Topic: Nuclear War, WMD issues (Read 114735 times)
The latest Bill Gertz
Reply #400 on:
September 08, 2016, 02:42:21 PM »
Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
Reply #401 on:
September 09, 2016, 12:44:00 AM »
Please post in Sovereignty thread as well.
The Norks (slip streamed by Iran no doubt) accelerate towards reaching US
Reply #402 on:
September 10, 2016, 08:00:03 PM »
North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test Friday, following three missile tests on Monday and about 20 so far this year. The accelerating pace of the Kim Jong Un regime’s nuclear and missile testing shows its determination to threaten Japan, South Korea and the U.S. homeland with nuclear weapons. The question is whether the West is capable of a more determined response.
Every nuclear test leaves forensic clues, and analysts are suggesting this was Pyongyang’s most successful, with an apparent yield of 10 kilotons. This is the North’s second test this year, suggesting it has an ample supply of nuclear material from its restarted plutonium reactor and enriched uranium.
The North said it tested a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be placed on a missile. True or not, we know its scientists had access to a Chinese design for a partially miniaturized weapon through the proliferation network of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan. The U.S. believes the North already has small enough warheads to fit on short-range missiles aimed at South Korea.
The North’s workhorse Nodong missile now has a range of more than 600 miles. In June it launched a medium-range Musudan missile from a road-mobile launcher, which makes it hard to detect and destroy. North Korea recently launched a missile from a submarine into the Sea of Japan at a range of 300 miles. This means Pyongyang now has a second-strike capability if the world tried a preventive attack to destroy its nuclear weapons.
A growing worry for the U.S. is the North’s new KN-08 intercontinental missile with the range to hit Chicago. In February the North used a similar rocket to launch a small satellite into space. Significant challenges remain, including a warhead that could withstand the vibration and temperature changes of a long-range missile flight. But the North has repeatedly solved technical problems more quickly than expected.
All of this means the window to prevent the North from becoming a global nuclear menace is closing while the proliferation risks are growing. The North has cooperated with Iran on missile development in the past and may share its nuclear secrets.
Right on cue, the world’s powers condemned the missile launch. And President Obama promised “additional significant steps, including new sanctions to demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to its unlawful and dangerous actions.”
Yada, yada, yada. Why should Kim and company fear such words?
Sanctions get passed as a ritual but are never enforced enough to matter. Earlier this year China began to enforce new sanctions, but Beijing let trade with the North resume after Seoul decided in July to deploy the U.S. Thaad missile-defense system. Only sanctions that imperil the regime will force the North to freeze its nuclear program, and Beijing has never been willing to risk undermining its client state.
Meanwhile, the U.S. won’t even use secondary sanctions against Chinese entities trading with the North. A February U.N. report identified dozens of Chinese firms linked to blacklisted North Korean entities and detailed how the Bank of China allegedly facilitated $40 million in deceptive wire transfers for a Pyongyang-linked client. Cutting off such firms from the global financial system could deter others from trading with the North.
But for that to happen Mr. Obama would have to behave differently than he has for eight years. The result is that the next American President will inherit one more grave and growing threat to Western security.
WSJ: Helprin: The Gathering Nuclear Storm
Reply #403 on:
September 24, 2016, 09:47:37 AM »
I have repeatedly banged the table around here that one of the worst things that Obama has done is to bring an end to the era of nuclear non-proliferation.
Though I find the following unfair in some respects to Trump, on the whole it is an intelligent discussion of a matter of profound importance to our national security. I was unaware of just how bad our trajectory is viz the Chinese and Russians is.
Also, I would note that there is no discussion of the Iran and North Korea. I would note that as Iran develops its' ICBMs, it continues to move forward with its nuke program. Even if it should turn out it is sort of respecting the Obama-Kerry deal (which expires in what, 12 years?) it seems logical to me to assume they are off-shoring their efforts to a joint venture with North Korea.
by Mark Helprin
Sept. 23, 2016 6:11 p.m. ET
Even should nuclear brinkmanship not result in Armageddon, it can lead to abject defeat and a complete reordering of the international system. The extraordinarily complicated and consequential management of American nuclear policy rests upon the shoulders of those we elevate to the highest offices. Unfortunately, President Obama’s transparent hostility to America’s foundational principles and defensive powers is coupled with a dim and faddish understanding of nuclear realities. His successor will be no less ill-equipped.
Hillary Clinton’s robotic compulsion to power renders her immune to either respect for truth or clearheaded consideration of urgent problems. Theodore Roosevelt’s secretary of state once said that he was “pure act” (meaning action). Hillary Clinton is “pure lie” (meaning lie), with whatever intellectual power she possesses hopelessly enslaved to reflexive deviousness.
Donald Trump, surprised that nuclear weapons are inappropriate to counterinsurgency, has a long history of irrepressible urges and tropisms. Rather like the crazy boy-emperors after the fall of the Roman Republic, he may have problems with impulse control—and an uncontrolled, ill-formed, perpetually fragmented mind.
None of these perhaps three worst people in the Western Hemisphere, and few of their deplorable underlings, are alive to the gravest danger. Which is neither Islamic State, terrorism, the imprisoned economy, nor even the erosion of our national character, though all are of crucial importance.
The gravest danger we face is fast-approaching nuclear instability. Many believe it is possible safely to arrive at nuclear zero. It is not. Enough warheads to bring any country to its knees can fit in a space volumetrically equivalent to a Manhattan studio apartment. Try to find that in the vastness of Russia, China, or Iran. Even ICBMs and their transporter-erector-launchers can easily be concealed in warehouses, tunnels and caves. Nuclear weapons age out, but, thanks to supercomputing, reliable replacements can be manufactured with only minor physical testing. Unaccounted fissile material sloshing around the world can, with admitted difficulty, be fashioned into weapons. And when rogue states such as North Korea and Iran build their bombs, our response has been either impotence or a ticket to ride.
Nor do nuclear reductions lead to increased safety. Quite apart from encouraging proliferation by enabling every medium power in the world to aim for nuclear parity with the critically reduced U.S. arsenal, reductions create instability. The fewer targets, the more possible a (counter-force) first strike to eliminate an enemy’s retaliatory capacity. Nuclear stability depends, inter alia, upon deep reserves that make a successful first strike impossible to assure. The fewer warheads and the higher the ratio of warheads to delivery vehicles, the more dangerous and unstable.
Consider two nations, each with 10 warheads on each of 10 missiles. One’s first strike with five warheads tasked per the other’s missiles would leave the aggressor with an arsenal sufficient for a (counter-value) strike against the now disarmed opponent’s cities. Our deterrent is not now as concentrated as in the illustration, but by placing up to two-thirds of our strategic warheads in just 14 submarines; consolidating bomber bases; and entertaining former Defense Secretary William Perry’s recommendation to do away with the 450 missiles in the land-based leg of the Nuclear Triad, we are moving that way.
Supposedly salutary reductions are based upon an incorrect understanding of nuclear sufficiency: i.e., if X number of weapons is sufficient to inflict unacceptable costs upon an enemy, no more than X are needed. But we don’t define sufficiency, the adversary does, and the definition varies according to culture; history; the temperament, sanity, or miscalculation of leadership; domestic politics; forms of government, and other factors, some unknown. For this reason, the much maligned concept of overkill is a major contributor to stability, in that, if we have it, an enemy is less likely to calculate that we lack sufficiency. Further, if our forces are calibrated to sufficiency, then presumably the most minor degradation will render them insufficient.
Nor is it safe to mirror-image willingness to go nuclear. Every nuclear state has its own threshold, and one cannot assume that concessions in strategic forces will obviate nuclear use in response to conventional warfare, which was Soviet doctrine for decades and is a Russian predilection now.
Ballistic missile defense is opposed and starved on the assumption that it would shield one’s territory after striking first, and would therefore tempt an enemy to strike before the shield was deployed. As its opponents assert, hermetic shielding is impossible, and if only 10 of 1,500 warheads were to hit American cities, the cost would be unacceptable. But no competent nuclear strategist ever believed that, other than protecting cities from accidental launch or rogue states, ballistic missile defense is anything but a means of protecting our retaliatory capacity, making a counter-force first strike of no use, and thus increasing stability.
In a nuclear world, unsentimental and often counterintuitive analysis is necessary. As the genie will not be forced back into the lamp, the heart of the matter is balance and deterrence. But this successful dynamic of 70 years is about to be destroyed. Those whom the French call our “responsibles” have addressed the nuclear calculus—in terms of sufficiency, control regimes, and foreign policy—only toward Russia, as if China, a nuclear power for decades, did not exist. While it is true that to begin with its nuclear arsenal was de minimis, in the past 15 years China has increased its land-based ICBMs by more than 300%, its sea-based by more than 400%. Depending upon the configuration of its missiles, China can rain up to several hundred warheads upon the U.S.
As we shrink our nuclear forces and fail to introduce new types, China is doing the opposite, increasing them numerically and forging ahead of us in various technologies (quantum communications, super computers, maneuverable hypersonic re-entry vehicles), some of which we have forsworn, such as road-mobile missiles, which in survivability and range put to shame our Minuteman IIIs.
Because China’s nuclear weapons infrastructure is in part housed in 3,000 miles of tunnels opaque to American intelligence, we cannot know the exact velocity and extent of its buildup. Why does the Obama administration, worshipful of nuclear agreements, completely ignore the nuclear dimension of the world’s fastest rising major power, with which the United States and allies engage in military jockeying almost every day on multiple fronts? Lulled to believe that nuclear catastrophe died with the Cold War, America is blind to rising dragons.
And then we have Russia, which ignores limitations the Obama administration strives to exceed. According to its own careless or defiant admissions, Russia cheats in virtually every area of nuclear weapons: deploying missiles that by treaty supposedly no longer exist; illegally converting anti-aircraft and ballistic missile defense systems to dual-capable nuclear strike; developing new types of nuclear cruise missiles for ships and aircraft; keeping more missiles on alert than allowed; and retaining battlefield tactical nukes.
Further, in the almost complete absence of its own “soft power,” Russia frequently hints at nuclear first use. All this comports with historical Soviet/Russian doctrine and conduct; is an important element of Putinesque tactics for reclaiming the Near Abroad; and dovetails perfectly with Mr. Obama’s advocacy of no first use, unreciprocated U.S. reductions and abandonment of nuclear modernization. Which in turn pair nicely with Donald Trump’s declaration that he would defend NATO countries only if they made good on decades of burden-sharing delinquency.
Russia deploys about 150 more nuclear warheads than the U.S. Intensively modernizing, it finds ways to augment its totals via undisguised cheating. Bound by no numerical or qualitative limits, China speeds its strategic development. To cripple U.S. retaliatory capability, an enemy would have to destroy only four or five submarines at sea, two sub bases, half a dozen bomber bases, and 450 missile silos.
Russia has 49 attack submarines, China 65, with which to track and kill American nuclear missile subs under way. Were either to build or cheat to 5,000 warheads (the U.S. once had more than 30,000) and two-thirds reached their targets, four warheads could strike each aim point, with 2,000 left to hold hostage American cities and industry. China and Russia are far less dense and developed than the U.S., and it would take more strikes for us to hold them at risk than vice versa, a further indictment of reliance upon sufficiency calculations and symmetrical reductions.
Russia dreams publicly of its former hold on Eastern Europe and cannot but see opportunity in a disintegrating European Union and faltering NATO. China annexes the South China Sea and looks to South Korea, Japan and Australasia as future subordinates. Given the degradation of U.S. and allied conventional forces previously able to hold such ambitions in check, critical confrontations are bound to occur. When they do occur, and if without American reaction, China or Russia have continued to augment their strategic forces to the point of vast superiority where one or both consider a first strike feasible, we may see nuclear brinkmanship (or worse) in which the United States—startled from sleep and suddenly disabused of the myth of sufficiency—might have to capitulate, allowing totalitarian dictatorships to dominate the world.
Current trajectories point in exactly this direction, but in regard to such things Donald Trump hasn’t the foggiest, and, frankly, Hillary Clinton, like the president, doesn’t give a damn.
The way to avoid such a tragedy is to bring China into a nuclear control regime or answer its refusal with our own proportional increases and modernization. And to make sure that both our nuclear and conventional forces are strong, up-to-date, and survivable enough to deter the militant ambitions of the two great powers rising with daring vengeance from what they regard as the shame of their oppression.
Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, is the author of “Winter’s Tale,” “A Soldier of the Great War” and the forthcoming novel “Paris in the Present Tense.”
nuclear militarization of Japan assessment
Reply #404 on:
October 09, 2016, 09:21:14 AM »
WSJ: With Trump, Asia's nuclear crisis expands
Reply #405 on:
November 10, 2016, 10:02:12 PM »
For the record, I do not think this piece describes Trump's position fairly or accurately. That said, he does need to get clearer in his thinking and articulation than he has been so far. This is quite important.
With Trump, Asia’s Nuclear Crisis Expands
Next to North Korea and fearing U.S. abandonment, South Korea and Japan weigh their own options.
In this June 23, 2016, file photo, people watch a TV news channel airing an image of North Korea's ballistic missile launch published in North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. ENLARGE
In this June 23, 2016, file photo, people watch a TV news channel airing an image of North Korea's ballistic missile launch published in North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Associated Press
By David Feith
Nov. 10, 2016 12:10 p.m. ET
The nuclear crisis in Northeast Asia was bound to be one of the most dangerous challenges facing the next U.S. president, no matter who won on Tuesday. With Donald Trump’s surprise victory, though, it could metastasize in dramatic ways: If you thought North Korea’s nuclear march was disconcerting, consider that South Korea and Japan may now pursue nuclear programs of their own, raising the risks and stakes of war not only with North Korea but China too.
Mr. Trump repeatedly endorsed such a nuclear proliferation cascade on the campaign trail. “At some point we have to say—you know what?—we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself,” he said. This was a corollary to his threats to pull U.S. troops from Japan and South Korea, where they’ve helped secure peace for more than six decades, if those countries don’t start spending dramatically more on their own defense.
It’s possible Mr. Trump will drop his enthusiasm for South Korean and Japanese nuclearization upon entering the Oval Office. His campaign advisers tended to ignore the subject in public statements, likely a reflection of the decades-old bipartisan consensus against nuclear proliferation in Washington. But as with other issues, the approach of President Trump will depend on who he brings into the White House for advice, and whether he listens to them.
Cheong Seong-chang will be calling for South Korean nuclearization either way. Speaking in Seoul last week, before America voted, the soft-spoken scholar and former government advisor argued that his country needs nukes to defend itself, that a majority of his countrymen agree, and that skeptics in government will embrace the view sooner or later. Sooner if a Trump administration backs it, he says, but within a decade regardless.
Two months ago Mr. Cheong and other security, diplomatic and engineering experts launched the Nuclear Research Group for Korea to study Seoul’s options. A similar group was established in the early 1990s, he says, but disbanded within a few years “under heavy social pressure” because it was “politically incorrect” to broach the nuclear issue. Today that taboo is gone.
Since January North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests, its fourth and fifth overall, and likely moved closer to a hydrogen-bomb capability that threatens to “wipe out all of Seoul,” Mr. Cheong notes. It has also tested more than 20 ballistic missiles, at least one of which could threaten the U.S. homeland, and completed its first successful submarine and road-mobile launches. Analysts figure it could have 100 bombs by 2020, before the first Trump term is up.
Mr. Cheong argues that at this point North Korea won’t let its nuclear program be rolled back diplomatically, “no matter how many sanctions we impose.” China’s policy of protecting its ally from collapse “will remain unchanged.” And when Pyongyang inevitably acquires a credible capability to hit the U.S. with nuclear-tipped missiles, “the U.S. will have no choice but to come to the negotiating table” and sue for peace.
This will yield, “if not a total abandonment of South Korea,” then a bargain aimed at mere containment: “If North Korea has 50 nuclear weapons, and promises not to build any more, and to suspend missile tests, the U.S. will strike a deal.” Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington may cool, he says, “but South Korea will continue to be held hostage.”
Hence the need to go nuclear. South Korea’s civilian nuclear infrastructure—24 plants providing 30% of the country’s energy—could be used to produce 5,000 bombs worth of fissile material, Mr. Cheong says, dwarfing Pyongyang’s capability. Embracing the necessary technologies, including plutonium reprocessing, could be “the game-changer that will enable South Korea to manage North Korean problems.”
It would also “be consistent with U.S. security interests,” Mr. Cheong says, and “contain the nuclear issue within the boundary of the Korean Peninsula.” These are the claims that put him most at odds with longstanding thinking in Washington, where leaders generally fear that South Korea going nuclear could shatter the U.S.-South Korean alliance, spark a war with the North and trigger follow-on nuclearization in Japan and maybe Taiwan—developments China is liable to protest with military force.
Mr. Cheong thinks certain compromises can make it all work. Seoul would go nuclear but also engage Pyongyang economically and diplomatically, assuring Kim Jong Un that no one seeks his demise. Seoul would build only as many bombs as needed to have an edge (“if the North has 30, we have 40, for example”). And Seoul would ask the U.S. to “co-manage” its arsenal, preserving the bilateral alliance while assuring China and Russia that South Koreans have ultimate control over the weapons.
Japan may indeed seek to go nuclear, Mr. Cheong acknowledges, but it too could placate its rivals by keeping its arsenal small and co-managed. “The U.S. should assure China that Japan will not build more than a certain number of nuclear weapons large enough to counter the North Korean threat,” allowing China to “maintain its nuclear advantage over other Asian countries.” Taiwan, for its part, has to sit on its hands.
Such prescriptions seem rather tidy given all the uncertainties and dangers involved, and for years Seoul and Washington could dismiss them as non-starters. Even as majorities of South Koreans have told pollsters since the 1990s that they support nuclearization, policy makers in both capitals have been overwhelmingly opposed. That may no longer be so.
Several potential candidates in South Korea’s looming presidential election back nuclearization, including former National Assembly floor leader Won Yoo-cheol and Nam Kyung-pil, governor of the country’s most populous province. Mr. Cheong, who acknowledges that “experts and technocrats have tended to be against going nuclear,” says that officials have privately expressed greater interest since Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test in September. Once Pyongyang completes a hydrogen bomb, he says, “many experts will switch their views.”
Then there’s Donald Trump. If he sticks to supporting South Korean and Japanese nuclearization, he might as well hold a bonfire of traditional U.S. nonproliferation dogmas on the White House lawn.
Even if he reverses course, though, his record of denigrating U.S. allies has already made South Koreans and others more fearful of abandonment and therefore more likely to hedge their bets and consider going nuclear, despite the costs. Mr. Trump reportedly had a good phone call with South Korea’s president Wednesday night, but it’s no surprise that headlines this week in Seoul are blaring about “shock” and “panic.”
As Mr. Cheong predicted last week: A Trump presidency “will reshape the security landscape of Northeast Asia.”
Mr. Feith is a Journal editorial writer based in Hong Kong.
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