Tag Archives: Nuclear Weapons

Behind the North Korean Curtain, Part I

North Korea is far different from the way it is usually portrayed, according to a seasoned international traveler who has spent a fair amount of time there. From Joel Bowman at internationalman.com:

Joel Bowman talks to Kolja Spöri

Joel Bowman: Good day, Kolja. Thanks very much for taking the time to speak with International Man today. Where in the world do we find you right now?

Kolja Spöri: Merhaba, Joel! I am just in Istanbul at the airport, in transit to Munich, coming from Baghdad.

JB: Having literally written the book “I’ve Been Everywhere” (in German: Ich war überall), you certainly fit the bill as a true International Man. I imagine our conversation could go in many directions today, but I wanted to start with a particular trip you embarked on earlier this year that must have been quite eye-opening, even by your own standards.

When most people think of taking a vacation, they might imagine heading down to Florida, or the Bahamas, or maybe nipping over to Hawaii. You decided, instead, to opt for the decidedly cooler climes of Pyongyang, capital of North Korea. What inspired you to set off on an adventure to one of the so-called “Axis of Evil” countries?

KS: There’s actually warm weather and good surfing in North Korea in the summer! But yes, I have been a world traveler for a long time, both privately and on business trips. My goal became to visit every country in the world. It was just a natural thing that I would also visit North Korea on the way. North Korea is a good example where I learned that our Western view on the world does not always hold true, or at least the narratives that we are spoon fed from our Western media and our Western education system.

Fifteen years ago, I was in South Korea visiting the demilitarized zone in Panmunjom, from the south. And at that time, already 15 years ago, I had a feeling that something was wrong about the way I was taught to look at things. Now that I’ve seen the border from the other side, from the north, I have a much clearer picture of where I was wrong, and where maybe many of us are wrong in the West.

I want to make clear that I don’t defend the North Korean system. After all, I am an Austrian School Libertarian. But I use the small case study of North Korea to build a strong case against our Western regime.

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Putin Lays Down the Law at Valdai, by Tom Luongo

Vladimir Putin states Russia’s terms for international interaction. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Every year Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Valdai Economic Forum. And each year his talk is important. Putin isn’t one to mince words on important issues.

With tensions between Russia and the West reaching Cold War levels, Valdai represented the first time we’ve heard Putin speak in a long-form discussion since Helsinki and the events thereafter — IL-20, Khashoggi, etc.

So, this talk is worth everyone’s time. And when I say everyone’s I mean every single person who could be affected by the breakdown of the U.S. political system and how that spills over onto Russia’s shores.

In other words, pretty much everyone on the planet.

Because what Putin did at Valdai was to lay down the new rules of conduct in geopolitical affairs. He put the U.S. and European oligarchs I call The Davos Crowd on notice.

There is a limit to your provocations and attempts to undermine Russia. So don’t cross that line.

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“Terrorist Theft” – Pakistan’s Nukes Outpacing Projections In Uncertain Security Landscape, by Tyler Durden

Pakistan isn’t exactly a stable country. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Pakistan is set to become the world’s 5th largest nuclear weapons state according to an alarming new report which shows the country is set for rapid expansion of its arsenal over the next decade.

The report was issued by an independent nuclear arms monitoring group under the Federation of American Scientists called the Nuclear Information Project and demonstrates that US intelligence has consistently understated and failed to accurately assess Pakistan’s future capabilities.

While the Defense Intelligence Agency (the DIA) projected in 1999 that Pakistan would possess 60 to 80 nuclear warheads by 2020, the report shows the actual current figure at 140 to 150 warheads. Continue reading

US may open path for Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear weapons, by Middle East Monitor

The thought of one Islamic fundamentalist regime, Iran’s, getting nuclear weapons horrifies the world such that an agreement was negotiated to prevent them from doing so. The Trump administration is thinking about abrogating that agreement because it isn’t strong enough, and perhaps resorting to military action against Iran. One the other hand, the Trump administration may be ready to bend its own rule to see that another Islamic fundamentalist regime, Saudi Arabia’s, acquires nuclear weapons capabilities. Both countries foment international terrorism (most of the 9/11 participants were from Saudi Arabia), both have designs on Middle Eastern hegemony, and both are run by thoroughly repressive governments. The double standard is breathtaking. From the Middle East Monitor at middleeastmonitor.com:

Saudi Arabia is moving swiftly to become the next country in the Middle East with nuclear power. The Kingdom is on the verge of striking a deal with the US for the purchase of nuclear reactors despite concerns over its refusal to accept stringent restrictions against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, who is the de facto ruler of the country, has ambitious plans to diversify the country’s energy source and is in the market to purchase nuclear power reactors. The potential for lucrative deals is too good to be missed and the Trump administration is thought to be mulling over loosening US law to win Saudi contracts, worth billions. The Kingdom has refused to be bound by stringent US regulations that restrict reprocessing and enriching uranium for the production of nuclear weapons.

With competitors like Russia and China waiting in the wings, Trump is keen to strike a deal with the Saudi’s and breathe new life into the American nuclear industry.

Finalists to build nuclear power stations along the Kingdom’s desolate Arabian Gulf strip will be announced in the coming months, but it’s not certain if the US will be the one to strike the deal. Israel, despite having its own nuclear arsenal, is strongly opposed to any other country in the Middle East acquiring nuclear weapons and with alliances constantly shifting in the region it may try to derail any deal.

US policy also seeks to limit nuclear weapons proliferation especially in the Middle East but Trump may have no option other than to lower restrictions with Saudi Arabia.

Although the Saudi’s have insisted that their programme will be peaceful, they have also refused to rule out the right to enrich uranium to weapons grade. A senior Saudi official was quoted by the Wall Street Journal admitting as much. “I’m not saying Saudi would want to enrich uranium tomorrow or anytime soon but they don’t want to be committed to anything that bans them from doing it. It is quite political,” the unnamed senior official said.

His comments have stirred speculation that one of the purpose of the nuclear programme is to compete with Iran and maintain an option to develop nuclear weapons. With some overlapping technology it would be in a strong position to move in that direction if the Kingdom desired so.

It’s not clear to what extent Trump will be able to convince Congress to agree to the deal. Under US law any export of nuclear technology involves signing a non-proliferation document known as a 123 agreement. The UAE signed one in 2009 which is said to be the most restrictive and has become as the gold standard.

Saudi’s, however, have reject the gold standard and the Trump administration must now come out with a new plan that will not completely block Riyash’s path to acquiring nuclear weapons.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180221-us-may-open-path-for-saudi-arabia-to-acquire-nuclear-weapons/

Russia’s New Monster Weapon, by Eric Margolis

Russia has reportedly developed a huge nuclear torpedo that can essentially wipe out both US coasts in a nuclear war. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

While we agonize over such life and death questions as clumsy men groping women and the crucial need for gender and racial ‘inclusion,’ let me spare a few seconds thought to something really important and scary:  Russia’s doomsday nuclear torpedo.

Codenamed by NATO ‘Kanyon,’  it’s reportedly something new and terrifying, a ‘third strike’ weapon designed to obliterate the US east and west coasts in a nuclear war.  US intelligence seems to think this doomsday weapon is very real indeed.

I just re-watched for the umpteenth time the wonderful, 1964 Kubrick film, ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and marveled anew at how prescient this razor-sharp satire was.  In the film, the Soviets admit they ran out of money to keep up the nuclear arms race with the United States.  Their answer was to create a secret, automated doomsday nuclear device that would destroy the entire planet in the event of a major war.

Now, the Russians appear to have responded to a new, trillion dollar US program to develop and deploy an anti-missile system that would negate their ballistic missile system:  the ‘Kanyon.’  Fact imitates fiction.

This revelation comes just after the Trump administration has also embarked on new programs to deploy an entire new generation of lower yield nuclear weapons that can be used for tactical war-fighting purposes.  North Korea and Iran are the evident targets, as well as Afghanistan.  But there is now talk aplenty in Pentagon circles about waging a limited tactical nuclear war against Russia.  New US bomber and drone programs are being speeded up.  War talk is in the air.  Military stocks are booming.

‘Kanyon,’ according to the right-wing Heritage Foundation, a cheerleader for military spending, is a mammoth 100-megaton nuclear device carried by an unmanned submarine.  This monster weapon is designed to detonate on the US west coast, destroying the ports of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  The device is reportedly covered with cobalt, for maximum radioactive effect.

To continue reading: Russia’s New Monster Weapon

Nuclear War: A Thousand Buttons, by Conn Hallinan

Many people who are not heads of state of nuclear powers can start a nuclear war, or respond with a nuclear weapon against a false threat. From Conn Hallinan at antiwar.com:

When President Donald Trump bragged that his nuclear “button” was bigger and more efficient than North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s “button,” he was perpetuating the myth that the leaders of nuclear-armed nations control their weapons. But you do not have to be Trump, Kim, Vladimir Putin, Theresa May, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Mamnoon Hussain, or Benjamin Netanyahu to push that “button.” There are thousands of buttons and thousands of people who can initiate a nuclear war.

Indeed, the very nature of nuclear weapons requires that the power to use them is decentralized and dispersed. And while it is sobering to think of leaders like Kim and Trump with their finger on the trigger, a nuclear war is far more likely to be started by some anonymous captain in an Ohio-class submarine patrolling the Pacific or a Pakistani colonel on the Indian border.

In his book ”The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” Daniel Ellsberg says that the recent uproar over Trump’s threats to visit “fire and fury” on North Korea misses the point that “every president has delegated” the authority to use nuclear weapons. “The idea that the president is the only one with the sole power to issue an order that will be recognized as an authentic authorized order is totally false,” he told National Public Radio.

If a single “button” were the case, decapitating a country’s leader would prevent the use of nuclear weapons. Take out Washington (or Mar-a-Largo), Moscow, or Beijing and you would neutralize a nation’s nuclear force. In reality, the decision to use those weapons merely shifts further down the chain of command. The Russians call it “dead hand”: Moscow goes, and some general in the Urals launches an ICBM or the captain of a Borei-class submarine in the Sea of Okhotsk fires off his multiple war head SS-N-32 “Bulava” missiles.

To continue reading: Nuclear War: A Thousand Buttons

 

Nuclear Annihilation and the Wisdom of Mass Salvation, by Robert Koehler

“Shithole” is now perfectly acceptable in public discourse. Utter the term “nuclear disarmament,” however, and you’re a crazed lunatic who should be put under the care of the state. From Robert Koehler at antiwar.com:

Mutually assured destruction is not wisdom. It’s playing with global holocaust.

Incoming! Incoming!

Uh . . . pardon me while I interrupt this false alarm to quote Martin Luther King:

“Science investigates,” he says in The Strength To Love, “religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”

These words stopped me in my tracks on MLK Day. They seemed to fill a hole in the breaking news, which never quite manages to balance power with wisdom, or even acknowledge the distinction.

Our relationship to power is unquestioned, e.g.: “In the United States itself, there are around [nuclear] 4,500 warheads, of which approximately 1,740 are deployed,” Karthika Sasikumar writes at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “Even more worrying, around 900 of these are on hair-trigger alert, which means that they could be launched within 10 minutes of receiving a warning (which could turn out to be a false alarm). . . .

“The threat to the United States is very real, but fattening the nuclear arsenal is not a rational response. The United States already has 100 times as many warheads as North Korea. . . .”

The U.S. has enormous power, but so what? Such data is almost never addressed in the mainstream media – certainly not in the context of . . . disarmament. That concept is sealed shut, barred from the consciousness of generals and news anchors. Certainly it didn’t come up in the coverage of what happened last Saturday in Hawaii, when an employee of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency hit the wrong link on his computer screen during a shift change and an incoming-missile alert went statewide, throwing residents and tourists into 38 minutes of panic: “Children going down manholes, stores closing their doors to those seeking shelter and cars driving at high speeds . . .”

Nor did it come up three days later, when a false missile alert went off in Japan, a country with a few memories of the real thing: “Within 10 seconds the fire that wiped out the city came after us at full speed. Everyone was naked. Bodies were swelling up. Some people were so deformed I couldn’t tell if they were male or female. People died screaming, ‘Please give me water!’”

To continue reading: Nuclear Annihilation and the Wisdom of Mass Salvation