Tag Archives: 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

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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

Another Step Toward Armageddon, by Paul Craig Roberts

Because the US military only has enough nuclear weapons to wipe out the earth three or four times, it is developing smaller nuclear weapons. Those bombed will hardly even notice the blasts. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

The US military/security complex has taken another step toward Armageddon. The Pentagon has prepared a nuclear posture review (NPR) that gives the OK to development of smaller “usable” nuclear weapons and permits their use in response to a non-nuclear attack.

As Reagan and Gorbachev understood, but the warmongers who have taken over America do not, there are far too many nuclear weapons already. Some scientists have concluded that even the use of 10 percent of either the US or Russian arsenal would suffice to destroy life on earth.

It is reckless and irresponsible for Washington to make such a decision in the wake of years of aggressive actions taken against Russia. The Clinton criminal regime broke Washington’s promise that NATO would not move one inch to the East. The George W. Bush criminal regime pulled out of the ABM Treaty and changed US war doctrine to elevate the use of nuclear weapons from retaliation to first strike. The Obama criminal regime launched a frontal propaganda attack on Russia with crazed Hillary’s denunciation of President Putin as “the new Hitler.” In an effort to evict Russia from its naval base in Crimea, the criminal Obama regime overthrew the Ukrainian government during the Sochi Olympics and installed a Washington puppet. US missile bases have been established on Russia’s border, and NATO conducts war games against Russia on Russian borders.

This is insanity. These and other gratuitous provocations have convinced the Russian military’s Operation Command that Washington is planning a surprise nuclear attack on Russia. The Russian government has replied to these provocations with the statement that Russia will never again fight a war on its own territory.

To continue reading: Another Step Toward Armageddon

The US Is Stockpiling Nuclear Arms, and the Cost Is Astonishing, by Harry Blain

Nuclear poker is a very expensive game. From Harry Blain at antiwar.com:

We’re spending $1.2 trillion on weapons that invariably make the world a more dangerous place

Overwhelmed with stories of high-level indictments, intrigues, investigations, and scandals, the American public can be forgiven for missing revelations about an issue of some importance: our nuclear weapons.

Thanks to an October 31 report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), we now have a 30-year outline of both the kinds of destructive weaponry we are buying, and how much it is going to cost. There are good reasons to be worried.

“A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”

How much exactly? $1.2 trillion in all. Even spread over three decades, that’s a big investment.

Per year, it could pay for over half of Russia’s military budget, five Environmental Protection Agencies, or at least three “beautiful” walls on the U.S.-Mexico border.

It’s an especially big investment for something you hope to never use. Nuclear weapons aren’t cheap: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of maintaining just the existing U.S. nuclear forces will be close to $800 billion; the shiny new stuff will be another $400 billion. “Many of today’s nuclear weapons systems were designed and built decades ago,” the CBO notes, “and are nearing the end of their service life.”

In a narrow sense, this seems sensible enough: Aging nuclear weapons infrastructure can lead to things like command and control systems running on floppy disks and a higher risk of security breaches. If you are going to insist on possessing the world’s most lethal weapon, you should look after it.

Nonetheless, as Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association put it, the “stark reality underlined by CBO is that unless the US government finds a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the nuclear weapons spending plan inherited by the Trump administration will pose a crushing affordability problem.”

“Uniquely destabilizing”

The New York Times headline on the matter – “Trump Plans for Nuclear Arsenal Require $1.2 Trillion, Congressional Review States” – is either an innocent mistake or a misleading rhetorical sleight of hand. It implies, falsely, that this costly program belongs to the 45th president, even though the first paragraph of the CBO report explicitly states that it refers to “the Obama Administration’s 2017 budget request.”

This is not a trivial point.

Even if, like many Americans, you trust Barack Obama’s judgment more than Donald Trump’s, you need to ask the deeper questions: Do I want anypresident to preside over such a vast nuclear arsenal? Could even the most sober and intelligent commander-in-chief make one catastrophic error in judgment? Are there certain weapons that are inherently more dangerous than others, regardless of who has the authority to push the button?

To continue reading: The US Is Stockpiling Nuclear Arms, and the Cost Is Astonishing

Massive Overkill Brought to You By the Nuclear-Industrial Complex, by William D. Hartung

Here’s a great quote, from Derek Johnson, director of the antinuclear organization Global Zero, on the proposed $1.7 trillion nuclear weapons upgrade program: “That’s money we don’t have for an arsenal we don’t need.”

[This piece has been updated and adapted from William D. Hartung’s “Nuclear Politics” in Sleepwalking to Armageddon: The Threat of Nuclear Annihilation, edited by Helen Caldicott and just published by the New Press.]

Until recently, few of us woke up worrying about the threat of nuclear war. Such dangers seemed like Cold War relics, associated with outmoded practices like building fallout shelters and “duck and cover” drills.

But give Donald Trump credit.  When it comes to nukes, he’s gotten our attention. He’s prompted renewed concern, if not outright alarm, about the possibility that such weaponry could actually be used for the first time since the 6th and 9th of August 1945. That’s what happens when the man in the Oval Office begins threatening to rain “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on another country or, as he did in his presidential campaign, claimingcryptically that, when it comes to nuclear weapons, “the devastation is very important to me.”

Trump’s pronouncements are at least as unnerving as President Ronald Reagan’s infamous “joke” that “we begin bombing [the Soviet Union] in five minutes” or the comment of a Reagan aide that, “with enough shovels,” the United States could survive a superpower nuclear exchange.

Whether in the 1980s or today, a tough-guy attitude on nuclear weapons, when combined with an apparent ignorance about their world-ending potential, adds up to a toxic brew.  An unprecedented global anti-nuclear movement — spearheaded by the European Nuclear Disarmament campaign and, in the United States, the Nuclear Freeze campaign — helped turn President Reagan around, so much so that he later agreed to substantial nuclear cuts and acknowledged that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

It remains to be seen whether anything could similarly influence Donald Trump. One thing is certain, however: the president has plenty of nuclear weapons to back up his aggressive rhetoric — more than 4,000 of them in the active U.S. stockpile, when a mere handful of them could obliterate North Korea at the cost of millions of lives.  Indeed, a few hundred nuclear warheads could do the same for even the largest of nations and those 4,000, if ever used, could essentially destroy the planet.

To continue reading: Massive Overkill Brought to You By the Nuclear-Industrial Complex

Madmen, North Korea, and War, by Peter Van Buren

Neither Kim Jong Un nor President Trump are crazy, and there probably won’t be a war on the Korean peninsula. From Peter Van Buren at antiwar.com:

The seemingly accepted wisdom that American President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are paired madmen on the edge of war has little to support it other than projected fears. There will be no war because war on the Korean peninsula benefits no one and is very bad for everyone (we’ll get to the madmen theory in a moment.)

North Korea’s weapons, nuclear and conventional, are arguably the most defensive ever fielded. The North has no realistic claims on overseas territory or resources to resolve, and its borders are stable. Its weapons have not been used offensively more or less since 1953. They exist within the most perfect example of mutually assured destruction history has seen.

Mutually assured destruction, MAD, is what kept the Cold War cool, the understanding that if either the United States or Russia unleashed nuclear weapons, both sides would be destroyed. The same applies today on the Korean Peninsula, where any conflict means the end of the North and the end of the Kim dynasty. “Conflict” in this sense also includes an invasion of South Korea by the North. The United States and its allies will win any fight. Kim and everyone with any power, influence or stake in the North knows that. The nation of North Korea exists to exist, living proof of its own juche philosophy of self-reliance. North Korea has no reason to start a war that will end in its own destruction. Its nuclear weapons are only useful if they are never used.

Any talk of an American conventional “surgical strike” ignores the reality that no amount of planning can ensure every weapon of mass destruction will be destroyed; if that was possible the United States would have done it. Any attack on North Korea will result in a nuclear response — there is nothing “limited” for a cornered animal fighting for its life. While it is unclear a North Korean missile could reach American territory, no one in Washington has ever been willing to bet the house that a submarine with a nuke, or North Korean special forces with a dirty bomb, couldn’t do significant damage to an American city. Or to Seoul and Tokyo, both also well within range of North Korean nuclear and conventional missiles.

To continue reading: Madmen, North Korea, and War