The US has been working on a series of “upgrades” to its existing nuclear arsenal; it’s a process that was started during the Obama administration, but the research must have been going on for years prior to that.
The “upgrades” amount to the US greatly expanding the power of its existing arsenal – basically, doubling its effectiveness (or more) by improving the weapons’ accuracy and fuse-timing. It’s called the burst-height compensating super-fuze. The program has been described to the public as a $1.5trillion effort to make the weapons safer and more reliable. In fact, super-fuzing, by effectively doubling the power of the US arsenal, destabilizes the agreed-upon limitations frameworks established between the US and Russia: with the newer, more powerful weapons, the US could potentially launch a first strike (counter-force) against Russian missile silos, destroying enough of them that retaliation would be suicidal and surrender the only option. It’s called “hard target kill capability” – a warhead that can detonate precisely enough that a missile in a deep silo will still be destroyed.
A counter-force strike is a deranged scenario, nuclear strategists point out, because it simply pushes the Russians to adopt a policy of “launch on warning” instead of “launch on impact.”
To be honest, both parties probably have been deployed in “launch on warning” all along; it’s probably also propaganda.
Add to the toxic brew Trump’s willingness to talk about field use of nuclear weapons, in what can only be first strikes and it pushes the Russians and everyone else into “launch on warning” – you can be sure the North Koreans are prepared to destroy Seoul if US forces begin to deploy sufficiently threateningly. This set of decisions, dating back to the Obama administration but continued by Trump, make the world a much, much more dangerous place.
These are unilateral US actions, encouraged and taken by the military/industrial complex, which is basically off its leash.
In case you didn’t put two and two together, earlier, the US has been testing upgraded missile systems – you know, exactly what the North Koreans have been causing so much consternation by doing. That has been going on since around 2008, with varying degrees of publicity, secrecy, saber-rattling, or propaganda depending on the political context of the test.
The US Navy is test-firing and upgrading its arsenal of Trident II D5 nuclear-armed submarine launched missiles designed to keep international peace — by ensuring and undersea-fired second-strike ability in the event of a catastrophic nuclear first strike on the US.
That’s a bit of the propaganda from National Interest [ni] – we are supposed to swallow the idea that more precise hard-kill capabilities are useful for retaliation in a second-strike capacity. It’s utter nonsense – the second-strike capacity is a mass-murder mission against the attacker’s entire population; it’s a matter of quantity not quality and even a few dozen warheads make an attack a matter of national suicide. See how effortlessly the US regime lies? Doubtless, this round of lies was part of a ‘talking points’ bulletin from the DoD’s propaganda arm, because similar stories are being echoed all over the servile media outlets.
Including the New York Times.
The New York Times’ take on this propaganda is credulous:
WASHINGTON — A treaty committing the United States and Russia to keep their long-range nuclear arsenals at the lowest levels since early in the Cold War goes into full effect on Monday. When it was signed eight years ago, President Barack Obama expressed hope that it would be a small first step toward deeper reductions, and ultimately a world without nuclear weapons.
Now, that optimism has been reversed. A new nuclear policy issued by the Trump administration on Friday, which vows to counter a rush by the Russians to modernize their forces even while staying within the treaty limits, is touching off a new kind of nuclear arms race. This one is based less on numbers of weapons and more on novel tactics and technologies, meant to outwit and outmaneuver the other side.
The Russians are developing new weapons to provide them a second-strike capability, and are (reasonably enough) designing them so that they would not be useful in a counter-force strike. It is actually an attempt to ratchet down the situation, slightly.
Rumor has it that the Russians are experimenting with a second-strike nuclear long-range torpedo – something very large, very fast, unmanned, and carrying a massive warhead. Think of it as an underwater cruise missile, if you will: one designed to obliterate San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore, Boston, etc. Such a weapon would not be a direct threat against the US ‘triad’ ballistic missile submarines or land-based missiles; it’s a revenge-weapon, only. It may even be a fiction that the Russians floated as a warning trial balloon. Bear in mind: the US is testing its new super-fuze warhead-carrying missiles, while complaining about the potential that the Russians are trying to maintain a balance of terror. [slate]
NYT boldly re-asserts the “bomber gap” argument from 1957 “missile gap” argument from 1962 necessity for the US to spend and build in order to keep up with Russia:
Yet when President Trump called on Congress to “modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal” in his State of the Union address last week, he did not mention his administration’s rationale: that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has accelerated a dangerous game that the United States must match, even if the price tag soars above $1.2 trillion. That is the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, one that many experts think is low by a half-trillion dollars.
Remember: the ‘modernization’ program began around 2000-2002, when you take into account research and development, probably long before that. Deployment began in 2009. Now, suddenly, the New York Times is telling us we need to do something we have been doing since 2009 in order to catch up to where the Russians are going to maybe be, someday.
In contrast to the president’s address, the report issued on Friday, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, focuses intensely on Russia. It describes Mr. Putin as forcing America’s hand to rebuild the nuclear force, as has a series of other documents produced by Mr. Trump’s National Security Council and his Pentagon.
The report contains a sharp warning about a new Russian-made autonomous nuclear torpedo that — while not in violation of the terms of the treaty, known as New Start — appears designed to cross the Pacific undetected and release a deadly cloud of radioactivity that would leave large parts of the West Coast uninhabitable.
The New York Times utterly neglects to mention that the Status-6 is hypothetical. It beggars the imagination that they are so stupid that they didn’t do any research at all before they began repeating the Pentagon’s talking points – so they must be flat-out lying by omission.
“Past assumptions that our capability to produce nuclear weapons would not be necessary and that we could permit the required infrastructure to age into obsolescence have proven to be mistaken,” it argues. “It is now clear that the United States must have sufficient research, design, development and production capacity to support the sustainment and replacement of its nuclear forces.”
The US has sufficient R&D and infrastructure to do what it has been secretly doing since 2002; it is doing just fine. The New York Times is just transmitting the Pentagon’s endless whining for “more money!”
“Obama’s theory was that we will lead the way in reducing our reliance on nuclear weapons and everyone else will do the same,” said Franklin C. Miller, a nuclear expert who served in the George W. Bush administration and was an informal consultant to Pentagon officials who drafted the new policy. “It didn’t work out that way. The Russians have been fielding systems while we haven’t, and our first new system won’t be ready until 2026 or 2027.”
Obama signed a missile-reduction treaty, because he knew that the US’ arsenal of warheads was going to become much more effective and it would need fewer of them to obliterate any country on Earth. The way Miller describes it, it sounds as if Obama just … assumed … that the Russians would play along; in fact there was a negotiated treaty, which the US was already gaming when they signed it. Miller’s lie about “our first new system won’t be ready” is a whopper: the new systems are being fielded right now – the US simply defined “new” as “we won’t call it ‘Polaris’ any more” or “we won’t call the warhead a W77 any more.” The W77 (originally fielded in 1977) has gone through many major releases and bears no resemblance whatsoever to the warhead that was fielded in 1977. It’s a new warhead that they don’t call “new.” Imagine if I claimed to still be driving my 1966 Land Rover safari because I have the “Land Rover” badge epoxied to the hood of my Chevy Tahoe; that is how ridiculous this is.
For example, the policy calls for “the rapid development” of a cruise missile that would be fired from submarines, then become airborne before reaching its target.
An SLCM is a first-strike weapon – it is designed to be delivered from very close to the target, to shorten warning times, dodge any defense, and destroy command and control centers and missile siloes before they can prepare a counter-strike – a nuclear assassination weapon. The US is lying. The submarine part of the “triad” was the ‘hard to destroy’ component that could move around and launch a devastating revenge attack, but the US has begun turning it into a close-range first-strike platform and the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and anyone who thinks about nuclear war policy are not fooled for a second.
The US is positioning itself to be able to win a nuclear war against Russia; there is no other possible conclusion. The Russians, not being as stupid as the readers of the New York Times, have figured that out. And they’re probably scared. I know I am. You should be.
Someone once said, “nobody wins a nuclear war.” But that’s not true; ask the Japanese.
But look at The New York Times – journalism at its finest; all it’s willing to do is either ignorantly spout the government’s talking-points, or it’s knowingly betraying its journalism by deliberately pushing propaganda. Does it even matter which? There are plenty of instances where The New York Times has delayed stories or downplayed them for political effect; this is just one example that is particularly obvious to me, since I happen to understand a bit about nuclear war strategy. This has been going on for some time, too – James Risen has spoken about how The New York Times had delayed important reporting on the Iraq war and, worse, delayed reporting about the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping because of the timing of the 2004 election [inter] – oh, excuse me, “it would harm intelligence collection.” Journalism has a problem: if you kill a story because of political considerations, that’s the same as running a story because of political considerations. It’s like negative space in a black-and-white photograph: you say things with what you don’t say.
Americans live in a constant bath of propaganda, and the media is completely complicit.
“launch on warning” probably propaganda: there are plenty of accounts of US nuclear policy-controllers saying that they were generally prepared to launch if there was a sufficient threat; i.e.: the whole system of global destruction has always been on a much finer hair-trigger than we have been led to believe.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have a lengthier explanation of super-fuzing [bas]
I have said this elsewhere but it bears repeating: here is how you ‘upgrade’ a nuclear weapon:
- make a new nuclear weapon
- mount it on a delivery vehicle
- take the old nuclear weapon apart and recycle the plutonium
- call the new nuclear weapon the old nuclear weapon
- upgrade complete
My comment about “scared” – I plan to eventually do a post on some of the things that have happened in the past, when the balance of terror tipped too far in the wrong direction. By the way: the balance of terror never tipped in the direction of the Soviet Union, ever. If you are not familiar with Able Archer 83 and how close dipshit Reagan and clown-puppet Thatcher came to starting a nuclear war – well, hang on, because eventually I’ll be writing about that.
And don’t even get me started on how the US has shamelessly ignored non-proliferation treaties by making NATO produce all of its delivery systems so they are compatible with US nuclear weapons, and then the US stages “US-owned” weapons at NATO bases all around the world. Hey, look, it’s not “proliferation” to give nuclear weapons to Germany so long as the label on the side is not written in German in a gothic font.
The US is also blaming Russia for violating arms control agreements, and that’s – naturally – why it is necessary for the US to bend its agreements. The US’ complaint, though, is interesting: Russia’s improvements in ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCM) based on the Kalibr cruise missile constitute a new medium-range missile and that puts Russia over the medium-range missile allotment they agreed to. Presumably the Russians, who started fielding the SSC-8 in 2008, didn’t hit upon the idea of calling it an upgrade to existing missiles, like the US does. [wapo] Note that a medium-range cruise missile can’t hit targets in the US mainland, so it’s only a threat to other European countries or (maybe) a threat if the Russians develop a submarine-launchable version. The US would freak out of anyone had a SLCM capable of carrying city-killers.
I tried to do my best Jean Meslier style title on this one. That’s how pissed off I am.