Thursday, November 30, 2017

Iran-Korea Nuclear Cooperation

Pyongyang has emerged as a critical partner in Tehran's 'Axis of Resistance,' and officials warn that their joint efforts may extend to weapons of mass destruction.
High-level meetings between North Korean and Iranian officials in recent months are stoking concerns inside the U.S. government about the depth of military ties between the two American adversaries. In September, President Trump ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to conduct a fresh review of any potential bilateral nuclear collaboration. Yet officials in Washington, Asia, and the Middle East who track the relationship indicate that Pyongyang and Tehran have already signaled a commitment to jointly develop their ballistic missile systems and other military/scientific programs.
North Korea has vastly expanded its nuclear and long-range missile capabilities over the past year, developing intercontinental ballistic missiles that could potentially target the western United States with nuclear warheads. Over the same period, U.S. intelligence agencies have spotted Iranian defense officials in Pyongyang, raising the specter that they might share dangerous technological advances with each other. "All of these contacts need to be better understood," said one senior U.S. official working on the Middle East. "This will be one of our top priorities."

SUSPICIOUS MEETINGS

In early August, Kim Yong-nam, North Korea's number two political leader and head of its legislature, departed Pyongyang amid great fanfare for an extended visit to Iran. The official reason was to attend the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani, but the length of the visit raised alarm bells in Washington and allied capitals. North Korean state media said the trip lasted four days, but Iranian state media said it was ten, and that Kim was accompanied by a large delegation of other top officials.
Kim had last visited Tehran in 2012 to attend a gathering of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Cold War-era body composed of developing nations that strived to be independent of Washington and the Kremlin. Yet he skipped most of the events associated with that conference, instead focusing on signing a bilateral scientific cooperation agreement with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. According to U.S. intelligence officials, that pact looked very similar to the one Pyongyang inked with Syria in 2002; five years later, Israeli jets destroyed a building in eastern Syria that the United States and UN believe was a nearly operational North Korean-built nuclear reactor. Notably, one of the Iranian officials who attended the 2012 gathering with Kim was Atomic Energy Organization chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, who was sanctioned by Washington and the UN for his alleged role in nuclear weapons development.
Similarly, Kim's latest trip focused on more than just lending support to Rouhani, according to North Korean and Iranian state media. Kim and Vice Foreign Minister Choe Hui-chol inaugurated their country's new embassy in Tehran, a symbol of deepening ties between the two governments. They also held a string of bilateral meetings with foreign leaders, many from countries that have been significant buyers of North Korean weapons in recent decades (e.g., Zimbabwe, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Namibia). The Trump administration has been intensifying diplomatic pressure on all these countries to cut their economic and military ties with Pyongyang in response to the regime's barrage of nuclear and missile tests this year.
Regarding missile development, Iran and North Korea presented a united front against Washington during Kim's stay. Like Pyongyang, Tehran has moved forward with a string of ballistic missile tests in recent months, despite facing UN Security Council resolutions and condemnation by the Trump administration. After meeting with Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani on August 4, Kim declared, "Iran and North Korea share a mutual enemy [the United States]. We firmly support Iran on its stance that missile development does not need to be authorized by any nation."

COVERT CONTACTS

The meetings that have gone unreported in state media are even more worrisome for allied governments. In recent years, U.S. and South Korean intelligence services have tracked a steady stream of Iranian and North Korean officials visiting each other in a bid to jointly develop their defense systems. Many of the North Koreans are from defense industries or secretive financial bodies that report directly to dictator Kim Jong-un, including Offices 39 and 99 of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

Korea Now Able to Nuke Babylon the Great

Trump, who has vowed to halt North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday and urged Beijing to rein in its ally North Korea.
The latest missile test was the highest and longest any North Korean missile had flown, landing in the sea near Japan.
It was fired a week after Trump put North Korea back on a U.S. list of countries it says support terrorism, allowing it to impose more sanctions.
North Korea, which conducted its largest nuclear bomb test in September, has tested dozens of ballistic missiles under its leader, Kim Jong Un, in defiance of international sanctions.
North Korea said the new missile reached an altitude of about 4,475 km (2,780 miles) - more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station - and flew 950 km (590 miles) during its 53-minute flight.
“After watching the successful launch of the new type ICBM Hwasong-15, Kim Jong Un declared with pride that now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power,” according to a statement read by a television presenter.
State media said the missile was launched from a newly developed vehicle and that the warhead could withstand the pressure of re-entering the atmosphere, which if confirmed would be an important technical advance.
Kim personally guided the missile test and said the new launcher was “impeccable”, state media said. He described the new vehicle as a “breakthrough”.
North Korea also described itself as a “responsible nuclear power”, saying its strategic weapons were developed to defend itself from “the U.S. imperialists’ nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat”.
Trump said additional major sanctions would now be imposed on North Korea.
“Just spoke to President Xi Jinping of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!” Trump wrote on Twitter. He gave no other details about the sanctions.
The U.N. Security Council was scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss the launch.
Many nuclear experts say the North has yet to prove it has mastered all technical hurdles, including the ability to deliver a heavy nuclear warhead reliably atop an ICBM, but it was likely that it soon would.
“We don’t have to like it, but we’re going to have to learn to live with North Korea’s ability to target the United States with nuclear weapons,” said Jeffrey Lewis, head of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of Strategic Studies.
For multimedia coverage of North Korea www.reuters.com/north-korea/
‘THREATEN EVERYWHERE’
U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials all agreed the missile, which landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, was likely an ICBM. The test itself did not pose a threat to the United States, its territories or allies, the Pentagon said.
“It went higher, frankly, than any previous shot they’ve taken, a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world, basically,” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the White House.
 

“It is a situation that we will handle,” Trump told reporters.
Trump, who was briefed on the missile while it was in flight, said it did not change his administration’s approach to North Korea, which has included new curbs to hurt trade between China and North Korea.
Washington has said repeatedly that all options, including military ones, are on the table in dealing with North Korea while stressing its desire for a peaceful solution.
“Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.
Other than enforcing existing U.N. sanctions, “the international community must take additional measures to enhance maritime security, including the right to interdict maritime traffic” traveling to North Korea, Tillerson said in a statement.
China, North Korea’s lone major ally, expressed “grave concern” at the test, while calling for all sides to act cautiously.

U.S. EAST COAST IN RANGE?

The new Hwasong-15, named after the planet Mars, was a more advanced version of an ICBM tested twice in July, North Korea said. It was designed to carry a “super-large heavy warhead”.
Based on its trajectory and distance, the missile would have a range of more than 13,000 km (8,100 miles) - more than enough to reach Washington D.C. and the rest of the United States, the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists said.
However, it was unclear how heavy a payload the missile was carrying, and it was uncertain if it could carry a large nuclear warhead that far, the nonprofit science advocacy group added.
Minutes after the North fired the missile, South Korea’s military said it conducted a missile-firing test in response.
Moon said the launch had been anticipated. There was no choice but for countries to keep applying pressure, he added.
“The situation could get out of control if North Korea perfects its ICBM technology,” Moon said after a national security council meeting.
“North Korea shouldn’t miscalculate the situation and threaten South Korea with a nuclear weapon, which could elicit a possible pre-emptive strike by the United States.”
The test comes less than three months before South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics at a resort just 80 km (50 miles) from the heavily fortified border with the North.
North Korea has said its weapons programs are a necessary defense against U.S. plans to invade. The United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, denies any such intention.
Last week, North Korea denounced Trump’s decision to relist it as a state sponsor of terrorism, calling it a “serious provocation and violent infringement”.
Trump has traded insults and threats with Kim and warned in September that the United States would have no choice but to “totally destroy” North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies.
Reporting by Christine Kim and Soyoung Kim in Seoul, Linda Sieg, William Mallard, Timothy Kelly in Tokyo, Mark Hosenball, John Walcott, Steve Holland and Tim Ahmann, Makini Brice in Washington, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Michael Martina in Beijing; Writing by Yara Bayoumy, David Brunnstrom and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alistair Bell

New York Should Prepare for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

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By Kathryn Miles
For a city that seems to move at the speed of light, being late is never a good thing. That’s true for budget agreements, that’s true for commuter trains, and as it turns out, it’s probably true for earthquakes as well.
We tend to think of seismic activity as a west coast problem. Friday demonstrated all too well what a magnitude 8.2 earthquake can do to Mexico and Central America; many of us remember the World Series quake that rocked the San Francisco area in 1989. But New York, which is actually riddled with faults, has a long history of earthquakes: On average, the region has witnessed a moderate quake (about a 5.0 on the Richter scale) every hundred years. The last one was in 1884. Seismologists say we can expect the next one any day now.
Admittedly, a moderate quake isn’t going to cause Hollywood-level destruction, nor is it going to raze Manhattan. But it is going to do plenty of damage: upwards of $39 billion in losses and over 30 million tons of debris. That rubble, caused largely by crumbled brick and stone buildings, is going to clog already congested roads, making it impossible for first responders and public transportation to move about the city.
It may be equally difficult to travel below ground in some cases. Take the Steinway Tunnel, a 1.3-mile cast-iron tube that runs deep below the East River. The 7 train passes through it every 20 minutes, often packed with commuters or, this time of year, Mets fans. Construction on the tunnel began around the time of the last earthquake, long before seismic codes or even modern engineering practices had been codified. As a result, there are big craters and gaps where the tunnel lining isn’t actually in contact with the earth around it. In the event of a quake, that’s going to cause the tunnel to rattle around. And because the tunnel runs through both the soft mud of the riverbed and the hard bedrock on either side, different segments are going to rattle around at different speeds and frequencies. That’s doubly bad news for cast iron that was never in very good shape to begin with.

Modal Trigger
New York is vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups – those running northeast and those running northwest.Mike Guillen
There are more than a dozen tunnels like the Steinway connecting Manhattan to New Jersey and Long Island. They’re all at risk of serious damage in the event of a quake. Just how much of a risk we can’t say, because little has been done to evaluate their seismic soundness. Vince Tirolo, a longtime engineer for the transit authority who now serves as a private consultant and adjunct professor at Columbia University, has been sounding the alarm about these tunnels for years. He says he hasn’t received much of a response from the city. As research for my book, “Quakeland,” I contacted the MTA to ask for an interview with the person handling their emergency management and seismic assessment. I wanted to know why more wasn’t being done to fix these beleaguered tunnels or to assess their risk in the event of an earthquake. They told me they couldn’t accommodate my request. I asked why. Nine months later, I’m still waiting for a response.That doesn’t look good, particularly following the summer of hell, a season marked by delays, derailments and the revelation that both the MTA and the Port Authority have redirected monies towards ski resorts and ferry tickets, rather than shoring up tunnel infrastructure.
It’s doubly concerning given that those faults that crisscross Manhattan are not the only ones capable of seismic activity. Geologists now believe that the Ramapo Fault, which spans 185 miles from the Hudson Highlands through New Jersey and Pennsylvania, may be capable of a much stronger earthquake — maybe even one as strong as a 7.0.
That kind of quake could easily do more damage to the city proper than 9/11 or Superstorm Sandy. And given the fault’s proximity to Indian Point Energy Center, Entergy’s beleaguered nuclear power plant in Westchester County, crumpled brownstones and inactive subway tunnels may be the least of our concerns.
A few years ago, the United States Geological Survey conducted a seismic-risk assessment of all nuclear power plants. Excluding a few plants on the West Coast, Indian Point was deemed the plant with the greatest risk of core damage as a result of seismic activity, a dubious distinction for sure. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission required all US plants to undergo an extensive seismic evaluation, with an eye towards instituting additional safeguards and retrofits. Entergy was to submit their evaluation of Indian Point this year. Not only have they failed to do so, but they have also made a formal request of NRC that this requirement be waived altogether, citing the closure of the plant in 2021 as justification for this waiver.

Modal Trigger
Mike Guillen
Just how well the plant would perform in an earthquake remains a subject of debate amongst scientists and engineers. Klaus Jacob, a research scientist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, thinks even a 5.0 quake would raise safety concerns at the plant. A 7.0, he says, could easily do damage to the domes containing the reactors. Meanwhile, the siting of a large natural-gas pipeline near the plant has raised concerns with some nuclear insiders, who predict an explosion could create a Fukushima-like event there. Gas pipelines aren’t held to the same seismic standards as power plants, and they aren’t required to survive a seismic event. They also come with some of the same vulnerabilities seen in tunnels like the Steinway. Were this pipeline to rupture in an earthquake, it could cause a meltdown easily capable of billions of dollars of damage and the evacuation of millions of people.We don’t have to be left with these doomsday scenarios. While earthquakes will also remain the most powerful and least understood natural disasters, investing in infrastructure and emergency plans can make their eventuality a lot less costly, both in terms of human life and the national economy. For that to happen, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio will need to find a way to set aside their differences and agree on a funding package that shores up New York’s most vulnerable tubes and tunnels. The state will need to take a hard look at the real risk of pipelines like the one to be completed near Indian Point. And Congress, now back from its summer recess, will need to find a way to pass a budget that includes real investment in our national infrastructure.
These are matters that can’t wait. New York’s next earthquake may be late, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be pulling into the station soon.

NYC FAULT FACTS

Kathryn Miles is the author of “Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake” (Penguin), out now.
Map: Merguerian, Charles, 2015b, Review of New York City bedrock with a focus on brittle structures; p. 17-67 in Herman, G. C. and Macaoay Ferguson, S., eds., Geological Association of New Jersey Guidebook, Neotectonics of the New York Recess, 32nd Annual Conference and Field Trip, Lafayette College, Easton, PA, 214 p.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

More Problems at Indian Nuclear Point before the Sixth Seal

More problems with closing Indian PointMore problems with closing Indian PointMore problems with closing Indian PointMore problems with closing Indian Pointindian-point-cuomo

More problems with closing Indian Point

By Post Editorial Board

New Yorkers, especially in Westchester, just got another painful reminder of the cost of Gov. Cuomo’s foolish drive to shut the Indian Point nuclear power plant.
Last week, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-West­chester) introduced three bills to deal with some consequences — namely, the risks of storing spent fuel rods on-site and the loss of tax revenue to the local communities.
The bills would require that safety-related fines against the plant go to the communities. They would also speed up removal of the spent rods and bolster safety in the interim.
The loss of a major source of reliable power (Indian Point supplies 25 percent of the electricity for the city and its environs) is still the top concern here. But ending Indian Point’s tax payments also presents huge problems: The plant funds half Buchanan’s budget. Cortlandt and the Hendrick Hudson School District’s finances are at risk, too.
These communities face combined losses of some $32 million a year. Residents must worry about daunting tax hikes — even as many will lose their jobs if the plant closes as scheduled by 2021.
Lowey, who supports the shutdown, is grasping for ways to deal with the blowback. It’d be better to keep the plant open and preserve a pillar of the region’s economy — but that would mean facing down the hysterical fearmongers.

What We Already Knew About the Iran-Korea Alliance

Kim Yong-nam (left), North Korea's No. 2 political leader and head of its legislature, has been meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The length of a visit in August raised alarm bells in Washington. (Associated Press/File)

Fresh concern over possible Iran-North Korea nuclear links

The Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com
 
A series of high-level meetings between Iranian and North Korean officials has prompted fresh concern in U.S. national security circles about the depth of military and ballistic missile technology cooperation between the two American adversaries.
An analysis from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said U.S. intelligence has spotted Iranian defense officials in North Korea over the past year, raising the specter that Pyongyang and Tehran might be sharing certain military technological advances with each other.
The concern over collusion intensified with Tuesday’s ballistic missile launch by the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The 53-minute missile test, the first by Pyongyang in more than 2½ months, landed off the coast of Japan and may have traveled higher into space than any other North Korean missile, U.S. and South Korean military officials said.
At least one high-level North Korean visit to Iran has also taken place, according to the analysis published this week by the Washington Institute, which is known for its criticisms of the Iranian regime.
“In early August, Kim Yong-nam, North Korea’s No. 2 political leader and head of its legislature, departed Pyongyang amid great fanfare for an extended visit to Iran,” the report said. “The official reason was to attend the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani, but the length of the visit raised alarm bells in Washington and allied capitals.”
President Trump, in his Oct. 13 White House address announcing that he would no longer certify that Iran was living up to its commitments on the 2015 nuclear deal, hinted that his administration shared many of those concerns and was looking for proof.
“There are also many people who believe that Iran is dealing with North Korea,” Mr. Trump said in the speech detailing his new Iran policy. “I am going to instruct our intelligence agencies to do a thorough analysis and report back their findings beyond what they have already reviewed.”
The analysis stopped short of asserting that Iranian and North Korean officials are collaborating directly on nuclear weapons development, noting that the official position of the U.S. government and the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency remains that there is no conclusive evidence of such collaboration.
‘Covert contacts’
But the latest analysis suggests that the two nations are sharing ballistic missile and rocket technology. The analysis pointed to a series of “covert contacts,” with missile technicians from Iran’s Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group traveling last year to North Korea to help develop an 80-ton rocket booster for ballistic missiles.
“One of the company’s top officials, Sayyed Javad Musavi, has allegedly worked in tandem with the Korea Mining Development Trading Corp. (KOMID), which the United States and U.N. have sanctioned for being a central player in procuring equipment for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” it said.
In November 2010, a leaked U.S. government cable revealed that American intelligence officials believed Iran had obtained 19 advanced missiles from North Korea.
The classified cable was among several that WikiLeaks had made public. The New York Times subsequently reported that the missile intelligence suggested “far deeper military — and perhaps nuclear — cooperation between North Korea and Iran than was previously known.”
Following the signing of the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord — a deal strongly backed by the Obama administration that called for Iran to dramatically reduce its nuclear activities in exchange for international sanctions relief — skeptics predicted Iran might try to outsource activities to Pyongyang that Tehran was prohibited from doing under the agreement.
Then-CIA Director John O. Brennan acknowledged in 2015 that his agency was watching to see if Tehran would attempt to continue a clandestine nuclear program through a third nation, even as Iranian officials were pledging to disclose all activities to U.N. inspectors as part of the nuclear accord.
“We have to make sure that we’re doing whatever we can to uncover anything,” Mr. Brennan said at the time. “I’m not saying that something is afoot at all. What I’m saying is that we need to be attuned to all of the potential pathways to acquiring different types of [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities.”
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies, another Washington-based think tank critical of Iran’s government, said in a report last year that links between Iran and North Korea were deeper than commonly recognized and called on the U.S. government to do more to block companies that could be aiding the collaboration.
While the January 2016 report also said there was no proof of explicit nuclear cooperation between the two, it asserted that a host of unanswered questions remained over the extent to which Iran may be “outsourcing aspects of its nuclear weapons program” to North Korea.
“Signs of military and scientific cooperation between Iran and North Korea suggest that Pyongyang could have been involved in Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic-missile program, and that state-run trading companies may have assisted in critical aspects of Iran’s illicit nuclear-related activities,” the foundation’s report said.
The Washington Institute analysis was written by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon, who was fired from the newspaper in June following an Associated Press report citing suspected evidence of his involvement in prospective arms deals to foreign governments.
Mr. Solomon, who subsequently denied such involvement, is now a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute. He is also the author of “The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and Secret Deals That Reshaped the Middle East.”

The Sixth Seal Will Be On The East (Revelation 6:12)

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5V31Wpa9PMM/TlVaIyeam2I/AAAAAAAASUw/t0AfnylzR0Q/s1600/article-2029335-0D8C51AE00000578-806_634x348.jpgNew Evidence Shows Power of East Coast Earthquakes
Virginia Earthquake Triggered Landslides at Great Distances
Released: 11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM

Earthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.
U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.
“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”
“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”
This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.
This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.
The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.
“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”
It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.
In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2 from an earthquake of similar magnitude.
“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”
The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.
Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake.

World War 3 will NOT be with North Korea

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World War III Won’t Be Between a Nuclear North Korea and Trump

By Robert Kelly On 11/28/17 at 2:30 PM

One of the top stories of 2017 is the emergence of North Korea as a nuclear missile power. This was not a great surprise. North Korea has sought a nuclear weapon since at least the 1980s, and its program has been pretty serious since the early 1990s. Nevertheless, it always seemed that considerable hurdles—technical, logistical, financial, intellectual—stood in the way.
Now it appears North Korea can launch a missile all the way to North America, and President Donald Trump has elevated the issue to one of his chief priorities. He has used tough language against the North Koreans, at some points appearing to threaten a massive, possibly nuclear, strike. This has created much alarmism and paranoia that war is imminent. But there is little empirical indication that this is so. I live in South Korea, and while there is much rumor, there has been no new stationing here of major U.S. assets. The military aircraft units necessary for an airstrike are not moving in. The armada Trump threatened in the spring still has not arrived. Leaves of U.S. soldiers are not being canceled. Noncombatants are not being evacuated. In short, a glaring gap has opened between the reality in South Korea and Trump’s warlike rhetoric.
At some point, the Western media will catch on and begin to report despite the Trumpian bombast, war is unlikely. Indeed, the president recently passed up his best chance to lay the public opinion groundwork for a strike in a speech to the parliament of South Korea. South Korean cooperation, if not open support, is vital for any such strike. Many of the necessary military assets are there, and South Koreans would bear the brunt of any Northern retaliation. Yet Trump did not use the opportunity to lobby for war or even a limited airstrike. Instead, he promoted the decades-old U.S. effort to contain, deter, isolate and sanction the North. If Trump isn’t bothering to sell an attack to the South, then the likelihood, no matter what he says on Twitter, is that he will not strike.
11_28_nukes_01 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, on September 16. Washington has adapted to threats in the past, when the risk of action was outweighed by the possible consequences of a military strike. It must do so again. Reuters
The reason, after all the noise about how we cannot tolerate a nuclear North Korea, is that we can. For many years, the United States has put up with three other countries whom we deeply distrust—Russia, China and Pakistan—having nuclear weapons. Only once, in Cuba in 1962, did we consider blocking a nuclear expansion with military force. The result was the terrifying Cuban Missile Crisis. And while the U.S. arguably won that standoff, it so unnerved U.S. decision-makers, as well as the rest of the planet, that it never repeated the exercise. When China developed nuclear missiles in the 1960s and ’70s, we did not interfere, even though China was going through the tumult of the Cultural Revolution. Similarly, when Pakistan nuclearized in the 1990s, the U.S. did not intervene, even though Pakistan had, and still has, serious Islamic fundamentalism problems.
In each instance, a state in deep ideological opposition to the U.S.—Stalinist, Maoist and Islamic fundamentalist—acquired nuclear weapons and set off an anxious discussion in the U.S. about “fanatics” with the world’s worst weapons. Yet the alternatives were even worse. Airstrikes on China would have set the whole of East Asia ablaze; dropping Special Forces into Pakistan to hijack its weapons—an idea briefly considered—would have been a near-suicide mission; striking the “Islamic bomb” might have sparked a regional Muslim revolt. In all cases, U.S. officials found the risks of action outweighed by the risks of trying to manage the new status quo. In time, Washington adapted.
This is almost certainly what will happen with North Korea. Once again, “fanatics” have acquired the bomb, and nightmare scenarios of a nuclear war abound. Yet there is little indication that the North Koreans seek these weapons for offensive purposes. Striking the U.S. with a nuclear weapon would clearly lead to the North’s rapid destruction. The Northern elite are not suicidal. Instead, it appears that they wish to survive. Indeed, they have pointed out that if Saddam Hussein or Muammar el-Qaddafi had had nuclear weapons, they would be alive today.
11_28_nukes_03 Anti-Trump protesters hold up signs in front of police officers near the South Korean National Assembly where U.S. President Donald Trump was due to speak, in Seoul, South Korea, on November 8. Reuters
There are strike options, but the possible consequences, including a Sino-U.S. war and the regional use of nuclear weapons, are so dire that we have always demurred. The North has taken major provocative actions at least six times since 1968, and we have never struck back. The reasons then are the same as they are today: North Korea could devastate Seoul with conventional artillery in retaliation; North Korea has a defensive treaty with China; the North would immediately respond to any U.S. airstrike with human shields; North Korea has been tunneling in preparation for war for decades, requiring a U.S. air campaign so large it would effectively be a war—there is realistically no surgical strike option; now that North Korea has nuclear weapons, it could respond to U.S. action by using those weapons.
In brief, the risks associated with a U.S. strike on North Korea are high and have just gotten higher with the North’s progress on nuclear missiles. Just as we grudgingly learned to live with Soviet, Chinese and Pakistani nuclearization, I predict we will learn the same with North Korea—even if our leaders will not admit it publicly for some time.
Robert Kelly is a professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea.

The Indian Nuclear Horn

An Indian military fighter jet has launched a large missile that could be modified to carry a nuclear weapon, according to Indian Defense Ministry and information collected by The Diplomat.
For the Nov. 22 test the 2.5-ton missile was mounted on a Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jet and launched against a ship target in the Bay of Bengal, off the east coast of India.

Bay of Bengal. (Screenshot via Google Maps)
“The launch from the aircraft was smooth and the missile followed the desired trajectory before directly hitting the ship target,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The supersonic cruise missile travels at the speed of Mach 2.8 (2,100 mph) with a 250-mile range. No other air force in the world has successfully air-launched a missile of such a category, the ministry stated.
Indian air force (IAF) tested flying with the missile last year, but this is the first time it has been launched.
The milestone is all the more significant since it is rumored to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, if modified for such a purpose, The Diplomat reported, also noting “the Su-30MKIs would need to be retrofitted with hardened electronic circuitry to withstand the electromagnetic pulses of a nuclear blast.”
The Russian-developed Indian-made fighter jet already had to be modified to carry the large missile, including a strengthening of its undercarriage.
The missile itself, BrahMos-A developed jointly by India and Russia, had to be stripped of its booster to fit on the plane.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Babylon the Great Modernizes Her Nukes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama rode into office in 2009 with promises to work toward a nuclear-free world. His vow helped win him the Nobel Peace Prize that year.
The next year, while warning that Washington would retain the ability to retaliate against a nuclear strike, he promised that America would develop no new types of atomic weapons. Within 16 months of his inauguration, the United States and Russia negotiated the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as New START, meant to build trust and cut the risk of nuclear war. It limited each side to what the treaty counts as 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads.
By the time Obama left office in January 2017, the risk of Armageddon hadn’t receded. Instead, Washington was well along in a modernization programme that is making nearly all of its nuclear weapons more accurate and deadly.
And Russia was doing the same: Its weapons badly degraded from neglect after the Cold War, Moscow had begun its own modernization years earlier under President Vladimir Putin. It built new, more powerful ICBMs, and developed a series of tactical nuclear weapons.
The United States under Obama transformed its main hydrogen bomb into a guided smart weapon, made its submarine-launched nuclear missiles five times more accurate, and gave its land-based long-range missiles so many added features that the Air Force in 2012 described them as “basically new.” To deliver these more lethal weapons, military contractors are building fleets of new heavy bombers and submarines.
President Donald Trump has worked hard to undo much of Obama’s legacy, but he has embraced the modernization programme enthusiastically. Trump has ordered the Defence Department to complete a review of the U.S. nuclear arsenal by the end of this year.
Reuters reported in February that in a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump denounced the New START treaty and rejected Putin’s suggestion that talks begin about extending it once it expires in 2021.
Some former senior U.S. government officials, legislators and arms-control specialists – many of whom once backed a strong nuclear arsenal -- are now warning that the modernization push poses grave dangers.
"REALLY DANGEROUS THINKING"
They argue that the upgrades contradict the rationales for New START - to ratchet down the level of mistrust and reduce risk of intentional or accidental nuclear war. The latest improvements, they say, make the U.S. and Russian arsenals both more destructive and more tempting to deploy. The United States, for instance, has a “dial down” bomb that can be adjusted to act like a tactical weapon, and others are planned.
“The idea that we could somehow fine tune a nuclear conflict is really dangerous thinking,” says Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based think tank.
One leader of this group, William Perry, who served as defence secretary under President Bill Clinton, said recently in a Q&A on YouTube that “the danger of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War.”
Perry told Reuters that both the United States and Russia have upgraded their arsenals in ways that make the use of nuclear weapons likelier. The U.S. upgrade, he said, has occurred almost exclusively behind closed doors. “It is happening without any basic public discussion,” he said. “We’re just doing it.”
The cause of arms control got a publicity boost in October when the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a Geneva organization, won the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in getting the United Nations General Assembly in July to adopt a nuclear prohibition treaty. The United States, Russia and other nuclear powers boycotted the treaty negotiations.
The U.S. modernization programme has many supporters in addition to Trump, however. There is little or no pressure in Congress to scale it back. Backers argue that for the most part the United States is merely tweaking old weapons, not developing new ones.
Some say that beefed up weapons are a more effective deterrent, reducing the chance of war. Cherry Murray served until January as a top official at the Energy Department, which runs the U.S. warhead inventory. She said the reduction in nuclear weapon stockpiles under New START makes it imperative that Washington improve its arsenal.
During the Cold War, Murray said in an interview, the United States had so many missiles that if one didn’t work, the military could simply discard it. With the new limit of 1,550 warheads, every one counts, she said.
“When you get down to that number we better make sure they work,” she said. “And we better make sure our adversaries believe they work.”
An Obama spokesman said the former president would not comment for this story. The Russian embassy in Washington did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Asked about Trump’s view on the modernization programme, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council said the president’s goal is to create a nuclear force that is “modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.”
A BUDGET BUSTER?
The U.S. modernization effort is not coming cheap. This year the Congressional Budget Office estimated the programme will cost at least $1.25 trillion over 30 years. The amount could grow significantly, as the Pentagon has a history of major cost overruns on large acquisition projects.
As defence secretary under Obama, Leon Panetta backed modernization. Now he questions the price tag.
“We are in a new chapter of the Cold War with Putin,” he told Reuters in an interview, blaming the struggle’s resumption on the Russian president. Panetta says he doubts the United States will be able to fund the modernization programme. “We have defence, entitlements and taxes to deal with at the same time there are record deficits,” he said.
New START is leading to significant reductions in the two rival arsenals, a process that began with the disintegration of the USSR. But reduced numbers do not necessarily mean reduced danger.
In 1990, the year before the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States had more than 12,000 warheads and the Soviets just over 11,000, an August 2017 Congressional Research Service report says. Soon the two countries made precipitous cuts. The 1991 START treaty limited each to somewhat more than 6,000 warheads. By 2009 the number was down to about 2,200 deployed warheads.
Tom Collina, policy director of the Ploughshares Fund, an arms control group, says that both Moscow and Washington are on track to meet the 1,550 limit by the treaty’s 2018 deadline. The treaty, however, allows for fudging.
At Russia’s insistence, each bomber is counted as a single warhead, no matter how many nuclear bombs it carries or has ready for use. As a result, the real limit for each side is about 2,000. Collina says the United States currently has 1,740 deployed warheads, and Russia is believed to have a similar number. Each side also has thousands of warheads in storage and retired bombs and missiles awaiting dismantlement.
The declining inventories mask the technological improvements the two sides are making. There is a new arms race, based this time not on number of weapons but on increasing lethality, says William Potter, director of nonproliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.
“We are in a situation in which technological advances are outstripping arms control,” Potter says.
One example of an old weapon transformed into a more dangerous new one is America’s main hydrogen bomb. The Air Force has deployed the B61 bomb on heavy bombers since the mid-1960s. Until recently, the B61 was an old-fashioned gravity bomb, dropped by a plane and free-falling to its target.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE BOMB EVER
Now, the Air Force has transformed it into a controllable smart bomb. The new model has adjustable tail fins and a guidance system which lets bomber crews direct it to its target. Recent models of the bomb had already incorporated a unique “dial-down capacity”: The Air Force can adjust the explosion. The bomb can be set to use against enemy troops, with a 0.3 kiloton detonation, a tiny fraction of the Hiroshima bomb, or it can level cities with a 340-kiloton blast with 23 times the force of Hiroshima’s. Similar controls are planned for new cruise missiles.
The new B61 is the most expensive bomb ever built. At $20.8 million per bomb, each costs nearly one-third more than its weight in 24 karat gold. The estimated price of the planned total of 480 bombs is almost $10 billion.
Congress also has approved initial funding of $1.8 billion to build a completely new weapon, the “Long Range Stand-Off” cruise missile, at an estimated $17 billion total cost. The cruise missiles, too, will be launched from aircraft. But in contrast to stealth bombers dropping the new B61s directly over land, the cruise missiles will let bombers fly far out of range of enemy air defences and fire the missiles deep into enemy territory.
Obama’s nuclear modernization began diverging from his original vision early on, when Republican senators resisted his arms reduction strategy.
Former White House officials say Obama was determined to get the New START treaty ratified quickly. Aside from hoping to ratchet down nuclear tensions, he considered it vital to assure continued Russian cooperation in talks taking place at the time with Iran over that country’s nuclear programme. Obama also feared that if the Senate didn’t act by the end of its 2010 session, the accord might never pass, according to Gary Samore, who served four years as the Obama White House’s coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction.
Obama hit resistance from then-Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona. Kyl, the Senate’s minority whip, assembled enough Republicans to kill the treaty.
In e-mailed answers to questions, Kyl said he opposed the accord because Russia “cheats” on treaties and the United States lacks the means to verify and enforce compliance. Moscow’s deployment of new tactical weapons since 2014, he said, was a violation of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (Russia denies violating the treaty.) Kyl also faulted New START for omitting Russia’s large arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons for use on battlefields, a subject the Russians have refused to discuss.
But Kyl proved willing to let the treaty pass – for a price. In exchange for ratification, the White House would have to agree to massive modernization of the remaining U.S. weapons. Obama agreed, and the Senate passed the treaty on the last day of the 2010 session.
Samore, the former White House arms control coordinator, says Obama did not oppose taking steps to refurbish superannuated weapons. He just did not plan the costly decision to do it all at once, Samore said.
DESTABILISING THE STATUS QUO
While the number of warheads and launch vehicles is limited by the treaty, nothing in it forbids upgrading the weaponry or replacing older arms with completely new and deadlier ones. Details of the modernized weapons show that both are happening.
The upshot, according to former Obama advisers and outside arms-control specialists, is that the modernization destabilised the U.S.-Russia status quo, setting off a new arms race. Jon Wolfsthal, a former top advisor to Obama on arms control, said it is possible to have potentially devastating arms race even with a relatively small number of weapons.
The New START treaty limits the number of warheads and launch vehicles. But it says nothing about the design of the “delivery” methods – land- and submarine-based ballistic missiles, hydrogen bombs and cruise missiles. Thus both sides are increasing exponentially the killing power of these weapons, upgrading the delivery vehicles so that they are bigger, more accurate and equipped with dangerous new features – without increasing the number of warheads or vehicles.
The United States, according to an article in the March 1 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, has roughly tripled the “killing power” of its existing ballistic missile force.
The article’s lead author, Hans Kristensen, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project, said in an e-mail that he knows of no comparable estimate for Russia. He noted, however, that Russia is making its own extensive enhancements, including larger missiles and new launch vehicles. He said Russia also is devoting much effort to countering U.S. missile defence systems.
The U.S. modernization programme “has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the U.S. ballistic missile arsenal,” Kristensen wrote in the article. “This increase in capability is astonishing.”
Kristensen says the most alarming change is America’s newly refitted submarine-launched Trident II missiles. These have new “fuzing” devices, which use sensors to tell the warheads when to detonate. Kristensen says that for decades, Tridents had inaccurate fuzes. The missiles could make a direct hit on only about 20 percent of targets. With the new fuzes, “they all do,” he says.
Under New START, 14 of America’s Ohio Class subs carry 20 Tridents. Each Trident can be loaded with up to 12 warheads. (The United States has four additional Ohio subs that carry only conventional weapons.) The Trident II’s official range is 7,456 miles, nearly one-third the Earth’s circumference. Outside experts say the real range almost certainly is greater. Each of its main type of warhead produces a 475-kiloton blast, almost 32 times that of Hiroshima.
RUSSIA'S DIRTY DRONE
Russia, too, is hard at work making deadlier strategic weapons. Ploughshares estimates that both sides are working on at least two dozen new or enhanced strategic weapons.
Russia is building new ground-based missiles, including a super ICBM, the RS-28 Sarmat. The Russian missile has room for at least 10 warheads that can be aimed at separate targets. Russian state media has said that the missile could destroy areas as large as Texas or France. U.S. analysts say this is unlikely, but the weapon is nonetheless devastatingly powerful.
Russia’s new ICBMs have room to add additional warheads, in case the New START treaty expires or either side abrogates it. The United States by its own decision currently has only a single warhead in each of its ICBMS, but these too have room for more.
Russia has phased in a more accurate submarine-launched missile, the RSM-56 Bulava. While it is less precise than the new U.S. Tridents, it marks a significant improvement in reliability and accuracy over Russia’s previous sub-based missiles.
A Russian military official in 2015 disclosed a sort of doomsday weapon, taking the idea of a “dirty bomb” to a new level. Many U.S. analysts believe the disclosure was a bluff; others say they believe the weapon has been deployed.
The purported device is an unmanned submarine drone, able to cruise at a fast 56 knots and travel 6,200 miles. The concept of a dirty bomb, never used to date, is that terrorists would spread harmful radioactive material by detonating a conventional explosive such as dynamite. In the case of the Russian drone, a big amount of deadly radioactive material would be dispersed by a nuclear bomb.
The bomb would be heavily “salted” with radioactive cobalt, which emits deadly gamma rays for years. The explosion and wind would spread the cobalt for hundreds of miles, making much of the U.S. East Coast uninhabitable.
A documentary shown on Russian state TV said the drone is meant to create “areas of wide radioactive contamination that would be unsuitable for military, economic, or other activity for long periods of time.”
Reif of the Arms Control Association says that even if the concept is only on the drawing board, the device represents “really outlandish thinking” by the Russian government. “It makes no sense strategically,” he said, “and reflects a really egregiously twisted conception about what’s necessary for nuclear deterrence.”
(Reported by Scot Paltrow; edited by Michael Williams)

The Risk of Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Sebastien Roblin
Security, Asia

It would be awful.

A War Between India and Pakistan: Nuclear Weapons Could Fly (And Millions Die)
India possesses a smaller number of nuclear weapons, estimated in 2015 to range between ninety and 120. However, New Delhi recently acquired a full nuclear triad of air-, land- and sea-based nuclear platforms when it deployed its first home-produced nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant. The Arihant is capable of launching a dozen K-15 Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missiles. However, these are limited to a range of 750 kilometers, and are thus incapable of reaching the major inland cities of Pakistan or China, a shortcoming India is attempting to address with new K-4 missiles, derived form the land-based Agni-III. New Delhi intends to produce three more nuclear submarines over the years, while Pakistan is considering building one of their own.
While the United States is preoccupied by the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of potential adversaries such as Russia, China or North Korea, the danger of nuclear conflict may actually be greatest between two of its allies, Pakistan and India. The two nations have engaged in four wars starting since their partition along religious lines in 1947. A fifth could be drastically more costly, as their nuclear capabilities continue to grow and diversify
Several years ago I made the acquaintance of a Pakistani nuclear science student in China. Curious about the thinking behind his country’s nuclear program, I asked if he really believed there was a possibility that India would invade Pakistan. “There’s still a lot of old-school thinkers in the Congress Party that believe India and Pakistan should be united,” he told me.
I doubt there are many observers outside of Pakistan who believe India is plotting to invade and occupy the Muslim state, but a feeling of existential enmity persists. The third conflict between the two countries in 1971 established India’s superiority in conventional warfare—not unexpectedly, as India has several times Pakistan’s population.
The bone of contention has always been the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. At the time of partition, the predominantly Muslim state was politically divided over which nation to join. When Pakistani-allied tribesmen attempted to force the issue, the Hindu maharaja of the region chose to accede to India, leading to the first war between India and Pakistan. Ever since, the line of control between the Indian and Pakistan side has remained bitterly contested, with artillery and sniper fire routinely exchanged. Pakistan intelligence services have infiltrated insurgents and plotted attacks across the border for decades, and Indian security troops have been implicated in human-rights violations and killings of the locals as a result of their counterinsurgency operations.
Pakistan does have to fear the potential of an Indian counterstrike intended to retaliate for a terrorist attack by Pakistani-aligned groups, such as the killing of 166 in Mumbai by Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2008 or the attack on Indian parliament in 2001 by Jaish-e-Muhammad. In both cases, the attackers had ties with Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, and Islamabad has shown limited willingness or ability to crack down on these groups. Complicating matters, civilian control of the military is far from consolidated in Pakistan, and it would be quite possible for ISI or some other agency to carry out such activities on its own initiative without the knowledge or support of the head of state.
India’s military has formulated a “Cold Start” doctrine to enable its forward-deployed land forces to launch an armored assault into Pakistani territory on short notice in response to a perceived provocation from Islamabad. This new strategy was devised after the Indian Army’s armored strike corps took three weeks to deploy to the border after the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, by which time Pakistan had already mobilized its own troops.
Islamabad sees nuclear weapons as its deterrent against a conventional attack, and Cold Start in particular. This is demonstrated by its refusal to adhere to a “No First Use” policy. Pakistan has an extensive plutonium production capacity, and is estimated to possess 130 to 140 warheads, a total that may easily increase to 220 to 250 in a decade, according to a report by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
Many of the new weapons are smaller, short-range tactical weapons intended for targeting frontline troops. To enable a second-strike capability, Pakistan has also empowered local commanders to launch retaliatory nuclear strikes in case the chain of command is disrupted.
While battlefield nuclear weapons are less likely to cause the mass civilian casualties that a strike against a densely populated city would produce, they are deeply worrying in their own way: a state may be more tempted to employ tactical nuclear weapons, and perceive doing so as being intrinsically less risky. However, many simulations of nuclear war suggest that tactical-nuclear-weapon usage rapidly escalates to strategic weapons.
Furthermore, tactical nuclear weapons are necessarily more dispersed, and thus less secure than those stationed in permanent facilities. These issues led the U.S. Army to at first reorganize its tactical nuclear forces in the 1960s, and largely abandon them after the end of the Cold War.
Pakistan fields nearly a dozen different types of missiles to facilitate this strategy, developed with Chinese and North Korean assistance. Ground based tactical systems include the Hatf I, an unguided ground-based rocket with a range of one hundred kilometers, and the Nasr Hatf IX, which can be mounted on mobile quad-launchers. Longer reach is provided by Ghauri II and Shaheen II medium-range ballistic missiles, which can strike targets up to around 1,600 and 2,500 kilometers, respectively.
The Pakistani Air Force’s American-made F-16 fighters are also believed to have been modified to deploy nuclear weapons. The older F-16As and Bs of the Thirty-Eighth Fighter Wing and the newer Cs and Ds of the Thirty-Ninth are both believed to be based near nuclear-weapon storage facilities. The PAF’s five squadrons of Mirage IIIs, based in Karachi and Shorkot, meanwhile, have been modified to launch the domestically-produced Ra’ad nuclear Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), with a range of 350 kilometers. New JF-17 fighters jointly produced with China are also thought to be capable of carrying the Ra’ad ALCM.
The Pakistani Navy lacks a nuclear strike capability, but appears interested in acquiring one. In January of this year, it released a video claiming to show a test launch of a Babur-3 submarine-launched cruise missile. The domestically produced Babur is similar to the Tomahawk, and designed to approach its target at low altitude to avoid detection. Pakistan already possesses land-based TEL vehicles to deploy the nuclear-capable weapon.
Reflecting its superior conventional abilities, India does adhere to a “No First Use” nuclear weapons policy. Its security posture is also complicated by long lasting tensions with China, dating back to a border war in 1962 in which Beijing seized territory in the Himalayas. Today, China is closely allied economically and militarily with Pakistan, and even has a naval base in Gwadar as part of a strategy to envelop India. India, by contrast, continues to receive much of its weaponry from Russia, but does not enjoy the same kind of military alliance. It has instead dramatically expanded civilian nuclear cooperation with the United States and other nations in the last decades.
India possesses a smaller number of nuclear weapons, estimated in 2015 to range between ninety and 120. However, New Delhi recently acquired a full nuclear triad of air-, land- and sea-based nuclear platforms when it deployed its first home-produced nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant. The Arihant is capable of launching a dozen K-15 Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missiles. However, these are limited to a range of 750 kilometers, and are thus incapable of reaching the major inland cities of Pakistan or China, a shortcoming India is attempting to address with new K-4 missiles, derived form the land-based Agni-III. New Delhi intends to produce three more nuclear submarines over the years, while Pakistan is considering building one of their own.
India’s chief nuclear arm is thought to lay in its Mirage 2000H and Jaguar fighter-bombers, which can carry nuclear gravity bombs. In 2016, India signed a contract for thirty-six nuclear-capable fourth-generation Rafale fighters from France, further enhancing its aerial striking power. India has also modified its Su-30 fighter-bombers to carry the BrahMos cruise missiles with a range of five hundred kilometers. These could theoretically carry nuclear warheads, though none are believed to have been so equipped so far.
India also has its own array of ground-based nuclear ballistic missiles. The most numerous are slow-firing Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles. Twenty mobile Agni-1 ballistic missiles with a range of seven hundred kilometers are also deployed along the border with Pakistan, while ten heavier Agni-II systems with a range of two thousand kilometers are situated in the northwest for potential strikes on China. India also possesses a small number of rapid-deploying Agni III missiles with a range of 3,500 kilometers, and is developing an Agni IV MRBM and Agni VI ICBM with sufficient range to hit Chinese cities on the Pacific coast.
If there is any silver lining to this steady escalation in nuclear firepower, it’s that neither India nor Pakistan appears to possess chemical or biological weapons. (India completed the destruction of its stock of mustard gas in 2009.) However, the potential for catastrophic loss of human life if nuclear warheads rain down on the cities of the Indian subcontinent is self-evident.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif showed goodwill in a surprise meeting in 2015. Unfortunately, neither state appears capable of shaking out of its intractable pattern of conflict, driven by domestic political forces, which makes diplomatic accommodation difficult. The struggle for Kashmir occupies an important part of Pakistani national identity, and there has yet to be a civilian head of state in Islamabad with the will and authority to bring an end to cross-border infiltration and support for terrorist or insurgent fighters. For its part, the Indian Army has failed to respect local Kashmiri leaders and significantly improve its human-rights record.
In 2016 the killing of Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani led to an outbreak of domestic civil unrest in Kashmir that resulted in dozens of civilian deaths. After attackers killed seventeen Indian Army troops in Uri on September 18, the Indian army launched a cross-border raid under murky circumstances ten days later, followed by heavy exchanges of artillery and sniper fire in October and November that killed or injured dozens of civilians and soldiers on both sides of the Line of Control.
The United States sits awkwardly astride the two states. During the Cold War, the United States tilted in favor of Pakistan due to India’s good relations with the Soviet Union. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, against the advice of the State Department, even dispatched a carrier task force in a futile attempt to dissuade India from its support of Bengali independence fighters. However, in recent decades, U.S. diplomacy has moved gradually in favor of democratic India, both due to its potential as a future superpower and its role as a counterbalance to Chinese influence. The role played by President Clinton in helping negotiate the end of the Kargil conflict in 1999 stood as a key turning point in the region—and marked one of the most dangerous confrontations in recent history, as it two nuclear-armed states were at risk of entering into full-scale conflict.
U.S. relations with Pakistan, meanwhile, have worsened despite a continuing flow of American arms for the Pakistani military. This mutual distrust is due to the presence of Islamic militant groups on Pakistani soil and U.S. drone strikes targeting them. Washington and Islamabad have genuinely diverging interests in regards to Afghanistan, the latter desiring to control Afghanistan out of fear that it might otherwise fall under Indian influence. Pakistan, however, can fall back on its relations with China if the U.S. alliance collapses, leading to a complicated diplomatic balancing act.
Despite diverging political agendas on the Indian subcontinent, there should be a common interest in limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the likelihood of nuclear war. Growing arsenals in India and Pakistan serve to increase the catastrophic human cost of a potential conflict between the too, without evidently decreasing the frequency of inflammatory episodes of violence that spike tensions between the nuclear-armed states.
India and Pakistan will of course retain their nuclear arms, and continue to see them as vital deterrents to attack. However, for such policies to remain tenable in the long run, the longtime adversaries must seek to bring an end to a pattern of recurring conflict that is entering its seventh decade this year.
S├ębastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.
This first appeared in the Summer.

The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Rev 6:12)

 
Retired Admiral Mike Mullen says use of Nuclear force in North Korea is more likely than it used to be. He told ABC This Week, “I think it’s more probable than it used to be, and it scares me to death quite frankly." Buzz60

Vern Miyagi, administrator for the state emergency management agency, said the sirens blasting across the islands would notify the public to "get inside, stay inside and stay tuned" for more information.
Miyagi likened the warnings to Bert the Turtle, a cartoon character from the 1950s used to warn Americans to "duck and cover" in the event of a nuclear attack. The increased threat from North Korea is the reason behind the warnings, he said.
"If anybody told me four or five months ago we would be doing this I would have said you are crazy," Miyagi said. "But stuff happens."
The signal test will take place Friday and the first business day of each month after that. The test will take place in conjunction with a general siren warning, a more steady tone, that already takes place each month.
The state is also broadcasting public service announcements and conducting community meetings aimed at educating the public. Miyagi said Hawaiians should have two weeks of provisions stored in their homes, just in case of an attack or a natural disaster.
He acknowledged that state officials do not consider an attack likely but said all have heard the unrelenting threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Kim and President Trump have swapped insults and threats since Trump assumed the presidency. Trump has threatened "fire and fury," and during a tour of Asia this month urged U.S. troops to be prepared for conflict.
“We dominate the sky, we dominate the sea, we dominate the land and space,” he said.
New York and Washington, D.C., are almost 7,000 miles from Pyongyang. Honolulu is about 4,600 miles. Closer quarters make Hawaii more vulnerable, but Miyagi dismissed the opinion of many Hawaiians that a nuclear attack would be so devastating that it's not worth planning for recovery.
"The models as far as casualties, we're talking about 10%," Miyagi said. "It's not pretty, (but) I'm going to tell the 90% survivors that we stopped planning because you guys were all supposed to die?
"There is an impact, and there is a whole bunch of stuff after," he said. "That is why we are preparing."

Hawaii Preparing for Nuclear Attack

 
Retired Admiral Mike Mullen says use of Nuclear force in North Korea is more likely than it used to be. He told ABC This Week, “I think it’s more probable than it used to be, and it scares me to death quite frankly." Buzz60

Vern Miyagi, administrator for the state emergency management agency, said the sirens blasting across the islands would notify the public to "get inside, stay inside and stay tuned" for more information.
Miyagi likened the warnings to Bert the Turtle, a cartoon character from the 1950s used to warn Americans to "duck and cover" in the event of a nuclear attack. The increased threat from North Korea is the reason behind the warnings, he said.
"If anybody told me four or five months ago we would be doing this I would have said you are crazy," Miyagi said. "But stuff happens."
The signal test will take place Friday and the first business day of each month after that. The test will take place in conjunction with a general siren warning, a more steady tone, that already takes place each month.
The state is also broadcasting public service announcements and conducting community meetings aimed at educating the public. Miyagi said Hawaiians should have two weeks of provisions stored in their homes, just in case of an attack or a natural disaster.
He acknowledged that state officials do not consider an attack likely but said all have heard the unrelenting threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Kim and President Trump have swapped insults and threats since Trump assumed the presidency. Trump has threatened "fire and fury," and during a tour of Asia this month urged U.S. troops to be prepared for conflict.
“We dominate the sky, we dominate the sea, we dominate the land and space,” he said.
New York and Washington, D.C., are almost 7,000 miles from Pyongyang. Honolulu is about 4,600 miles. Closer quarters make Hawaii more vulnerable, but Miyagi dismissed the opinion of many Hawaiians that a nuclear attack would be so devastating that it's not worth planning for recovery.
"The models as far as casualties, we're talking about 10%," Miyagi said. "It's not pretty, (but) I'm going to tell the 90% survivors that we stopped planning because you guys were all supposed to die?
"There is an impact, and there is a whole bunch of stuff after," he said. "That is why we are preparing."