Why Putin will soon have to nuke Ukraine: Revelation 16

Russia Ukraine War Nuclear Threats Explainer

Why Putin will soon have to choose between losing in Ukraine or using nuclear weapons

September 29, 2022 01:55 PM

Tom Rogan, National Security Writer & Online Editor

Ukraine has both the political and popular resolve to liberate its territory. Thanks to the United States, Britain, Poland, mand the Baltic states , Kyiv also has the economic and military means to believe it can achieve its ambition. In contrast, it is increasingly clear that Russia lacks the popular resolve to endure a bloody war. Equally important, Russia lacks the economic and military means to conduct a drawn-out war.

In the coming months, Vladimir Putin will thus be forced into one of two choices. He can end the war by ceding back those areas of Ukraine that his forces occupy. (Ukraine might allow Putin to keep at least some of Crimea under any ceasefire agreement.) Alternatively, Putin can escalate by using nuclear weapons in an attempt to end continued Western support for Kyiv and pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky into a Russian-favorable ceasefire.

What Putin cannot do, however, is continue to wage war in a conventional fashion.

Top line: Putin’s draft of at least 300,000 conscripts — possibly to rise to more than 1 million — cannot reverse his recent record of battlefield losses. That’s because those losses are not the result of manpower shortages per se, though that is a factor. Rather, Putin’s central problem is that his military lacks credible leadership and professionalism and is beset by low morale and terrible logistics . The scale of this challenge is underlined by the inability of Russian forces to conduct even orderly ground retreats, let alone combined arms offensives. As in eastern Ukraine, this has opened Russian lines to high-mobility Ukrainian flanking attacks, which enable Ukraine to retake vast areas of territory while forcing rolling Russian surrenders and abandonment of priceless equipment.

Putin’s logistics problem is only set to grow. Russia, after all, is rapidly depleting its stocks of artillery, missiles, bombs, and other weapons. This is to say nothing of the thousands of Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers, electronic warfare vehicles, air defense systems, and aircraft that Ukraine has captured or destroyed. The Kremlin is desperately attempting to hide this military supply chain crisis, but Western intelligence services are convinced that it is critical. Indeed, one need only look at leaked videos on social media that show Russian conscripts issued archaic rifles being told to bring their own sleeping bags to war. One need only look at the increasingly desperate calls by top Kremlin officials to bolster military production. One need only look at the increasingly ludicrous, if escalatory, rhetoric on Russian state media.

Furthermore, there is Russia’s economy. Sanctions and the voluntary dislocation of foreign investors have smashed Russia’s economic foundations. Putin’s oligarchs are retreating at home and abroad, transitioning from London fine dining to variable window jumping. Russia’s energy, finance, and export industries are in crisis. Inflation remains higher than in the U.S., the importation of high-value goods is increasingly difficult, and structural inefficiencies such as weak infrastructure and corruption are only worsening. Europe is gradually weaning itself off Russian gas and oil, although Viktor Orban’s support , a new Italian government skeptical of sanctions, and the approaching European winter offer Putin a shot at dividing the West.

All of this means that Russia has reached or will soon reach a point where it can no longer launch major combined arms offensives. And those offensives are the only military means by which Russia can restrain Ukraine’s battlefield momentum and eventually win this war. Putin’s only conventional military alternative is to use his new conscripts as cannon fodder, forcing Ukraine to spread its forces thin and expend resources managing operations across a vast front — except the Russian people do not see the war in Ukraine as their president would have them see it. That is to say, as an heir to the existential “Great Patriotic War” against the Nazis, a war deserving of selfless sacrifice. Many Russians still support Putin’s presidency , but far fewer want to fight in Ukraine.

Take the widespread protests against mobilization. Evincing its growing concern, the Kremlin has issued rare apologies for mistakes made during the draft’s rollout. A growing number of middle-class professions are also being granted exemptions from service. But that poses its own Catch-22: increasing pressure on Russia’s rural hinterland and ethnic minority populations to make up the manpower difference. As the nonprofessional soldiers’ body bags start coming home, the Kremlin risks new political instability in its far-flung oblasts (an enduring cause for Kremlin paranoia).

This leaves Putin with his literal nuclear option: launching an unprecedented strike on Ukraine to regain the strategic initiative. Russian nuclear doctrine and Putin’s unavoidably personal-political link to this war mean that such a strike cannot be ruled out. Certainly, Russia’s formal absorption of Ukrainian territory, as effected via fixed referenda this week, is partly designed to provide political justification for the “defensive” use of nuclear weapons. But it’s not that simple. Using nuclear weapons would mean near-total global isolation and suffocating sanctions (for one example, China would likely break with Russia in fear of losing any influence with Europe ). Putin must also contemplate possible direct Western military intervention as the cost of a nuclear attack — but with the attack offering no appreciable battlefield shift to Russia’s favor. And Putin’s generals might reject such an order , instead deposing their commander in chief.

Put another way, Putin has a problem.

Here’s What Will Happen When Putin Orders A Nuclear Strike In Ukraine

Putin Views Russian Arms On Display At Expo
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons in defense of Russian … [+]GETTY IMAGES

Here’s What Would Happen If Putin Ordered A Nuclear Strike In Ukraine

Robert Hart

Sep 30, 2022,08:36am EDT


Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed four occupied Ukrainian regions on Friday and has vowed to defend Russian territory by any means necessary, including using nuclear weapons, a drastic escalation that has sparked global outrage and ignited fears of a potential nuclear war.


While it’s hard to predict the specific details of a Russian nuclear strike in Ukraine, experts told Forbes that Moscow would most likely deploy tactical nuclear weapons— short-range devices designed for use on the battlefield—against troops or to destroy a logistics hub.

Tactical nuclear weapons are much smaller than the strategic long-range warheads designed to destroy cities, but power is relative—the largest tactical weapons can be as big as 100 kilotons (1 kiloton equals 1,000 tons of TNT)—the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima was 15 kilotons—and Dr. Rod Thornton, a security expert at King’s College London, told Forbes they can still be devastating.

Putin would be highly unlikely to target a Ukrainian city in an initial strike and would possibly avoid casualties altogether, Thornton said, explaining that a nuclear attack would mostly be a symbolic “signaling device” for Moscow to show it is serious and is willing to defend itself.

Predicting possible targets is difficult, Thornton said, though he floated Snake Island, a Black Sea outpost taken by Russia early in the war that has since been retaken and become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, as one Putin could have in mind.

The impact of a nuclear strike depends a lot on what type of weapon is used, how and where it is used and the conditions at the time, but even a low yield nuclear bomb could have far-reaching consequences, with radiation from the blast causing long-term health problems for survivors and radioactive fallout contaminating the environment and possibly drifting across Europe and Asia.

Radioactive fallout is a poor way to make the kind of statement Russia would want to make and could possibly backfire by drifting over Russia or unite people or nations against them, Thornton said, adding that Moscow would probably use a weapon designed to minimize fallout.

“On many fronts, Putin is under pressure,” Thornton told Forbes, pointing to losses in Ukraine, protests at home over mobilization and continued international opposition. “The more desperate Putin becomes, the more he’s pushed on the back foot, the more likely it becomes that a nuclear weapon is used,” he added. Choosing to use a nuclear weapon could pose new problems for Putin at home, Thornton said, and possibly spark opposition from the military or other key figures unwilling to escalate matters and possibly push NATO into directly supporting Ukraine.


Putin formally annexed four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine on Friday. The Kremlin says Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia backed joining Russia in a string of referendums held this week. The votes were widely viewed as a clear pretext for annexation and they have been widely denounced as an illegitimate “sham”, including by long standing allies of Moscow like Kazakhstan. UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday condemned Putin’s plans to annex the regions as a flagrant violation of international law and a “dangerous escalation.” The move follows Putin’s decision to order an immediate “partial mobilization” of Russian forces last week to shore up the flagging invasion, which triggered angry protests across the country and an exodus of people fleeing to neighboring countries to escape possible conscription. Putin said Moscow would defend its territory—which it says now includes the annexed regions—using all means at its disposal, including with nuclear weapons. Though he has threatened the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine many times before, Putin insisted he was not bluffing and other nations are treating the threat seriously.


Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president and now the deputy chair of the country’s security council, has said the U.S. and its NATO allies are too afraid of a “nuclear apocalypse” to directly intervene in Ukraine, even if Moscow used nuclear weapons. It’s not clear how the rest of the world might respond. Putin’s comments have prompted India and China to break their long silence on the war in Ukraine and voice concern. NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg warned of “severe consequences” for Russia if it uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine, echoing private warnings of “catastrophic consequences” from Washington. A retaliatory nuclear strike is possible but would mark a dramatic and dangerous escalation. More likely is a “devastating” NATO response using conventional weapons, said Zbigniew Rau, Poland’s foreign minister.


A Russian nuclear attack would be unlikely to take the West completely by surprise, Thornton told Forbes. There would probably be a lot of “background noise” and “signals chatter” between various government and defense agencies that would be picked up by Western listening stations if Russia was planning to go nuclear, he explained. If the West did pick up on signals pointing towards a nuclear attack, Thornton said there would be a “massive increase in the diplomatic pressure put on Russia” to change course. There would also be significant diplomatic pressure on countries like China and India to take a stronger stance against Russia, he added, which could have more sway given Moscow’s reliance on them for energy exports.


5,977. That’s how many nuclear warheads Russia has, according to an estimate by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). Around 1,500 are retired and due to be dismantled, the organization says. Most of the remaining warheads are strategic—larger weapons that can be used over long distances—and the rest are smaller tactical weapons. Russia is believed to have more nuclear weapons than any other country. It is followed by the U.S., which has an estimated 5,428 warheads, according to FAS, and the two together have approximately 90% of all nuclear warheads. Seven other countries are known or widely believed to possess nuclear weapons: China (350), France (290), the U.K. (225), Pakistan (165), India (160), Israel (90) and North Korea (20).

Why is the China Horn Suddenly Expanding its Nuclear Arsenal? Daniel 7

Why is China Suddenly Expanding its Nuclear Arsenal?

 Mark Leon Goldberg September 25, 2022

China first tested a nuclear weapon in 1964. And since then, Chinese authorites have been content with a relatively small nuclear arsenal.

That was, until very recently. There is now mounting evidence that China is substantially expanding its nuclear capabilities.

In this episode, we speak with Tong Zhou, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a Visiting Researcher at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, to explain what is driving Chinese nuclear strategy.

We kick off with a brief history of China’s nuclear weapons program before having an in depth discussion about the intentions and motivations behind China’s expanding nuclear arsenal. We also discuss what steps China’s main rival, the United States, could take to assuage at least some of the concerns driving Chinese nuclear strategy.

Russian horn’s nuclear threats are not a bluff: Revelation 16

Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin looking at each other while it's snowing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. 

Russia’s former president said nuclear threats are not a bluff, and that NATO won’t step in if Russia nukes Ukraine

Sep 27, 2022, 7:29 AM 

  • A top Russian official repeated Russia’s nuclear threats, saying it “isn’t a bluff.”
  • Dmitry Medvedev said NATO countries wouldn’t step in if Russia fired a nuke on Ukraine.
  • One expert told Insider it likely is a bluff — but it should be taken seriously anyway. 

Russia’s former president repeated the country’s threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and mocked NATO by saying it would not come to Ukraine’s aid if Russia struck. 

Dmitry Medvedev, who is now Russia’s Security Council chief, took aim at US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, and the wider NATO alliance on Telegram early Tuesday.

He said those leaders “constantly threaten us with ‘terrifying consequences’ if Russia uses nuclear weapons,” and accused Truss of being “completely ready to immediately begin an exchange of nuclear strikes with our country.”

Medvedev said Russia’s laws around the use of nuclear weapons mean it can retaliate with them if it is hit with nukes, or if it is attacked with conventional weapons that threaten “the very existence of our state.”

Russia will also “do anything” to prevent the nuclear weapons emerging in the country’s “hostile neighbors” such as Ukraine, Medvedev said. 

“If the threat to Russia exceeds the established danger limit, we will have to respond,” he said. “Without asking anyone’s permission, without long consultations. And it’s definitely not a bluff.”

And if Russia did strike Ukraine with a nuclear weapon, NATO member states will put their own security ahead of protecting “a dying Ukraine that no one needs,” Medvedev said. 

An isolated Russia

Security expert Professor Michael Clarke told Insider he believes Putin using a nuclear weapon “would bring him down immediately.”

“The whole world would turn against him,” he said, arguing that he believed NATO would hit back, albeit with conventional weapons. China would likely drop its muted support for Russia also, he predicted. 

Clarke, associate director of the Strategy and Security Institute at the UK’s University of Exeter, said: “I think there would be an immediate upping of the campaign, and I suspect that would actually bring Western forces into Ukraine.” 

Medvedev’s remarks come as Russia moves to annex large parts of occupied Ukraine through sham referendums.

Should President Vladimir Putin announce annexations — expected this Friday, per the UK’s Ministry of Defence — any attempt to re-take those areas may be interpreted in Moscow as an attack on Russia itself.

Reminding the world about Russia’s nuclear arsenal is nothing new among Putin and his allies. He alluded to it in February, and in March Medvedev re-asserted Russia’s stated right to use nukes.

But a recent spate of statements like these is “trying to ramp up the threat” and scare the West away from further support of Ukraine because Putin is “in a corner,” Clarke argued.

Putin’s recent announcement calling up reservists has been viewed internationally as a desperate act spurred by Ukraine’s successful counter-attack.

Putin has recently been snubbed even by semi-allies such as Turkey, India and China.

Clarke said Putin was “humiliated.”

Is Putin bluffing?

After Putin’s latest statement, the White House warned Russia would face “catastrophic consequences” if it used tactical nuclear weapons.

In an interview aired on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he didn’t think Putin was bluffing. 

Clarke said he believes Russia’s threats are indeed a bluff — but that the West must still take them seriously.

“Even when people are bluffing, they find themselves running out of room to maneuver and then get locked into doing what they thought they wouldn’t have to do,” he said. 

He added: “Whenever you start to play games with nuclear strategy, the danger of a mistake or sheer miscalculation can never be ruled out. So yes, the West has got to take it seriously.”

The defense minister of Russia neighbor Latvia also told Insider he believes Putin is likely bluffing in the hopes of getting West to reduce its support for Ukraine.

Did Trump Nuclearize the Saudi Horn: Daniel 7

Trump, Classified Nuclear Files, Saudis: What We Do Know, What We Don’t

By Tom Norton On 8/12/22 at 3:10 PM EDT

Claims that FBI agents who searched Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago estate were looking for classified documents concerning nuclear weapons have heated up speculation about the bureau’s extraordinary investigation into the former president.

A Washington Post story, which relied on unnamed sources, followed earlier statements published in Newsweek that agents were seeking “national defense information,”according to two senior government officials.

Meanwhile, an exclusive report by Newsweekcited sources in the U.S. intelligence communitythat said the top secret materials could contain documents dealing with intelligence sources and methods—”including human sources on the American government payroll.”The search warrant issued to Donald Trump to search his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida is expected to be unsealed. Above, Trump greets supporters during a rally on August 5 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.Scott Olson/Getty Images

Regardless, after the FBI raided the former president’s Florida residence on Monday, it has remained tight-lipped about its investigation.

That may be about to change, with details of the warrant expected to be released later on Friday, after Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday the Department of Justice (DOJ) was seeking to unseal it.

In the days following the raid, Trump has urged the DOJ to release the warrant immediately, even though he has refused to do so himself.

Whether the DOJ does release the warrant—and whether other revelations come out—Newsweekhas investigated what information could be revealed, Trump’s history on nuclear technology and the protocol surrounding the FBI search.

According to former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi, Trump would have received a search warrant with “the list of the statute or statutes that they’re looking at” and a list of items that were taken from Mar-a-Lago.

He said: “He’s been given a copy, it’s not sealed, there’s no court order that says you can’t divulge it. Donald Trump has the absolute right to tell the whole world what the documents say. So he could do that right now.”

However, Rossi said, there could be implications if he released the warrant, the list of seizures or both.

“It could hurt Trump politically [if he released the list of seizures] because the public would then know what was taken from his house and there could be incriminating items,” he said.

“The first page in a warrant could list more than one statute that they think was violated, and that could include, possibly, insurrection, rebellion, obstruction of a congressional proceeding. It could be a lot of things other than just a records violation.

“So politically, that’s probably why he hasn’t done it now,” Rossi said.

He continued, “Legally, if it’s unsealed and exposed to the world, in the event that he is charged, and we don’t know yet, but if he is ever charged, it could affect the jury pool when he goes to trial.

“Potential jurors will read in the paper that they executed a search warrant on his home, they see certain individual items. That can be all prejudicial in the minds of potential jurors.

“And the other thing is, although embarrassment doesn’t seem to be something that he is always concerned about, it’s embarrassing to let the world know exactly what they took out of your house,” Rossi said.Donald Trump leaves Manhattan’s Trump Tower to meet with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawyers for a deposition on Wednesday.James Devaney/GETTY

The search warrant itself would have little information on it, with a list of the statute or statutes and the date when the warrant was approved.

Rossi said that a judge could still publish these documents “even if Trump doesn’t agree.”

The speculation that Trump may have withheld documents relating to nuclear secrets appeared to raise questions about his administration’s links to the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

In 2019, Senate Democrats said the administration had approved the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia on at least two occasions following the killing of U.S. resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly at the hands of a Saudi-linked kill squad, in Turkey.

These transfers were not revealed to Congressby Trump Cabinet officials until months after they took place.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has accepted responsibility for the killing of Khashoggi (although he says he was not directly to blame), said in March 2018 that the kingdom would create a nuclear weapon to counter a perceived nuclear threat from Iran.

Republican staff of the House Oversight Committee said in July 2019 that there was no wrongdoing in the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

Democrats previously alleged the Trump administration may have broken federal laws and guidelines in its numerous transfers of U.S. nuclear technology to the Middle Eastern country and was “rushing” the transactions.President Donald Trump holds up a chart of military hardware sales as he meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office on March 20, 2018.Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images/Getty

A GOP report concluded that the Trump White House was “not rushing nuclear energy technology to Saudi Arabia,” “not conflicted from deliberations to transfer nuclear energy technology to Saudi Arabia,” and has “not skirted requirements for congressional notification about nuclear energy technology transfers to Saudi Arabia.”

Trump’s links to the Saudi elite were reestablished—and came under scrutiny—recently when he held the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

This was not the only major decision on nuclear technology or armaments that Trump is connected to. There was also the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which Trump pulled the United States out of during his time in office.

The INF, signed in 1987 by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan, banned missiles with ranges of between 310 and 3,400 miles.

Before the withdrawal from the INF, Russia said it had plans to launch 4,000 war games in preparation.

Addressing the U.S. withdrawal, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “I think it was a mistake…and that they could have gone a different path.”

He added, “I do understand the U.S. concerns. While other countries are free to enhance their defenses, Russia and the U.S. have tied their own hands with this treaty. However, I still believe it was not worth ruining the deal. I believe there were other ways out of the situation.”

Trump followed up by saying that Putin should back a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) to restrict a nuclear arms race.

An extension to START was later approved by President Joe Biden. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump shake hands before a meeting in Helsinki on July 16, 2018.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Crucially, however, the details of the search warrant would not have information about whether the FBI’s search was related to security risks surrounding nuclear weapons. That information would be contained in the affidavit that accompanied the warrant, which is likely to remain sealed for some time.

Rossi told Newsweek that if Trump faces a trial following the search, the court would likely unseal the affidavit “because before trial…he would have the opportunity to move to suppress the search warrant because it violated the Fourth Amendment.”

According to a Cornell Law School article, the Fourth Amendment “originally enforced the notion that ‘each man’s home is his castle,’ secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government.” It also “protects against arbitrary arrests and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance.”

Rossi said, “Even then, the judge may say, I’m going to unseal it only for the purpose of allowing the defendant to file a motion to suppress the search warrant, and he may issue a protective order even then, to prevent disclosure to the public.”

Backlash against the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago has led many Trump supporters to question whether the bureau’s actions were too heavy-handed or even warranted.

Notwithstanding that no details of the search have been formally revealed, Rossi said that if there were fears that the former president had material that could threaten national security, authorities would “probably” need less probable cause to get a search warrant.

“I would suspect that if they had reason to believe that he was continuing to withhold, allegedly, nuclear secrets, military secrets, I think a judge would have an easier time to approve that search warrant,” Rossi said.

He went on, “But I have to stress, this affidavit that they submitted to the judge, I would be very surprised if it was not incredibly detailed, deep in evidentiary foundation and filled with corroborating documents and witnesses to support the search warrant.

“In other words, they’re not going to go in there with a five-page affidavit and say, ‘Hey, we guess we’re speculating. We don’t have to do beyond a reasonable doubt…[but] Judge, approve it.

“I think they probably submitted a 100- to 200-page affidavit that was incredibly comprehensive and detailed,” Rossi said.

So the search warrant is unlikely to contain a great amount of detail and is very unlikely to contain any information that would corroborate the claims made in the Washington Post report.

We also don’t know whether Trump’s reasoning for not releasing the warrant himself is wholly truthful, as there may be either political or legal implications associated with it.

We won’t know until later whether the DOJ will unseal both the warrant and the list of seized items, although the latter may be less likely.

And, of course, there’s the affidavit, which is unlikely to be released unless Trump is indicted. Even then, sections of it may be redacted or otherwise withheld from the public.

In any case, it’s a remarkable conclusion to a week filled with allegations, rumors and speculation that is unlikely to end anytime soon.

Newsweek has examined a number of the claims and narratives surrounding the Mar-a-Lago search, as well as Trump’s possible motivation for pleading the Fifth Amendment, allegedly more than 440 times, during his deposition Wednesday before lawyers from the New York attorney general’s office in connection with another investigation.

The ‘inevitable’ path of the South Korean Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Is South Korea on an ‘inevitable’ path to nuclear arms possession?

Is South Korea on an ‘inevitable’ path to nuclear arms possession?

South Korea’s president says he has no plans to pursue own nuclear deterrent, despite the North’s growing threat. Some observers believe otherwise. Insight finds out.

North Korea tested what were suspected to be inter-continental ballistic missiles earlier this year. (Image: AFP/KCNA VIA KNS)

10 Sep 2022 06:15AM (Updated: 10 Sep 2022 06:01AM)

SEOUL: “Simple” and “childish” was how Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, described South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol last month for his offer of aid in exchange for denuclearisation.

Calling Yoon’s offer the “height of absurdity”, she said in a statement carried by the North’s state news agency KCNA: “To think that the plan to barter ‘economic cooperation’ for our honour, (our) nukes, is the great dream, hope and plan of Yoon, we came to realise that he is really simple and still childish.”

“No one barters its destiny for corn cake,” she added.

This week, the North passed a law making its nuclear status irreversible. Kim Jong Un said he would never surrender the weapons even if the country faced 100 years of sanctions.

As of June, North Korea has tested an unprecedented 31 ballistic missiles this year.

Satellite images showed in March it was reactivating its Punggye-ri nuclear weapons test site. Three months later, the United States warned that North Korea could conduct its seventh nuclear test – and its first since 2017 – at “any time”.

Last month, it fired two cruise missiles towards the Yellow Sea after Seoul and Washington started preliminary joint drills in preparation for their long-suspended live field training exercise Ulchi Freedom Shield.

China and Russia round out the nuclear-armed trio at South Korea’s doorstep.

Such neighbours and the increased threat of war are why artificial intelligence engineer Shin Changho believes his country should have nuclear weapons.

“I feel that if South Korea were to possess nuclear weapons, North Korea’s military and diplomatic direction towards us would definitely change,” Shin told the CNA programme Insight.

Not only would the North be stripped of a key advantage; South Korea is also “way ahead” when it comes to conventional weapons, he said. “So I think North Korea would be more careful about armed conflicts than they are now.”

Shin may well belong to the majority of South Koreans, going by a survey published by the think tank Chicago Council on Global Affairs earlier this year.

Of a representative sample of 1,500 adults surveyed last December, 71 per cent favoured South Korea developing its own nuclear weapons, while 56 percent supported a deployment of US nuclear weapons in South Korea.

Participants vastly preferred an independent arsenal (67 per cent) over US deployment (9 per cent).

Kim Dong-yub, an assistant professor at the University of North Korean Studies, believes the North’s recent tests are not simply for “diplomatic or negotiation purposes”.

“Rather, it seems to serve a more practical purpose of refining their technology,” he said, noting that the North seems to be developing warheads that would allow a single missile to carry multiple explosives at once.

“By refining their technology, they can unite their country, easing the worries of their citizens on the country’s security,” he said.

Jang Seyul, president of the National Association of North Korean Defectors, agrees that Kim Jong Un’s “obsession” with nuclear development is a method of defending his regime.

“It seems like they are expanding their military to give their citizens some kind of pride and hope,” said Jang, who escaped to the South in 2007 and previously worked at North Korea’s intelligence unit.

Assistant professor Kim’s view is that Pyongyang has shelved its expectations of the US and South Korea after two summits between Kim Jong Un and former US president Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019 resulted in naught.

At the second summit in Hanoi, the North Korean leader had offered to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear research and production facility in return for the lifting of all sanctions against his country, which the US was not prepared to offer.

“(Kim Jong Un) expressed that he wants the US-South Korea joint exercises and hostile policies to be terminated,” said assistant professor Kim.

“From Singapore to Hanoi, he returned both times empty-handed… I believe it hit him hard. He is basically saying, ‘I’ve been tricked by you once, I will not be tricked a second time.’”

South Korean president Yoon said last month his government has no plans to pursue its own nuclear deterrent despite the growing threat from the North.

He has, however, ordered an update of the military’s operational plans and backed preemptive strikes against the North’s missiles and, possibly, its senior leadership in the face of an imminent attack. 

The North’s new law apparently takes aim at these plans, allowing for preemptive nuclear strikes if an imminent attack by weapons of mass destruction or against the country’s “strategic targets”, including its leadership, is detected, Reuters reported.

This goes beyond existing provisions for the use of nuclear weapons to repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear state and make retaliatory strikes.

Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Centre for North Korean Studies at The Sejong Institute, a think tank, believes it is “inevitable for South Korea to possess its own nuclear weapons”.

He cited two reasons: To achieve a balance of power with North Korea, and questions over whether the US would “guarantee South Korea’s security through extended deterrence”.

Both South Korea and Japan come under the US’ nuclear umbrella — its promise to protect them with its nuclear weapons in the event of a nuclear attack.

But with North Korea’s possession of inter-continental ballistic missiles that have the potential of reaching New York, Cheong’s view is that “the possibility of the US protecting South Korea at the expense of its own citizens’ safety is very low”.

Although both South Korea and Japan are part of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), Robert E Kelly, a political scientist at Pusan National University, observed in a recent opinion piece in Foreign Policy magazine that the US “does not pressure friendly nuclear weapons states, including itself, to meet NPT requirements”.

Detractors of the NPT also argue that existing nuclear weapons states and non-signatories like North Korea can continue to develop their arsenal, leaving signatories at a disadvantage.

And to AI developer Shin, possessing nuclear weapons would put South Korea “truly” on par with other developed countries.

Meanwhile in Japan, discussion on nuclear weapons has also grown louder but the Japanese public is largely against the weapons of mass destruction. A study published in 2020 reported that 75 per cent of over 1,300 Japanese surveyed believe that their country should join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The country also adheres to the three non-nuclear principles of not possessing, producing or allowing the introduction of nuclear weapons to Japanese soil. While an important national policy, it is “not sacrosanct” and the country should consider international security circumstances, said Ryozo Kato, a former Japanese Ambassador to the US.

Said another observer, Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation: “For example, if North Korea succeeds in experiments to make a long-distance missile that reaches the US and nuclear warheads that can be mounted on it, then Japan’s direction will change a lot. Or if we get into a situation where China is putting a lot of pressure, I think Japan will feel it has to stand up to it.”

For now, in spite of disputes such as over the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, Japan and China are “some distance from a full-blown military showdown”, noted Indo-Pacific security analyst Lin Ying-yu of Taiwan’s Tamkang University.

What’s more certain is Japan’s increase in defence spending, which looks set to double to 2 per cent of its gross domestic product within the next five years.

An arms race in East Asia seems inevitable.

China’s 2022 defence budget of 1.45 trillion yuan (S$292 billion) is 7.1 per cent higher than the previous year. With cross-strait tensions at a high, Taiwan has proposed a record T$586.3 billion (S$26.6 billion) defence budget for 2023, a 13.9 per cent increase from this year.

“This military competition is a two-way street. In a way, everyone will worry that your safety is my threat; it is a safety dilemma (and) will lead to an escalation of competition,” said Su Tzu-yun, a research fellow and director at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan.

“But history tells us (that) ‘if you want peace, prepare for war’.”

Russia is About to go Nuclear: Daniel 7

Could Russia’s Sudden Ukraine Retreat Mean A Tactical Nuclear Weapons Strike Is Coming?

ByMichael Rubin

How the Situation in Ukraine Could Get Far More Dangerous: After days of a withering Ukrainian counteroffensive, the Russian defense ministry announced that it was withdrawing its forces from two areas in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. In a video statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky quipped, “The Russian army in these days is demonstrating the best that it can do — showing its back.” Ukrainians celebrated, and rightly so. While Russian spokesmen said that Russian forces were “repositioning” ahead of a new offensive, reporters on the ground cast doubt on such pronouncements both because they mirror Russian statements as it abandoned its drive toward Kyiv and also because Russian forces left in such great haste that they left numerous arms and equipment behind.

Western officials are understandably happy. “This [Ukrainian progress] shows the bravery, skills, and determination of Ukrainian forces, and it shows that our support is making a difference every day on the battlefield,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a September 9 press conference. Reflecting on his recent trip to Ukraine, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken observed at the same press conference, “Even as President Putin threw as much as he could against Ukraine earlier this summer, Ukraine absorbed the blow and now is pushing back.”

While it is right to celebrate the Russian rout, the war may be entering a far more dangerous phase.

Consider: If Russian President Vladimir Putin tired of attrition and decided to use tactical nuclear weapons, how would Russian behavior—a rapid withdrawal and even leaving key equipment behind—be different? The answer: It would not be.

The Biden administration allowed fear of Russian nuclear weapons to self-deter and to limit deliveries of the weaponry that Ukrainian forces needed in the first weeks of the war. Fortunately, against the backdrop of Ukrainian perseverance, they recognized how unbecoming a policy governed by fear and weakness could be. That does not mean, however, that the United States and NATO should not have a contingency plan both to head off Russian use of nuclear weapons and respond to their use should Putin now cross the line.

The White House and U.S. intelligence community may feel confident that they will have forewarning should Putin give the order to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. They may believe that satellite photographs, signals intelligence, and human intelligence will provide a clear picture.  The nature of intelligence, however, is that there is always doubt and deception. Just as late Al Qaeda leader Usama Bin Laden used old-fashioned messengers rather than email or cell phones, so too might some core Russian commanders. During its 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah successfully demonstrated the ability to conceal long-range missiles, thanks both to diversions designed to be discovered as well as other underground facilities, all built by North Korean engineers. This is not to suggest a North Korean angle to Ukraine, but certainly, Russian strategists look at lessons learned from every conflict.

Nor is it necessarily true that Putin would try to hide in advance tactical nuclear warhead use. In 2012, President Barack Obama drew a “redline”around the use of chemical and biological weapons in Syria. When Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces subsequently used chemical weapons against a Damascus suburb, Obama stood down. Partisans subsequently questioned the existence of a redline. This was disingenuous as senior Obama officials had supplemented press reporting at the time with background press calls to think tankers and opinion leaders to enunciate how serious Obama was about his redline. When that wordplay did not work, many opposed to enforcing the redline shifted tack and argued that from the perspective of the bombs’ victims, it mattered little whether their death came from gas or explosive maiming. After all, the result was the same. Lost was any appreciation for what the end to the stigma associated with chemical weapons might mean for future warfare.

Putin might count on proponents fearful of any robust reaction to resurrect the post-chemical redline arguments in the aftermath of a tactical nuclear strike. He might calculate that Washington and Brussels will always look for a reason not to act or escalate and that both will be willing to engage in logical somersaults to do so. Simply put, Putin might calculate that Washington will paralyze itself until the danger of retaliation passes.

It is for this reason that the White House and NATO should make clear upfront that this will not work. They should detail the pain Russia will suffer should withdrawal be a feint ahead of tactical nuclear use against Ukrainian forces and cities. Such pain should not only include truly crippling sanctions rather than cosmetic half-measures but also include enhancing the ability of Ukraine to expand the zone of hostility to the entirety of Russia, from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean. They should also detail the eventual financial and territorial reparations owed to Ukraine and all countries downwind from any radioactive exposure as well as those countries long victimized by the Russian informal empire.

The free world owes Zelensky a debt of gratitude for refusing White House advice to evacuate ahead of the initial Russian invasion. Biden, to his credit, overcame that mistake and allowed Ukraine’s president to do more than any leader since Winston Churchill to defend freedom and democracy in the face of evil. Zelensky deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

The policy decisions now looming for Biden may be as great. Celebrations may be premature if Putin seeks to achieve through nuclear weapons what he could not with manpower. To remain silent now, downplay the threat that Russia might use its tactical nuclear weapons, or let fear govern policy will mean the end of the post-World War II liberal order.

As the Ukraine war enters a crucial new phase, it is time both to step up deterrence and plan for what comes after Russian first use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).

The Russian Horn’s dangerous nuclear posturing threatens us all

Vladimir Putin’s cavalier attitude toward the dangers of a nuclear catastrophe has been vividly on display since Russia’s takeover of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia shown here with the Dnipro river on the other side of Nikopol, Ukraine, last month.
Vladimir Putin’s cavalier attitude toward the dangers of a nuclear catastrophe has been vividly on display since Russia’s takeover of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia shown here with the Dnipro river on the other side of Nikopol, Ukraine, last month. [ EVGENIY MALOLETKA | AP ]

Russia’s dangerous nuclear posturing threatens us all | Column

Pressure on Russia to uphold the international laws governing nuclear weapons is perhaps the most pressing foreign policy priority for the U.S. and the world.

Last last month Russia inexcusably sabotaged UN efforts to reaffirm and bolster the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The treaty aims to reduce nuclear risks and prevent the enlargement of nuclear arsenals around the world. Since Vladimir Putin launched his aggressive war against Ukraine over six months ago, the danger of a nuclear calamity has grown exponentially. Russia refused to accept the final joint declaration accepted by all other states at the U.N. Conference on Nuclear Disarmament. Putin’s belligerence imperils our future.

How important is the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT)? After both the U.S. and Russia successfully developed nuclear weapons in the middle of the 20th century, there was virtually unanimous agreement among foreign policy experts and political leaders that nuclear weapons would rapidly spread to dozens of countries. President John F. Kennedy in 1963 argued that there would be as many as 20 nuclear-armed states by 1975. The experts and JFK were wrong. Today there are only nine states with nuclear weapons. How did the international community prevent the widely predicted rapid proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction?

Arguably the biggest “hidden secret” in international relations is the remarkable success of the NPT, which came into force in 1970. The treaty has been ratified by 191 nations, including the five major powers that first had nuclear weapons. The goal of the treaty is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology through the promotion of cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Countries renounce their rights to nuclear weapons and, in return, receive the fruits of civilian nuclear technology. Furthermore, nuclear weapons states pledge to work to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

This system was not just built on trust. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was set up with the ability to conduct rigorous inspections and verify compliance. The agency provides safeguards to prevent the improper diversion of fissile material from civilian to weapons use. The agency even has the right to send inspectors to investigate suspicious activities at sites not officially declared nuclear facilities by the country’s leaders. All of this creates powerful incentives for nations to follow the rules and abide by their nonproliferation obligations.

The agency’s work significantly contributed to a dramatic decline in the proliferation of nuclear weapons after the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty went into effect. Indeed 75% of the countries that had the capability to become nuclear weapons states declined to do so and remained non-nuclear. Some banded together to create “nuclear weapons free zones,” which now encompasses all of Africa, South and Central America, Southeast Asia, Antarctica, as well as Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific.

Russia’s challenge to the international norms governing nuclear weapons has created great uncertainty and danger in global affairs. In addition to undermining the U.N. NPT conference, Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons in his invasion of Ukraine. In response, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”

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Putin’s cavalier attitude toward the dangers of a nuclear catastrophe has been vividly on display since Russia’s takeover of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine has alleged that Russia is storing heavy weaponry inside the complex and using it as a cover to launch attacks. The Ukraine military obviously can’t respond without the risk of hitting one of the plant’s reactors. The International Atomic Energy Agency is currently struggling to investigate the status of the Zaporizhzhia plant.

The existential risks of nuclear war are well-known. In August Rutgers University scholars released a current worst-case scenario of the impact of a full-scale nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia. Beyond the millions of direct deaths from the atomic bomb blasts themselves, the Rutgers report estimates that the indirect death toll caused by soot from burning cities and forests entering the atmosphere would lead to more than 5 billion people dying of starvation. This death toll reflects how much global crop yields would suffer as drifting clouds blocked out the sunlight that sustains plants and life itself.

Pressure on Russia to uphold the international laws governing nuclear weapons is perhaps the most pressing foreign policy priority for the U.S. and the world.

William F. Felice is professor emeritus of political science at Eckerd College He is the author of six books on human rights and international relations. He can be reached via his website at williamfelice.com.

Russia is Ready to Start World War 3

Ukraine’s top general warns of Russian nuclear strike risk

EURACTIV.com with Reuters

 Sep 8, 2022

General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi co-authored an article containing the most detailed assessment of the war to date, and gave starkly contrasting messages to those given by top Ukrainian officials. [Twitter]

In rare public comments Ukraine’s military chief warned on Wednesday (7 September) of the threat of Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine, which would create the risk of a “limited” nuclear conflict with other powers.

The war in Ukraine that began with Russia’s invasion on 24 February was likely to rage on into next year, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said in an article co-authored by lawmaker Mykhailo Zabrodskyi and published in English by state news agency Ukrinform.

The article contained by far the Ukrainian commander-in-chief’s most detailed assessment of the war to date, and gave starkly contrasting messages to those given by top Ukrainian officials.

“There is a direct threat of the use, under certain circumstances, of tactical nuclear weapons by the Russian Armed forces,” Zaluzhnyi said.

“It is also impossible to completely rule out the possibility of the direct involvement of the world’s leading countries in a ‘limited’ nuclear conflict, in which the prospect of World War Three is already directly visible,” the article said.

Ukraine will need to match the strike range of Moscow’s weapons in order to turn the tide of the war, Zaluzhnyi and Zabrodskyi wrote.

Moscow has in the past denied speculation of potential nuclear or chemical weapons use.

Turning tide

“The only path to a cardinal change in the strategic situation is undoubtedly a series of several consecutive, or ideally simultaneous, counterstrikes by Ukraine’s armed forces during the 2023 campaign,” they said.

The United States has supplied the Kyiv government with sophisticated long-range weapons on the condition Ukraine would not use them to hit targets inside Russia, according to US officials.

The article contained Ukraine’s first acknowledgement that it was responsible for what the authors said were rocket strikes on Russian air bases in annexed Crimea, including one that damaged the Saky military base last month.

Moscow denounced sabotage and Ukraine hinted at responsibility for new explosions on Tuesday (16 August) at a military base in the Russian-annexed Crimea region that is an important war supply line.

Until now, Ukraine refused to publicly acknowledge its involvement, with a senior official speaking on condition of anonymity citing fears of Russian retaliation.

“We are talking about a series of successful rocket strikes against the enemy’s Crimean air bases, first of all, the Saky airfield,” the article said, using language that did not clarify whether that meant unguided rockets or missiles.

The Saky strike took 10 Russian warplanes “out of action” on 9 August, the article said.

Ukraine is not publicly known to have weapon systems in service with a sufficient range to hit Saky, which lies at least 200 kilometres from the front lines.

No peace this year’s

The article’s tone contrasted with often optimistic statements by senior Ukrainian officials.

“The length of the war is already measured in months, and there is every reason to believe that this time period will extend beyond 2022,” it said.

Zaluzhnyi and Zabrodskyi conceded that Ukraine was positioned “extremely unfavourably” on two eastern frontlines, around the towns of Bakhmut and Izyum.

Foreign-supplied weapons will make up the backbone of Ukraine’s defence next year, they said.

“In 2023, the material base of Ukraine’s resistance must remain significant volumes of military aid from our partner nations,” the article says.

Ukraine’s top general warns of Russian nuclear horn: Daniel 7

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi waits before a meeting in Kyiv

Ukraine’s top general warns of Russian nuclear strike risk

By Max Hunder

 and Tom Balmforth

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi waits before a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other officials in Kyiv, Ukraine October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo

KYIV, Sept 7 (Reuters) – In rare public comments Ukraine’s military chief warned on Wednesday of the threat of Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine, which would create the risk of a “limited” nuclear conflict with other powers.

The war in Ukraine that began with Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24 was likely to rage on into next year, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said in an article co-authored by lawmaker Mykhailo Zabrodskyi and published by state news agency Ukrinform.

The article contained by far the Ukrainian commander-in-chief’s most detailed assessment of the war to date, and gave starkly contrasting messages to those given by top Ukrainian officials.

“There is a direct threat of the use, under certain circumstances, of tactical nuclear weapons by the Russian Armed forces,” Zaluzhnyi said.

“It is also impossible to completely rule out the possibility of the direct involvement of the world’s leading countries in a ‘limited’ nuclear conflict, in which the prospect of World War Three is already directly visible,” the article said.

Moscow has in the past denied speculation of potential nuclear or chemical weapons use.

Ukraine will need to match the strike range of Moscow’s weapons in order to turn the tide of the war, Zaluzhnyi and Zabrodskyi wrote.

“The only path to a cardinal change in the strategic situation is undoubtedly a series of several consecutive, or ideally simultaneous, counterstrikes by Ukraine’s armed forces during the 2023 campaign,” they said.