This article summarises the key insights from the briefing paper, shedding light on the nation’s nuclear posture, disarmament stance, and ongoing modernisation efforts.
The UK’s nuclear policy focuses on minimal credible nuclear deterrence, with resources dedicated to NATO defence. The briefing paper points out that “The UK does not have a policy of ‘no-first use’.”
This means the UK reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear threats.
Post-Cold War, the UK has taken disarmament steps in line with the NPT. The 2010 SDSR anticipated a 65% reduction in the nuclear stockpile by the mid-2020s.
However, the 2021 Integrated Review stated that “2010 commitments could no longer be met due to the current security environment.”
Consequently, the cap on the nuclear stockpile has been raised, raising concerns about the UK Government’s disarmament commitment.
Capabilities and Infrastructure
The UK’s nuclear stockpile cap, as per the briefing paper, is “no more than 260 warheads.” The nation operates a continuous at-sea deterrence (CASD) and is the only recognised nuclear state with a single deterrent system.
The deterrent is based at HM Naval Base Clyde in western Scotland. Submarines are stationed at Faslane, and warheads are stored at Coulport. Maintenance for the Vanguard class is conducted at Faslane, while deep maintenance and refit take place at HM Naval Base Devonport in Plymouth.
Both HMNB Clyde and Devonport dockyard are managed by Babcock International. A 15-year contract with the ABL Alliance supports the Trident strategic weapon system at Coulport and Faslane.
The UK’s nuclear warheads are manufactured and maintained at two AWE sites in Aldermaston and Burghfield, Berkshire. In November 2020, the MOD announced that AWE would return to direct Government ownership.
Modernisation: Dreadnought Programme
The Dreadnought programme aims to replace the UK’s Vanguard class submarines with a new Dreadnought class by the early 2030s. A Common Missile Compartment (CMC) for the SSBN is being developed in partnership with the US.
The briefing paper estimates the cost for designing and manufacturing four SSBNs at £31 billion, with a £10 billion contingency. The UK is also participating in the US service-life extension programme for the Trident II D5 missile.
In February 2020, the UK Government confirmed a programme to replace the Mk4 nuclear warhead.
The infrastructure supporting the UK’s nuclear weapons underscores the extensive network enabling the UK’s nuclear capabilities. The House of Commons Library briefing paper offers valuable insights into the complexities and challenges surrounding the UK’s nuclear landscape.
The threat of nuclear war has been considered by world leaders and civilians alike, despite Russia, the United States and UK all having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and therefore, on paper, agreeing to nuclear peace.
So how real is the risk that nuclear arms could be used? And what systems are in place to minimise that risk?
He added: “To anyone who would consider interfering from outside: If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All the relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me.”
France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on French television channel TF1 that this message was understood to be a threat of using nuclear weapons.
Has Nato responded?
Le Drian countered with his own mention of nuclear capabilities, however. He added: “I think Vladimir Putin must also understand that the Atlantic alliance (Nato) is a nuclear alliance. That is all I will say about this.”
Nato itself does not own any nuclear weapons but some United States-owned missiles are reportedly kept at six airbases across five European countries.
“We in Moscow are committed to raising the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons. An opposite trend has been seen in the United States over the recent years, with the means for nuclear destruction appearing to be perceived more and more as a battlefield weapon. This is a dangerous trend,” Ryabkov said, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.
Ryabkov warned the US attitude towards nuclear weapons risks leading to an incident similar to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, something he said must not happen. Russian leaders have repeatedly warned the US against deploying missiles to Ukraine that could target Moscow and are seeking guarantees that Washington would refrain from such a provocation.
Ryabkov said Russia wants to resolve these issues through negotiations. “Today, as it seems to me, political and diplomatic tools should be used first and foremost to settle this situation,” he said. Ryabkov added that Russia outlined “how to settle” these issues in the security proposals it submitted to the US.
Like other Russian officials, Ryabkov stressed that the US must take its security proposals seriously. Also on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said talks on the proposals will begin immediately after Russia’s new year holiday season, which lasts through January 9th.
FEARS of World War 3 erupting between Russia and the US are at an all-time high as tensions between the two nuclear powers erupt over Ukraine.
In an extraordinary uptick in aggression, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said Moscow would deploy intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) in Europe if NATO failed to rule out using them itself. Missiles of this nature have a top range of 3,100 miles (5,000km) and could hit numerous European capitals if deployed from Russia.
Russian military expert Colonel Konstantin Sivkov spoke of various situations around the world where tensions are high and could lead to a nuclear war on a global scale.
Speaking on Russia Today TV, the Deputy President of the Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences (RARAN) claimed that America recently gave Germany’s air force permission to equip its planes with American nuclear weapons, and has provided Germany with America’s nuclear battle plans.
Because of this, the US has been pushed to the brink of nuclear war over Ukraine.
According to US intelligence, Russia has stationed some 70,000 troops near the border of Ukraine and has begun planning for a possible invasion as early as next year.
Moscow has denied it is preparing for an invasion and has accused the government in Kyiv of stoking tensions in the region by deploying new weapons.
Colonel Sivkov also warned that if a nuclear conflict erupts, Russia has the capacity to turn a country like Germany into a nuclear wasteland using some of its 160 submarine-launched nuclear missiles.
He said: “The United States gave the German air force permission to equip its planes with nuclear bombs.
“By doing this, it gave the German air force the plans to use nuclear munitions in battle.
“Thus, the US has pushed the situation in Ukraine to the brink of nuclear war.
“The US needs to understand that Russia’s nuclear counterstrike would not be limited to German territory, but would also reach the soil of the country that owns these nuclear weapons – the US.
“160 [submarine-launched Russian] missiles with nuclear warheads would turn a country like Germany into a nuclear wasteland. They need to fully understand this.”
The Colonel also spoke about the conflict between Iran and Israel, and how tensions there could escalate into a nuclear war that pulls in different countries of the world.
He believed that Israel would not use nuclear weapons against Iran, because of fears that this might lead to retaliation by Russia or China.
“An Iranian attack on Israel’s nuclear plants and reactors would make life on the small land of Israel impossible.
“Iran’s [nuclear] installations are in mountainous regions and are well fortified.
“These mountainous areas can only be penetrated with nuclear bombs, and I do not think that Israel would use nuclear weapons against Iran because this might lead to retaliation by Russia or China, who would deem this measure unacceptable.”
China is believed to be building missile silos and accelerating its nuclear programme; the UK has increased the cap on its overall nuclear weapon stockpile; and the US is undertaking a multibillion-dollar nuclear modernisation programme.Are we seeing a new weapons race, and what is nuclear-free New Zealand doing to cool the situation? National Correspondent Lucy Craymer reports.
A worrying global trend is emerging that indicates disarmament is stalling and in some cases countries are now accumulating more weapons. In 2020, despite an overall decline in the number of nuclear warheads, more have been deployed with operational forces, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) year book.
Furthermore, earlier this month a US Pentagon report found China was accelerating its nuclear armament programme and is on track to have 1000 warheads by 2030. This follows the release of satellite imagery of north-central China that shows, according to analysts, the appearance of at least three vast missile silo fields under construction. China has not confirmed the facilities or increases in arsenal.
The build-up is against a backdrop of geopolitical competition. Rivalry between the US and China continues to simmer; tensions between China and India are getting worse, with skirmishes reported at their border; and the relationship between India and Pakistan remains volatile.
“The risk of nuclear warfare is as bad – if not worse – now than at any time since the Cuban Missile crisis,” says Phil Twyford, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control.
Renewed interest in nuclear weapons heralds a shift away from a period little more than a decade ago when US President Barack Obama spoke publicly about his deep interest in reducing nuclear arms, and broadly there was an appetite for disarmament.
Maria Rost Rublee, associate professor in international relations at Monash University says in the past decade geopolitics have shifted. Now, the likes of Russia are relying more heavily on their nuclear stockpiles for military security.
“What’s different today [from during the Cold War] is that we don’t just have two countries facing off, we have a lot more countries with nuclear weapons, including countries that might be more willing to use them,” Rublee says.
However, Russia and the US continue to own over 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
The US and Russia had more warheads in operation in January 2021 than a year earlier, even though they had reduced the overall number of weapons they had, according to SIPRI, an independent institute that does research in disarmament.
This year, the UK reversed a policy of reducing the country’s nuclear arsenal and increased the planned cap on nuclear warheads; and there are reports that India, Pakistan and North Korea are expanding their capabilities.
Alicia Sanders-Zakre of ICAN, a non-government organisation focused on the abolition of nuclear weapons, says the increased risk from nuclear weapons is not solely about numbers. Increased use of cyberwarfare and artificial intelligence can result in miscalculations, she says.
Nuclear technologies and arsenals are also increasingly sophisticated, making them an even more dangerous prospect in an unstable geopolitical climate.
China, for example, made headlines last month with a suspected test of a hypersonic weapons system. These weapons are low-flying, fast and easily manoeuvrable, which enables them to get around traditional missile defence systems.
Why is a build-up happening? Are we heading into a new Cold War?
Indications that China is increasing its arsenal are seen as a possible shift away from its cautious approach to weapons. Unlike other countries with nuclear weapons, China says it would never initiate a nuclear weapons strike, instead the weapons are used as a deterrent.
Deterrence theory states that nuclear weapons are intended to deter other states from attacking with their nuclear weapons, through the promise of retaliation and possibly mutually assured destruction.
Chinese state-owned Global Times said any increase in weapons would be due to the comprehensive strategic threat the US poses and a shift in what a minimum deterrence looks like. “Our nuclear forces must become so powerful that the elites in Washington will tremble in fear at the mere thought of imposing a nuclear deterrent on China,” its August 7 article said.
Tanya Ogilvie-White, senior research adviser at the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network, says China’s decision to expand its nuclear arsenal is a worrying development. But, she says, it’s partly a response to the nuclear modernisation going on in the likes of the US and Russia. Beijing has refrained from fielding some of the riskiest nuclear weapons, such as nuclear-capable cruise missiles, even though it has the capability to do so.
Ogilvie-White adds there has been a shift recently in the thinking of some decision makers globally, who now think actually firing a small nuclear weapon could de-escalate a situation as it would show a willingness to use such weapons.
“It’s deeply troubling,” says Ogilvie-White, who studies nuclear deterrence. “You don’t need many nuclear weapons to cause total havoc and kill millions of people. The idea that you could use them to win wars is a dangerous fallacy.”
Nuclear weapons levels globally do remain well below those seen during the Cold War.
The UK Government says that it needs to maintain nuclear weapons as a deterrent because the threats facing the country are increasing in scale, diversity and complexity, and abandoning nuclear weapons would put the country at greater risk.
How does Aukus fit within this?
Australia, the US and the UK have announced a new strategic partnership. As part of the agreement, Australia will get the technology required to build nuclear-powered submarines.
These are not nuclear weapons. However, it does raise concerns. Accidents happen. An increase in nuclear-propelled submarines boosts the risk that something could go wrong. It also raises questions about whether other countries could reach agreements for similar types of hardware.
Angela Woodward, who is deputy executive director of non-profit Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (Vertic), says while the treaty applies only to those who sign it, it makes nuclear weapons less acceptable and will hopefully create pressure in the same way treaty bans on chemical weapons and cluster munitions did.
According to an ICAN report, 127 financial institutions stopped investing in nuclear weapons this year, many due to the pressure that came about as a result of the treaty.
“The power of this treaty is only just starting to be realised,” says Woodward, who specialises in arms control and disarmament.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons remains in place and is the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament. And in March, Russia and the US agreed to extend the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) for five years, keeping in place the treaty’s verifiable limits on the deployed strategic nuclear arsenals of the world’s two largest nuclear powers.
However, Woodward notes that nuclear states are “interpreting their disarmament obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty very widely”.
New Zealand remains globally respected on nuclear issues due to its strong, and long-standing, stance against such weapons. Analysts say that New Zealand needs to continue to add its voice to concerns about non-proliferation and to speak out against activities by all nuclear-powered countries.
Twyford says he also believes New Zealand needs to continue to call out the nuclear weapon states for what they’re doing and not allow the diplomatic niceties or friendships and alliances to mute our voice. We do this, he says, in both multinational and bilateral forums.
“We are trying to build a renewed commitment to disarm. We’ve got to get out of this downward spiral.”
The U.S. Army has officially reactivated the 56th Artillery Command in Germany. This unit was previously active in that country between 1963 and 1991, during which time it commanded battalions armed with Pershing and Pershing II nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. In its new guise, it will serve as a hub for artillery operations across Europe, including deployments of new ground-based hypersonic weapons and other longer-range missiles in the coming years. This reflects just how important the Army feels these new capabilities, and artillery in general, would be in any future major conflict in the region, especially against Russia.
The 56th is co-located in Mainz-Kastel with the Army’s second so-called Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF). The service’s MDTFs, the first of which was established at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, are still-evolving units that are being used as testbeds to explore the introduction of new weapons and other capabilities. They are expected to have an operational role, especially in any future high-end conflict against a major opponent such as Russia or China.
“The reactivation of the 56th Artillery Command will provide U.S. Army Europe and Africa with significant capabilities in multi-domain operations,” Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Maranian, the head of the newly revived unit, said in a statement on Nov. 3. “It will further enable the synchronization of joint and multinational fires and effects, and employment of future long-range surface to surface fires across the U.S. Army Europe and Africa area of responsibility.”
Maranian’s mention of “future long-range surface to surface fires” is clearly a reference, at least in part, to two new missile systems the Army hopes to begin fielding in the next few years — Dark Eagle and Typhon.
There is historical significance to reactivating the 56th Artillery Command, specifically, to oversee the future employment of these weapons in Europe. Dark Eagle, Typhon, and a future PrSM, would all have previously been banned under the now-defunct Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which collapsed in 2019.
The United States and the Soviet Union signed this agreement in 1987. The INF entered into force the following year, and both sides implemented the provisions even as the Soviet Union collapsed and a new Russia emerged in 1991. The treaty was directly responsible for the removal of the Pershing II missile from Army service, which was then a key factor in the decision to stand down the 56th just over three decades ago. U.S. Air Force units armed with the BGM-109G Gryphon, an earlier ground-launched Tomahawk variant, were also eliminated as a result of the INF.
The US is about to move towards a far more likely first use of nuclear weapons, with word that the Air Force has “completed flight testing” of the cost-and-performance-plagued F35A Lightning fighter, all units of which are being “upgraded” to carry thermonuclear weapons.
What this means, as explained in a new article in Popular Mechanics, is that the world’s most costly weapons program (at $1.7 trillion), a fifth-generation fighter, supposedly “invisible” to radar (that actually cannot fight and is not invisible to advanced radars), now has a new mission to justify its existence and continued production: dropping dial-able “tactical” nuclear weapons that can be as small as 0.3 kilotons or up to 50 kilotons in explosive power.
Now 0,3 kilotons is” just” the equivalent of 300 tons of dynamite, which supposedly makes them “useable,” meaning not holocaust-causing, while dialed up to its maximum 50-kiloton power each bomb would be significantly more than twice as powerful as the nuclear bomb that leveled Nagasaki.
The Popular Mechanics article, also published in Yahoo News, quotes Pentagon sources as saying the new F35A capability gives the US flexibility to deliver nukes to targets in a country threatening the US, and to recall them up to the last second before dropping the weapon since the plane would be piloted, but this supposed advantage of a manned delivery system being recallable is a fantasy.
As Daniel Ellsberg has exposed in detail in his 2017 book The Doomsday Machine, based on his decades of investigation with a top security clearance on behalf of the Secretary of Defense office investigating command-and-control procedures and practices of the nation’s nuclear forces, there is no way to guarantee that a pilot ordered on a nuclear strike mission will receive — or believe — any message or signal ordering a cancellation of the attack order.
As Ellsberg explains, communication systems routinely break down on an almost daily basis between Washington and its far-flung military bases, because of equipment malfunctions, storms, solar flares, etc.. Furthermore, in a period of international crisis, a pilot may distrust even an order to call off an attack which, after all, won’t be a phone call from the president, a Pentagon general, or even a known base commander, but rather a short coded signal. As Ellsberg notes in his terrifying book, the other flaw is that a pilot, once sent on such a mission, could decide in the heat of the moment, to just carry on with orders and drop his weapon regardless of receiving a cancellation order. Remember, in times of crisis, countries may be employing jamming systems to knock out enemy military communications, or could even be blinding communication satellites.
Meanwhile the scenario presented in the article — a lone pilot being dispatched to deliver one dial-able B61-12 thermonuclear weapon onto some command-and-control center or missile launching site, perhaps — is not really what the Pentagon strategists have in mind for its F-35A planes.
Actually, hundreds of these Air Force versions of the F-35 have been getting so-called “block four’ alterations, with bulging farings replacing their formerly sleek bodies, in order to allow the carrying of two elongated Hydrogen bombs inside their fuselages, where they won’t present a larger radar image as bombs carried externally under wings would do. These re-configured planes, which also have software upgrades to allow them to prime, unlock and release their two nukes, are being delivered to forward bases near Russia and China within the relatively short range of the bomb-laden planes.
The idea (hopefully wishful thinking), is that such planes, armed with their twin nukes, could streak across a Russian and/or Chinese border at supersonic speed, flying low to the ground, to strike government buildings, military bases, and missile silos in a surprise strike, leaving the target country unable to retaliate.
For US military policy makers, all the way back to the post-war late 1940s, through the 1950s and on, taking out America’s nuclear-armed rivals in a preventive atomic blitz has long been a strategic goal, always deferred thankfully because of lingering fears among saner heads that such a criminal and genocidal attack would fail to prevent a counterattack.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent self-described “socialist” senator from Vermont now needs to finally end his own dogged and cynical support for the basing of 18 F-35A planes at the Burlington International Airport where pilots of the Vermont Air National Guard are now training for exactly the kinds of bombing scenario described above.
Sanders has insisted that while he “opposes” the “wasteful” F35 program, it is a “done deal” and so he wants Vermont’s Air National Guard unit to get a piece of the “benefits” of having it and the “jobs” it supposedly brings with it in his state. He has continued to dissemble, claiming that the vermont F35As will not carry nuclear weapons or be used in nuclear war. In fact, his office was caught altering a document from the Pentagon to hide the fact that the planes would in fact be upgraded with the “block four” alterations so they can carry nukes just like all F-35As in the Air Force fleet.
Vermont’s planes would not, and could not, fly from Burlington over the North Pole to deliver their bombs to Russian or Chinese targets, except with multiple in-flight refueling sessions, and all the while flying at subsonic speeds to conserve fuel, obviating any chance of a “surprise” attack. But they could, if the pilots are trained (as they will be) in using the upgraded planes to carry their nuclear cargo and to release them on targets, be activated during a period of international crisis. The plan would then be for US-based pilots to ferry their F-35A planes to forward bases, where the nuclear bombs would be stockpiled. The planes and their pilots would then be ready to join a potential attack, or to create a sense of looming threat that would, supposedly, lead the enemy — say Russia or China — to back down, or alternatively to launch their own attack first.
With word the Air Force is ready to start full-scale upgrading of its F35A fleet to nuclear-capable bombers, Sen. Sanders needs to do a red-faced volte-face, demand the immediate removal of F35A jets from Vermont. He must also stop hypocritically supporting the further production and Block-Four upgrading of this plane.
Let’s be clear: a nuclear-armed, radar-evading fighter-bomber fleet is not by any stretch be conceived of as a “retaliatory” weapon. If Russia or China, the only countries that could even conceivably consider launching a first strike on the US, were to do so, having a plane that could hit command-and-control centers, missile silos and military bases in the attacking country would be useless. First of all those planes would have been already blown to smithereens on the ground in the initial enemy attack. Second, if they somehow survived to take off, the national political and military leaders of any country launching such an attack would long since have moved to protective hidden locations having ordered their attack, troops would have been moved off their inevitably targeted bases with their equipment, and missile silos would be empty holes, their missiles having already been launched. Moreover, enemy countries would be on high alert lookout for any incoming F35s or other bombers and would have their anti-aircraft missile arrays ready to fire, and their fighter defenses already in the air on full alert to knock down the heavily burdened and inevitably poorly armed incoming US planes.
It’s all a big lie in other words, for the Pentagon to claim these planes are making the world safer by including a pilot.
As first-strike weapons the bomb-capable F35A simply increases the chance that a war will be started by the US, if Pentagon strategists keep think they’re being given an opportunity to strike without fear of a significant retaliation.
That leaves the other more likely risk too: That this nuclear-capable fighter could be used to deliver a “small nuke” against some smaller non-nuclear nation — one of the many where US military forces find themselves engaged in undeclared wars like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Niger, the Philippines, etc. The consequences of such a use of a nuclear weapon against a non-nuclear nation, by opening the door to widespread use of nuclear weapons in virtually any armed conflict, could be as profound as was the first such use against non-nuclear Japan by a cocky US in the waning days of World War II.
Those two bombings of two non-military targets, obliterating two major Japanese cities, led directly to a multi-generational multi-trillion-dollar arms race between the US and Soviet Union, and ultimately China too, and to a spread of nuclear weapons to seven more nations.
This latest escalation of nuclear weaponry, creating a fleet of over a thousand nuclear-carrying stealth fighter-bombers, will inevitably lead to similar planes being developed in Russia, China and elsewhere (China has already created a very similar stealth fighter to the F-35, and Russia, which has a very advanced aircraft design capability, is sure to follow suit). The unrelenteing efforts at incalculable cost by the US to come up with a viable first-strike capability is also driving the Russians and Chinese to respond with alternative deterrent weapons, notably hypersonic cruise missiles that can autonomously change direction and targets while flying at thousands of miles per hour, are not first-strike weapons, given the time it would take them to reach their targets.
For all the huffing and puffing of media scaremongers, the hypersonic missiles being tested by Russia and China are a defensive weapons designed to make a nation like the US that is openly looking for an offensive first-strike possibility, think twice before launching such a holocaust.
Deterrence is decidedly not what the F35A nuclear bomber upgrades are about. The best that can be hoped is that this bomber upgrade is just in a series of schemes by the Pentagon, F35-maker Lockheed-Martin, and all the company’s Congressional backers accepting the company’s bribes, to keep the trillion-dollar gravy train for this epic boondoggle of a plane flowing.
The US is considering a ‘no first use’ policy, when states are seeking to modernise their nuclear arsenals Rather than demanding that North Korea alone get rid of its nukes, global denuclearisation should be on the
In the ecstasy of triumph and relief over Japan’s defeat, it was easy to overlook images of charred, burned bodies and urban wasteland or the long ordeal of those who would suffer and die months or years later from nuclear radiation.
Rather than focus on global denuclearisation, policymakers wonder whether the US should wait for some other country, maybe Russia (estimated to have well over 6,000 nukes, about 700 more than the US), China (which has about 300), or North Korea (which has a few dozen), to conduct the first nuclear strike before firing back.
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Some are asking, why give Russia or China the advantage of a first strike when Americans should force the surrender of one or both by striking first, as at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Hiroshima bomb survivors fear legacy fading as Japan marks 75th anniversary of WWII atomic attack
This debate is insane. Regardless of who struck first, second, third or fourth, the devastation would jeopardise the survival of billions. “Should we continue to fight,” Hirohito warned, “not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilisation.”
Those words ring true today. Nuclear weaponry by now packs far more power than in 1945. North Korea’s sixth and most recent nuclear test, in September 2017, was several times more devastating than the Hiroshima bomb. The US, Russia and China all have warheads capable of wiping out major cities far larger than Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
Nor is North Korea’s Kim Jong-un the only leader to claim the need for nukes for self-defence. That’s the rationale of all the eight other members of the nuclear club, which also includes Britain, France, Pakistan, India and Israel.
Still more are weighing demands to go nuclear. In Asia alone, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan are capable of making nuclear weapons if they sense the need, of course, for defence, and Iran is on the way to producing its first warhead.
All these countries are already building up their armed forces. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in wants to strengthen its military, including 550,000 troops, to be able to stand against nearly 1.3 million North Koreans under arms.
Japan’s military machine, with a spending cap of 1 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and limited to less than 250,000 troops, is one of the strongest in the region in terms of weaponry.
Taiwan would need a lot of help from friends, notably the US, but it has nearly 300,000 troops primed to resist vastly superior forces from the Chinese mainland.
Nuclear powers today are modernising their arsenals. America’s ageing nuclear stockpile is said to need updating with more and “better” warheads. As tensions rise across the Pacific, China’s President Xi Jinping is anxious to increase China’s nuclear strength, so far behind that of both Russia and the US.
In the game of nuclear dare and double dare, neither the US nor China would gain an advantage by dropping the first nuclear bomb in warfare since 1945. The other would retaliate while the world responded in horror and terror.
Rather than demanding that North Korea alone get rid of its nukes, how about suggesting the leaders of the world’s most exclusive club, the nuclear club, negotiate denuclearisation just as they talk about climate change?
However, that idea doesn’t seem to have arisen amid worries about North Korea’s nuclear strength and fears the US may soon decide “we’ll nuke you after you nuke us”.
Donald Kirk is the author of three books and numerous articles on Korea
AChinese official has responded to the Pentagon‘s latest report on China’s military power in comments shared with Newsweek, saying it is the United States, not China, that is bringing the world closer to nuclear war.
The Department of Defense released on Wednesday its annual “Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” covering a wide range of assessments regarding China and its People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest armed forces and the top military competitor of the U.S.
Among the more notable findings was the observation that China was “accelerating the large-scale expansion of its nuclear forces,” which it was seeking to “modernize” and “diversify.” The report noted that the current number of Chinese warheads is believed to be “in the low-200s,” but stated that this number was expected to grow.
“The accelerating pace of the PRC’s nuclear expansion may enable the PRC to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027,” the report found. “The PRC likely intends to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, exceeding the pace and size the DoD projected in 2020.”
These capabilities were noted specifically as they could potentially impact the U.S. The report added that the “number of warheads on the PRC’s land-based ICBMs capable of threatening the United States is expected to grow to roughly 200 in the next five years.”
In response to this report, the spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington offered a different characterization of his nation’s strategic prowess.
“China has always adhered to its self-defensive nuclear strategy,” the spokesperson told Newsweek. “China abides by the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and undertakes unequivocally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. China has never participated in any form of nuclear arms race, nor has it deployed nuclear weapons abroad.”NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS >
The spokesperson argued that the same could be said for the U.S., pointing to the Pentagon’s far larger arsenal, believed to consist of about 5,550 warheads.
“As we all know, the United States has the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world,” the spokesperson said. “The US has not only violated international consensus and refused to fulfill its special priority responsibility for nuclear disarmament, but also willfully ‘reneged’ and ‘withdrew’ from nuclear disarmament.”
He also highlighted the U.S. military budget that still soars above that of China, arguing that Washington “has spent trillions of dollars to upgrade its nuclear arsenal, lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons and expanded the scope of nuclear strikes, thus seriously undermining global strategic security and stability.”
While both China and the U.S. have denied seeking to pursue a Cold War-style arms race, both they and fellow near-peer competitor Russia have set out to ramp up their capabilities in the nuclear realm.
At the center of this nuclear weapons development are next-generation hypersonic capabilities, including the fielding of boost-glide vehicles capable of better evading existing defense systems. Both the U.S. and Russia have openly begun testing such platforms, and recent reports in the Financial Times have suggested China has also conducted at least two tests this year.READ MORE
The Iranian society acts like a bomb that is fast approaching its explosion stage, or according to Ahmadinejad, the former president of the same regime, a flood is on its way that will take everyone away. Writes Hossein Beizayi
The brain drain from any country generally happens for three reasons: economic, social, or political problems. Iran’s ongoing brain drain crisis can be attributed to the compounding effects of many factors, including decades of poor governance, wide and ongoing political and social repression, severe human rights abuses, bleak economic outlook, corruption, and socio-demographic factors.
In Kurdistan province, many people carry goods on their backs and carry them to the other side of the border, known as “kolbars” or border porters. Every month, they are killed by border police who shoot at them with impunity.
Furthermore, widespread and institutionalized corruption in the government has led to unbelievable class divides between the regime’s officials and affiliates and ordinary people. It has been revealed that regime’s officials and affiliates have access to the lower rate foreign currency, which is about one-seventh of the market rate. They sell it in the open market at a much higher price and pocket the gains. That is why Iran is ranked to have the highest number of millionaires in the Middle East.
According to the regime’s published statistics, there are currently 4.4 million addicts in Iran. The real number is much higher, of course. The same statistics state that the number of addicts in the country has doubled in the last ten years. Drug distribution centers are indirectly run and operated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the regime’s officials. They operate the drug distribution network with no fear of arrest and accountability. To cover up such a lucrative operation, every now and then, several addicts and drug dealers are arrested and executed. But the growing number of addicts clearly shows that drug distribution networks are immune. In fact, obtaining drugs are now cheaper and easier than obtaining some food items.
The motivation behind most of this immigration is the fact that Iranians cannot tolerate the mullahs’ despotism imposing unbearable political and social limitations. The unfortunate truth is that as long as the mullahs are in power, we will only witness an increasing number of college students and experts leaving Iran for good.
However, according to politicians and sociologists familiar with the situation in Iran, this situation cannot continue for long. This resonates with what some of the Iranian officials are saying. The Iranian society acts like a bomb that is fast approaching its explosion stage, or according to Ahmadinejad, the former president of the same regime, a flood is on its way that will take everyone away.