Tag Archives: nuclear

Ditching Nuclear Treaties: Trump Withdraws from the INF by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

President Donald J. Trump has made it his signature move to repudiate the signatures of others, and the latest, promised evacuation from the old US-Soviet pact otherwise known as the intermediate range nuclear forces (INF) treaty was merely another artefact to be abandoned. 

When it came into force after 1987, it banned ground-launched short- and medium-range missiles within the range of 500 km and 5,500 km. Of primary concern to the US had been the deployment by the Soviets of the SS-20, the result of which was the deployment of Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe.

According to the Arms Control Association, the INF Treaty “successfully eliminated an entire class of destabilizing nuclear weapons that were deployed in Europe and helped bring an end to the spiralling Cold War arms race.” Some 2,700 missiles and their requisite launchers were destroyed in the arrangement. It suggested a certain degree of trust: both Washington and Moscow were permitted verification about installations.

nuk001_400The usual withdrawal technique (the Trump retraction style) has become known. Trump is an expert practitioner of interruptus, but the issue is what he replaces it with: a new vision with provisions and obligations, or butchered nonsense wrapped in ribbon? “I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out.” The Russians had “been violating it for many years.” This included the testing, and ultimate deployment of the 9M729, a ground-launched cruise missile that purportedly edged well and beyond the confines of the treaty. The initial response to such alleged violations was one of pressure, convincing Moscow to come back to the fold via an “integrated strategy”. That, evidently, proved too measured an approach.

Yet even now, the Russians, typified by the reaction of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, are both bemused and irritated. The veteran official preferred to avoid divining coffee grounds on where the White House might move next, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested that no formal measures to exit the treaty have yet been undertaken. Ruslan Pukhov of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies was even optimistic: “If there’s good will on both sides, including ours, then probably the treaty can be saved.”

It was Russian President Vladimir Putin who had anticipated this circus of retraction, suggesting in 2007 with a degree of appropriate cheek that the treaty did not advance Russia’s interests. That huffing response had come as a direct response to Washington’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, yet another Cold War artefact confined to the mausoleum of agreements long dead.

The nuclear intermediate treaty was meant to eliminate merely one category of madness, another blubber of criminal insanity that typifies the creatures of the megadeath complex. (In any future war crimes court, they will always claim that weapons of mass murder were needed to prevent mass murder, even if they did ensure the logical consequences of such killing.)

The INF Treaty always troubled such national security hawks of the ilk of John Bolton, who felt as far back as 2011 that Washington should leave the treaty for no better reason than combating an impetuous China. That was hardly surprising for a man who subscribes to the view of Charles de Gaulle that, “Treaties, you see, are like girls and roses: They last while they last.” The INF had “outlived its usefulness in its current form – so it should either be changed or thrown out.”

Trump’s arguments are those of his counterparts. Both Russia and the United States have been cheating, baulking, adjusting, reading between clauses and playing before their meanings. Violations have been treated as instances of mild infidelity, and even the European states have shown little by way of concern. They are the faithless partners in a marriage of inconvenience, but in so far as it lasted, it afforded a cover for the couple to behave at international forums with a degree of questionable decorum. In Trump’s era, decorum is an unnecessary encumbrance fit to be scorned. The animal must be set free, the hand must grab, and everything else is left to chance.

Such moves might well be cheered in the Kremlin. Washington, as Steven Fifer, former State Department official and arms control expert based at the Brookings Institute predicts, “will get the blame for killing the treaty.” The debate, if you could venture to use that term, was bound to “devolve into an exchange of charges, counter-charges and denials.”

In concrete terms, Trump has changed props, but risks unnecessary costs in attempting to develop weapons that would have fallen within the INF’s remit. For one, it will ruffle Russia’s security concerns regarding central and eastern European states. “Tomahawks with nuclear warheads could be loaded with anti-missile sites in Romania and Poland as soon as US leaves INF Treaty,” tweeted National Defense editor Igor Korotchenko. The enthusiasm by such governments for US hardware in combating the wily Russian bear makes that prospect a distinct possibility.

Then comes the more practical side of things, making such a decision unnecessarily boisterous. The US is more than capable in deploying various systems (both air and sea launched) that could threaten Russian targets, should Washington ever take leave of its senses.

The withdrawal also risks the direction of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), an agreement near and dear to weapons control experts. Yet for all this jazzing of the show, Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev had his antennae up: the Kremlin was still keen to work with Washington to eliminate “mutual” grievances concerning the INF. The dance on these gruesome weapons continues to enchant even the most irritated, and irritating, of rivals.

Ovi magazine

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Suicidal Nuclear Gambit on Caucasus By Petra Posega

ovicover_03_06_16.gifNuclear security is seemingly in the vanguard of global attention, but the large framework of international provisions is increasingly perceived as a toothless tiger. In the contemporary age where asymmetric threats to security are one of the most dangerous ones, the time is high to mitigate the risk of rouge actors having potential access to materials, necessary to develop nuclear weapons.

Nowhere is this urgency more pivotal than in already turbulent areas, such as the South Caucasus. With many turmoil instabilities, lasting for decades with no completely bulletproof conflict resolution process installed, adding a threat of nuclear weapons potential means creating a house of cards that can cause complete collapse of regional peace and stability. That is precisely why recently uncovered and reoccurring actions of Armenia towards the goal of building its own nuclear capacity must be addressed more seriously. They should also attract bolder response to ensure safety of the region is sustained.

According to the report by Vienna-based nuclear watch-dog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Armenia has established quite a record of illegal trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials. There have been a couple of serious incidents spanning from 1999 onward. A large number of reported incidents has occurred on the country`s border with Georgia, tempting the IAEA to conclude there is high probability that the so called Armenian route does in fact exist. There is a further evidence to support this assertion. There were an unusually high number of Armenians caught in nuclear trafficking activities. Additionally, some of the reported incidents that made their way to the official reports suggested that the main focus of trafficking activities is in fact smuggling of nuclear material that could be used for nuclear weapons capabilities. There were also reports suggesting the trafficking of other radioactive material that could be utilized for alternate purposes, such as the building of a so called dirty bomb. Since the stakes with nuclear weaponry are always high to the extreme, the recognition of this threat must not be underrated and dismissed easily.

Read the whole article in Ovi Magazine, HERE!

 

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Israeli warning, nuclear Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Iran‘s nuclear programme must be stopped by “all possible means”.

Speaking during a visit to Washington, he said Tehran must be made to see it would suffer devastating repercussions if it pursued atomic weapons. The US and others have accused Iran of building nuclear arms capability. Tehran says its programme is peaceful.

Mr. Olmert’s US visit comes as he faces pressure at home over corruption allegations, which he denies. “The Iranian threat must be stopped by all possible means,” Mr. Olmert said in his speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – a lobby group.

“The international community has a duty and responsibility to clarify to Iran, through drastic measures, that the repercussions of their continued pursuit of nuclear weapons will be devastating,” he added.

Is it just me or this is a déjà vu? Didn’t they say the same things about Iraq? Where all these led with Iraq is …known, what remains is to see where they are going to lead Iran!

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North Korea nuclear negotiators

Progress has been made on what North Korea will receive from the US in exchange for disclosing its nuclear activities, negotiators have said.

Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said consensus had been reached on US political compensation for the declaration by North Korea. A top US diplomat said progress had been made, but would not give a time-line for a possible breakthrough.

The issue has prevented a deal being clinched in disarmament talks. In February 2007 North Korea had agreed to give up its nuclear weapons in return for aid, in a six-nation deal with the US, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia. The US had accused Pyongyang of missing a year-end deadline to make a full nuclear declaration as promised.

When I hear …progress with North Korea I have a problem, I feel there is something they don’t tell me and usually this is either when they are going to bomb them or when North Korea is going to bomb …Tokyo!

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Pakistani nuclear waste into afghan soil!

The Afghan government says it has evidence that nuclear waste from Pakistan was dumped in Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban.

 

Parliamentary affairs minister Faruq Wardag said the waste was buried in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand. The minister added he did not know how much waste was dumped or for how long the practice had gone on.

Pakistan said it would comment only after Kabul approaches it officially. Mr. Wardag said he did not know the exact nature of the evidence. He said the government was setting up a commission to investigate the matter.

A Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman said he could not comment until the Afghan government made an official statement about the allegations. The Taliban were in power in Afghanistan from 1996 until they were overthrown in 2001.

Why I am not surprised to read things like that?

 

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Nuclear inventory?

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered a full inventory of US nuclear arms after parts of ballistic missiles were mistakenly sent to Taiwan.
He said a report, that would also include checks of related materials, should be completed within 60 days. The US sent nuclear fuse triggers to Taiwan instead of helicopter batteries in 2006. The mistake was only discovered last week.

The arms issue is sensitive as China regards Taiwan as a renegade province. Beijing vehemently opposes US arms sales to Taiwan and has threatened to attack the island if it declares independence.

Right, things like this make me worry, inventory? You mean you re not exactly sure what you have in your storage? Man, we are talking about nuclear, you know …boom …the end!

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