Gregg Zoroya / USA Today & FoxNews & David Alexander / Reuters & Alice Slater / Nuclear Age Peace Foundation – 2016-02-28 01:24:38
UN Security Council Condemns
North Korean Long-range Missile Launch
Gregg Zoroya / USA Today
(February 8, 2016) — The United Nations Security Council on Sunday unanimously condemned North Korea’s launch of a long-range missile as a violation of UN resolutions banning ballistic missile tests and promised “significant” new sanctions. . . .
North Korean state television said in a special broadcast Sunday that it had placed an observation satellite into orbit.
US Pacific Command in Hawaii said it had “detected and tracked today what we assess was a North Korean missile,” and at no time did it pose a threat to the United States or its allies.
US Flexes Muscle, Tests ICBM off California Coast
(February 27, 2016) — An unarmed Minuteman 3 nuclear missile was shot into the California night sky Thursday amid tensions with North Korea and Russia.
The missile was fired at 11:01 p.m. off the California coastline and was carrying a payload of test instruments. It was aimed toward the waters of the Kwajalein Atoll, an island chain about 2,500 miles southwest of Honolulu.
This was the second missile test the Air Force conducted this month in a series designed to confirm the reliability of the Cold War-era missile and all its components. . . .
“It is a signal to anyone who has nuclear weapons that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country, if necessary,” [a government spokesperson] said, adding later, “We do it to demonstrate that these missiles â€”- even though they’re old — they still remain the most effective, or one of the most effective, missiles in the world.”
A Remarkable Double Standard
John Hallam / Nuclear News
(February 25, 2016) â€“ A short commentary on Washington’s double standards when it comes to launching long-range missiles:
THEIR space-launch is evil and a cover for ICBM development. Damn the technical details — if they don’t support that.
OUR ICBM launch (doesn’t pretend to be anything but an ICBM launch) is virtuous, safe, stabilizing and praiseworthy.
“Do as we say not as we do — or we’ll incinerate you.”
Not sure what came over me, but surely two in one week is over the top? Words are failing me.
US to Test-fire ICBM Amid Strategic
Tensions with Russia, North Korea
David Alexander / Reuters
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (February 25, 2016) — The US military plans to test-fire its second intercontinental ballistic missile in a week overnight on Thursday to demonstrate the reliability of American nuclear arms at a time of rising strategic tensions with countries like Russia and North Korea.
The unarmed Minuteman III missile will blast off from a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California late on Thursday or early on Friday, headed toward a target area near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific.
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said the tests, conducted at least 15 times since January 2011, send a message to strategic competitors like Russia, China and North Korea that the United States has an effective nuclear arsenal.
“That’s exactly why we do this,” Work told reporters. “We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal … that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary,” he added.
Demonstrating the reliability of the nuclear force has taken on additional importance recently because the aging US arsenal is near the end of its useful life and a spate of scandals in the nuclear force two years ago raised readiness questions.
The Defense Department has poured millions of dollars into improving conditions for troops responsible for staffing and maintaining the nuclear systems. The administration also is putting more focus on upgrading the weapons.
President Barack Obama’s final defense budget unveiled this month calls for a $1.8 billion hike in nuclear arms spending to overhaul the country’s aging nuclear bombers, missiles, submarines and other systems.
The president’s $19 billion request would allow the Pentagon and Energy Department to move toward a multiyear overhaul of the atomic arms infrastructure that is expected to cost $320 billion over a decade and up to a trillion dollars over 30 years.
The nuclear spending boost is an ironic turn for a president who made reducing US dependence on atomic weapons a centerpiece of his agenda during his first years in office.
Obama called for a world eventually free of nuclear arms in a speech in Prague and later reached a new strategic weapons treaty with Russia. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in part based on his stance on reducing atomic arms.
“He was going to de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons in US
national security policy … but in fact in the last few years he has emphasized new spending,” said John Isaacs of the Council for a Livable World, an arms control advocacy group.
Critics say the Pentagon’s plans are unaffordable and unnecessary because it intends to build a force capable of deploying the 1,550 warheads permitted under the New START treaty. But Obama has said the country could further reduce its deployed warheads by a third and still remain secure.
Hans Kristensen, an analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, said the Pentagon’s costly “all-of-the-above” effort to rebuild all its nuclear systems was a “train wreck that everybody can see is coming.” Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association, said the plans were “divorced from reality.”
The Pentagon could save billions by building a more modest force that would delay the new long-range bomber, cancel the new air launched cruise missile and construct fewer ballistic submarines, arms control advocates said.
Work said the Pentagon understood the financial problem. It would need
$18 billion a year between 2021 and 2035 for nuclear modernization, which is coming at the same time as a huge “bow wave” of spending on conventional ships and aircraft, he said.
“If it becomes clear that it’s too expensive, then it’s going to be up to our national leaders to debate” the issue, Work said, something that could take place during the next administration when spending pressures can no longer be ignored.
ACTION ALERT: US ICBM Launch “Acting Strategically”!
Alice Slater / Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
We need a missile/space ban treaty now! If, for whatever incomprehensible reason, you’re not working all out right now to get negotiations started on the ban treaty, then please start calling for a new treaty to ban missiles and weapons in space.
Actually China and Russia have tabled a model treaty to ban space weapons since 2008, which they updated and reintroduced in 2015, but the US actually blocks any discussion of it in the consensus-bound Committee on Disarmament in Geneva.
That’s why we need an Ottawa process for the ban treaty now — to get things moving. And we also need a model treaty by scientists, experts, lawyers, policymakers for a missile/space ban just like we did the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention which is now a UN document and is widely discussed.
It’s a real dead-end to be pushing now for ratification of the CTBT which isn’t comprehensive and doesn’t ban tests (The US has exploded 28 “subcritical” nuclear tests at the Nevada test site since it signed the treaty in 1992, not to mention laboratory nuclear tests and the recent test of a dummy nuclear bunker buster warhead) or a fissile-materials cut-off treaty for weapons purposes only, which won’t cut off fissile materials with the proliferation of “peaceful” nuclear bomb factories — now to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate and Turkey for the first time–alas!!.
We really need to move on the ban treaty as well as for new initiatives for a missile/space ban treaty while issuing a clarion call to disband NATO. Otherwise, the peace movement is just spinning its wheels.
It’s the only way we’ll get Russia and China to negotiate with us on a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons, which so many of you say you really want. What good strategic steps are you taking to get it — other than just pounding on the table saying “Treaty, treaty now”?
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