(March 29, 2019) — A Pentagon official has said that the US will retain the right to carry out a nuclear strike in response to a conventional attack. A ‘no-first-use’ policy would erode US allies’ belief that they are protected, he said.
Washington has no plans to reverse its policy of “no first use” of nukes, which means it can bomb its adversaries with nuclear weapons under “extreme circumstances,” Deputy Undersecretary of Defense David Trachtenberg said in his prepared remarks to the Senate Armed Service Committee hearing on Thursday.
Trachtenberg claimed that if the US changes its take on the issue, which he described as “constructive ambiguity,” it “would undermine US extended deterrence and damage the health of our alliances because it would call into question the assurance that the United States would come to the defense of allies in extreme circumstances.” This uncertainty might prompt these countries to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, he said.
The hawkish Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) commissioned by President Donald Trump in 2018 lists a range of circumstances under which the US might consider striking first, such as significant strategic attacks on the US, allied or partner civilian infrastructure, forces, their command and control, as well as warning and assessment capabilities with conventional weapons.
That clause represents a major shift from the previous US nuclear doctrine, and has drawn strong criticism from Moscow, which accused Washington of lowering the nuclear threshold and exacerbating the nuclear arms race. In addition to threatening nuclear annihilation, the review sets the stage for upgrading and expanding the already vast US nuclear arsenal. The nuclear build-up envisions developing new types of low-yield warheads that could be placed on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and on sea-launched cruise missiles.
The “mini-nuke” produced by the Pantex plant in Texas has the relatively small explosive power of around five kilotons of TNT, in an attempt to make the US deterrent more “flexible.” According to some experts, it can be launched from the B-21 Raider heavy bomber, which is being developed, making a preemptive nuclear raid more of a probability.
Russia and its weapons modernization program has been singled out in the review as one of the reasons for a major build-up of the US nuclear triad. But unlike the American one, the Russian military doctrine allows the use of nukes only if under attack by weapons of mass destruction or when Russia’s sovereignty is at stake.
While reinforcing its own nuclear deterrent, the US plans to spend billions of dollars upgrading its 150 B61 nuclear bombs scattered across its four European allies: Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands – as well as Turkey.
Russia has repeatedly warned Washington that the deployment of the new bombs would violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
US Grounds B-1B Bombers for 2nd Time after Problems with Pilot-saving System
(March 30, 2019) — The Pentagon has grounded its entire fleet of B-1B Lancer strategic bombers for the second time in less than a year after new dangerous flaws were found in its ejection system.
The bombers were suspended from flight as a “precautionary measure” after a routine inspection discovered “potentially fleet-wide issues” with the system, the Air Force Global Strike Command reported on Thursday.
The problem was found in the rigging of the “drogue chute,” a parachute connected with the pilot’s ejection seat. Flight technicians will now check each of the 62 active B-1Bs. The command’s spokesperson declined to comment on how long the whole check-up may take.
This is the second time in less than a year when the military was forced to ground all of its B-1Bs. The planes were previously put on stand-down for around three weeks after a jet from the Dyess Air Force Base in Texas suffered an engine malfunction mid-air.
The pilot tried to eject but had to conduct a risky emergency landing instead because his seat failed to deploy. The Air Force has since said that the problem was fixed and the current grounding is unrelated to the last year’s incident.
The B-1B Lancer is one of Pentagon’s three active long-distance strategic bombers. Developed in the Cold War era, it was conceived as an aircraft that would carry out nuclear airstrikes against the Soviet Union in the event of a global conflict, and has remained a vital part in US contingency plans.
According to some reports, the aircraft will be phased out by the mid-2030s in favor of the new B-21 Raider stealth bomber.
ACTION ALERT: “Steps to a Nuclear Weapons-Free World”: Nuclear Weapons Conference on April 14
NEWARK, N.J. (March 14, 2019) — On April 14, the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) will host “Steps to a Nuclear Weapons-Free World” — an all-day conference featuring nine of the country’s leading experts in nuclear weapons and policy, who will address the critical and complex nature of the nuclear weapons issue today.
The conference will be led by two internationally renowned keynote speakers —Daniel Ellsberg, former presidential adviser and chief figure in the release of the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration, as well as author of “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner”; and Robert Jay Lifton, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of psychiatry and psychology at The City University of New York, and author of “The Apocalyptic Twins: Nuclear and Climate Threats” and “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” which was awarded the National Book Award in Science.
The conference will address strategies for nuclear disarmament and modern security threats related to the issue of nuclear weapons, such as false-positive alarms, accidents from aging stockpiles and cyber attacks. Conference speakers will also discuss topics such as the medical and environmental impact of modern nuclear weapons radiation, the modernizing of nuclear forces and recent policy decisions involving the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, as well as effective communication methods for educating the general public about nuclear weapons.
“There is an urgent need for new efforts to make the world safe from nuclear war and nuclear threats, to hold the nine nuclear-armed countries to account for the dangers they pose to humanity, and to move towards a world free of nuclear weapons. This conference aims to explore these issues and help chart a path forward for the United States on redirecting nuclear weapons policy towards reducing nuclear weapons dangers, nuclear weapons budgets, and ultimately, towards disarmament.” — Zia Mian, co-director, Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security
“Irresponsible policies have ignited a new arms race and increased the risk of a nuclear conflict. An engaged and empowered public is necessary to challenge the status quo and advance the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.”— Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, Arms Control Association
“The nuclear weapons issue is as critical as ever, and it must be seen not as a single isolated technical issue, but as one connected with environmental, economic, social policy and foreign policy. NJIT has invited a select group of experts to evaluate current nuclear policies and suggest ways to reduce the level of nuclear threat on our planet. We also hope to inform younger students who will someday be in positions of leadership…it is imperative we provide them with a better scope of this issue.” — Jay Kappraff, conference chairman and Professor Emeritus of mathematics at NJIT
Along with Ellsberg and Lifton — who will present via live-stream broadcast — the diverse list of distinguished speakers scheduled to present live at NJIT includes:
• Zia Mian, physicist and co-director at Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security, and co-author of “Unmaking the Bomb”
• Bruce Blair, research scholar at Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security, MacArthur Fellow and former U.S. Air Force Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile launch control officer
• Kelsey Davenport, director of nonproliferation policy, Arms Control Association, and expert in nuclear and missile programs of Iran, North Korea, India, and Pakistan
• Lisbeth Gronlund, physicist and co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and expert in U.S. nuclear weapons policy
• Laura Grego, senior scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and expert in outer space security
• Ray Acheson, director of Reaching Critical Will, and recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
• Elaine Scarry, Harvard University, Cabot Professor of aesthetics and the general theory of value, and author of “Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing between Democracy and Doom.”
WHEN: SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2019, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
WHERE: NJIT CAMPUS CENTER ATRIUM
Registration includes a continental breakfast, lunch, coffee/tea break and a booklet of position papers by the speakers.
NJIT welcomes attendees from all area colleges and universities.
For registration and further event details, visit: njit.edu/nuclearfree
For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
About New Jersey Institute of Technology
One of only 32 polytechnic universities in the United States, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) prepares undergraduate and graduate students and professionals to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT’s multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. NJIT has a $2 billion annual economic impact on the State of New Jersey, conducts approximately $160 million in research activity each year, and is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cybersecurity, in addition to others. NJIT is ranked #1 nationally by Forbes for the upward economic mobility of its lowest-income students and is among the top 2 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com.
The Nuclear Resister, Felice & Jack Cohen-Joppa, editors & coordinators. P.O. Box 43383,Tucson, AZ 85733
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