Showing posts with label WMD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WMD. Show all posts

16 January 2019

How China hopes to play a leading role in developing next-generation nuclear reactors

Alice Shen

China is pushing ahead with ambitious plans for its nuclear industry, including developing cleaner and safer next-generation technology.

A particular focus is a plan to develop the world’s first large-scale thorium-powered, molten-salt reactors – which could generate less radioactive waste and help reduce the reliance on fossil fuels to reduce the world’s energy needs – by 2020.

The head of one of the country’s research programmes said Chinese researchers had mastered the technology in laboratories and now aimed to be the first in the world to make it commercially viable.

10 January 2019

‘Global Zero’ Double Standard For Nuclear Weapons


“Ivy King” nuclear test, 1952.

In the coming clash between President Trump’s $750 billion defense budget and House Democrats’ desire to cut Pentagon spending, especially on nuclear weapons, there will be tremendous fiscal pressure to shortchange the almost $30 billion annual cost to modernize America’s strategic deterrent. The ideological cover for such penny-wise, pound-foolish cuts is the so-called Global Zero movement to eliminate all nuclear weapons.

But in reality, the global-zero idealists practice a dangerous double standard: They push the US to unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal even as they ignore or excuse nuclear buildups by Russia, China, North Korea, and (under the table) Iran. Even if they were consistent, their pursuit of zero nuclear weapons would still make no sense when none of the nine existing nuclear powers has any interest in completely disarming.

8 January 2019

U.S. Accuses Iran of Using Space Launch as Cover for Missile Program

By David E. Sanger and William J. Broad

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran on Thursday against launching three spacecraft in the coming months, describing them as a cover for testing technology that is necessary to lob a warhead at the United States and other nations.

His statement seemed intended to build a legal case for diplomatic, military or covert action against the Iranian missile program. It was surprising only because Iran has been launching modest space missions, mostly to deploy satellites, since 2005.

Around the time that Mr. Pompeo issued the statement, a 12-year-old Iranian satellite that was launched by Russia was circling the globe, including in a path that took it close to New York. And Mr. Pompeo made no mention of the other country that, over the years, has aided Iran’s ballistic missile and space rocket program: North Korea, whose leader was praised by President Trump as recently as Wednesday for writing him a “beautiful letter.”

7 January 2019

The Emerging Nuclear Environment: Two Challenges Ahead

My assigned task here is to discuss challenges ahead in the nuclear environment. There are, of course, a variety of interrelated challenges in the international environment that cross multiple domains, but my task here is to discuss nuclear challenges. That will be my focus.

There are two distinct but related nuclear challenges: 1) the challenge of external nuclear developments among potential adversaries; and, 2) the internal challenge of establishing an enduring, effective Western response to those foreign developments.

External Nuclear Developments 

1 January 2019

Explaining the Hype Around Hypersonic Weapons

Countries around the world are in the process of developing hypersonic weapons technology, and the United States and China are leading the pack. With the technology needed for hypersonic missiles growing ever more feasible and accessible, we anticipate that both countries will have mature designs in the near future. The new missiles will be much faster than any current cruise missiles, and they will be extremely hard to detect. As the world adjusts to this evolving weaponry, the way countries approach offensive arms development and preemptive strikes is set to change dramatically.

30 December 2018

Security Controls at DoD Facilities for Protecting Ballistic Missile Defense System Technical Information DODIG-2019-034

We determined whether DoD Components implemented security controls and processes at DoD facilities to protect ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) technical information on classified networks from insider and external cyber threats.

We conducted this audit in response to a congressional requirement to audit the controls in place to protect BMDS technical information, whether managed by cleared Defense contractors, or by the Government. Cleared contractors are entities granted clearance by the DoD to access, obtain, or store classified information, to bid on contracts, or conduct activities in support of DoD programs.

We analyzed only classified networks because BMDS technical information was not managed on unclassified networks. The classified networks processed, stored, and transmitted both classified and unclassified BMDS technical information. This is the second of two audits to determine whether the DoD protected BMDS technical information from unauthorized access and disclosure. On March 29, 2018, we issued a report on the effectiveness of logical and physical access controls in place to protect BMDS technical information at Missile Defense Agency (MDA) contractor locations. The report identified systemic weaknesses at the contractor locations concerning network access, vulnerability management, and the review of system audit logs.

27 December 2018

Cold Start: India seeks to upset Pakistani nuclear dominance


Every other year India’s Army Commanders Conference gathers to address the impact technology has on doctrine and organizational operations. This year marks significant achievement in the elimination of old distinctions of corps, division and brigades favoring an Integrated Battle Group (IBG) that seeks to harmonize a previously archaic posture into dynamic fighting redundancies that render Pakistan’s nuclear achievements in asymmetry vulnerable.

India seeks quickly to mobilize six battalions with new elements of close air support, artillery and close-combat armor. It seeks to dominate Pakistan with conventional unified arms. With IBG, Indian political strategy, doctrine and conventional means underwrite a new level of credible threat deterrence.

20 December 2018

Poor Security Could Leave U.S. Defenseless Against Missile Attacks

By Heather Kuldell

The Defense Department’s inconsistent security practices leave technical data about the nation’s missile defense system vulnerable to inside and outside threats, according to the agency auditor.

The ballistic missile defense system is designed to detect and intercept incoming missiles before they hit their intended targets. The system is made up of many elements, some run by the government and others by cleared contractors. The Defense Department keeps the system’s technical information—such as engineering data, algorithms and source codes—on its classified networks.

“The disclosure of technical details could allow U.S. adversaries to circumvent [ballistic missile defense system] capabilities, leaving the United States vulnerable to deadly missile attacks,” the Defense Department Office of Inspector General said in an audit.

17 December 2018

Satellite Imagery, Remote Sensing, and Diminishing the Risk of Nuclear War in South Asia

The backdrop: a security rivalry between India and Pakistan in place since the 1947 partition of British India. The risk: nuclear catastrophe. Because the consequences of such an outcome are so dire, even the small chance of a nuclear conflict is worth trying to minimize. This report assesses whether satellite imagery and remote sensing technology, administered by a trusted third party, could ease the pressures and thus lessen the risk of disaster on the subcontinent. 


Structural political and security factors generate persistent security competition on the South Asian subcontinent. 

This competition in turn creates a small but difficult-to-close window for nuclear catastrophe. 

However unlikely, deployment of tactical nuclear weapons can open the door to inadvertent escalation or unauthorized use or theft. Any of these outcomes would be a catastrophe for the region and the world.

13 December 2018

Here's Why U.S. Tactical Nukes Are a Bad Idea.

by Kristin Ven Bruusgaard

They likely won't change Moscow's calculations during a crisis.

Policymakers in Washington are making a case for low-yield nuclear weapons. But these weapons aim to solve a problem based on major and unsubstantiated assumptions about Russian doctrine. Such weapons will not meaningfully affect Russian calculations if the Kremlin fears the existence of their state is at stake. They may, however, reinforce a view in Moscow that the United States seeks superiority across both the nuclear and conventional domains.

U.S. policymakers worry that were Russia to begin losing a conventional conflict, it might escalate to the use of nuclear weapons to de-escalate and settle the conflict on terms favorable to Moscow. They also argue that Russian aggression against U.S. allies in Europe becomes more likely if the United States does not have low-yield nuclear warheads to symmetrically match Russia’s escalation. Having such weapons would deter the Russians from considering nuclear preemption and strengthen U.S. deterrence.

4 December 2018

Strategic Dimension Of The Second Nuclear Age – OpEd

Beenish Altaf

Since the end of the Cold War, where the nuclear weapons and related technologies have decreased histrionically, the new states are acquiring the technology with momentum. The proliferation is now a fact and nuclear rollback is a remote prospect at best. The famous theoretical debate between Scott Sagan and Kenneth Waltz over whether proliferation is a good, bad could be debated relevantly for analyzing about the strategies in this growing era of nuclear states.

Since the numbers of such new states with atomic bomb are increasing year by year, there is little chance that these countries will disarm in the foreseeable future. The recent entrants’ states include India, North Korea, Pakistan. The rare alignment between domestic and international conditions that prompted disarmament in South Africa is unlikely to happen again. There are reports published by renowned platforms mentioning the likelihood of more states into the realm, whether in civil or military terms.

Not So Fast, Rep. Smith: Why We Need Modernized Nuclear Weapons


The Heritage Foundation is pretty much the only Washington thinktank President Trump ever mentions and he’s been known to refer to their analyses when he speaks about defense. So, when one of Heritage’s experts wants to rebut the arguments of one of the top defense Democrats on Capitol Hill, we’re inclined to give them a forum as the odds are pretty good the analysis has White House approval or would get a favorable hearing there. The headline tells you the basics. Read on! The Editor. 

Rep. Adam Smith, presumptive chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, says he wants to curtail modernization of the nation’s sea-, air- and ground-based nuclear forces. He also opposes developing a low-yield submarine-launched nuclear cruise missile.

30 November 2018

India walking a tightrope with US and Russian defense systems


India is aiming to modernize its strategic arsenal with the introduction of advanced US and Russian defense systems. However, some military experts say that while the South Asian giant needs foreign technologies to become a self-sufficient arms manufacturer – and autonomous global geopolitical player – technical problems could limit their coexistence.

The Indian government finalized the acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defense missile system earlier this month and is said to be considering the purchase of the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II(NASAMS-II) from the United States.

18 November 2018

China and the New Strategic Nuclear Arms Race

By Anthony H. Cordesman

This study is available on the CSIS web site at: This study is a major expansion and revision of a previous Burke Chair study that examines the changes taking place in Chinese nuclear delivery needs and their impact on China's stockpiles of nuclear weapons and weapons designs. It drew on a wide range of official open-source reporting, as well as a range of outside sources, including the Federation of American Scientists, Arms Control Association, IISS, SIPRI and analysts like Hans M. Kristensen and Robert Norris to examine these developments.

The original study argued that a focus on China's expanding global influence, conventional forces, missile forces, emerging ASAT and cyber capabilities – and role in the South China Sea – had led much of the analysis of Chinese military developments to ignore the key uncertainties surrounding its stockpile of nuclear weapons, and the fact that China is developing all the elements of a far more advanced strategic nuclear Triad – along with improved theater delivery system and missile defenses.

13 November 2018

The Vanishing Nuclear Taboo?

By Nina Tannenwald

On April 5, 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama stood before a massive crowd in Prague and gave a soaring speech announcing his commitment to “a world without nuclear weapons.” In pursuit of that goal, he pledged to seek an arms reduction treaty with Russia, ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and convene a global summit to discuss the eventual elimination of nuclear stockpiles. He acknowledged that a nuclear-free world was unlikely to be achieved in his lifetime, yet his speech marked the first time a U.S. president had set out a step-by-step agenda for abolishing nuclear arms. It represented a sharp break from the approach of U.S. President George W. Bush, who had expanded nuclear missions and rejected arms control. Much of the world was elated. Nuclear disarmament was back on the global agenda. That September, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing Obama’s vision and strengthening various disarmament and nonproliferation measures. The following month, the Nobel Committee awarded Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, citing his call for nuclear disarmament. More than six decades after humanity first harnessed the destructive power of nuclear reactions, the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons was charting a path for the world to put the genie back in the bottle.

11 November 2018

Hackers obtain nuclear power plant plans in France

Hackers have accessed confidential documents about nuclear plants and prisons in a cyberattack on a French firm, media reported. Some of the data was found on a rented server in Germany, according to the reports. Thousands of sensitive documents pertaining to nuclear power plants, prisons and tram networks have been stolen from the servers of a French company in a cyberattack, German and French media have reported Friday. The data illegally accessed from the French company Ingerop back in June amounted to more than 65 gigabytes, according to reports by German public broadcaster NDR, the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and French newspaper Le Monde.

The new threat matrix

John Mecklin

Scientists from the Manhattan Project launched the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1945 to focus world attention on a new technology that posed a truly existential threat to humanity. In the words of founding Bulletin co-editor Eugene Rabinowitz, the Bulletin wanted “to awaken the public to the full understanding of the horrendous reality of nuclear weapons, and of their far-reaching implications for the future of mankind; to warn of the inevitability of other nations acquiring nuclear weapons within a few years, and of the futility of relying on America’s possession of the ‘secret’ of the bomb.” But in that same article, Rabinowitch noted that the problems raised by the nuclear bomb were “but one aspect of a broader and more complex challenge with which the scientific and technological revolution confronted mankind” (Rabinowitch 1970Rabinowitch, E. 1970. “Twenty-Five Years Later.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 26 (6): 4–34. doi:10.1080/00963402.1970.11457818.

10 November 2018

Perils of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems Proliferation: Preventing Non-State Acquisition

By Philip Chertoff for Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)

Philip Chertoff notes in this article that Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) promise significant military advantages to developing states. He also finds that malicious non-state actors have the potential to leverage LAWS against state actors and that the international community has not paid adequate attention to this threat. By introducing export controls on LAWS, this risk of proliferation could be mitigated.

Key Points

Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) promise significant military advantages to developing states.

Many states have significant ethical and legal concerns about the potential for systems to destabilise conflicts and inflict collateral damage.

Malicious non-state actors also have the potential to leverage LAWS for significant military advantage against state actors and acts of terror.

The international community has not focused adequate attention on the potential for LAWS to proliferate to malicious non-state actors.

The international community should implement export controls on LAWS, through the Wassenaar arrangement, to reduce the risk of transfer to malicious non-state actors. 

7 November 2018

If You Want Peace, Prepare for Nuclear War

By Elbridge Colby

In a little under three decades, nuclear weapons have gone from center stage to a sideshow in U.S. defense strategy. Since the 1990s, the United States has drastically reduced its stockpile and concentrated on its conventional and irregular warfare capabilities. Nuclear weapons policy has focused overwhelmingly on stemming proliferation to countries such as Iran and North Korea, and prominent political and national security figures have even called for abolishing nuclear weapons altogether. What was once the core of the country’s Cold War strategy has been reduced to an afterthought.

Immediately after the Cold War, when the United States enjoyed unprecedented global power, this approach seemed reason­able. Washington didn’t need much of a nuclear strategy against Iraq or Serbia. But now, great-power competition has returned. Russia wants to upend the post–Cold War status quo in Europe. A rising China seeks ascendancy, first over Asia and ultimately beyond. To accomplish this, each country has developed military forces ideally suited to fight and defeat the United States in a future war. And modern, mobile nuclear capabilities are a key part of their strategies.

5 November 2018

The Present and Future of Layered Missile Defense


In the face of expanding global threats to U.S. national security from North Korea and elsewhere, layered missile defense has become more important than ever. This vital capability requires that numerous cutting-edge technologies function together seamlessly to protect against catastrophe. And with the entire U.S. mainland in range of a potential intercontinental ballistic missile, there is precious little room for error.

The Department of Defense has a multi-pronged approach to this complex problem. Administered by the Missile Defense Agency, each layer of missile defense has unique capabilities and specific objectives designed for each type of threat, and these must be integrated to protect the homeland, partner nations, foreign military bases, and forward-deployed U.S. and allied forces.