Tag Archives: ACA

The US Needs To Immediately Trash the INF and New START Treaties

Last year, Obama administration recently – and very belatedly – announced it had found Russia in violation of the INF treaty, which prohibits Moscow and Washington from developing, testing, deploying, or otherwise possessing ground-launched missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

Last week, the Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee passed its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which would seriously address those blatant Russian violations – something the Obama administration has refused to do.

Russia has been flagrantly violating the treaty since at least 2010, and we conservatives have been warning about this since 2011-2012, when credible reports of such violations first emerged. However, until now, the Obama administration and the pro-arms-control crowd have long been denying this fact – until this violation became too obvious and too easily provable to deny it.

Specifically, Russia has repeatedly flight-tested a new ground-launched cruise missile (R-500) of a range prohibited by the treaty (500 to 5,500 kms) and utilizing Iskander ballistic missile launchers; has flight-tested and deployed Iskander ballistic missiles also within that range envelope (exactly 500 kms, to be specific)[1]; and has flight-tested the Rubezh ICBM at a range of 2,000 kms – again, within the treaty’s envelope. (Some arms control advocates, such as Hans M. Kristensen, STILL deny that Russia has violated the INF Treaty, because, supposedly, the R-500 missile hasn’t been deployed, only tested. This is dead wrong, however.[2])

Now that Russia has effectively made the INF treaty a dead letter and a worthless piece of paper, the administration and its supporters in the pro-unilateral-disarmament community (including the Ploughshares Fund, the Arms Control Association, and other groups) are calling on the US to continue to unilaterally adhere to the treaty and to cut its own arsenal even further – even as Russia continues to build up its own and deploying missiles banned by the INF treaty. They denounce any proposals by strong-defense advocates in and out of Congress to develop America’s own intermediate-range ground-launched missiles.

This article will rebut their claims and thus make an irrefutable case as to why the US should immediately withdraw from the INF and New START treaties.

The Urgency Of The Threat

Firstly, they – spoken for by Ploughshares President Joe Cirincione and ACA’s Thomas Collina – falsely claim the Russian violation is not a grave or immediate threat to American and allied security.

This is dead wrong. Russia’s INF Treaty violation IS an immediate threat to the US AND its allies. These intermediate range missiles allow Russia to target its allies in Europe and Asia (and all US bases there) with very accurate missiles carrying very deadly payloads (nuclear and conventional). With ranges measured in hundreds (Iskander-M/K) and thousands (R-500, Yars-M) of kilometers, these missiles allow Russia to hold all US allies in Europe, and most in Asia, hostage to their nuclear weapons WITHOUT involving Russia’s strategic missile force. This is a very urgent threat.

Russia Will Never Comply With INF – It Faces A Grave Chinese Threat 

Secondly, the advocates of unilateral disarmament falsely claim that there is still time to “resolve this issue” through “patient diplomacy”, and that enough pressure can force Russia to scrap the forbidden missiles and come into compliance with INF. Says Cirincione:

“Concerns are raised privately in hope of resolving them. When that fails, they are made public. When that fails tougher diplomacy is tried. (…) This violation is more than a technical violation, but since it is not an immediate threat to the U.S. or our allies, there is time to use the established arms control mechanism to pressure Russia to halt the cruise missile program, verifiably dismantle any missiles tested in violation of the limits and agree to abide by the treaty’s terms. (…) Congress could back the administration’s efforts and add some clout by confirming into office the man in charge of verifying Russian compliance with arms control treaties. Frank Rose has been patiently waiting more than one year – 384 days – to be confirmed in his post as the assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance. (…) We have cajoled the Russians back into compliance before and – with the right staff in place and a united approach – we can do it again. In the process, we can prevent the Russians from rebuilding the weapons that Ronald Reagan so painstakingly destroyed.”

This is also utterly wrong. There is no way in hell that Russia will come into compliance with the INF treaty and dismantle its intermediate range missiles. Why? For two reasons.

Firstly, Russia has NEVER complied with ANY arms control treaty. On the contrary, it has violated EVERY arms reduction treaty it has ever signed, from the SALT I and II treaties, to the Limited and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, to the Chemical Weapons Convention, to the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaties.

Secondly, and even more importantly, abiding by the INF treaty is decidedly NOT in Russia’s national interest; on the contrary, it is in its security interest to violate the accord. The reason why is China’s deployment of over 1,200 short-range, and over 120 medium and intermediate range (DF-4, DF-21, DF-25, DF-26C), ballistic missiles, as well as hundreds of intermediate range (DH-10, CJ-10) ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCM). China has literally hundreds of such weapons, and they can deliver nuclear or conventional warheads to anywhere in Russia – WITHOUT the need to involve China’s intercontinental missiles.

PLA_ballistic_missiles_range-590x362

(Source: Department of Defense, Military Power of the People’s Republic of China, Washington DC, 2008.)

So Russia, like the US, is facing a huge threat from China’s ballistic and cruise missiles – and unlike the US, Russia is facing that missile threat right on its doorstep. Yet, Russia, like the US, is prohibited from fielding any intermediate-range ground-launched missiles to counter China, with which it shares a border and with whom it fought a short border war in 1969.

No wonder, then, that for years Russian leaders have called the treaty unjust and have been grousing about withdrawing from it. As they have said, the treaty prohibits only Russia and the US – but not China or anyone else – from fielding intermediate-range ground-launched missiles.

It is absolutely NOT in Russia’s NOR in America’s interest to continue to adhere to such an unequal treaty that only binds two countries in the world and no one else, while other nuclear powers continue to deploy intermediate range missiles and China continues to amass a large arsenal of these.

The difference between the US and Russia is that Russian leaders will do what is in their country’s interest, while America’s leaders will continue to insist on slavish, unilateral adherence to useless arms control treaties no one else observes.

North Korea Doesn’t Succumb to US Pressure – Neither Will Russia

Moreover, if anyone truly believes Russia can be “pressured” into compliance with the INF treaty, they should look at North Korea. That country has been a world pariah – subject to the world’s harshest international sanctions regime – for decades. It is shunned even by its sole formal ally, the PRC, which is now buddying with South Korea instead. It is the world’s most isolated and most heavily sanctioned country.

Yet, many decades of the world’s harshest sanctions regime have completely FAILED to force North Korea to stop, or even slow down, its nuclear weapons programme. Now North Korea has 20 miniaturized nuclear warheads (which it can mate with missiles) and enough highly-enriched uranium to build another 20 – plus missiles capable of reaching at least Alaska. In fact, North Korea’s regime is immensely proud of the fact that it has successfully defied the entire world’s pressure and developed that arsenal.

Does anyone really think Russia will succumb to American pressure and comply with arms control agreements, when the world’s greatest pariah, North Korea, has not?

So there is absolutely ZERO chance of Russia complying with the INF Treaty. It won’t, because it is not in its national security interest. Nor in America’s, for that matter.

It Is In America’s Vital Interest To Withdraw

Cirincione also falsely claims that:

Pulling out of a treaty that blocks the Russians from deploying weapons that we don’t have and don’t need would be foolish. (…) We have nothing to gain from pulling out of the INF treaty. We already have long-range nuclear weapons trained on hundreds of targets in Russia. We don’t need a few dozen more.”

This is also utterly wrong.

Russia now has more ICBMs, strategic bombers, and nuclear warheads than the US, and plans on adding still more, so the US DOES need to build up its nuclear arsenal – and fast. Moreover, deploying IRBMs (nuclear- or conventional-armed ones) in Europe and Asia would enable the US to hold at least some Russian and Chinese targets at risk without involving America’s intercontinental missile or bomber force – thus freeing up those intercontinental missiles and bombers for being aimed at other targets. More broadly, it would allow the US to counter China’s large deployment of short-, medium-, and intermediate ballistic and cruise missiles in East Asia (including the DF-16, whose range is 1,000 kms, the DF-21, whose range is 1,770 kms, and the DF-26C, which boasts a 3,400 km range).

Withdrawal from the INF Treaty would also allow the US to expand its conventional precision strike options against any targets. Right now, the US relies singularly on conventional-armed, subsonic JASSM-ER and Tomahawk cruise missiles (whose range is just 1,000 and 1,700 kms, respectively) for attacking soft targets and on its tiny fleet of strategic bombers for attacking more distant and hardened targets. But those missiles and bombers are subsonic and thus not good at attacking fleeting or otherwise time-sensitive targets.

Contrary to Cirincione’s false claims, America has nothing to gain by remaining a party to the INF treaty, to which only America adheres, thus essentially disarming itself. But disarming the US unilaterally, so that it will be vulnerable to Russia, is precisely Ploughshares’ and ACA’s goal.

Moreover, the INF treaty is not blocking Russia from anything – even though it formally prohibits Moscow to deploy intermediate range missiles. But the Kremlin is simply not complying with it, and there is no Earthly force which can force it to. Treaties are worth something ONLY if all parties adhere to them; if one or more party violates them, they’re worthless. It’s time to recognize that the INF Treaty is a dead letter.

Fact: the useless INF and New START treaties are not barring Russia from anything.

Beyond INF, Moscow is also violating a host of other arms limitation agreements, including the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, the Open Skies Treaty, the Missile Technology Control Regime accord, the Budapest Memorandum, and the Vienna Memorandum, and has recently withdrawn from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.

Trash New START, Too

Likewise, it is in America’s best interest to immediately withdraw from the Obama administration’s utterly failed New START treaty and to start building up, not cutting, its strategic nuclear arsenal. It is utterly foolish to adhere to treaties Russia violates; it is even more foolish and downright suicidal to abide by treaties which require only the US – not Russia – to cut its nuclear arsenal.

Unsurprisingly, the pro-unilateral-disarmament crowd opposes this idea. ACA’s Tom Collina falsely claims that:

“Releasing Russia from existing limits on strategic nuclear forces makes no sense, especially at this time of severe tensions between the West and the Kremlin. (…) If the United States were to stop reducing its nuclear forces under the 2010 New START treaty, Russia would likely do the same, and could even build up its forces. (…) Rubio and his colleagues* go too far with a March 25 resolution that would hold Russia accountable for “being in material breach of its obligations” under the treaty by calling for a halt to U.S. implementation of further strategic nuclear reductions, a move that would likely trigger a similar Russian response.”

Collina’s claims are patently false, just like everything else ACA and Ploughshares claim. Russia is NOT reducing ANYTHING – except reducing arms control treaties to dead letters.

Russia is ALREADY building up its nuclear arsenal, and has been for several years – with the Russian nuclear buildup ACCELERATING after New START was ratified. That’s because New START obligates only the US – but not Russia – to cut its strategic nuclear arsenal, and doesn’t even limit Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal at all.

It is RUSSIA that is building up its nuclear arsenal, while the US is disarming itself unilaterally.

Moscow is currently:

  • increasing its total number of deployed strategic warheads;
  • replacing single-warhead Topol and Topol-M missiles with 6-warhead Yars ICBMs;
  • replacing 4-warhead Skiff sub-launched missiles with Bulava and Liner missiles capable of carrying 10-12 warheads;
  • building a new class of guided missile submarines;
  • resuming the production of Tu-160 strategic bombers, capable of carrying 12 nuclear warheads each;
  • in sum, adding greater quantities of warheads and warhead carriers of all types.

As with the INF treaty, the US needs to reconsider whether or not to slavishly and unilaterally adhere to an arms control treaty that leaves it completely disadvantaged vis-a-vis Russia.

Cirincione And Co. Claim to Follow Reagan, Yet Bash His Policies

But Cirincione and Co. don’t just insist on America’s unilateral compliance with INF; they openly claim Ronald Reagan’s deployment of intermediate range missiles was a “failed policy” that should not be revisited:

“If we built new intermediate-range missiles, where would we deploy them? Europe? The last time we tried that, millions of citizens took to the streets of Europe in protest of U.S. and Russian weapons. There is no reason to revisit the failed policies of the past.”

Actually, the REALLY failed policies of the past (and the present) are the arms control policies Ploughshares, the ACA, and the Obama administration advocate: disarming the US unilaterally, and unilaterally adhering to arms control treaties. This is supposed to encourage others to be nice and disarm themselves. In practice, it has never worked. It has always failed spectacularly.

Russia has NEVER complied with ANY arms control treaties it has signed. It has flagrantly violated every one of them. That previous US presidents have allowed Moscow to get away with that is NO justification for letting Russia off the hook today. THAT is one of the failed policies of the past.

By contrast, Reagan’s deployment of US intermediate-range missiles in 1983 – which Cirincione falsely claims was a “failed policy” – actually reestablished nuclear balance between the US and the USSR in Europe, countered Russia’s 1,200 intermediate-range missiles there, and in 1987 forced the Kremlin to come back to the negotiating table and agree to dismantle all of these missiles. Gorbachev wanted to stop the arms race and reduce Soviet military spending to try save the stagnant Soviet economy. But he couldn’t do so unilaterally, so he had to agree to a treaty.

Because you can bring Russians into agreement ONLY when negotiating and acting from a position of STRENGTH, not weakness and appeasement. Unilaterally adhering to arms control treaties nobody else complies with leads to America’s weakness and dramatically REDUCES America’s security. This is precisely what the Obama administration has been doing, and precisely what the arms control crowd advocates.

Cirincione is advocating an alternate version of history where Ronald Reagan was an anti-nuclear peacenik. Urging conservatives not to attack the international arms control regime, he falsely claims:

Before letting loose the wrecking ball, they should check in with one of the principle architects of the regime and one of the toughest and most pro-arms control presidents in U.S. history: Ronald Reagan. (…) This was never President Reagan’s approach.”

Dead wrong again. While Reagan did (wrongly) indulge in arms control bargaining, he never allowed arms reduction policies and accords to cut America’s defenses to inadequate levels or to leave the US at an inferior military position vis-a-vis its adversaries. He never signed any agreements, nor implemented any arms reduction policies, that he feared would leave the US disadvantaged. He rejected calls for a nuclear freeze and for abandoning the SDI and his large-scale nuclear arsenal modernization programme. For Reagan, arms control talks were subordinate to the US military’s needs and to the need to win the Cold War against the USSR – not the other way around.

ReaganPeaceQuote

Most importantly, when Ronald Reagan caught the Soviet Union cheating, he did not hesitate to withdraw the US from useless arms control accords. Such was the case with the SALT-II accord: when Reagan found the USSR in violation of the treaty, in 1986, he withdrew the US from it.

As Reagan himself said: “No violations of a treaty can be considered to be a minor matter, nor can there be confidence in agreements if a country can pick and choose which provisions of an agreement it will comply with.”

Cirincione invokes Reagan’s failure to withdraw the US from the ABM treaty in the face of Soviet violation of it as supposed “proof” Reagan would support his position, rather than urge INF treaty withdrawal.

This is completely wrong. The only reason Reagan didn’t withdraw the US from the ABM treaty was because liberals in the federal government, especially in the State Department, fiercely resisted the idea, and continued to until George W. Bush finally withdraw the US from that useless treaty. A fight against the entrenched liberals in the federal bureaucracy over the ABM treaty was, alas, beyond Reagan’s strength, time, and patience.

Cirincione also falsely accuses the US of violating the INF treaty:

The Russians have their own complaints about us. We have actually built a brand-new intermediate-range missile. But we don’t call it a missile. We call it a target and use it to test our anti-ballistic missile interceptors in the Pacific. The Russians think it violates the treaty; we disagree.”

But this is utterly false. The mock missiles used to test American missile defenses do NOT violate the INF treaty, because that treaty allows for mock missiles to be used as targets. Article VI, paragraph 3, of the treaty clearly states:

3. If a GLBM is of a type developed and tested solely to intercept and counter objects not located on the surface of the earth, it shall not be considered to be a missile to which the limitations of this Treaty apply.

Paragraph 11 of the same article also clearly states:

11. A ballistic missile which is not a missile to be used in a ground-based mode shall not be considered to be a GLBM if it is test-launched at a test site from a fixed land-based launcher which is used solely for test purposes and which is distinguishable from GLBM launchers.

Cirincione also complains that reintroducing American intermediate range missiles in Europe or Asia could spark protests like those of 1983 against American Pershing and cruise missiles. But these protests were financed by the Soviet Union, and in any case, America’s military deployments should be determined solely by America’s and its allies’ security needs, NOT European popular opinion.

****

So, to close, the question before US policymakers is quite simple:

Russia is flagrantly violating the INF treaty (and a host of other arms limitation agreements) by testing and deploying missiles banned by that accord, and has been doing so for years. In so doing, Moscow is gravely threatening America’s and its allies’ security. Should the US continue to UNILATERALLY adhere to treaties Russia is not abiding by and has no intention of abiding by?

This writer says no. The Obama administration, the Democratic Party, and arms control advocacy groups, however, say “yes, the US should continue unilaterally adhering to arms control treaties nobody else abides by.”

*******************

Footnotes:

[1] The INF Treaty prohibits both the US and Russia from producing or deploying any ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles which have a range equal to or exceeding 500 kms but not greater than 5,500 kms. The Iskander (SS-26 Stone) missile’s range is exactly 500 kms, putting it squarely within the INF Treaty’s jurisdiction and thus making it illegal.

[2] Kristensen is dead wrong, because the INF Treaty doesn’t merely prohibit the production, stockpiling, and deployment of ground-launched missiles of such range; it also prohibits maintaining any production, maintenance, storage, or test facilities for them (the treaty calls them “missile support facilities”):

9. The term “missile support facility,” as regards intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles and launchers of such missiles, means a missile production facility or a launcher production facility, a missile repair facility or a launcher repair facility, a training facility, a missile storage facility or a launcher storage facility, a test range, or an elimination facility as those terms are defined in the Memorandum of Understanding.

The Elimination Protocol attached to the treaty further stipulates that any test or training missiles and the associated equipment is ALSO subject to elimination:

3. For both Parties, all training missiles, training missile stages, training launch canisters and training launchers shall be subject to elimination.

 

4. For both Parties, all stages of intermediate-range and shorter-range GLBMs shall be subject to elimination.

Article IV of the treaty requires that not only the banned missiles themselves, but also their support facilities and support equipment be completely dismantled and never reconstituted:

Article IV

 

1. Each Party shall eliminate all its intermediate-range missiles and launchers of such missiles, and all support structures and support equipment of the categories listed in the Memorandum of Understanding associated with such missiles and launchers, so that no later than three years after entry into force of this Treaty and thereafter no such missiles, launchers, support structures or support equipment shall be possessed by either Party.

Yet, Russia has tested the prohibited R-500, SS-26, and RS-24 Rubezh missiles on some of its military proving grounds – which makes these test facilities a violation of the treaty – and has produced test examples as well as retained production facilities for intermediate range missiles – all of which is a violation of the above provisions of the treaty.

Rebuttal of Tom Collina’s blatant lies about US nukes

nukeexplosion

Last week,the leftist Breaking Defense website published an utterly ridiculous screed by one of the most strident advocates of America’s unilateral nuclear disarmament, Tom Collina, the “research director” of the Arms Control Association, which advocates disarming the US unilaterally and foregoing the deployment of any missile defense systems. (The ACA is funded by several grant-awarding organizations which also advocate America’s unilateral disarmament.

In his screed, Collina makes a lot of lies, all of which, of course, are designed to smear nuclear weapons and mislead the public into supporting that treasonous goal.

Here’s his biggest lie:

“However, at a time of increasingly tight budgets, the more we spend on excess nuclear weapons the less will be available for what Ukraine and NATO need most: economic aid and conventional military assistance.”

Total garbage. Firstly, America does NOT have “excess nuclear weapons” – if anything, it has too few. Russia has a (slightly) BIGGER nuclear arsenal than the US, totalling 2,800 strategic and up to 5,700 tactical nuclear weapons. In fact, Russia has more nuclear weapons (8,500) than the US, Britain, and France combined (8,200). Sources: the Federation of American Scientists and SIPRI’s 2013 Military Balance.

Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal alone rivals America’s in size, and is complemented by “tactical” nuclear weapons, many of which (the warheads of Russian cruise missiles) can be delivered to the US (because the aircraft and nuclear-powered submarines carrying them can travel intercontinental distances). And these warheads are NOT subject to any arms limitation treaty.

Russia’s ICBM fleet alone can deliver at least 1,684 warheads to the US; Russia’s submarine fleet, another 1,400; and Moscow’s bomber fleet (Tu-95s, Tu-22Ms, Tu-160s), another 2,000 if need be.

On top of that, the US has to deter China, North Korea, and Iran. China alone has at least 1,600 nuclear weapons and continues to build that arsenal up.

Not to mention the fact that Russia, China, NK, and Iran are threats to many but protectors to nobody, while the US has to provide a nuclear umbrella to itself and to over 30 allies around the world, many of whom will go nuclear if the US fails to provide an adequate umbrella. (Already 66% of South Koreans want to do that; meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has ordered nuclear weapons in Pakistan and DF-21 ballistic missiles in China.)

No, Mr Collina, the US nuclear arsenal is not excessive at all – if anything, it is too small.

As for economic aid, that is an obsolete, socialist idea. Ukraine needs to revive its economy by implementing free market policies, NOT begging for handouts.

“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned recently that “tough, tough choices are coming” if the Pentagon is forced to make deep spending cuts, as required by law. He may slash about 30,000 soldiers and retire an aircraft carrier.”

Excuse me? Those are supposed to be “tough choices”? Are you kidding me? Reducing the active duty Army to levels roughly equal to those of 9/11 and retiring a single carrier is not tough – it’s a no-brainer. It’s like picking the low-hanging fruit. (After Hagel’s cuts, the Army will be just slightly smaller than on 9/11, and the American people will have NO appetite or stomach for any more ground wars for a long time to come.)

Aircraft carriers are hugely expensive and extremely vulnerable, and their a/c have very little range. Flattops essentially provide NO return for the huge taxpayer investment they cost. I have already submitted an article dealing with this issue to Proceedings; it awaits the Editorial Board’s review.

It would be far better for the DOD to invest seriously in the single most reliable deterrent against aggression – the US nuclear umbrella – instead of blowing money on oversized land armies and very vulnerable flattops.

“As Crimea shows, these priorities are backwards. We must not allow our increasingly important conventional military forces to be undercut by excessive investments in nuclear weapons.”

Utter garbage as well. America’s conventional forces are not being undercut by the nuclear arsenal, whose total cost (ca. $32 bn per annum) is only 6% of the total military budget (roughly $600 bn in FY2014). Even eliminating it altogether would NOT save America’s conventional forces from sequestration. Sec. Hagel is absolutely right to make the nuclear deterrent a priority for the above reasons. As for conventional forces – don’t make me laugh. The unilateral disarmament movement, of which Collina is an active member, opposes BOTH America’s conventional and nuclear forces. The US nuclear deterrent is merely their first target on their way to disarming America unilaterally.

“And we don’t have to. The United States can stay at nuclear warhead levels set by the 2010 New START treaty and still save billions over the next decade by scaling back and delaying new delivery systems.”

Utter nonsense again. Firstly, New START levels are inadequate to deter Russia and China; second, New START is a worthless and treasonous treaty obligating only the US (not Russia) to cut its arsenal while Moscow is allowed to increase its own; and thirdly, Russia has cheated on EVERY arms control treaty it has signed, INCLUDING New START, as Bill Gertz has recently revealed in the WFB.

And “scaling back and delaying new delivery systems” would be utterly suicidal and a recipe for a Russian nuclear first strike. It would mean having far fewer systems (and thus a much less survivable arsenal), and NO new systems coming online for decades – at a time when existing delivery systems are already reaching the end of their service lives! This means, in practice, complete unilateral disarmament!

The Minuteman ICBM and air-launched cruise missiles will go out of service in the 2020s. The B-52 cannot operate in anything but friendly-controlled airspace. The Ohio class will start leaving service later this decade, and even under CURRENT funding projections, there will be a big gap in the SSBN fleet, with a low of just 10 boats in the early 2020s – unless the SSBN replacement program is hastened.

The cost of replacing them is not huge and will likely be far less than the $355 bn Collina falsely claims – but delaying it any further will significantly increase the price tag.

If a superior U.S. nuclear force did not restrain Moscow from annexing Crimea, how would an even larger force stop further Russian adventurism? It would not. The paradox of nuclear weapons is that they are too destructive to be used, so both sides are “deterred” from doing so.”

These are also blatant lies. The US nuclear arsenal, as proven above, is SMALLER and OLDER than Russia’s, and it was never intended or built to deter Russia from annexing… the Crimea, where it already had almost 30,000 troops and dozens of ships anyway. It was never intended to deter Russia from invading the Ukraine, which neither the US nor the EU had any intention of defending or supporting (and Putin knew it), a country the West has kept out of NATO and the EU and has essentially left to fend for itself.

Putin knew that the West would never offer more than verbal protests and tepid sanctions if he went into Ukraine. Which is why he did that. He knew that Ukraine was outside America’s security perimeter.

The US nuclear deterrent is intended to provide security for the US itself and for its NATO and non-NATO allies (e.g. SK, Japan) – and it has been doing that successfully, without any failure, ever since its inception in 1945.

And if nuclear weapons cannot deter Putin in the Crimea or elsewhere, conventional weapons – which have far less striking and thus deterring power – cannot do that, either. Is Collina suggesting the US deploy its soldiers in the Ukraine and used in a shooting war with Russia? Does he envisage US Army BCTs taking on Russian brigades? Because if he’s not, conventional forces are utterly useless in Ukraine.

As former US Strategic Command leader Gen. Kevin Chilton has stated, conventional weapons cannot replace nuclear arms as deterrents, because the former lack the overwhelming striking (and thus deterring) power of nuclear arms.

Collina also approvingly quotes former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, who has falsely claimed that:

“Nuclear-weapons enthusiasts seem to have an inexhaustible appetite for bad arguments.”

In fact, Western anti-nuke activists, the advocates of the West’s unilateral disarmament, seem to have an inexhaustible appetite for bad arguments, lying, and disarming their own countries unilaterally.

And while nuclear weapons might not be useful in Ukraine, there is little the US can do there anyway (who’s suggesting putting US conventional troops there?). But building up the US nuclear arsenal and accelerating missile defense deployment in Europe would do three good things:

1) Increase US and allied security by finally providing a bigger, more adequate, and modernized deterrent;

2) Finally showing strength to Russia after many years of appeasement and unilateral disarmament – which is what emboldened Russia to take one aggressive action after another, culminating in the invasion of Ukraine; and

3) Be a huge geopolitical, diplomatic, and prestige defeat for Russia, which strongly opposes both. It’s time to stop giving Russia what it wants. It would mean Russia has finally lost the veto on US and NATO security matters that Obama gave Moscow in 2009 by cancelling GBI missile defense deployment in Europe. Russia (and other aggressors and bullies) only understand the language of force, and they respect only those who are stronger than them. To deter Russia and have a better negotiating position vis-a-vis Moscow, the US needs to have stronger nuclear AND conventional forces.

BreakingDefense itself approvingly published Collina’s screed and falsely called him:

“Tom Collina, a respected expert in nuclear weapons and arms control…”

Balderdash. Collina is not a “respected expert” on anything, ESPECIALLY not nuclear weapons and arms control. He’s an ignoramus and an ideological advocate of America’s unilateral disarmament. Calling him an expert is an insult to every real expert out there. Being a longtime anti-nuclear activist does not make one an expert. And while I would not call myself one, I know far more about nuclear weapons than he ever will.

Shame on him for lying so blatantly and advocating America’s unilateral disarmament, and shame on BD for publishing his utterly ridiculous screed.

CNS and Cirincione are lying; America needs a LARGE nuclear deterrent

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The leftist, California-based “Center for Nonproliferation Studies” and the also leftist, Democrat-run CBO have recently released rigged “studies” claiming that nuclear weapons modernization and maintenance will cost the US $355 bn over the next decade and$1 trillion over the next 30 years.

These figures are wildly exaggerated and not based on any accurate statistics, and their purpose, of course, is to propagandize and mislead the public and the Congress into foregoing the US nuclear deterrent’s modernization – thus allowing it to decay and rust out due to old age. In other words, these leftists want to disarm the US through nonmodernization and nonreplacement of its nuclear deterrent – by simply allowing it to decay without refit or replacement.

Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione, a radical anti-nuke leftist activist whom Frank Gaffney has often humiliated on TV, goes even further and demands deep cuts to America’s nuclear deterrent right now. He falsely claims that the deterrent is still configured to prevent a massive nuclear attack by Russia and not to counter 21st century challenges. He falsely claims further that “configuring” the nuclear arsenal to counter “21st century threats” would permit radical, deep cuts in that arsenal.

All of these are blatant lies. I’ll show you why. I’ll start with why the US needs to maintain a large nuclear arsenal and modernize all of its legs.

So why exactly?

Because the 21st century threat environment – the very environment Cirincione claims to be concerned about – requires a large, modern US nuclear arsenal.

The biggest threats to US security by far are Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran (in that order). Nothing else comes even close to posing as much a security threat as these four hostile dictatorships. Specifically, it is their military buildups, and particularly their nuclear programs, that pose the biggest threat to US, allied, and world security.

Russia and China both have large nuclear arsenals. Moscow has 2,800 strategic nuclear warheads (according to the Federation of American Scientists), of which 1,500 are deployed and 50 further will be soon, and around 4,000 tactical nuclear warheads (many of which can be delivered against the US). To deliver them, Russia has over 410 ICBMs, 13 ballistic missile submarines, 251 strategic bombers, and around 20 attack submarines capable of carrying nuclear cruise missiles anywhere in the world. To deliver its tactical warheads, Russia has those attack submarines plus short-range ballistic missiles, attack aircraft, surface warships, artillery pieces, and IRBMs such as the Yars-M.

China has at least 1,600, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, according to former Russian missile force chief Gen. Viktor Yesin and Georgetown Professor Philip Karber (who was the DOD’s chief nuclear strategist under President Reagan). To deliver them, Beijing wields 75-87 ICBMs (and is adding more every year), 120-160 strategic bombers, 6 ballistic missile subs, over 120 MRBMs, over 1,200 SRBMs, and 280 tactical strike aircraft. Note that China, like Russia, is adding more nuclear weapons and delivery systems every year.

Both Moscow and Beijing are now growing and rapidly modernizing their nuclear triads: they are developing, producing, and deploying next-generation ICBMs, ballistic missile subs, and bombers. Both of them are now developing stealthy intercontinental bombers capable of hitting the US, as well as rail-mobile ICBMs.

To cut the US nuclear arsenal any further, let alone deeply, in the face of these aggressive Russian and Chinese nuclear buildup aimed exclusively at the US and its allies, would be utterly suicidal and indeed treasonous. It would openly invite a Russian or Chinese nuclear first strike on the US.

That’s because, in order to be survivable and credible, a nuclear arsenal MUST be large – no smaller than the enemy’s. Otherwise, it will be very easy for the enemy to destroy in a preemptive first strike, and even without one, it will be too small to hold most of the enemy’s military and economic assets at risk.

Moscow and Beijing not only have large nuclear arsenals, they’re quite willing to use them. In fact, in the last 7 years, Russia has threatened to aim or use nuclear weapons against the US or its allies on 16 separate occassions, and in the last 2 years has flown nuclear-armed bombers into or close to US and allied airspace. In May 2012, when its bombers overtly practiced a nuclear strike on Alaska, the Russian Air Force said to the press it was “practicing attacking the enemy.”

Not only that, but in its military doctrine Russia openly claims a right to use nuclear weapons first – even if the opponent does not have any nuclear weapons!

Moreover, the US now has to deter not only Russia and China, but North Korea and Iran as well.

On top of that, the US has to provide a credible nuclear deterrent not only to itself, but to over 30 allies around the world: all NATO members, Israel, Gulf countries, and Pacific allies such as the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea. These allies are watching the state of the US nuclear arsenal closely and will develop their own if the US cuts its umbrella further. Thus making the problem of proliferation – which the CNS and Ploughshares falsely pretend to be concerned about – that much worse.

The truth is that the need for a large nuclear deterrent, and the nuclear triad, has never been greater. America needs them now more than ever. In this 21st century threat environment marked by three (soon to be four) hostile nuclear powers, two of them with large nuclear arsenals, it would be utterly suicidal and foolish to cut the US nuclear arsenal further, let alone deeply so.

OK, but what about the cost?

The cost isn’t – and will not be – nearly as high as the CNS and the CBO falsely claim. It will amount to roughly $200 bn per decade according to the DOD and the Air Force Global Strike Command.

But even if one accepts the CBO’s exaggerated figure of $355 bn per decade, that still amounts to only $35.5 bn per year, out of a total military budget of $607 bn in FY2014. That is a paltry 5.8% of the military budget.

Anyone who claims that America cannot afford to invest 35.5 bn per year – a meager 5.8% of its military budget – in modernizing its nuclear deterrent (its most valuable shield against aggression) – is an idiot or a deceitful, lying bastard.

In fact, even the leftist Center for Nonproliferation Studies admits in its “study” that even at the peak of US nuclear modernization efforts, the US will devote only 3% of its military budget to nuclear modernization. Which means 97% will be spent on non-nuclear programs. And that’s during the peak years of nuclear modernization efforts. The CNS says such proportions would be similar to those seen under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s – the last time the US modernized its nuclear deterrent.

(Indeed, if the cost of nuclear modernization seems great, it is precisely because of the many decades of nonmodernization, neglect, precipitous cuts, and underfunding of the US nuclear arsenal. These many decades of neglect have consequences, and the bill for these three decades of negligence has now arrived.)

Furthermore, the CNS itself admits that the US spends only 8 billion dollars per year maintaining its nuclear triad. This is consistent with USAF figures, according to which ICBMs cost only $1.1 bn, and bombers only $2.5 bn, per year to maintain.

But the CNS and other leftist organizations – such as the ACA and the CLW – still have the nerve to claim that nuclear modernization, and in particular Ohio class submarine replacement, “threatens to jeopardize the rest of the fleet.” This is a blatant lie, considering that by their own admission nuclear modernization, even at peak years, will consume only 3-6% of the total military budget.

The fact is that America’s nuclear weapons budget and modernization programme is, and will certainly remain, way too small to threaten any conventional programs.

On the contrary, it is conventional weapon programs’ escalating costs that are threatening nuclear modernization. For example, the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, will cost $12.8 bn by the time it’s completed, and the next carrier, the Kennedy, will cost $10.8 bn. The tri-service F-35 Junk Strike Fighter program will cost an astounding $391 bn to develop and procure!

The Navy could save itself a lot of money, and be able to buy lots of different ships (including new SSBNs) if it ended its obsession with hyperexpensive and vulnerable aircraft carriers, cut its carrier fleet, invested more in submarines, and dramatically cut its internal bureaucracy – ESPECIALLY at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), which procures ships.

The fact is that the US nuclear modernization program is perfectly affordable, cheap, and absolutely necessary in light of the nuclear threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. Therefore, the claims of the CNS, the ACA, the CLW, Ploughshares, and other leftist, anti-nuclear organizations are utterly false, as always.

Rebuttal of Tom Collina’s and Kingston Reif’s call to cut nukes

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The US nuclear deterrent – cut by over 75% since the Cold War’s end – is now barely adequate, yet the leftist anti-nuclear-deterrence movement wants to cut it deeply even further and eventually scrap it altogether. They want that to happen unilaterally, without Russia or anyone else’s participation.

Why? Because these people, such as the ACA’s Tom Collina and the CLW’s Kingston Reif, genuinely hate the US and would love to see it nuked.

It was therefore not surprising (even though not pleasant, either) to see both of these rabid anti-nuclear activists to write new garbage screeds calling for deep, unilateral cuts in the US nuclear arsenal and the fleet of its delivery systems – ostensibly to save money. These pacifists are now laughably casting themselves as friends of the US military who want to help it cope with sequestration and save its conventional capabilities.

They claim that a) such cuts can be done without imperiling US national security; b) they would save much money to help the DOD cope with sequestration; c) they would help save higher-priority conventional programs; d) the US has more nuclear weapons than it needs.

All of their claims are utter garbage. Here’s why.

Firstly, contrary to their, and their Dear Leader Barack Obama’s, blatant lies, the US DOES NOT have “more nuclear weapons than it needs.” In fact, the current number – roughly 5,000, of which only about 1,700 are deployed – is barely adequate to deter Russia, China, and North Korea. The current commander of the US Strategic Command (responsible for America’s nuclear weapons) and his predecessor have both said that the current size of the arsenal is “exactly what we need.” Those are General Kehler’s words, not mine. Both of them have also utterly rejected calls for further deep cuts.

Thus also refuting Collina’s lie that “the US military is telling us we have more nuclear weapons than we need.” The US military has not said any such thing.

Why? And why have both Secretary Hagel and Deputy Secretary Carter – to the displeasure of Tom Collina – rejected calls for further cuts?

Because further cuts to America’s nuclear deterrent would gravely undermine US national security and quite possibly invite a nuclear first strike on the US.

In order to deter any adversary, a nuclear arsenal has to be able to a) survive a first strike by any enemy; and b) hold, and if need be, obliterate, so many of the enemy’s military and economic assets that the cost of American retaliation will be prohibitive to him and hence, he won’t retaliate.

For both of these purposes, you need a LARGE nuclear arsenal; a small one will never suffice, as it would be too easy to destroy in a nuclear first strike.

No amount of conventional weapons can substitute here; only nuclear weapons have a sufficient striking and retaliatory power.

The US needs thousands, not mere hundreds, of deployed nuclear warheads to deter Russia and China, and many hundreds of delivery systems to deliver these warheads – at minimum, no fewer than the current number.

Russia currently has 434 ICBMs capable of delivering 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; 251 bombers able to deliver 1,757 warheads to the same destination; and 13 ballistic missile subs capable of unleashing another 2,000 nuclear warheads on the US, depending on the missile type used.

On top of that, Russia has a huge tactical nuclear arsenal of 4,000 warheads and a wide range of systems (missiles, torpedoes, artillery pieces, aircraft, etc.) to deliver these, and is also developing an IRBM in flagrant violation of the INF treaty.

And if that were not enough, it’s also developing new road- and rail-mobile ICBMs, while the US is not developing any, and has not fielded a single new ICBM since the 1980s.

And on top of that, Russia has recently conducted a huge nuclear attack exercise involving several ICBMs and SLBMs, as well as several SRBMs, being fired at once – an exercise US intel agencies say were a simulation of a Russian nuclear attack!

Yet, Collina and Reif want the US to unilaterally cut its ICBM fleet from 450 to a paltry 300, the nuclear warhead stockpile to 1,000 or fewer warheads, and the ballistic missile sub fleet to just 8 boats!

China, contrary to the claims of American anti-nuclear activists, has at least 1,600, and potentially up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, according to two credible experts: General Viktor Yesin, a former chief of staff of Russia’s ICBM force, and Professor Philip Karber, the DOD’s chief nuclear strategist during the Reagan years and now a Georgetown University professor. This writer himself has estimated that China has at least 1,274 deployed nuclear warheads, without counting any of the 500 warheads attributed to China’s ground-launched cruise missiles or short-range ballistic missiles. If these are counted, China has at least 1,774 deployed nuclear warheads.

China’s nuclear arsenal is not at a standstill; Beijing is now introducing a new, 10-warhead ICBM called the DF-41, and two new sub-launched missile variants capable of carrying up to 12 warheads over 14,000 kms, as well as a sixth ballistic missile submarine.

This, BTW, completely belies China’s claim to have a “minimum nuclear deterrent” – but then again, deception is a practice deeply ingrained in Chinese military culture since at least the Sun Tzu years, if not earlier.

Additionally, while Russia, China, and North Korea are threats to many but protectors to nobody, the US has to provide a nuclear deterrent not only to itself but also to over 30 allies around the world, who rely on it for their security and their very existence. And they cannot afford to bet these on Obama’s, Collina’s, and Reif’s childish fantasies of a “world without nuclear weapons”, which will never happen.

If the US continues to further cut its nuclear umbrella, it will become woefully inadequate, forcing other countries to develop their own weapons. Already 66.5% of South Koreans want to do so. Persian Gulf states are already preparing to do so, in the face of the future Iranian nuclear threat. Japan, for its part, has facilities that can produce enough fissile material for 3,600 warheads in a matter of months if Tokyo chooses to go nuclear.

So cutting the US nuclear arsenal further will only lead to MORE nuclear proliferation around the world, not less.

But wouldn’t it at least save lots of money?

No, it wouldn’t.

Deputy Secretary Carter has already warned there is little that can be saved even by cutting the nuclear arsenal deeply. Collina condemns DOD officials for thinking nuclear weapons are cheap, but even he admits that they cost, overall, only $31 bn per year and that this is little compared to the overall US military budget.

Indeed, $31 bn is just 5% of the roughly $600 bn annual US military budget, and only 5/6 of 1% of the annual federal budget. It is also only about $100 per capita (for a US population of roughly 310 mn people).

So it costs every American (and immigrant) only $100 per year to maintain this large, diverse, three-legged, survivable nuclear deterrent which, for the last 68 years (and counting) has protected America against Russia, China, and North Korea.

Collina proposes to “dial back” the B61 nuclear bomb’s service life extension, cut the ballistic missile sub fleet (and its planned replacement) to just eight boats, delay the next generation bomber program by a decade, and cut the ICBM fleet from 450 to “300 or fewer” (there is no lower limit on cuts to US ICBMs that Collina would ever consider).

Collina desperately responds to such criticism that in fiscally dire times, every saving that can be accrued is worthy. But such puny savings are worthless – and even dangerous when they are made in the inventory of such crucial instruments of deterrence as nuclear weapons, which nothing can replace today.

Cutting the US nuclear arsenal further – let alone as deeply as Collina and Reif suggest – is not only not worth the puny savings it would accrue, it would be utterly suicidal, as it would invite (God forbid) a nuclear first strike on America and its allies. A much smaller US arsenal would be much easier for Russia and China to destroy in a first strike.

Preventing such a strike is, and out to be, THE highest priority of the DOD – as confirmed by Sec. Hagel and Deputy Secretary Carter. It is worth far more than any amount of money.

And at just 5% of the military budget and a paltry $100 per capita, it is a very low cost.

When lean budgetary years come, no sane company or organization cuts its budget by eliminating the most valuable service it provides. And nuclear deterrence is by far the most valuable service the military provides to the nation.

Collina’s proposal to delay the next-gen bomber by a decade is very dangerous (and treasonous) also for another reason: the next gen bomber is needed for conventional, not just nuclear, missions. This is because the B-52 (whose retention Collina advocates) and the non-nuclear B-1 have long ago lost ability to penetrate Soviet airspace (in fact, the B-1 never had it – it was obsolete by the time it entered service). Their radar signatures are so large that even legacy Soviet air defense systems, such as those owned by North Korea, would have no trouble detecting them and shooting them down.

That’s to say nothing of the modern, state of the art air defense systems used by Russia, China, Venezuela, and Belarus, and soon to be delivered to both Syria and Iran. No aircraft except the B-2 and the F-22 will be able to penetrate these systems – and experts such as CSBA’s Mark Gunzinger (a retired bomber pilot) say that even the B-2 will, a decade from now, lose its penetrating ability. Which would leave the US with no bomber able to penetrate enemy airspace – and thus give enemies complete sanctuary within their airspace and on the land below it.

And when you give your enemy any sanctuary, you lose the war.

The next-gen bomber is therefore absolutely needed – NOW, not a decade from today. The requirement for it has been validated by two consecutive QDRs (2006, 2010), by successive SECDEFs (Gates, Panetta, Carter) and USAF Chiefs of Staff (Moseley, Schwartz, Welsh), and by a wide range of outside-DOD studies by the CSBA, the Heritage Foundation, the Mitchell Institute, the Joint Force Quarterly, and others, including this writer. The USAF says delaying this program would be “very high risk.”

The NGB is not a mere wish; it is an absolute requirement. The USAF’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Welsh, lists it as one of his top three modernization priorities, along with the KC-46 tanker and the F-35 strike fighter.

Collina’s claim that making such cuts in nuclear weapons is necessary to cope with sequestration is also a blatant lie, and a figleaf for advocating deep, treasonous cuts that he and his treasonous, subversive organization (ACA), as well as other anti-nuclear groups like Kingston Reif’s CLW, have long been calling for in order to disarm America unilaterally.

Eliminating the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad would save only $1.1 bn per year; scrapping the bomber leg, only $2.5 bn per annum.

In fact, even eliminating the US nuclear arsenal completely would not provide more than half of the savings required to pay for sequestration, which amounts to $55 bn EVERY YEAR and $550 bn over the decade from FY2013 to FY2022.

The real money in the defense budget is in the military personnel accounts – pay, benefits, healthcare, retirement packages, etc. – which have, so far, been considered sacrosanct and off the table, based on the mistaken belief that even touching them would mean “breaking faith with the troops.” If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree on, it’s stonewalling any DOD requests for authorizing reforms of personnel programs.

Yet, without meaningful reforms, personnel programs will, by FY2039, consume 100% of the US defense budget – leaving no money for any weapons, nuclear or conventional.

And that is probably what Collina and Reif want.