OBAMA TO ANNOUNCE MAJOR NUCLEAR CUTS 5/21/13
President Barack Obama is set to announce a new round of strategic nuclear warhead reductions in the near future as part of a disarmament agenda that could reduce U.S. strategic warheads to as few as 1,000 weapons.
The next round of U.S.-Russian arms talks would follow Obama’s expected announcement that the United States’ arsenal of strategic warheads can be reduced unilaterally to around 1,000 warheads. That position is expected as part of the Pentagon’s long-delayed Nuclear Posture Review implementation study that Obama was expected to sign earlier this year.
Obama may make the cuts — fully one-third of the nation’s arsenal — by executive action and without Congressional authorization.
Specialists on nuclear deterrence say further cuts beyond the 1,550 deployed warheads mandated by the 2010 New START arms treaty could undermine the United States’ ability to deter nuclear powers like Russia and China, who have significant modernization programs for their nuclear arsenals underway.
Further cuts also are likely to embolden other non-nuclear states, including Japan, to consider building their own nuclear arsenals, analysts say.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney said the administration is seeking to unilaterally disarm U.S. nuclear forces, something that is “the most dangerous thing I have ever seen an American president attempt to do.”
Concerns among military commanders in charge of nuclear deterrence that China’s nuclear arsenal is expanding more rapidly than anticipated, and that Russia and other nuclear states, including Pakistan and North Korea, are modernizing their forces.
The Obama administration appears to be getting ready to limit U.S. missile defenses in a new agreement with Russia.
Obama wrote a still-secret letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin that was delivered in Moscow by White House National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon during a visit there in mid-April. The letter “addresses problems of military policy, including the missile defense and nuclear arsenals issues.”
Despite the Obama administration’s pledge to not complete the final phase of its missile-defense program in Eastern Europe, Moscow remains vehemently opposed to the U.S- backed NATO plan to deploy a series of sea- and land-based missile defenses in Europe over the next five years. Washington says the deployment is meant to counter Iran’s long-range missiles. Republicans on Capitol Hill who fear the president is now following through on his open-microphone comment in March 2012 to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.
Obama was overheard promising the Russians “more flexibility” on missile defenses after the November election.
Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, said recently the administration’s review of the nuclear war plan is nearly complete and “is likely to recommend significant further U.S. nuclear-force reductions.”
To avoid congressional opposition and a difficult Senate ratification process, is planning to make the next round of cuts through an executive agreement rather than a treaty that requires Senate approval.
Rogers vowed to oppose that process. “Let me be clear: I intend to ensure that no further reductions to U.S. nuclear forces, including New START treaty reductions, will occur without a formal treaty or explicit, affirmative authorization by Congress,”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Air Force to conduct an environmental impact statement of shutting down an entire wing of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles — one of the clearest signs of coming additional force cuts. The New START treaty contains no provision for shuttering an ICBM facility.
Every other nuclear power is building up their arsenals,” the U.S. official said.
The Russia strategic buildup is stark, officials say. It includes the following new systems:
• A new mobile ICBM called the Yars-M to be deployed later this year that will use a more powerful fuel, allowing the missile to better defeat missile defenses. The missile will have a range of up to 6,835 miles and have 10 warheads.
• A new rail-mobile ICBM is being deployed by 2020. The Soviet Union was the first to deploy a rail-mobile SS24 in the 1980s.
• New submarines are being deployed with new submarine-launched Bulava missiles.
• A new strategic bomber to be deployed by 2020.
• A new Kh-102 air-launched cruise missile will be deployed by 2013 and a new Kaliber submarine-launched cruise missile is being developed.
China’s strategic nuclear buildup also has been under way for a decade and includes three new road-mobile ICBMs: the DF-31, DF-31A, and DF-41, and a new submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-2. China is building two new classes of missile submarines — one for nuclear ballistic missiles and one for conventional cruise missiles.
U.S. intelligence agencies estimate China has a relatively small nuclear arsenal of around 240 warheads. The recent Chinese defense white paper, the authoritative statement of Chinese military and defense policy, for the first time made no mention of the no-first-use nuclear policy, raising new concerns that China is on the path for a large-scale strategic nuclear-warhead buildup. The shift from single-warhead to multiple-warhead missiles is changing the strategic balance.
180 new Chinese nuclear warheads that we have to plan for.” China recently deployed the first of its unique intermediate range anti-ship ballistic missiles designed to defeat U.S. aircraft carriers that are the key platform that would be used in any defense of Taiwan, The missiles, known as the DF-21D, are considered a major threat to U.S. naval forces operating in the western Pacific.
Asked during a recent congressional hearing if Chinese naval forces are a worry, Adm. Jonathan Greenert said: “I would just say that I’m vigilant!
Pakistan also is developing more modern nuclear warheads and missiles to deliver them, U.S. officials said. Pakistan is said to be getting assistance from China.
India, Pakistan’s rival, also recently tested a new intercontinental-ballistic missile and is working on an advanced ICBM.
All of this while the U.S. Strategic Command Calls for Modernization.
The commander of U.S. nuclear forces said he is concerned about cuts in both the number of warheads as well as shortages in funding needed to modernize aging nuclear weapons and infrastructure.
Rogers said he is concerned about “the sorry state of the nuclear modernization commitments made during the last round” of talks with Russia.
The New START Treaty, noting its significant gaps. While bringing Russia and the United States to parity in strategic nuclear weapons of 1,550 each, it allowed Russia to maintain its sizeable advantage in tactical nuclear warheads, with an estimated stockpile of 3,800 such weapons. The United States, in comparison, has less than 500.
Rogers said in a recent speech that funding levels agreed to in 2010 were the “minimum required to accomplish this modernization.” However, the administration is underfunding nuclear forces by between $1 billion and $1.6 billion, he said. Among the weapons systems in jeopardy is the replacement for the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine, which is being delayed.
And one of the most urgently needed facilities — a plutonium laboratory in New Mexico — was canceled.
U.S. programs being delayed included the submarine-launched Trident D-5, which is now two years late and will not be deployed until 2029 at the earliest.
The Obama administration’s approach to strategic nuclear cuts fits the model of what the late U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Jeanne Kirkpatrick called the “blame America first” advocates.
“They see everything in the world as all the United States’ fault and want to restrict our strategic forces as a solution,” the official said.
Sources—newsmax, bill gertz,