Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear Weapons’

Christopher Lee

July 14, 2013

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The Binning of Trident – a Great Opportunity to Guarantee Election in 2015

16th July 2013

Today the LibDem view on the options on what to do about replacing the UK Trident intercontinental ballistic missile system have been published.  How come Clegg & Co are supporting nuclear weapons anyway?

They’ve joined the club called government when all three major political parties have agreed not to even consider getting rid of the UK’s nuclear weapon system altogether. Thus even the LibDems, that party of the campaign for nuclear disarmament, have copped out of eye-balling the US and saying we’re still your conventional pals but not nuclear inmates.

The Tories have always been the Party of nuclear capability so their position is understandable.

Labour wants to keep nuclear weapons because in spite of it s general image as a Party against them its leadership has always been in favour of nuclear weapons policies since the leadership of Hugh Gaitskell in the early 1960s. Modernization of nuclear systems have been carried out nunder Labour governments.

The decision to deploy American cruise missiles in the UK in 1979 may have been a Thatcher decision, but the original agreement with the United States to bring them to the UK was made by the Callaghan Labour government in March – two months before the Tories got in that Spring.

The LibDems have been the Party against the deployment of nuclear weapons. Today they publicly agree to stay a nuclear power because that’s the only way they see of staying in government. No point in voting for them if you’re looking for the obvious solution for the appalling A&E system. (Trident costs = A&E costs for 20 years. You choose.)

The government is thinking about Trident because the present system of aging submarines and out-dated missiles will need replacing in about ten years or so. The first replacement should, if that’s the way the UK goes, should be in service by about 2028.

The system works its theoretical task with four boats each with 16 missiles carrying multiple re-entry warheads. A crude illustration would imagine a missile launch from somewhere deep in an ocean, going into orbit, re-entering the earths atmosphere and multiple warheads descending like a cascade onto more than one target.

To do this properly, the Royal Navy “needs” four boats. One is on a three month submerged patrol. One is getting ready. One is on standby, assisted maintenance or testing and the the fourth, is in total refit. The idea then is that there is always one fully nuclear armed submarine at sea. That would be the easiest replacement option, albeit an expensive one, to go with the system you know works.

Of course even that proposition is hard to get along with without asking the obvious question: how do you know it works? You have never been tested.

There is no record of a British nuclear warhead in a submarine ever scaring off an enemy about to attack or as it is is said it does, of acting as a deterrent to other countries not to mess with the UK.

The other options open to the government and ones that will be discussed at the Royal United Services Institute in London today include keeping the present system but with three instead of four Trident boats; putting nuclear armed missiles cruise missiles in more conventional submarines; returning to cheaper but vulnerable land-based systems.

What no one will properly consider is why the UK still wants a so-called nuclear deterrent. The Cold War was an easy strategic assessment.  The USSR had missiles and aimed them at the UK. So British missiles were aimed at the USSR. Simple. But that was then. Who today are we to aim at?

The deterrence is aimed at other nuclear states – a couple of which appear on the Intelligence Upsums as Unpredictable – Could Do Anything.

If we are aiming at basket-case powers, then no Brit deterrent is going to scare them off.  If we are aiming at another nuclear power,  say, China does anyone believe that the British force will stop what is known in the military jargon as a Nuclear Release? (Under present planning contingency, the UK has Washington as one of its targets in case the world is upside down one day).

When he was Defence Secretary in the 1980s, Michael Heseltine – one of the best in that trade – was convinced that if the UK did not have nuclear weapons, it would not buy them. That is the question that is not in government thinking this week and will not be.  There are no big thinkers in government. But Cameron et al should be asking the Heseltine question: if we did not have nukes, would we order them? Answer is No. So todays question is this: why replace them?

Britain says it supports nuclear disarmament. Yet new nuclear systems to replace Trident will violate existing treaties.  That is almost a political decision. So it matters not.

But why is it that no British political leader has the guts to say: we must ask ourselves what water-tight case is there for getting new nuclear warheads. No one will ask that question because the answer is there is no water-tight case.

Without taking a moral or CND position it is a fact that the UK no longer needs these systems.  It will not be in a more vulnerable place if it did not renew. In times not so long past, Labour and Liberals would say get rid of Polaris or Trident and the UK could fund the NHS A&E for decades to come. In the present economic difficult the British electorate would buy that. A smart politician should do the sums in time for the 2015 general election.

The decision on Trident does not have to be taken until the year after.

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Christopher Lee

March 31, 2013

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Korea: The Director’s Cut.  Not Good Viewing

30th March 2013

Kim Jong-un is the movie buff who runs North Korea and wants a silo-load of nuclear tipped missiles to frighten the other guy, the other guy being President Barack Obama who is not a movie buff  but does have enough nuclear warheads to meltdown North Korea in an afternoon.

Kim Jong-un hasn’t the firepower to melt a marshmallows.  You would have thought no contest.  You would have thought wrong.

The North Korean has America prancing around the region like a tag wrestler winding up his image; China wondering what the hell it has to do to keep junior in line; the Japanese doing gold pen affairs on any defence treaty that will make them feel secure – which they will not – and, South Korea saying that maybe the latest north-south of the Panmunjon line spat is just another incident and it’ll go away some time soon.

There’s major problem in all this. Kim the movie man has to learn the difference between a trailer and a main feature and Washington is banking on this. So is China. So is Japan.

 

Kim has ordered his troops to go stand-by for a full scale war against America and South Korea.  He’s pulled the plug on the hot line. He’s told his rocketeers to point them south – long range and short. Targets are on his mental pinboard: Guam. Hawaii. Washington State and DC – he doesn’t care which zip code gets it.

According to this man “The time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation.” Which is what?

Back in February, Kim’s people ran a nuclear test. The UN, egged by the US, raised further sanctions on North Korea. The Americans are running manoeuvres with the South Korean military.  They’ve flown a couple of long range Stealth bomber operations over the Korean peninsular, had two dummy bombing B-52s in the area and made sure Kim’s seen the newsreels.

Kim says all this is bad news and shows no respect for his position.  He does not mention that he has to prove to his generals that he’s no easy shake down when it comes to facing off Obama. So then we get warm to the problem.

It could be of course that Kim is hanging on to an old North Korean tradition.  Every time there is a new President in South Korea, the North Koreas wing off a couple of rounds and test the resolve of the new man.  Just last month, South Korea got a new President, Park Geun-hye.   

Well that could explain everything excepting that Kim needs fast track nuclear weapons development so that he can get one-on-one respect from the US because any White House will be nervous of any genuine nuclear power.  Kim knows his recent history.  

India and Pakistan were given a hard time by America when it was heard they may be getting into nuclear weapons.  But once they were in, the rhetoric from Pennsylvania Avenue dropped to flesh pressing and newest best friends rating.  

And now Kim sees Iran getting the hard time from America just like him.  He also senses that if America had been going to do something about Iran, they would have done so or got their Middle East legman, Israel to do it.  They may still happen but Kim is not betting what’s left of the North Korean ranch on it.

But Washington’s nervousness is that Obama’s analysts are telling him that Kim has pulled this Red Alert trick before and backed down. So nothing to worry about.  Not so say Obama’s think tankers.  Could be that Kim realizes that his own generals and the crowds in the big state capital Pyongyang Square on 24-hour demo are going to be thinking that the wonderful leader is just big on screaming Death To The US Imperialists and nothing else.  Seems the whole nation is short on respect.

So the real fear is not an all-out rocket attack from the North Koreans but just maybe there’ll be a couple of fly-over rockets and maybe a border incident, maybe two.

There’s a dull truth that the Americans don’t want to share.  North Korea really is on the same sort of position as Iran.  If Kim wants nuclear weapons, chances are that the US will not, in spite of the diplomatic arm twisting, be able to do anything about it.  In the Middle East, the people to stop the Iranians at lastminute-dot-bomb are the Israeli.  They have the regional interest that cannot be denied and the rest of the world that matters in this business will leave it to them.

In the Far East, China is the local Israel.  They have the most to lose if North Korea go nuclear. They may not pull a raid on the test facilities, but they are the only hope of cutting Kim down to size.

The realistic thinking in the White House is that China won’t do it and North Korea won’t go down the diplomatic trail.  Then what?  That’s the last superpower’s problem.  The US doesn’t know what to do.  They talk about Kim having something to prove.  He hasn’t really. But this American President has.  Next American president may well discover on her or his watch, that North Korea is about to get the kiloton magic mushroom.  Then what happens?  Washington doesn’t know. That is what’s known as scary diplomacy especially in a week when US movie buffs are watching a new release.  It’s theme is a North Korean attack on America. This is not a trailer.

Camridge-Washington Crisis Group

February 12, 2013

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Christopher Lee

12th February 2013

US Sends Congratulations To North Korea For Its Third Nuclear Test

 

Great news from North Korea: they have successfully carried out a third nuclear test. 

 

It may not be enough for a full-fledged nuclear warhead, but they are getting there.  With this news, the North Koreans should be congratulated by all freedom loving governments. 

 

Those governments – Israel, the US, the UK, France, Russia, India, Pakistan and of course loving neighbor China – have great experience in this area and fully appreciate the determination and political courage it takes to get this far.

 

The North Koreans must be further congratulated on two major points:

 

Firstly they have coincided their rocket testing with the progress on nuclear development.

 

This shows the well thought through planning that the then Soviet Union started in 1957 and the second stage nuclear weapon development that even the United States struggled to achieve from 1968 onwards. 

 

So we know that both Russia and America will surely be sending Well Done flowers to Kim Il Un.  So too we imagine will the United Kingdom (sic) leader David Cameron who knows only too well the difficulty of reaching co-ordination stage in his own efforts to replace the UK Trident missile and Vanguard nuclear weapon-carrying submarines.   

 

It is hoped that progress in this area will continue apace until they get to the second congratulatory point:

 

What really gets the well-done applause from brother nuclear weapons states (see above) is that North Korea a small, starving, basket-case country has proved it can scare a whole chunk of the sophisticated world led by the United States.  Better still, that powerful group of nations can do absolutely nothing about it. 

 

The world message is easy in the extreme: if North Korea is determined to be a nuclear weapons power with long range delivery systems, then that’s what they should be allowed to be. 

 

In Washington, self-determination is celebrated as democracy. Washington does and admires others who do the same – with the US approving the democratic model of course.  Yes, Washington does democracy. 

 

For examples, if the US wants to invade Afghanistan or Iraq or if a guy wants to buy a semi-automatic firearm and kill half a classroom knowing that the gun buying laws are not going to change any time soon, then that’s self-determination and democracy. 

 

So far school gunmen have killed more than the North Korean program but of course not as many as the US nuclear weapons program (Japan will supply the exact figure for anyone really interested in accuracy).

 

So the big question is what’s next? For starters, everyone is looking to China.  At first sight, the folk over at Beijing truly have a problem. With North Korea going ahead with its N-Bomb program, China is now surrounded by nuclear weapon states – India, Pakistan, Russia and North Korea.

 

But the other way of looking at it is this: the US model of living with the bomb was known as MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. The translation: you nuke me, I’ll nuke you. So, no winners and last man counting has no one to tell what he thinks anyway.

 

The new deal is a no-brainer.  Everyone who wants a nuclear warhead and the means to deliver it should be encouraged to get one. For example, if Iran gets a warhead, the Iran will get respect although maybe it will be literally short lived as Israel bombs it. 

 

But then Saudi Arabia will want its own bomb.  But of course, it won’t have to bother.  The US, full of democracy loving brotherhood for the princes of democratic principles running Saudi Arabia will offer to base a whole bunch of nuclear warheads just outside King Khaled Airport. Job done. Nuclear weapon balance sorted.

 

Of course, that’s the easy way when the brotherhood in North Korea show they’ve gone all the way with their nuclear program.  The US, generous as ever, will offer to put their nuclear warheads in downtown Seoul Special City and over on Honshu.  Thus the nuclear ring is complete.

 

Meanwhile, the so easily embarrassed Kim Il Un must hide his blushes and simply accept the congratulations of the existing nuclear weapons powers so that he can tell his loving and beloved people that empty bellies are worth having if it means that the presidents and prime ministers of the Major Magic Mushroom Cloud league of nations are at last showing the respect that the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea deserve.

Christopher Lee

October 16, 2012

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Five Thoughts For Today: Why the 50 Year-old Spectre Of The Cuba Missile Crisis  Hovers Over Iran

16 October 2012

Here’s the First Thought of Today: Fifty years ago this month, the thirteen day stand-off that became the Cuba Missile Crisis set the whole world’s nuclear teeth on edge. Russia was putting missiles into Cuba. America said take them out or else.  Or else meant the already airborne US Strategic Air Command B52 nuclear armed bombers would attack. John F Kennedy stared, Nikita Sergeyevich Khruschev blinked. The Americans now say that if the buttons had been pressed in October 1962, 200 million would have died.

Here’s the Second Thought: In the same year, President Kennedy’s  Secretary of Defense Robert  McNamara went along to give a speech at the American Bar Foundation.  Not many people remember ABF speeches.  The whole world remembered one phrase from that one – MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction.

His thesis was simple: America would have the biggest possible stockpile of nuclear weapons. So would the Soviet Union. So if one side attacked, the other would survive enough of the first wave of attack to immediately retaliate.  Thus both societies would be mutually destroyed.  With this indisputable understanding of mutually assured destruction, neither side would risk war.

Third Thought: For the next thirty years, until the fall of the Soviet Union, the world really believed that there was a high chance that nuclear war between the USSR and USA would happen one day.

Fourth Thought for Today: Nuclear weapons have not gone away and the new members of the nuclear club look like basket cases that would never even think about MAD. They’d simply go for it. Mushroom clouds galore.

By the 1980s, both sides could have destroyed the whole world.  Moscow and Washington twitched most days of the week. When the Americans ran their annual military command and control exercise, Able Archer, the Soviet Higher Command thought it could be for real.  In 1983, the Soviet Union’s EWS – Early Warning System – thought it had picked up an American missile attack. That was close to testing the worst aspects of the MAD thesis.

Today, the East West nuclear weapons systems may not have been run down or cold-stored – hundreds on both sides are still on Go status – but the perceived chance nuclear war sets in three areas: the Koreas, India-Pakistan and Iran with Israel and its commanders of its 100 or so nuclear warheads keeping a scary eye on that place.  Most of the quietly minded analysts in this high-risk weapons business will say that the real possibility is a confrontation between India and Pakistan and that the US and Russia could easily be dragged in.

To keep the scary stuff going, we get the headlines of terrorists getting hold of suitcase bombs.  Alarmist? Of course. But bookmakers will give you odds.

What has changed is the perception of fear.  Since 9/11 the world has been told to fear terrorism without anyone defining what the term means.  The fact that it takes two hours longer to get through airports is enough to convince most that the threat is real.  The second perception comes with the spread of so-called social media and instant reporting.  Every demo, uprising or worse gets posted.  The mass media of the personal phone is the new fear.  Why?  Because we believe what we think we see.

The greatest change in the perception of fear is the gradual realization that there are no Khruschev-Kennedy stare-outs to fix crises. The great military and economic powers can no longer fix the calamities of war and potential war without leaving a trail and residue of even worse calamity – Iraq is an example, Afghanistan will be.

So the next test will be Iran.  It is a self-made Cuba Crisis. Maybe sanctions can fix it. Maybe Israel thinks it has a better idea and that, if it happens, would drag in Russia and the United States. Fifty years after Cuba and Bob  McNamara, the spectre hangs over Tehran.  That, is the Fifth Thought For Today.