Thursday, September 30, 2010

whodunnit?

Hey folks - I know its been a while, but lets rekindle this old flame.

One of the most interesting things to run across the wire is the stuxnet computer worm which has infected the critical computer infrastructure for Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant. This infection has almost certainly caused a delay in Iran's ability to field a nuclear weapon.

This isn't something that normally gets DSSfeed revved up - big boy tech toys usually do the trick, but this exotic cyber attack has given this blog a new lady to admire.

Here's what we know,

1) Stuxnet is a worm - it propagates itself without outside assistance, all the while hiding its tracks. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is very difficult to contain. The virus begins by a connected network user plugging in a USB drive, automatically sending the worm into the system. Iran is reportedly using windows based Siemens controllers for much of its nuclear infrastructure – Stuxnet is designed specifically to attack these controllers. Also interesting – the virus does not reportedly send back information to its creator. Whoever designed this either knew it would work really, really well, or that the media would provide all the data they needed to determine the worms effectiveness.

2) The malware is VERY sophisticated – The reason being Richard Falkenrath, a former high level Whitehouse advisor, explained in a recent interview on Bloomberg, is that Stuxnet uses stolen digital certificates to allow the worm to move freely. Given the relative complexity of this worm, Falkenrath went on to say that this took the resources of a nation state to carry out. Even more impressive, if not removed correctly, Stuxnet can ruin entire systems.

3) Iran seems to be the target – This is almost certainly sabotage against the Iranian nuclear program. Reuters reported that the breakdown of affected computers is as follows. Since the worm is hard to detect and does not send user information back to its creator, there may be thousands more units that are infected that we have no idea about.


Looks like pacman is having a feast… nomnomnomnom


So whodunnit?

Its hard to guess with any level of certainty - it’s all conjecture at this point. I think we can say with confidence that the attack was most likely conjured by an state based enemy of Iran. Not many private individuals have years worth of time to develop a virus that doesn’t yield any financial gain. Maybe I just underestimate the tenacity of nerds, but I think this was an orchestrated effort by one, or several governments.

Logic would suggest Israel. It is the state most threatened by a nuclear Iran, and it has been known to use cyber warfare to achieve its goals. See this article on the Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear plant.

Some other hints – deep in the code of Stuxnet is a word “Myrtus.” The New York Times reported that this may be a biblical clue (or a red herring) to the originators of the worm. Myrtus is a plant native to the Iranian region. It also is Old Testament heroin Esther’s original given name. (Her name was Hadassah, which means myrtle). If you remember your biblical history, Esther, and her cousin Mordacai saved the Jews in Persia from the Jew hating prince Haman. Maybe Myrtus is being used as the savior to the Jewish people from Iran. It is only a minor piece of evidence, but it’s certainly fun to think about.

Its unlikely that we will know who developed the virus anytime soon.
The prime suspects, Israel and the United States aren’t talking. Instead were chuckling.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The genie is out of the bottle

This story has been making the rounds through the defense/national security field. Conn Carroll of the Heritage Foundation has a round-up of commentary on the point over at The Foundry.




A Russian company is marketing a devastating new cruise missile system which can be hidden inside a shipping container, giving any merchant vessel the capability to wipe out an aircraft carrier.

Potential customers for the formidable Club-K system include Kremlin allies Iran and Venezuela, say defense experts. They worry that countries could pass on the satellite-guided missiles, which are very hard to detect, to terrorist groups.

"At a stroke, the Club-K gives a long-range precision strike capability to ordinary vehicles that can be moved to almost any place on earth without attracting attention," said Robert Hewson of Jane's Defense Weekly, who first disclosed its existence...

"The idea that you can hide a missile system in a box and drive it around without anyone knowing is pretty new," said Hewson, who is editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons.

"Nobody's ever done that before."

Hewson estimated the cost of the Club-K system, which packs four ground or sea-launched cruise missiles into a standard 40-foot shipping container, at $10-20 million.

"Unless sales are very tightly controlled, there is a danger that it could end up in the wrong hands," he said.


The threats to our security and that of our allies are abundantly clear. Russia is already the world's single largest proliferator of nukes and missiles. What this represents is the next stage in this trickling-down of proliferation: the potential acquisition of these systems to terrorists or other non-state actors that are hostile to the United States or our allies.

For $20 million, you can sink a carrier. You can punch a hole into a very big building, and bring it down. You can destroy any number of things that cost many times more money to make for very little cost.

$20 million (on the outside) is still a lot of money, certainly. It's probably even beyond the reach of al-Qaeda's operating budget. But, a terrorist group that is financed by a state could make swift work of this. Hezbollah severely damaged an Israeli warship in their 2006 conflict, and they may be receiving Scuds from Iran via Syria. Is it really so hard to imagine that these things could make its way to them? Is it so hard to imagine the PRC surreptitiously arming its mercantile navy, and using them as pocket-guided missile destroyers? What would that do to the balance of power in the Pacific and Indian oceans? Could other rogue states like Venezuela and Syria acquire a few of these, and suddenly find their regional position vis-a-vis our allies (and their adversaries) in the region bolstered by a wide margain? Could the Scud-in-a-Bucket scenario be realized, and freighters armed with these things could hold entire countries hostage with WMD-tipped cruise missiles?

I wouldn't begin to hazard a guess at the solution to this nightmare. The missile non-proliferation regime is completely gone, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation regime looks like it's going, too. I will, however, provide a few points to help establish a framework for how we should approach this:

First, Bush was right: there is an axis of evil out there, and proliferation is one of its key characteristics. I would define it as an extended patron-client system that runs from Russia and China down to the mid-level rogue states, and then to terrorists and the broader transnational threat. Weaponry, know-how, money, and political heat goes down the chain; while money, political cover and achievement go back up. There does also seem to be some cooperative support along the different tiers as they help advance what their own level of technical achievement is, and spread that knowledge to their peers. Tier One, I would define as Russia and China; Tier Two, the rogue states; and Tiers Three and Four terrorists and the transnational threat, though there's likely some overlap, here.

Second, missile defense must be viewed as a unified entity. There should be no distinction between a Brilliant Pebbles or some other space-based system; the GBI; the SM-3s; ABL, KEI, or any other boost-phase system; THAAD; or a Phalanx system for our ships. Rather, they must be viewed as a singular, integrated whole that protects and defends our home territory, our bases and platforms abroad, and our forces in the field. Ditto those three points for that of our allies. We may not necessarily have to expressly pay for their protection, but we should at least have the cooperation and cost-sharing that we have with Israel and its missile defense system. The strength of our alliance system, and the bedrock of the liberal democratic international order, is predicated on our ability to protect our allies from attack (or, at the very least, promise such an overwhelming response to an aggressor that they would be dissuaded from an attack). Without that bedrock, our partnerships break-up, and we're all put back to the pre-WWI realist sandbox.

In a world in which multiple actors with motives and thinking that we can't even begin to guess at can threaten the world with catastrophic damage for a few bucks and with no warning, then the US must err on the side of caution and develop and deploy sufficient defenses to protect us and our allies against attack. I would recommend something sufficient to handle China's arsenal all the way down to this threat - keep Schelling's dichotomy in place with Russia for the time being (until we get below 1,000 deployed strategic warheads), but definitely make sure that we can defend against everything else.

Will that be ever be done? No. But, I would however, like to restress my first point to policy makers: the connections up and down this ladder are very real. And while these groups may be played off against each other, they are natural allies against the American-led liberal international order. Our foreign policy must be crafted towards breaking this coalition up, guiding states wherever possible into the free world, and destroying those who will remain hostile to the US and our allies. Let's make it happen.


- Evan Moore graduated from DSS in the Fall of 2009. His thesis topic was on the prospects for future Middle East democratizaion.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

The NPR on Force Structure

The NPR is remarkably non-committal on the U.S. nuclear force structure. It tends to skirt the issue by insisting that flexibility will rule the triad, while ignoring the obvious fact that under New START cuts will have to be made to one or more of the legs. The NPR states that "the United States should retain a smaller Triad of SLBMs, ICBMs, and heavy bombers. Retaining all three Triad legs will best maintain strategic stability at reasonable cost, while hedging against potential technical problems or vulnerabilities." The document admits that the technical hedge will be reduced overall, but compensates for it by retaining the "ability to upload some nuclear warheads as a technical hedge against any future problems with U.S. delivery systems or warheads, or as a result of a fundamental deterioration of the security environment."

The NPR is full of ambiguity in addressing the force sizes of each leg of the triad. It promises to "sustain strategic submarines," while floating the idea to "consider reducing from 14 to 12 Ohio-class submarines in the second half of this decade." The ICBM force is to be completely de-MIRVed, which is a modest warhead reduction since no more than 50 warheads are on ICBMs with multiple warheads. There is no indication that the sacrosanct 450 Minuteman-III force will be reduced, perhaps to avoid or postpone upsetting the bipartisan Senate ICBM Coalition. In a further move towards a de facto dyad, the U.S. will maintain "a smaller and highly capable nuclear bomber force." Since the NPR talks of funding upgrades to the B-2s and converting some B-52Hs to conventional roles, it is safe to assume that the nuclear bomber force will be a scant 18 B-2s and a few dozen B-52Hs.



Despite the ambiguity in the NPR on force structure, the numbers in New START will clearly lead to significant force reductions. The New START limits the U.S. and Russia to 800 total strategic delivery vehicles and 700 deployed ones. Setting the bomber fleet aside for the moment, the U.S. currently has 450 ICBMs and 288 SLBMs (336 total when the 48 unloaded for submarine refit are counted). That comes to 738 deployed delivery vehicles, without bombers included. The U.S. will likely have to either reduce the SSBN fleet by 2 (to take out 48 SLBMs) or reduce the ICBM force by 50 Minuteman. Since either of these reductions would take the total down to 694 or 688, there would either have to be additional cuts to accommodate the bomber fleet, or most of the bombers would be "non-deployed."

What are the implications of such reductions? First, cuts in ICBMs will provide a potential adversary with a lower threshold to attempt to reach strategic parity. China would basically need to double or MIRV its ICBM force to be equal with the U.S. in that capability. Second, cuts in SSBNs will reduce the flexibility of being able to keep a certain number of boats on strategic patrol while deploying some to trouble spots to reassure allies. Third, cuts to either could be a death blow for the fragile solid rocket motor (SRM) industry. In the wake of the cancellation of NASA's Constellation program, the SRM industrial base has lost well over a half or two-thirds of its business. Further cuts in orders for ballistic missile SRMs may well knock this critical industry into insolvency. Say goodbye to manned space flight and deterrent sustainability that day.

By boxing in the U.S. force structure this way, the nuclear force is moving perilously close to a dyad. The bomber force has suffered from neglect for years, consisting of 20 year old B-2s and Eisenhower/Kennedy-era B-52s. Studies to produce a next-generation bomber drag on, pushing the timeframe for initial operational capability into the late part of this decade or 2020s. If bombers really are valued for their stability, ability to be recalled, and flexibility, it would follow that there would be a commitment to sustain the capability. This has yet to satisfactorily emerge - a new bomber has been talked about for years, with little movement towards developing one. The perils of a dyad should be obvious - we lose the ability to send signals by raising alert levels and forward deployments. And if we would for whatever reason decide to strike, it is impossible to recall an ICBM, not so a bomber.

The NPR therefore dodges and postpones a lot of the tough decisions on force posture. Although it claims to endorse the limits set by the New START, it offers no concrete path for achieving those reductions. If it did so, it may have lost the votes from senators whose states would be hit hard by the reductions (states the delivery vehicles are deployed or manufactured in). Unless there are classified analyses of this issue, the New START may not win many of the votes it sought to avoid offending. It is foolish to commit to a set force structure for ten years, but the NPR and New START leave little room for maintaining the flexibility to adjust to changes in the international security environment.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ragged Old Flag

Incredible. This never gets old.



"I thank God for all the freedoms we've got in this country. I cherish them. Even the rights to burn the flag. I'm proud of those rights. Let me tell you something, we've also got the right to bear arms, and if you burn my flag, I'll shoot you."

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Monday, April 12, 2010

What do you do when your own theory reaches its expiration date?

Let's ask Tom Schelling.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

The NPR and Declaratory Policy

The Nuclear Posture Review released last week turned out to be far from the transformative document President Obama lobbied for. In his Prague speech of April 2009, the President declared he would "reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy." It could be argued he somewhat succeeded in that objective.



To truly understand the changes it is necessary to understand the previous policy. President Kennedy and Defense Secretary McNamara introduced the policy of flexible response, which committed the U.S. to pursuing a range of responses in case of conventional or nuclear aggression. This policy morphed into the practice of issuing ambiguous declarations of U.S. response policies. By adopting a policy reminiscent of Schelling's "threat that leaves something to chance," the U.S. often kept adversaries off-balance and unsure about potential U.S. responses. This can be seen in President H.W. Bush's warning to Saddam Hussein about using WMD and in President W. Bush's promise to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression with all means necessary. This calculated ambiguity therefore kept adversaries guessing and provided U.S. presidents with substantial freedom of action as events developed.

The 2010 NPR has made two basic changes to U.S. declaratory policy: 1) the U.S. promises not to respond to a chemical attack with nuclear retaliation and 2) the U.S. promises not to use nuclear weapons against any country in full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The NPR states that countries that use "CBW against the United States or its allies and partners would face the prospect of a devastating conventional military response... Given the catastrophic potential of biological weapons and the rapid pace of bio-technology development, the United States reserves the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and U.S. capacities to counter that threat." Since the U.S. is "reserving the right" to change its policy with regard to biological attacks, it is fair to say that the threat of nuclear retaliation still exists for countries that would use BW. Only chemical weapons use seems to be immune from the prospect of nuclear retaliation. This is a reasonable development, given the fact that CW are hardly weapons of mass destruction when compared to biological and nuclear weapons. On the battlefield they are much easier to defend against and in most scenarios their impact is relatively localized. The one area where this policy may prove problematic is in extended deterrence. Many allies do not feel this way about CW, for understandable reasons. North Korea, Syria, and Iran have lots of chemical weapons. Do our allies in Seoul, Ankara, or Abu Dhabi consider chemical attacks undeserving of nuclear retaliation?

Declaring that the U.S. will not use nuclear weapons against countries in full-compliance with the NPT is a reasonable policy, if somewhat difficult to interpret. In most instances, the U.S. would have no desire or need to use nuclear weapons against a country that was not pursuing an illicit nuclear weapons program. Examining two case studies is instructive. In 2002 it was revealed that Iran had a covert nuclear weapons program. The IAEA Board of Governors did not find Iran in noncompliance with its NPT obligations until 2006. Would the U.S. have renounced preemptive nuclear strikes to destroy Iran's capability in that time period? Currently, Syria has not fully cooperated with IAEA inspectors investigating the nuclear facility destroyed by Israel in 2007. Syria has not been found in noncompliance by the IAEA Board of Governors. If it used CBW against Iraq or Turkey, would the U.S. take nuclear retaliation off the table because an IAEA Board weighed down by political pressure failed to put it on notice?

This brings us to an important point regarding this aspect of the policy. Should not a state be required to be in compliance with the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention, as well as the NPT, to avoid the possibility of nuclear retaliation? Otherwise it seems possible that BW could become "the poor country's usable nukes." It becomes a foreseeable possibility for a state to forgo nuclear weapons and be in full compliance with the NPT while developing and deploying robust biological and chemical weapons. Would not this be attractive for countries that cannot acquire nuclear capabilities but want an asymmetric deterrent anyway (look in Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia). To those who say conventional U.S. forces can provide the same level of deterrence and retaliation as nuclear weapons, what do the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the potential one on the Korean peninsula, say about trusting conventional strength to produce quick and adequate victories?

I conclude by arguing that the declaratory policy section of the NPR is not the travesty it could have turned out to be ("no first use," "sole purpose of nukes is to deter nuclear attack"). The exclusion of chemical weapons from the list of reasons to launch nuclear retaliation is reasonable from an American perspective, but I hope we consulted with our friends and allies to make sure they felt the same way. There are currently few (if any) countries in *actual* compliance with the NPT that we worry about as a threat. The NPR refrained from defining "compliance" (Board of Governors referral, noncooperation, suspicions), which leaves the U.S. with enough flexibility to argue that a country is non-compliant (and thus eligible for nuclear attack) even if it has not been found in noncompliance by the IAEA. I do worry that some countries may read a green light into this, and decide to abide by the NPT while developing alternative means of deterrence - but here again, the U.S. "reserves the right" to change as threats develop.

Overall, the "Reducing the Role of U.S. Nuclear Weapons" section of the NPR has turned out to be acceptable declaratory policy. It is also good to keep in mind that what a country says one day may not be what it does the next. Even if an NPT-compliant state launched a chemical or low-level biological attack that killed as many people as the 9/11 attacks did (however unlikely such a result would be), I doubt we would feel completely bound by this policy document. At the end of the day, ambiguity seems to remain a central pillar of our declaratory policy.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

NPR Released


After months of delays, the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review was released today. It can be found here. Secretary Clinton (State), Secretary Gates (DOD), Admiral Mullen (JCS), and Secretary Chu (Energy) gave a briefing on its relase. They were followed by Undersecretary Ellen Tauscher (State Dept), Undersecretary Jim Miller (DOD), General James Cartwright (JCS), and Thomas D'Agostino (NNSA). In the coming days we will seek to provide analysis, defenses, and rebuttals of the key policies embedded in the new NPR. Until then, we invite you to read the document as well.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Obama and Kim - Pledge to "Hang Out More"



In an apparent reversal of White House policy, United States President, Barack Obama met with North Korean Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il early this morning. The two apparently struck up a relationship quite quickly as Kim suggested to begin breakfast with Champagne. According to White House Staff, Obama responded with, "hell its 5 o clock somewhere."

The two leaders decided to go bowling, upon request from DPRK General Ri Yong-Ho, who is apparently the country's "Dear Bowler." Obama swept the North Korean envoy, which was seen by the international community as an upset.

Obama responded to his bowling critics with a turkey in the 10th frame, placing punctuation on his accomplishment with a loud "Booya." Clearly frustrated, the Dear Leader suggested the two move on to more pressing matters: the diplomatic gift giving session.

Obama, clearly excited by his choice of gift first presented the North Korean envoy with snuggies, the popular blanket gown. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs commented on the gifts "these are no normal snuggies, they are the designer kind. I really think President Obama outdid himself on this one."
The North Korean dictator apparently loved the gift and decided to sport it in his latest military photograph. Kim Jong Il apparently liked the designer garb so much that he will now allow his working class to wear them, as long as they are affixed with the traditional Kim badge.

After the gift exchange, the two pledged to "hang out more." Obama subsequently released a statement declaring the two countries as future bowling allies. The statement also mentioned that President Kim "knows how to party." The two are scheduled for a follow up hang session early next week.

Happy April Fools, folks.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Frankenstate

You might have noticed a lull in activity on DSSFeed. In my case, its because I have been working tirelessly on my thesis. Holding a full time job and writing a thesis isn't advisable, but I suppose its doable. You just have to be willing to sacrifice some things in your life, like sunlight, your health, and relationships with your friends and family. Such minor things can be overlooked I suppose.

Well I handed in a draft thesis, and subsequently imbibed a few drafts to celebrate. (see what I did there?)

My thesis is on the post colonial state in Africa. The vast majority of states on the continent were formed by western powers who left the continent in hast after decolonization, and left the artificial borders they drew.

Henry Kissinger comments on these borders

The colonial powers often found it useful to divide up ethnic or tribal groups in order to complicate the emergence of a unified opposition to imperial rule.
Lord Salisbury commented at a dinner party on colonialism
(we were) drawing lines upon maps where no white man’s foot ever trod; we have been giving away mountains and rivers and lakes to each other, only hindered by the small impediment that we never knew exactly where the mountains and rivers and lakes were.
Such methods were useful for the colonists, but terrible for the people on the continent of Africa. These borders mashed together cultures and nationalities that were traditional rivals. After the colonial powers left, the disparate groups often engaged in civil conflict, resulting in the death and displacement of millions.

I decided it was best to coin a new term to designate these states. In my reading I didn't find a term I liked, or that even described the issue all that well. In my thesis I write -

I propose the use a different term to describe these African states. The term Frankenstate seems to be a more apt term to describe the post colonial African state. Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein, chronicles the life of a scientist that meddles in the fairs of the divine by creating life. Victor Frankenstein pursued creating life with the noblest of intentions; he sought to discover the secret to life to end the pain and misery of death. Instead the result was a disfigured monster, “a vision so horrible as his face, of such loathsome, yet appalling hideousness.” Like Frankenstein’s monster, post colonial African states have become unwieldy, with leadership that pursues the most carnal desires, murdering and pillaging without recourse. They are heterogeneous in nature, stitched together only by their western Prometheus who has systematically neglected responsibility for their creation.

The remaining thesis investigates the history of Sudan and Somalia, and how they relate to solving the problem of the Frankenstate. I'll save those conclusions for later!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tactical Nukes and the NPR

The confluence of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) negotiations has brought U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to the fore again. Two recent stories drew my attention: this one from the New York Times describing the White House influence on the NPR, which includes unnamed officials revealing back-channel negotiations with European allies debating whether or not to withdraw the approximately 200 B-61 air-deliverable “gravity bombs” stored in six countries; and this story which indicates that the U.S. may decide to retire the Nuclear Tomahawk Land-Attack Cruise Missile (TLAM-N), which the Japanese have considered a vital U.S. weapon for ensuring their security against both China and North Korea.

These developments are troubling to say the least, and strategically foolish to take at this time (even if one believes they need to be taken eventually). First, the proposal to withdraw our tactical nuclear weapons from our NATO allies is not a wise move because the U.S. would essentially get nothing for it. According to this Guardian story, officials in “Benelux,” Norway, and Germany are planning to call for the removal of U.S. tactical nukes from Europe (no advocacy for withdrawing them from the Italians or Turks…yet). Though most recognize that these nukes, only deliverable via fighter-bombers (think F-16s, the new F-35, etc.), are of limited military utility, their political importance has been their status as a cornerstone of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance for over fifty years. To remove them would mean that the U.S. would be perceived as having even less reason to retaliate against an ally struck by a biological attack or ballistic missiles. The diminished footprint in Western Europe is sure to reflect the lessened importance the Obama administration attaches to such important allies as the UK (see here).

That being said, if the Europeans don’t want them (and more importantly, their political and military officials), the U.S. cannot force them down their throat. A more comprehensive strategy to “de-nuclearize” Europe would be more effective in satisfying Europeans while upholding the Trans-Atlantic alliance. Separate from the START accord, the U.S. could propose to Russia a treaty to reduce, limit, or open for inspection arsenals of tactical nuclear weapons, in exchange for the U.S. withdrawing some or all of its nukes from Europe. This has long been a Russian talking point, and the fig leaf it has hid behind for its maintenance of 3-4,000 tac-nukes. If the U.S. (in consultation with European allies) offers to return these to domestic bases, the onus for weapons reductions and increased transparency will be on Moscow. However, it is doubtful whether the Turks would agree to evicting U.S. nukes or if the other Central and Eastern European allies in NATO would consent to removing most or all U.S. tactical nukes from the continent.

Therefore current proposals to unilaterally withdraw all U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Europe are naive. The U.S. would get nothing for a significant concession. Better to maintain them as additional leverage when the time comes to try to negotiate a reduction in Moscow’s 10-1 advantage in these weapons.



Turning to the Pacific theater, the issue of TLAM-N retirement is more subtle and bilateral. These nuclear cruise missiles, designed for deployment on attack submarines, have been mostly kept in storage since the end of the Cold War (although secret deployments are highly likely). Nonetheless, their mere presence and the latent capability the U.S. possesses with them have reassured Japan as it faces mounting threats to its security from Beijing and Pyongyang. In fact, Tokyo communicated to the Strategic Posture (Perry-Schlesinger) Commission that the “credibility of the U.S. extended deterrent depends on its specific capabilities to hold a wide variety of targets at risk, and to deploy forces in a way that is either visible or stealthy, as circumstances may demand.”

The Commission went on to find that “In Asia, extended deterrence relies heavily on the deployment of nuclear cruise missiles on some Los Angeles class attack submarines. This [TLAM-N] capability will be retired in 2013 unless steps are taken to maintain it. U.S. allies in Asia are not integrated in the same way into nuclear planning and have not been asked to make commitments to delivery systems. In our work as a Commission it has become clear that some U.S. allies in Asia would be very concerned by TLAM-N retirement.” Therefore any decisions to retire this unique capability should not be made absent consultation with Japan and an assessment of alternative ways to reassure Japan that the U.S. extended deterrent will guarantee its security. It is unlikely that the NPR will do this. If the U.S. does not want to raise Tokyo’s insecurity to the point it develops its own deterrent, it must take its commitments to extended deterrence seriously.

Tactical nuclear weapons have returned to the forefront of the nuclear posture debate. This time it concerns their very existence in U.S. arsenals – the TLAM-Ns will be retired and the B-61s will lose their purpose (not much reason to maintain tactical gravity bombs for fighter aircraft in the continental U.S.). Nuclear disarmament and Global Zero advocates have loudly claimed that they are not in favor of the U.S. unilaterally disarming. If they want that claim to be believable, they should communicate to President Obama that unilateral reductions in tactical nuclear weapons is unwise, if for no other reason than to maintain levers for future disarmament. Others, including defense hawks, can just oppose such policies on the demerits of their naivete.

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About Missouri State

Missouri State University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies (DSS), located in Fairfax, VA, provides professional, graduate-level education in national security policy; foreign policy; arms control; missile proliferation; international security affairs; defense policy analysis, planning and programs; and intelligence analysis.

Disclaimer

The opinions of this blog in no way reflect the faculty of Missouri State University. They are just the incessant ramblings of a few graduate students. They may or may not be currently seeking employment, girlfriends, or free goods and services.

Based on the rights guaranteed by the first amendment to the constitution, and the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we are guaranteed the privelage to freely broadcast our opinions. You may or may not be obliged to listen - or care.