Destabilizing speculation

Reviews | Biden’s nuclear weapons commitments: dangerous continuity

In Trump’s dangerous era, the Pentagon has declared that “there is no higher priority for national defense” than to “replace [the country’s] strategic nuclear triad and maintain the warheads it carries. »The estimated cost of upgrading the entire US nuclear arsenal and replacing all of its nuclear warhead delivery systems – intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles and long-range bombers. reach – was $ 1.7 billion. The review of Trump’s nuclear posture, the guidelines for nuclear war, and the maintenance and acquisition of the weapons necessary for genocidal or omnicidal warfare, reaffirmed the first-strike nuclear warfare doctrine of the United States. countries, and it has increased the United States’ dependence on nuclear weapons. possible use in response to cyber attacks and other high-tech attacks against US infrastructure.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus called on the Biden administration for not proposing nuclear weapons spending that “does not reflect your long-standing efforts to reduce our dependence on nuclear weapons.”

As we now know from Bob Woodward’s new book, Peril General Milley, other Pentagon leaders and their Chinese counterparts felt it was imperative to act covertly to prevent Trump from starting a nuclear war on the eve of the 2020 presidential election and in the days following the failed January 6 coup attempt.

Tragically, despite high hopes for change, in the existential realm of potentially omnicid nuclear war preparations, the Biden administration has signaled more continuity than change. Certainly, he acted quickly to extend the new START treaty with Russia, which limits each party to 1,550 strategic nuclear weapons, enough to inflict a nuclear winter on the planet. He is also engaged in exploratory talks with Moscow on the establishment of “strategic stability” between the two nuclear powers. While these talks are important, as Joint Chiefs vice chairman General Hyten recently told a Brookings Institute audience, China, not Russia, is the “military threat of stimulation.” which now guides US military planning.

The sad and dangerous truth is that the nuclear weapons budget that President Biden submitted to Congress differs little from Trump’s nuclear “modernization” commitments. Despite Biden’s election year and previous claims that the “exclusive use” of nuclear weapons he could imagine was in response to a nuclear attack on the United States, the budget he submitted to Congress includes funding to replace the country’s entire first-strike arsenal. – use them or lose them – ICBMs on the ground. Likewise, the budget that Congress will vote on includes funding for the production of 80 wells of plutonium (the fissile core of a nuclear warhead) per year, each with the destructive capacity to devastate cities as large as Shanghai, Karachi and Moscow. Biden and his Pentagon also expect to secure funding for the extremely destabilizing “more usable” tactical B-61-12 (roughly the size of Hiroshima) bound for Europe, the air-launched nuclear cruise. Long Range Standoff Weapon and new warheads for submarine-launched missiles. , all designed to hold China hostage to a first American attack.

What is driving China’s anticipated increase in the size of its nuclear arsenal and fears that it will abandon its doctrine of non-use first? The answer is that US cruise missiles and missile defenses deployed along China’s periphery, Chinese officials and analysts fear, could make first-strike nuclear fighting attractive to US leaders. We got a glimpse of this possibility with recent revelations that General Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, then CIA Director Haskell, President Pelosi, and Chinese military leaders all feared President Trump would start a war. nuclear power with China ahead of the presidential election last November and the day after the failed coup attempt on January 6. But even with a considerably more rational American Commander-in-Chief, the very real danger remains that an incident or accident resulting from the conflicting and provocative military operations of the two Powers in the South or East China Seas, or near Taiwan, could escalate. beyond political control.

Days before the congressional budget debate and on the eve of the launch of the review of the nuclear posture of the Biden administration, the Defense Intelligence Agency stoked elite panic with the release of photographs that demonstrate of convincingly that Beijing has launched the construction of 250 missile silos for Chinese lands. strategic intercontinental nuclear missiles.

Yet former US chief arms control negotiator and NATO deputy secretary general Rose Gottemoeller warns that the silos dug in northern China are simply a “big distraction.” As an arms controller, he is committed to nuclear deterrence and strategic stability and does not want to push for what Noam Chomsky calls the “obvious solution” to the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons: get rid of “. She is willing to admit that China’s nuclear buildup is designed to strengthen its “second strike deterrence posture,” which is threatened by US nuclear and missile defense forces. Rather than panicking and wasting limited US resources, she urges policymakers to remember that even if China quadruple the size of its nuclear arsenal by placing an ICBM armed with multiple warheads in each of these silos, it will still have less. nuclear weapons than the United States. or Russia. She urges lawmakers to focus on economic and technological competition and not panic by funding the Pentagon’s wishlist for Strangelovian nuclear weapons.

At the policy-making level, there are four theaters of political struggle: 1) Congress and its debates on Biden’s ten-year funding proposal of $ 634 for nuclear weapons and No First Use legislation; 2) examining the nuclear posture of the Biden administration; 3) the January Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the UN, and 4) the March 2022 First Governmental Meeting of the States Parties to the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty (NPWT) in Geneva.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus called on the Biden administration for not proposing nuclear weapons spending that “does not reflect your long-standing efforts to reduce our dependence on nuclear weapons.” They oppose funding for new nuclear warheads launched by submarine, to maintain the B83 gravity bombs with an explosive yield up to 100 times that of the Hiroshima A bomb, and for the long gun. scope described above. And, while not calling for the total elimination of ground-based first-strike ICBMs, they oppose funding for the creation of a new generation of these omnicidal weapons. They also demand that the review of Biden’s nuclear posture, which will be conducted with little public or congressional participation by the Pentagon and senior administration “national security” officials, impose a reduction in dependency. of the nation with nuclear weapons.

In addition to the Congressional budget fight, the Markey-Lieu No First Use Bill and the Warren-Smith Sole Use Bill are seen as ways to push the administration and its Nuclear Posture Review to adopt a No First doctrine. Use. While the passage of these bills by Congress is a remote possibility at best, by holding hearings and adding co-sponsors to the legislation with the help of grassroots activists, they can increase visibility. calls for prohibition of use first.

That said, given the Biden administration’s commitment to reaffirm the leadership and world dominance of the United States, from NATO to the new QUAD alliance in the Indo-Pacific, and fears that a US doctrine first non-use be exploited politically as an invitation to China to attack Taiwan. , the prospects for a nuclear position review that would significantly reduce the United States’ dependence on nuclear weapons are limited.

At the international level, the pressure for the abolition of nuclear weapons will be manifested at the NPT Review Conference and the first meeting of the TPNW at the start of the new year. With the modernization of their nuclear arsenals and, in many cases, the expansion of their nuclear arsenals, there is little hope that progress will be made in meeting the nuclear powers’ commitment under Article VI of the Treaty to engage in good faith negotiations for the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals. . And, with the Biden administration joining Israel’s new right-wing (and racist) government, it is unlikely to express support or take action to implement Washington’s previous NPT pledge to convene. an international conference for the creation of a Middle Zone free of nuclear weapons and WMD in the East.

As bleak as the prospects for a successful NPT review are, it remains important for activists and international civil society to push as hard as possible for the full implementation of this vitally important treaty. Silence, being consent, would leave the field open to the nuclear powers.

With Geneva far away and few American nuclear abolitionists will be able to get there, spirits and hopes will be high when diplomats from many of the world’s non-nuclear countries, the ICAN (International Campaign Against Arms) nuclear – recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize) and other advocates of abolition come together to celebrate the entry into force of the Treaty, make plans to gain other signatories and and accept “the treaty that was negotiated to move towards a world without nuclear weapons.

Being realistic, we must recognize that while the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ campaign to cut the military budget by 10% succeeds (an effort we should be supporting), the Biden administration, the Pentagon and the US military-industrial complex are at the origin of the threat of nuclear annihilation. Can we stop them? Noam Chomsky again seems to have the answer: “Your speculations are as good as mine. The only thing we can do is hope they are true and put all our efforts together to make them true.”


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