The Gathering Nuclear Storm: Lulled to believe nuclear catastrophe died with the Cold War, America is blind to rising dragons

The Gathering Nuclear Storm: Lulled to believe nuclear catastrophe died with the Cold War, America is blind to rising dragons. By Mark Helprin.

Even should nuclear brinkmanship not result in Armageddon, it can lead to abject defeat and a complete reordering of the international system. …

Enough warheads to bring any country to its knees can fit in a space volumetrically equivalent to a Manhattan studio apartment. Try to find that in the vastness of Russia, China, or Iran. Even ICBMs and their transporter-erector-launchers can easily be concealed in warehouses, tunnels and caves. Nuclear weapons age out, but, thanks to supercomputing, reliable replacements can be manufactured with only minor physical testing. Unaccounted fissile material sloshing around the world can, with admitted difficulty, be fashioned into weapons. And when rogue states such as North Korea and Iran build their bombs, our response has been either impotence or a ticket to ride.

Nor do nuclear reductions lead to increased safety. Quite apart from encouraging proliferation by enabling every medium power in the world to aim for nuclear parity with the critically reduced U.S. arsenal, reductions create instability. The fewer targets, the more possible a (counter-force) first strike to eliminate an enemy’s retaliatory capacity. Nuclear stability depends, inter alia, upon deep reserves that make a successful first strike impossible to assure. …

China is increasing its nuclear forces and Russia is apparently cheating:

As we shrink our nuclear forces and fail to introduce new types, China is doing the opposite, increasing them numerically and forging ahead of us in various technologies (quantum communications, super computers, maneuverable hypersonic re-entry vehicles), some of which we have forsworn, such as road-mobile missiles, which in survivability and range put to shame our Minuteman IIIs.

Because China’s nuclear weapons infrastructure is in part housed in 3,000 miles of tunnels opaque to American intelligence, we cannot know the exact velocity and extent of its buildup. Why does the Obama administration, worshipful of nuclear agreements, completely ignore the nuclear dimension of the world’s fastest rising major power, with which the United States and allies engage in military jockeying almost every day on multiple fronts? Lulled to believe that nuclear catastrophe died with the Cold War, America is blind to rising dragons.

And then we have Russia, which ignores limitations the Obama administration strives to exceed. According to its own careless or defiant admissions, Russia cheats in virtually every area of nuclear weapons: deploying missiles that by treaty supposedly no longer exist; illegally converting anti-aircraft and ballistic missile defense systems to dual-capable nuclear strike; developing new types of nuclear cruise missiles for ships and aircraft; keeping more missiles on alert than allowed; and retaining battlefield tactical nukes.