Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Hawaii’s false nuclear alarm – a frightening reminder of the real risk

False Alarm Adds to Real Alarm About Trump’s Nuclear Risk , NYTBy THE EDITORIAL BOARD, JAN. 13, 2018 It was the sort of nightmare that had only ever been real for most people’s parents or grandparents — the fear of an impending nuclear attack. “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii,” read the emergency alert that residents of the Aloha State received on Saturday morning. “Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

The authorities quickly announced that the alert was a mistake. But it made tangible the growing fears that after decades of leaders trying to more safely control the world’s nuclear arsenals, President Trump has increased the possibility of those weapons being used.

At a time when many are questioning whether Mr. Trump ought to be allowed anywhere near the nuclear “button,” he is moving ahead with plans to develop new nuclear weapons and expanding the circumstances in which they’d be used. Such actions break with years of American nuclear policy. They also make it harder to persuade other nations to curb their nuclear ambitions or forgo them entirely.

Mr. Trump has boasted about the size and power of America’s nuclear arsenal, threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, pushed for a massive buildup of an arsenal that already has too many — 4,000 — warheads and wondered aloud why the United States possesses such weapons if it isn’t prepared to use them.

Now, as he tries to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons capability and ensure that Iran never acquires one, Mr. Trump is poised to make public a new policy that commits America to an increasing investment in those very weapons, according to a draft document made public by HuffPost and confirmed by The Times.

…….. The proposed nuclear policy says a more aggressive nuclear posture is warranted because the world is more dangerous, with China, North Korea and Iran cited as concerns. Yet blowing up the Iran deal would free Tehran to resume its nuclear activities and make the world less safe. In other words, Mr. Trump’s approach makes no sense.

Under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, signed in 1968, the United States and Russia promised to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons. They made significant, although insufficient, progress. After reductions under a succession of past presidents, the American stockpile is 85 percent smaller than it was at the height of the Cold War. Negotiations on further reductions have stalled in recent years as Russia, threatened by America’s superior conventional arsenal, became more reliant on nuclear weapons, and there is no serious sign that Mr. Trump wants to revive the talks.

President Barack Obama made a down payment on a saner policy by narrowing to “extreme circumstances” the conditions under which nuclear weapons would be used and ruling out their use against most non-nuclear countries. Mr. Trump’s policy also talks about “extreme circumstances, ” but it dangerously broadens the definition to include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” which could mean using nuclear weapons to respond to cyber, biological and chemical weapon attacks.

Until Mr. Trump, no one could imagine the United States ever using a nuclear weapon again. America’s conventional military is more than strong enough to defend against most threats. But Mr. Trump has so shaken this orthodoxy that Congress has begun debating limits on his unilateral authority to launch nuclear weapons. Expanding the instances when America might use nuclear weapons could also make it easier for other nuclear-armed countries to justify using their own arsenals against adversaries.

As the residents of Hawaii can tell you, it’s a risk the world cannot afford. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/13/opinion/sunday/trump-nuclear-weapons-war.html?smid=li-share

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January 14, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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