•   
  •   
  •   

World Modernizing the Nuclear Triad: Decline or Renewal?

16:45  23 october  2021
16:45  23 october  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

The AUKUS deal says more about US plans to take on China than Biden will admit

  The AUKUS deal says more about US plans to take on China than Biden will admit The AUKUS pact raises serious questions about the future relationship between the United States and most of its European allies. While Australia, Britain, and the United States were negotiating this agreement, they decided to keep Paris in the dark since it involved cancelling France's previous submarine deal with Canberra.French President Emmanuel Macron was so infuriated with what he viewed as deception that he recalled France's ambassadors to both Australia and the United States, escalating the diplomatic rift created by the deal.

The United States is planning to modernize its strategic nuclear deterrent for the first time since the Cold War ended over thirty years ago. The deterrent comprises three main components, or “legs”: land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), distributed in hardened silos throughout the northern Midwest; fleet ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) operating from two bases, one on each coast; and long-range bombers positioned at three air bases in the continental United States. These three legs are known collectively as the triad.

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2008 photo released by the U.S. Navy, The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Wyoming approaches Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. The Pentagon's top policy official tells The Associated Press that the United States for the first time has deployed the newest addition to its nuclear arsenal — a submarine-launched weapon that the Trump administration says will make nuclear war less likely. (Lt. Rebecca Rebarich/U.S. Navy via AP) © Lt. Rebecca Rebarich/AP FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2008 photo released by the U.S. Navy, The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Wyoming approaches Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. The Pentagon's top policy official tells The Associated Press that the United States for the first time has deployed the newest addition to its nuclear arsenal — a submarine-launched weapon that the Trump administration says will make nuclear war less likely. (Lt. Rebecca Rebarich/U.S. Navy via AP)

This study analyzes the United States’ plans for modernizing the land, sea and airborne legs comprising its strategic nuclear force triad. This force has been charged primarily with deterring a nuclear attack on the United States, its allies, and security partners (“extended deterrence”), and mitigating the consequences should deterrence fail.

UN Atomic Agency Head to Visit Iran As Pressure Ramps Up on Revival of Nuclear Deal

  UN Atomic Agency Head to Visit Iran As Pressure Ramps Up on Revival of Nuclear Deal Iran's nuclear program has reportedly breached several facets of the 2015 nuclear deal monitored by the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency.Iran's nuclear program has reportedly breached several facets of the IAEA-monitored 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The country has also ceased some other aspects of its cooperation with the IAEA, the AP reported.

Revisionist great powers China and Russia are both fully engaged in modernizing and, in China’s case, expanding their nuclear triads. Another hostile nuclear state, North Korea, continues expanding its nuclear arsenal, as does Pakistan, whose nuclear program continues receiving support from its long-term sponsor, Beijing. By comparison, the United States has barely moved from the starting gate, as its modernization effort is in its early stages and will not be completed until the mid- to late-2030s, and only then if all goes as planned.

When the US triad of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, ballistic missile submarines, and long-range heavy bombers was formed three score years ago, it was as much the result of accident than design. The result, however, has been serendipitous, as each leg has strengths that offset the weaknesses of one or both of its sister components. Simply put, the combined deterrent effect of the triad is greater than the sum of its individual components.

Japan OKs plan to push clean energy, nuclear to cut carbon

  Japan OKs plan to push clean energy, nuclear to cut carbon TOKYO (AP) — Japan adopted a new energy policy on Friday that promotes nuclear and renewables as sources of clean energy to achieve the country’s pledge of reaching carbon neutrality in 2050. The new basic energy plan, adopted by the Cabinet just in time for the climate summit in early November, calls for drastically increasing use of renewable energy to cut fossil fuel consumption over the next decade as Japan pushes to meet its ambitious emissions reduction target.Japan has been undecided over what to do about its nuclear power industry since the 2011 Fukushima plant disaster.

Each leg of the existing triad is rapidly reaching its “expiration date.” The land-based Minuteman III ICBMs were fielded roughly half a century ago, and America’s B-52 bombers predate the Minutemen. The Ohio-Class boats comprising the SSBN force were built roughly forty years ago and will need to be retired later this decade. Options for extending the life of each of these systems at less cost than replacing them have been exhausted.

The Defense Department’s plan calls for replacing the 400 Minuteman III missiles with an equal number of Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent missiles; replacing the 14 Ohio-class SSBNs with 12 Columbia-class boats; retiring the aging B-1 and B-2 bombers and replacing them with 100 or more B-21 bombers; upgrading the B-52 bomber’s air-launched cruise missiles with modern long-range standoff versions; and overhauling its nuclear command, control and communications systems.

Nuclear watchdog: US, Iran entering 'decisive' period on resuming talks

  Nuclear watchdog: US, Iran entering 'decisive' period on resuming talks The head of the United Nations's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says the United States and Iran are entering a "decisive" period on resuming talks to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told The Washington Post that Iran has invited him to meet with political leaders in the coming days. Grossi told the newspaper that he plans to discuss disruptions in monitoring Iran's nuclear program and other issues that could make it harder to return to the agreement.

Despite the ongoing modernization and expansion of rival state nuclear arsenals and the success the US triad has had in deterring nuclear war, the modernization effort has attracted criticism from some quarters, especially from those in the arms control community. Their ranks have been boosted by support from some current and former senior policymakers. Many express concerns that the modernization’s price tag of $264 billion for the land-based version, and as much as $1.5 trillion overall during these systems’ life spans, places an excessive burden on defense spending in particular, and the Federal budget in general. Alarms have been raised over the risk that modernization will reduce crisis stability, thereby compromising deterrence. Skeptics also assert that the United States can achieve the triad’s traditional objectives equally well by moving to a dyad of submarines and bombers. Some believe that if the ICBM force must be maintained, it should be done by extending the life of the existing Minuteman force, not replacing it. Many critics assert that moving forward with modernization risks triggering an arms race.

Energy Prices Ignite Nuclear Power Debate in Europe As Japan Praises It

  Energy Prices Ignite Nuclear Power Debate in Europe As Japan Praises It Nuclear energy is still controversial in Japan following the Fukushima disaster, but the country's new prime minister is a supporter.Fumio Kishida formally took office as Japan's prime minister only last week. Speaking at a parliamentary session on Monday, he said, according to Reuters: "It's crucial that we restart nuclear power plants.

This assessment finds the critics’ arguments opposing triad modernization generally unpersuasive.

Arms Race

If there is an arms race, the United States has barely moved off the starting line. Russia and China are well along in modernizing their triads, while the Chinese are expanding theirs as well. Rather than pacing an arms race, the United States is in the position of playing catch up.

Cost and Cost Imposition

The program’s cost is not trivial, but neither is it extravagant. The modernization effort will consume less than 4 percent of the defense budget at its highest point in the late 2020s and early 2030s. Overall, the Defense Department projects it will spend less than 10 percent of its budget annually on operating, sustaining, and modernizing the country’s nuclear deterrent.

Critics of the program’s cost tend to ignore the fact that a good strategy imposes disproportionate costs on rivals, making them less willing to pursue the competition, or to do so at a significant disadvantage. The triad modernization program’s land-based missile force and long-range bomber fleet act to impose costs on both China and Russia. The GBSD force does this by presenting them with an unfavorable attack weapon exchange ratio of 2:1 or (likely) worse. Defending against the bomber force requires enemies to expend resources as much as an order-of-magnitude greater than those required to field and maintain the bombers—and generally without success.

If China Wants to Waste Its Money on Missiles, We Should Let It

  If China Wants to Waste Its Money on Missiles, We Should Let It Its latest launch was not a “Sputnik moment.”Last week, when the Financial Times first reported this test, I wrote a column deriding it as hype—nothing new here, not really a threat to our missile defense systems, which don’t work very well anyway and were never meant to deal with a Russian or Chinese attack. Now that Milley (who last appeared in the media as the savior of democracy against the onslaught of Donald Trump) has not only confirmed the FT story but sanctified it as the harbinger of a dangerous new era, let’s take a close look at the meaning of “Sputnik moment”—which suggests that our top military officer is complicit in the danger.

Crisis Stability

Concerns relating to crisis stability center primarily around fears that the ICBMs will be forced to assume a hair-trigger launch posture. This stems from their fixed locations, which are well known to enemies, and their short attack warning time—perhaps 20 minutes or so before the incoming enemy warheads arrive. Hence the assumption that these missiles must be launched on warning of an attack, requiring them to be on high alert, thereby increasing the risk of an accidental or unauthorized launch. This, however, misses the point regarding the land-based deterrent’s principal value: as a deterrent force, not a warfighting force. By imposing disproportionate costs on an attacker, reducing the incentive to attack, thereby enhancing deterrence. In brief, the land-based deterrent’s principal value rests in its ability to deter an attack, rather than being launched in the wake of an attack—in deterring a nuclear war, rather than fighting one. More broadly speaking, the triad’s mutually reinforcing components, where each leg has its unique advantages that offset the shortcomings of the other two, greatly complicates an enemy’s planning and, in so doing, reduces the risk of war.

Cutting Back to a Dyad

Those promoting the concept of eliminating the triad’s land-based leg in favor of a dyad of bombers and submarines have not presented a compelling argument for why the land-based leg detracts from deterrence or that it is prohibitively costly. Nor have they explained how concentrating America’s nuclear “eggs” in a few submarine “baskets” strengthens deterrence. Nor, if the triad’s primary objective is to deter China and Russia, do critics explain why Chinese and Russian leaders believe modernizing their triads is important to ensure they possess a robust deterrent.

Daily on Energy: Democrats’ methane fee takes shape

  Daily on Energy: Democrats’ methane fee takes shape Subscribe today to the Washington Examiner magazine and get Washington Briefing: politics and policy stories that will keep you up to date with what's going on in Washington. SUBSCRIBE NOW: Just $1.00 an issue! © Provided by Washington Examiner DOE Newsletter Default 11-2021 LATEST ON METHANE FEES: Democrats' latest version of their climate and social spending bill includes a fee on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, imposed on oil and gas operators.

The SSBN leg of the triad is currently the most survivable, at least those submarines on patrol at sea. Yet concentrating the United States nuclear forces in one leg of the triad assumes that in this age of dynamic technological advances, there will be no major advances in undersea detection technology or threats to SSBN command-and-control links.

A Vastly Different Tomorrow?

Many critics’ arguments against modernizing the US nuclear deterrent are rooted in assumptions that the current competitive environment—dominated by the twin US and Russian arsenals that are constrained by New START and populated by a handful of far lesser nuclear powers—will endure and remain in place at the time US triad modernization is completed nearly twenty years hence.

These assumptions are increasingly fanciful. Indeed, it’s far more likely that the strategic nuclear competition will have experienced several disruptive shifts by the mid-2030s.

A Tripolar Nuclear Great Power Rivalry

US policymakers cannot discount the US-Russian bipolar nuclear competition becoming tripolar, with China joining them in the first rank of nuclear powers. Evidence is growing that China is determined not to be a second-class citizen regarding nuclear arms. Exhibit A is its ongoing nuclear modernization and expansion program, which is projected to at least double China’s nuclear arsenal by decade’s end. This would square with China’s developing the DF-41 ICBM, capable of carrying ten warheads, and constructing over 100 new missile silos while fielding a separate road-mobile ICBM force.

If a tripolar great nuclear power regime were to emerge, parity—long a key component of Russian-US arms control agreements—would no longer be possible for each of the three nuclear giants. Correspondingly, establishing and maintaining a US deterrent capable of providing an assured destruction capability against two comparably armed powers would prove challenging. Doing so while preserving today’s level of deterrence seems especially daunting.

Putin's flying nuclear command center presents a Doomsday scenario indeed

  Putin's flying nuclear command center presents a Doomsday scenario indeed Russian forces regularly practice nuclear launches in simulation exercises, with Vladimir Putin “pressing the button” to destroy the U.S.U.S.-Russia relations have been on a collision course since the collapse of the Soviet Union driven by two diametrically opposed worldviews - democracy v. authoritarianism - and the dispute over the future of the former Soviet states, such as Ukraine. Having officially declared the United States an "unfriendly state" and Russia's preeminent security threat, Moscow is prepared to fight a nuclear war over its perceived sphere of influence, on which Russia has relied for centuries as its strategic security perimeter.

Breakout

There exists significant potential for breakout—a relatively rapid and significant shift in the nuclear balance. China is unconstrained by New START and nothing precludes the Chinese from stockpiling missiles or warheads. The large number of missile silos now being constructed in China could house a few missiles, or many. Similarly, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could easily expand its mobile launch systems. The Russians have a new ICBM that can accommodate four MIRVs, and another under development that can be armed with ten or more. They also clearly have sufficient fissile material stocks to support a rapid expansion of their arsenal.

Second-Tier Nuclear Powers

If the New START agreement is sustained over time, perhaps even incorporating a Chinese strategic nuclear force, then lesser nuclear powers could be incentivized to expand their arsenals to enhance the value of their geopolitical alignment. If so, the United States could be confronted with establishing an assured destruction capability against Russia and China while having to address the threat posed by second-tier North Korean (and perhaps Pakistani) arsenals were they to align with China.

If the New START regime were to collapse in the wake of a Chinese ascent to great nuclear power status, an arms race could ensue. If so, prospective second-tier nuclear powers would have far less incentive to expand their arsenals to the high triple digits, similar to the British, Chinese, and French Cold War-era forces, since they would exert only an extremely modest influence on the competition among the great nuclear powers.

Multidimensional Strategic Forces

Nor can US policymakers ignore the emergence of multidimensional strategic arsenals, enabled by the growing number of non-nuclear precision-strike forces capable of attacking with confidence a significant number of strategic targets once reserved for nuclear forces. Moreover, as recent events suggest, cyber weapons also have the potential to hold at risk key elements of advanced states’ critical infrastructure. Non-nuclear hypersonic missiles should not be discounted either, which may come to exert a significant influence on the strategic balance.

The Bottom Line

Current circumstances strongly support triad modernization. Likely shifts in the character of the strategic competition—both geopolitical and military technical—serve only to increase the value of proceeding. Indeed, given current trends it would, at the least, seem prudent to hedge against the prospect that some will quite likely play out. If so, the United States’ options for addressing such shifts in the threat environment would be greatly enhanced by maintaining a modern nuclear deterrent sustained by a healthy industrial base.

Washington Examiner Videos

Tags: Think Tanks

Original Author: Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.

Original Location: Modernizing the Nuclear Triad: Decline or Renewal?

Putin's flying nuclear command center presents a Doomsday scenario indeed .
Russian forces regularly practice nuclear launches in simulation exercises, with Vladimir Putin “pressing the button” to destroy the U.S.U.S.-Russia relations have been on a collision course since the collapse of the Soviet Union driven by two diametrically opposed worldviews - democracy v. authoritarianism - and the dispute over the future of the former Soviet states, such as Ukraine. Having officially declared the United States an "unfriendly state" and Russia's preeminent security threat, Moscow is prepared to fight a nuclear war over its perceived sphere of influence, on which Russia has relied for centuries as its strategic security perimeter.

usr: 0
This is interesting!