…OKs selling Japan missiles to shoot down North Korean missiles***
The Trump administration plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a new low-yield nuclear warhead for US Trident missiles, according to a former official who has seen the most recent draft of a policy review.
Jon Wolfsthal, who was special assistant to Barack Obama on arms control and nonproliferation, said the new nuclear posture review prepared by the Pentagon, envisages a modified version of the Trident D5 submarine-launched missiles with only part of its normal warhead, with the intention of deterring Russia from using tactical warheads in a conflict in Eastern Europe.
The new nuclear policy is significantly more hawkish that the posture adopted by the Obama administration, which sought to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in US defence.
Arms control advocates have voiced alarm at the new proposal to make smaller, more “usable” nuclear weapons, arguing it makes a nuclear war more likely, especially in view of what they see as Donald Trump’s volatility and readiness to brandish the US arsenal in showdowns with the nation’s adversaries.
The NPR also expands the circumstances in which the US might use its nuclear arsenal, to include a response to a non-nuclear attack that caused mass casualties, or was aimed at critical infrastructure or nuclear command and control sites.
The nuclear posture review (NPR), the first in eight years, is expected to be published after Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech at the end of January.
Wolfsthal, who has reviewed what he understands to be the final draft of the review, said it states that the US will start work on reintroducing a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile, as a counter to a new ground-launched cruise missile the US has accused Russia of developing in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
Wolfsthal said that earlier drafts of the NPR was even more hawkish. The final draft drops proposals to develop a nuclear hyper-glide weapon, and to remove assurances to non nuclear weapons states that the US will not use its nuclear arsenal against them.
“My read is this is a walk-back from how extreme it was early on. It doesn’t have as much terrible stuff in it as it did originally,” Wolfsthal said. “But it’s still bad.”
“What I’ve been told by the people who wrote the thing was what they were trying to do was to send a clear deterrent message to Russians, the North Korean and the Chinese. And there is pretty good, moderate but strong language that makes clear that any attempt by Russia or North Korea to use nuclear weapons would result in a massive consequence for them and I think that’s actually moderate, centrist and probably very much needed.”
“Where they go overboard, is where they say that in order to make that credible the US needs to develop two new types of nuclear weapons,” he added.
Wolfsthal said the modified Trident warhead, with just the primary (fission) part of its thermonuclear warhead, was “totally unnecessary” as the US already has low-yield weapons, B61 gravity bombs and air-launched cruise missiles, in its arsenal.
He also said it was “pretty dumb” to put a low-yield “tactical” weapon on the planned new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, because firing it would give away a submarine’s position.
In the meantime, the Trump administration has approved a $133.3 million missile defense sale to Japan to meet the escalating threat from North Korea by shooting down the rogue nation’s own ballistic missiles.
The State Department says Congress was notified Tuesday of the proposed sale of four missiles for the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor.
A State Department official told Fox News that, “Also included are four Mk 29 missile canisters, and other technical, engineering and logistics support services.”
The department said the sale would support the U.S. defense industry and underscore Trump’s commitment to improve the defense of allies threatened by North Korea.
The system was jointly developed by Japan and the U.S.
The missiles could be used at sea with Japan’s current Aegis-equipped destroyers and with the land-based Aegis system its Cabinet approved for purchase last month.
That’s intended to bolster Japan’s current missile defense and perhaps curry favor with President Donald Trump who is eager for U.S. allies to buy more American military hardware.
“If concluded, this proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States,” the State Department official told Fox News. “It will bolster the security of a major treaty ally that has been, and continues to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. It will also improve (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s) interoperability with U.S. missile defense systems, and increase the protection for U.S. installations in the region.”
Fox News previously reported that North Korea’s weapons “are only aimed” at America and its territories, a regime official menacingly revealed during Tuesday’s joint talks with South Korea doubling down on Kim Jong Un’s frequent threats to destroy the United States.
Guardian UK with additional report from Fox News