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How U.S. and Israeli Aggression are leading us to World Nuclear War
by Carol Moore, updated November 2007
* Introduction: US & Israel Plans....
* Facts about Known Nuclear Nations
* Military Relations among Nuclear Nations
* Past Threats of World Nuclear War
* Accidental Nuclear War Still Possible
* U.S. Aggression and Russian Response
* "Samson Option": Israeli Nuclear Threats and Blackmail
* Six Escalation Scenarios to Nuclear War
* Nuclear War Progression (photos/graphics)
* Preventing and Surviving Nuclear War - Links
Nuclear War Photos, Films and Videos
See Antiwar.Com for daily news and opinion updates

This and other anti-nuclear war

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You CAN'T Check Out PBS' Nuclear Blast Mapper
Note, in the past you could type in an address, city or zip code and see the blast and fall out effects from a nuclear explosion.  Probably due to Homeland Security concerns, PBS no long offers this feature!


      The United States wants to remain the only superpower with the power to unilaterally control any resources it needs and the government of any country that stands in its way of doing so.  Obviously now the foremost target of the United States -- and its only dependable partner in imperial overreach, Israel -- is the Middle East and Iran.  Both the U.S. and Israel want to control Arab and Muslim resources and make big profits for their military and other well-connected contractors. Both want to maintain a U.S.-Israel monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
       Additionally, Israel and its powerful American lobbies and leaders want to crush any potential challenge to Israel’s possession of stolen Palestinian lands.  Tens of millions of American Christian Zionists support Israeli expansionism because they believe it will bring Armageddon and the return of Jesus.
      United States military and political leaders, especially under President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, doubtless seek "nuclear primacy" - the ability to first strike both China's 400 odd nuclear weapons and Russia's 2,500 "on alert" weapons with minimal retaliation against American targets - i.e., maybe only a hundred U.S. cities would be destroyed and only 75 million Americans die immediately.  
See "The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy" By Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006.  
      Israel is especially dangerous because its leaders and supporters have made clear for years that if Israel was every devastated by any kind of war or attack it would retaliate in indiscriminate "Samson Option" attacks against not just on Muslim cities, but against European and even Russian targets. (See "Israeli Nuclear Threats and Blackmail " .)   Russia, of course, would retaliate with thousands of nuclear bombs against the United States.
     Given suspected U.S. nuclear primacy plans, Russia could feel compelled to attack the United States for acts like a U.S. nuclear attack on Iran, which is just a few hundred miles from its border.  On January 25, 1995 Boris Yeltsin, then President of Russia, came within three minutes of initiating a full nuclear strike on the United States because of one Norwegian scientific rocket Russians could not identify.  (Details below.)  And U.S. leaders also could be spooked by a nuclear incident, as the 2002 movie "Sum of All Fears" illustrates.
Once there is any use of nuclear weapons, it will be like giving permission for anyone to use them.  Compare it to a room full of people embarrassed to cough, but once one does, everyone else feels free to do so.
        Any use of nuclear weapons probably will lead to a rapid escalation, "out of control spiral," to nuclear war among most or all nuclear nations--"world nuclear war." The U.N. cannot stop it.  U.S. imperialism and pre-emptive strikes cannot stop it.  Only a worldwide disarmament movement can stop it.

      However, none of the several worldwide disarmament movements which have risen or fallen over the last forty years has been able to do it. Unfortunately, most activist organizations have been co-opted by special interests which consider nuclear and military disarmament to be low priorities, some because it would costs workers and executives high paid jobs or big corporations profits, and others because they support a strong U.S. military threat against nations challenging Israel especially and perhaps other allies.  The only disarmament movement that can succeed is one which is willing to keep an arms length from union, corporate and pro-Israel interests that put jobs and Israel before nuclear safety and to make Middle East nuclear disarmament a top priority.
     The only thing that may be able to end the possibility of nuclear war for good and forever is the non-violent dissolution of war-torn and warring nation states into non-violent self-determining communities and city states. These smaller entities would have to destroy all nuclear weapons since they could not afford to keep or use them. (See my site Secession.Net for ideas about this radical decentralist alternative).  Unfortunately, barring some unusual rise in human consciousness, such radical dissolution is likely to happen only after a nuclear war has killed hundreds of millions or even billions of people.

    If you are not ready to pursue this alternative, at least use this page to help END YOUR PERSONAL DENIAL of the fact that WORLD NUCLEAR WAR REMAINS INEVITABLE until we finally create a powerful and effective nuclear disarmament movement.


Below are nations known to possess nuclear weapons.  The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq provide that Iraq had no capability to produce the weapons that it were the excuse for the invasion.  In 2007 the U.S. plans a potentially catastrophic war against Iran's nuclear power industry, despite the fact Iran's ruling religious leaders have stated repeatedly they are against Iran ever producing them for religious reasons. In 2004 Mohamed E lBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, suggested that forty countries with peaceful nuclear programs could ramp them up to produce nuclear weapons if they so chose.  How many of those would the United States decide it necessary to attack?
      Note regarding size of the explosions, that Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were only 15-20 kilotons and killed 65,000 and 40,000 (25% of each city's residents) within four months.  Also, numbers below, which vary according to sources, are approximate.  Additionally, the number of weapons that would be used or even work on detonation is less than the total number.
United States
(launch on warning)
7000 total
2,500+ on alert
15 megatons
8,100 miles
Russia, China, other
(launch on warning)
6000 total
2,500+ on alert
20 megatons
6,800 miles
US, Europe, China, other
300 kilotons
3,300 miles
400 plus
5 megatons
6,800 miles
US, Russia, India
200-400 plus
100+ kilotons
3,000-5,000 miles
Arabs/Muslims (Russia, Europe)*
200 kilotons
7,500 miles
Russia, China
50-60 kilotons
1,550 miles
Pakistan, China
15-25 approx
25+ kilotons
1,000 miles
India (Israel/U.S forces)**
No. Korea 1-2 unknown kilotons unknown So. Korea, Japan,  U.S.
* Because of the Samson Option where a devastated Israel would retaliate indiscriminately against Arab, Muslim and even European and Russian cities, holding all responsible because of alleged "anti-Semitism."
** If Israel attacked Muslim nations with nuclear weapons or Muslim extremists took over.

See various estimates at: Nuclear Forces GuideNuclear Weapon information database

Strong military alliances, will go nuclear to protect ally |  Weak (or tactical) relations include military sales only, informal or limited military cooperation or alliances; will not necessarily go nuclear for ally | Ambivalent (or suspicious) relation where misunderstandings, disagreements, change of leadership or reaction to a nuclear attack could lead to aggressive, pre-emptive or retaliatory nuclear exchange, including with each other's allies | Hostile relation where moderate to high danger of aggressive, pre-emptive or retaliatory nuclear exchange, including with each other's allies | N/A not applicable
Israel Ambiv.*

   (* US willing to go to nuclear war to protect Israel, in part to prevent it from bringing on such a war but its aggressive actions, including against Russia, should Israel use the Samson Option. For recent articles about these alliances search the country names and "military alliances" on your favorite search engine. Antiwar.Com has a page for each country listing war and anti-war-related news and opinions.)

 Nuclear Non-Proliferation

        In the fifty-nine years of the nuclear age, defacto nuclear proliferation has lead to eight nations definitely having nuclear weapons - the U.S., Russia, England, France, China, India, Pakistan - and Israel which has yet to publicly admit it.  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed on July 1, 1968 and entered into force on March 5, 1970. Central to the treaty is the concession of the Non-Nuclear Weapons States (NNWS) to refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons and in exchange, the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) agree to make progress on nuclear disarmament and provide unrestricted access to nuclear energy for non-military uses. The NPT has become the cornerstone of global disarmament efforts, yet its very existence is threatened by recent events. Cuba, India, Israel and Pakistan refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  North Korea withdrew in January 2003. For more information see Center for Defense Information Resources on Non-proliferation

Yesterday, Clinton permitted himself to put pressure on Russia [note: regarding its attacks on Chechnya]. It seems he has for a minute, for a second, for half a minute, forgotten that Russia has a full arsenal of nuclear  weapons. He has forgotten about that. Then Russian President Boris Yeltsin 12-9-99

I haven't forgotten that. You know, I didn't think he'd forgotten America was a great power when he disagreed with what I did in Kosovo.
Then U.S. President Bill Clinton 12-9-99

During the "Cold War"

    The 1945-1989 "Cold War" between the U.S.S.R. and the United States was one long nuclear standoff.  These threats continued into even the late 1990s and could easily be prompted by some new regional crisis, especially as the United States continues to build military bases all around Russia's perimeter.
    David R. Morgan, National President, Veterans Against Nuclear Arms, describes in detail 16 threats to use nuclear weapons -- most of them from the United States, many of which continue as standing threats: 1946-Iran and Yugoslavia; 1948-Berlin; 1950-Korea; 1954-Vietnam and China; 1956-Suez; 1958-China; 1959 and 1961-Berlin; 1962 Cuba (the most famous and most dangerous situation); 1969-Vietnam; 1970-Jordan; 1973-Israel; 1980-Iran; 1983-Reagan's First Strike threats.  And of course both the United States and Israel have repeatedly made it clear "no option" is off the table, first against Iraq and now against Iran.
      In my studies of the Middle East, I discovered the U.S. military presence has included other threats to use nuclear weapons to prevent any "Soviet aggression" in the area and especially to protect Israel. In 1956, President Eisenhower threatened to use nuclear weapons if the U.S.S.R. became involved in the Suez Crisis. In 1958, Eisenhower threatened Soviet-backed Egypt and Syria to keep them from interfering in Lebanon. In 1967, President Johnson considered using nuclear weapons during the Arab-Israeli war and the Washington-Moscow hot line was used for the first time. In 1973, during another Arab-Israeli war, President Nixon declared a nuclear alert that moved U.S. readiness to "DEFCON III". In 1979, after the invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter threatened to use "any means necessary", including nuclear weapons, in order to maintain U.S. supremacy in the Middle East. Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which included clashes with Syrian and Soviet troops, nearly triggered a nuclear alert.
       And U.S. ally Israel, in its efforts to hold on to and even expand what hundreds of hundreds of millions of Muslims consider to be "colonized" and "occupied" land in Israel and the occupied territories, has often used the nuclear threat.  The Federation of American scientists site notes: : Strategically, Israel uses its long-range missiles and nuclear-capable aircraft (and, some say, submarines with nuclear-armed cruise missiles) to deter both conventional and unconventional attacks, or to launch "the Samson Option", an all-out attack against an adversary should defenses fail and population centers be threatened. In a lengthy article on Israel's nuclear capability, anti-nuclear activists John Steinbach writes: " Israel has made countless veiled nuclear threats against the Arab nations and against the Soviet Union (and by extension Russia since the end of the Cold War) One chilling example comes from Ariel Sharon, the current Israeli Prime Minister "Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches."  See more on Israeli nuclear weapons and its numerous "Samson Option" threats by Israeli leaders and their supporters.
     The Soviet Union and later Russia also have used the nuclear threat.  Angered by the United States placing nuclear missiles in Turkey in the early sixties, Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev placed nuclear weapons in Cuba, leading to the Cuban missile crisis, the closest the world has come so far to nuclear war. (President Kennedy did not know there really were nuclear weapons when he threatened to invade and this information was released only after the fall of the Soviet Union.)  Nevertheless, the nuclear standoff led to the Soviet Union withdrawing their nuclear missiles from Cuba and 
the U.S. withdrawing them from Turkey.

During the 1999 NATO Bombings of Serbia

      During the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, Russian leaders repeatedly inferred that if bombing continued or ground troops entered Serbia, it might lead to nuclear war with Russia.  A series of quotes, right up until the bombing stopped, illustrate how serious they were.
    “I told NATO, the Americans, the Germans: Don't push us toward military action.  Otherwise there will be a European war for sure and possibly world war.'' Russian President Boris Yeltsin, April 6, 1999
      "In the event that NATO and America start a ground operation in Yugoslavia, they will face a second Vietnam, I do not want to forecast what is going to start then. I cannot rule out a third world war.'' Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, April 17, 1999
         "If NATO goes from air force to ground force it will be a world catastrophe. (Russia) has never felt such anti-Western, anti-European feelings." First Deputy Russian Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, April 25, 1999.
       “You have to understand that if we want to cause you a problem over this, we could.  Someone, we don't know who, could send up a missile from a ship or a submarine and detonate a nuclear weapon high over the United States.  The EMP (electromagnetic pulse that destroys electronic and computer equipment) would take away all your capability.”  Vladimir Lukin, Chairman of the Russian State Duma Foreign Policy Committee, late April, 1999
       “Just let Clinton, a little bit, accidentally, send a missile.  We will answer immediately.  Such impudence! To unleash a war on a sovereign state.  Without Security Council.  Without United Nations.  It could only be possible in a time of barbarism.”  Boris Yeltsin, May 7, 1999
       "The world has never in this decade been so close as now to the brink of nuclear war."  Viktor Chernomyrdin, May 27, 1999 

India and Pakistan

        India and Pakistan have repeatedly threatened nuclear war against each other, most seriously in the last few years.  In late December 2002 Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, addressing Air Force veterans in Karachi, said: he last year "personally" conveyed a clear "message" to Prime Minister Vajpayee, "through every international leader who came to Pakistan", namely, that Indian troops "should not expect a conventional war from Pakistan" if they "moved a single step across the international border or the Line of Control".   In response Indian Defense Minister George Fernandez said:  "We can take a bomb or two, or more. When we respond, there will be no Pakistan."   About the same time former Army Chief of Staff Aslam Beg, then heading a right-wing Pakistani think tank said: "Our policy of deterrence is India-specific. No matter who comes for us, Israel, the United States or India we will take on India. If someone is thinking of taking on Pakistan they should know we will take on India." And despite subsequent detente between the two nations during the remainder of 2003, as late as fall, 2003 Ariel Sharon visited India, worrying Pakistan that he was once again proposing India do a surgical strike against Pakistani nuclear assets. Once any such a Indian-Pakistani nuclear exchange began, there are a number of scenarios by which it could escalate into accidental or intentional world nuclear war.

During Run Up to U.S. War on Iraq

Sharon eyes 'Samson option' against Iraq ...November 2002 News.Scotsman.Com [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon - who is courting extreme right-wingers to prop up his teetering government following the withdrawal of the Labour Party last week - has spoken openly of his willingness to strike back, and strike back hard, should his country be attacked by Iraq. ... Sharon's blunt admission that a retaliatory strike would be ordered in the event of an attack on Israel with non-conventional weapons came after discussions with US President George W Bush.
        Israeli officials later interpreted the president's stance as giving the green-light to Sharon to attack Baghdad only if Iraq launched a pre-emptive strike against the Jewish State before an American military campaign had got underway.
        The officials said if an American military offensive had already begun, then Israel should show restraint and allow the US forces to retaliate.

U.S. Weighs Tactical Nuclear Strike on Iraq Paul Richter, January 25, 2003, Los Angeles Times. As the Pentagon continues a highly visible buildup of troops and weapons in the Persian Gulf, it is also quietly preparing for the possible use of nuclear weapons in a war against Iraq, according to a report by a defense analyst. . .Military officials have been focusing their planning on the use of tactical nuclear arms in retaliation for a strike by the Iraqis with chemical or biological weapons, or to preempt one, Arkin says. His report, based on interviews and a review of official documents, appears in a column that will be published in The Times on Sunday. . . Critics contend that a bunker-buster strike could involve a huge radiation release and dangerous blast damage. They also say that use of a nuclear weapon in such circumstances would encourage other nuclear-armed countries to consider using such weapons in more kinds of situations and would badly undermine the half-century effort to contain the spread of nuclear arms. . .In a policy statement issued only last month, the White House said the United States "will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force -- including through resort to all of our options -- to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States."
Bush refuses to rule out nuclear weapons March 23, 2003, President George W Bush today refused to rule out the prospect of US forces using nuclear weapons if they were subjected to a chemical or biological attack in Iraq. Speaking at a joint press conference with Tony Blair at Camp David, the US president was asked whether, if coalition forces were subjected to a chemical weapons attack by Saddam Hussein, the US would use its nuclear capability. Mr Bush replied: "If he uses weapons of mass destruction, it will just prove our case. And we will deal with it. We have got one objective in mind, that is victory. And we will achieve victory."

Against Iran

The Unthinkable: The US- Israeli Nuclear War on Iran by Michel Chossudovsky (January 21, 2007) There is mounting evidence that the Bush Administration in liaison with Israel and NATO is planning the  launching of a nuclear war against Iran, ironically, in retaliation for its nonexistent nuclear weapons program. The US-Israeli military operation is said to be in "an advanced state of readiness.”
 December 16, 2005
Nuclear Deployment for an Attack on Iran
And the nuclear hitmen behind it
by Jorge Hirsch

Hersh: U.S. mulls nuclear option for Iran CNN Interview with Seymour Hersh (April 10, 2007)
BLITZER: Here's the most explosive item in your new article in The New Yorker magazine. And I'll read it: "The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites," the nuclear sites in Iran, "little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. 'Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap,' the former senior intelligence official said. 'Decisive' is the key word of the Air Force's planning. It's a tough decision, but we made it in Japan." Now, this is an explosive charge, an explosive revelation, if true, that the United States is seriously considering using a tactical nuclear bomb or bombs to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities.

HERSH: What you just read says this. If you're giving the White House a series of options, and the option is to get rid of an underground facility -- the facility I'm talking about is Natanz, 75 feet under hard rock -- if you want to tell the White House one sure way of getting it in a range of options is nuclear, what happened in this case is they gave that option, the JCS, the Joint Chiefs [of Staff].
     And then, of course, nobody in their right mind would want to use a nuclear weapon in the Middle East, because it would be, my God, totally chaotic. When the JCS, the Joint Chiefs, and the planners wanted to walk back that option, what happened is about three or four weeks ago, the White House, people in the White House, in the Oval Office, the vice president's office, said, no, let's keep it in the plan.
     That doesn't mean it's going to happen. They refuse to take it out. And what I'm writing here is that if this isn't removed -- and I say this very seriously. I've been around this town for 40 years -- some senior officers are prepared to resign. They're that upset about the fact that this plan is kept in. Again, let me make the point, you're giving a range of options early in the planning. To be sure of getting rid of it, you give that option.

World War III

On October 16, 2007, Vladimir Putin visited Iran to discuss Russia's aid to Iran's nuclear power program and "insisted that the use of force was unacceptable.” On October 17, Bush stated "if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," understood as a message to Putin. On October 26 Putin compared U.S. plans to put up a missile defense system near Russia's border as analogous to when the Soviet Union deployed missiles in Cuba, prompting the Cuban Missile Crisis which brought the US and the Soviet Union close to nuclear war in 1962.  On November 8 Bush said: "If you want to see World War Three, you know, a way to do that is to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon." This is interpreted as a comment about Israel's use of the Samson Option to target Russia, which would retaliate with nuclear weapons against the United States.


Video About the Norwegian Rocket Incident; Wikipedia article
Needless to say, the possibility of accidental nuclear war between the United States and Russia increases in an atmosphere of threats and counter-threats, especially relating to specific incidents or ongoing wars -- and especially given Russia's broken down radar and satellite early warning system which cover only a part of Russia's 11 time zones at any one time. Computer and radar glitches, misinterpreted missile launches, unexpected large asteroid explosions -- not to mention a nuclear detonation of unknown origin on either nation -- could lead to a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Russia.  Both nations have only a few short minutes to decide if a real attack is under-way.

Launch on Warning "Hair Trigger" Alert
     The U.S. and Russia both have a nuclear policy of “launch on warning”--a "hair-trigger" alert system.  This means that less than 15 minutes after detecting a missile attack -- real or false -- through radar and satellite early warning systems these nation's militaries must launch their 5,000 on-alert nuclear weapons or possibly loose them to a first strike by the other side.  And of this 15 minutes, only two or three minutes are allowed for actual deliberation by the Presidents of the United States or Russia.  Barely time to get a phone call through on their "red telephones."  See a relevant video.

Past Near-Accidental Nuclear War

       In the last 30 years there have been a number of incidents which would have led to nuclear war had not clear thinking human beings decided the warning systems were in error. (See Alan Phillips' 20 Mishaps that Might Have Started Accidental Nuclear War) In 1979 a nuclear war simulation tape in a NORAD computer was interpreted to be a real nuclear attack and for 6 minutes emergency preparations for nuclear retaliation were made until the error was discovered.  In 1980 a flawed 64-cent chip in telephone switching hardware at NORAD started sending alarming messages to U.S. command centers that a nuclear attack was under way.
       In 1983, a Russian  satellite interpreted sun glare off clouds as a U.S. nuclear attack by multiple missiles and only a lower officer’s decision the U.S. had no reason to attack prevented him from reporting the sighting as a nuclear attack.  In the closest call with disaster, in January, 1995, Russian President Yeltsin was alerted after radar detected an unexpected scientific missile launch.  His nuclear "football" was activated, and he was close to a decision to launch when the missile (which could have been carrying 10 nuclear weapons) went out to sea. It later was discovered military leaders had failed to pass on Norway’s alert that it would be launching a scientific satellite that day.
      Only the caution of a few rational-minded Russians saved most of you reading this from dying in a nuclear war in 1983 or 1995, i.e., the fact Russian nuclear commanders decided that false nuclear attack alerts were just that because the United States had no reason to launch a nuclear attack.  However, had these accidents occurred when the U.S. was bombing Serbia in spring of 1999 or invading Iraq in 2003, who can say what the result might have been?  Or what if a problem occurred soon after the U.S. made threats that Russia should quickly withdraw its troops from Georgia, an issue in early 2004?

Remove the Hair Trigger by John O. Pastore and Peter Zheutlin of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.   According to "Dateline NBC," in September 1983, just weeks after the Soviet Union shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007, and with Soviet-American relations at a low ebb, Col. Stanislov Petrov was on duty outside Moscow monitoring nine Soviet satellites that were, in turn, monitoring U.S. nuclear missile bases. Shortly after midnight Col. Petrov's worst nightmare came true. Sirens sounded and his computer screen signaled the launch of a single U.S. missile (possibly carrying 10 nuclear warheads) just 30 seconds into its 25-minute flight to Moscow.
    Petrov had to make an immediate assessment and relay it up the chain of command. If a full-scale U.S. attack was underway, the decision to retaliate would have to be made within minutes. All Petrov's systems appeared to be working properly. Remarkably, he reported to his superior that the alarm was false. Petrov reasoned that a U.S. attack would not begin with the firing of a single missile. It made no sense.
      And then, within seconds, his computer detected the launch of four additional missiles causing alarms to sound at the Soviet Union's supreme command headquarters. The Soviets now had five minutes to "use them or lose them"  -- that is, respond with a nuclear attack of their own or risk unilateral annihilation. But Petrov held firm -- he says he just didn't believe an attack was underway -- and assured those up the command that he was seeing a false alarm.
      In 1995 Russian radar mistook a Norwegian research rocket for an incoming U.S. ballistic missile speeding toward Moscow. President Yeltsin's nuclear "football" was activated. With only minutes to decide whether to launch a counterattack, it was determined that a U.S. attack was not imminent. (Washington Post article no longer at that link.)

Could Norway Trigger a Nuclear War? Notes on the Russian Command and Control System by Nikolai Sokov 
   [Regarding the January 25, 1995 incident in which Boris Yeltsin, then President of Russia, came within three minutes of initiating a full nuclear strike on the United States because of one Norwegian scientific rocket Russians could not identify.]

....The recently leaked information suggests that the reason for the "mistaken identity" of the Norwegian rocket was technical. The Norwegian rocket used the first stage of an old American tactical missile "Honest John."
Consequently, the boost phase speed was higher than usual for previous research launches. The rocket was also unusually large, consisting of three stages and measuring 18.4 meters long and 6 tons. Apparently, it was mistaken for an American Trident II SLBM (its length is 13.4 meters without the front section). The trajectory (to the north from Russia) was also considered "legitimate," since conceivably, a real attack could be preceded by launching a missile to the north of Russia and detonating a device with an extra powerful electromagnetic impulse to knock out communications systems. The computer systems classified it as a combat missile and flashed a warning. The system was automatically activated up to the top, including Yeltsin's "nuclear briefcase." Then, in a matter of minutes, the situation was assessed and the alert status decreased back to normal. Reportedly, the alert did not even reach launch teams at missile bases. (Article no longer at the link.)

Russia's Questionable Early Warning System 

During the 1990s Russia's early warning system degraded to only three operational satellites and an outdated ground-based radar system which failed to cover all possible missile entry routes from land and sea.  Under Russian President Vladimir Putin these systems have been upgraded.  Nevertheless, the fact that the United States has circled Russia with  nuclear weapons over the last ten years makes Russian leaders particularly anxious since they have as little as 5 minutes to decide if they are under nuclear attack and launch missiles.  Excerpts from articles below detail these problems.

Invitation to Nuclear Disaster  by Michael Krepon. (May 1999) At present the Kremlin retains as many of its nuclear forces on hair-trigger alert as possible. This is done to compensate for weaknesses in Russia's conventional forces, for gaping holes in the old Soviet early warning network and for the vast launch readiness of U.S. nuclear forces. Independent estimates suggest that Russia maintains in excess of 3,000 nuclear warheads in very high states of launch readiness.  In September 1998 a deranged Russian sailor killed seven of his shipmates and barricaded himself inside the torpedo bay of his nuclear attack submarine. Security forces recaptured the boat, which may or may not have had nuclear weapons on board. In September 1998, a guard at a facility holding 30 tons of plutonium shot other guards and then escaped, heavily armed. The list of incidents of this kind in Russia that we know about is chilling. (Tuesday, May 25, 1999; Page A15, Washington, Post)

Cold War's End Leaves Danger of Nuclear War  by Robert Scheer. (April 1999)  [Gen. Lee] Butler, a 33-year military veteran who rose to be director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is retired now. [He says:] "The Russian command and early warning system is in a state of great decline; about two-thirds of the satellites they relied on for early warning capability are inactive or failing. They're experiencing false alarms now on almost a routine basis, and I shudder to think about the morale and discipline of their rocket forces. There are worrisome aspects to all of that. That's why people like myself are so puzzled and dismayed that our government won't even address the problem." 

Reducing a Common Danger: Improving Russia's Early-Warning System by Geoffrey Forden (Cato Policy Analysis, May 3, 2001).  An excellent detailed and illustrated analysis of the problem.  Excerpt: Russia's continuing economic difficulties pose a clear and increasing danger to itself, the world at large, and the United States in particular. Russia no longer has the working fleet of early-warning satellites that reassured its leaders that they were not under attack during the most recent false alert—in 1995 when a scientific research rocket launched from Norway was, for a short time, mistaken for a U.S. nuclear launch. With decaying satellites, the possibility exists that, if a false alert occurs again, Russia might launch its nuclear-tipped missiles.

Russia's Perimeter or "Dead Hand" Missile Control System

Russia's Strategy to Deal with Early Warning Failures from article by Michael Kraig. (November 1999) The existing gaps in the early warning network may increase Russian reliance on streamlined command procedures with a greater chance of human-machine errors. Military and political leaders can now choose among a variety of alternatives for improving quick-launch capabilities during a crisis if needed. One such option would give the civilian political authorities "push-button" control of forces without the intervention of the military's General Staff in the authorization process.
        Another option is a back-up launch authorization system named "Perimeter," often called "The Dead Hand" by analysts. In the event that a US first strike would overwhelm the early warning capabilities and "decapitate" Russian leadership (as shown by ground-based nuclear detonation detectors and loss of communications), this system would automatically send up an ICBM with communications transceivers housed in the nose cone. Once at a sufficient height, this system would remotely transmit unlock codes and launch instructions to on-site human launch controllers for a large portion of the ICBM force.  Less dramatically, existing plans for pre-delegation of launch codes could allow lower commanders to act on their own during tense crises if it is believed that the General Staff has been taken out by an American first strike.

Russian Nuclear Policy and the Status of Detargeting  Statement before Subcommittee on Military Research and   Development, House National Security Committee, March 17, 1997,  By Bruce G. Blair, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies...Russia devised a back-up method of launch known as Perimeter, which they colloquially call the "dead hand." If top leaders do not get a clear picture of an apparent missile attack, or if for any reason they fail to give timely authorization to retaliate, the General Staff can activate this system to ensure quasi-automatic retaliation in the event of their decapitation.

       Russia's "Dead Hand" system makes it possible for just one nuclear weapon, deployed against Russian strategic command center in Moscow, to lead to nuclear destruction of the United States and Russia.  Terrorist seeking to destroy the U.S. or Israel using its nuclear weapons in the "Samson Option" only have to attack Russia's vulnerable systems..  Meanwhile Russia and the U.S. have failed to establish any systems beyond far too vulnerable wireless and telephone "hot lines" to prevent accidental nuclear war.

Failure to Construct Joint Warning Center

Failure to Construct Joint Warning Center Suggests Bigger Problems on Missile Defense By Peter Baker
 Washington Post June 13, 2001  To prevent false alarms about missile launches with catastrophic consequences, the United States and Russia decided to build a joint nuclear early warning center to share information. They liked the idea so much that they announced it twice.
    ... Yet now, as the presidents of Russia and the United States prepare for another summit, this  "milestone" remains nothing more than an abandoned kindergarten building surrounded by  overgrown shrubbery on the outskirts of Moscow.
    ...After Clinton and Yeltsin first agreed to the plan, the war in Kosovo the following spring soured Russia on the West and everything was put on hold for nearly a year. After relations  thawed a bit, Clinton and Putin signed a memorandum of understanding last June to put it back on track.
    But it became mired in details -- Russians said their law required Americans to pay taxes on the equipment brought into the country and to assume liability for construction, while the U.S. side did not want to set a precedent that would affect larger aid programs. More important, the project lost momentum in the lame-duck days of the Clinton administration and has remained frozen pending the Bush team's review of its Russia policy. The two sides have not met for months.
    ... According to Pentagon briefing papers, the center would be staffed 24 hours a day by a detachment of 16 U.S. officers joined by a similar number of Russians. U.S. and Russian officers would sit back to back, each with computers linked to their respective early warning headquarters. Although they would not receive raw data, they would have access to information processed in less than a minute that would show generic missile type, launch location and time, and launch path, impact area and time if known.


Russia's Negative Reaction to Clinton Bombing of Serbia

President Bill Clinton's spring 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia lead to several changes in Russian policy -- made primarily to convince the United States it should continue to take Russia's fear of attack and its retaliatory capacity seriously, per the quotations from Russian leaders above.

N-weapons targeted at 'hostile' West by Ian Traynor, Excerpts. (January 2000, article no longer linked) Russia has revised its defense doctrine to make it easier to press the nuclear button in an international crisis, while unequivocally declaring the West hostile.  A new national security strategy decreed by the Acting President, Mr Vladimir Putin, on Monday and due to be published yesterday marks a radical shift in Russia's view of the world. It ushers in a policy of "expanded nuclear containment" while pledging to resist Western attempts to dominate the globe.
   The strategic shift lowers the threshold at which Russia may resort to nuclear weapons and is the first foreign policy move Mr Putin has taken since replacing Mr Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin on New Year's Eve. The new document states that the use of nuclear weapons is necessary "to repel armed aggression if all other means of resolving a crisis situation have been exhausted or turn out to be ineffective". "These are very substantial changes," said a military affairs expert, Mr Sergei Sorkut. "The emphasis on nuclear weapons has changed. They can now be used in crisis situations." The Putin strategy takes a much more confrontational position towards the West, a policy overhaul sparked by Nato's expansion into former Warsaw Pact countries and by the US-led war against Yugoslavia last year.
     It says that the "multipolar world" promoted by Mr Yeltsin, who sought to enlist India and China as allies, is in conflict with "the West led by the US", which aims to use its military might to dominate world affairs. A new military doctrine, dovetailing with the Putin national security strategy, is expected to be endorsed by the Acting President in February, said Mr Sergei Ivanov, a close Putin ally and secretary of the Kremlin's influential Security Council.

Moscow Issues New Policy Emphasizing Nuclear Arms New York Times, Excerpts. (January 2000)  The new strategy was signed by Acting President Vladimir V. Putin on Monday and published today. It reviews not just foreign threats but also a sweeping array of internal dangers, from organized crime to terrorism to separatist movements like that of the militants in Chechnya.  Taken together, the Russian changes represent a new view of the world by the nation's leaders -- one in which the West is no longer benign, but is a competitor that benefits from and even schemes to ensure Russian weakness.
      The strategy calls the armed forces' readiness "critically low", and says social stability is at risk because the population is being stratified into "a thin layer of well-to-do-people and a predominant layer of citizens of scanty means."   Bruce G. Blair, an expert on Russian and American nuclear forces at the Brookings      Institution in Washington, said the change was "a codification of something that's  really already been pretty well cemented in the Russian psyche, at least among their security planners." And the United States -- which also periodically redraws its security landscape, in an exercise not dissimilar from that of the Kremlin -- has traditionally been more hawkish about the first use of nuclear weapons than has Moscow.
       In that sense, the Kremlin and White House nuclear policies are not all that far apart.  But in terms of security, the Russian and American nuclear forces are now far apart, Mr. Blair said, with American forces remaining under tight control, while control of Russian nuclear missiles is more problematic.

Bush Rejects 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

George Bush withdrew from this treaty in order to begin construction of a missile defense program.  This often is seen as a move by those who want to be able to first strike another country and then defend itself from counter-attack.

America withdraws from ABM treaty  December 2001 BBC News Story
        "This step was not a surprise for us. However, we consider it a mistake," Mr Putin said in a national television broadcast. "I fully believe that the decision taken by the president of the United States does not pose a threat to the national security of the Russian Federation," he said. Russia had previously warned that a US withdrawal would trigger a  new nuclear arms race and weaken  international security. 

Kucinich v. Bush by Matt Bivens in the Nation, November, 2002 (link missing).  Does the president have the sole authority under our system of government to tear up an international treaty? Or does the president need to seek and obtain the assent of Congress? Surprisingly, this fundamental question has never been definitively settled. That may soon change, as it is at the core of Dennis Kucinich et al. v. George W. Bush et al., which got underway Halloween Day here in US District Court. Most presidents have consulted with Congress when trying to renounce a treaty; in a few cases, presidents have acted alone. But the Kucinich case argues that never has a lone president junked a treaty as monumental as the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, an arms control cornerstone from the Cold War....Thirty-two members of the House of Representatives filed suit charging the president had overstepped his authority, hoping to bring renewed attention to the issue.  

     However, CNN reports that in December 2002, U.S. District Judge John Bates said "issues concerning treaties are largely political questions best left to the political branches of the government, not the courts, for resolution." 

2002 U.S.-Russia Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty Little Improvement

Bush’s Nuclear Madness -- Countdown to Midnight by Frida Berrigan
       [The agreement] ...leaves the Bush administration free to do pretty much anything it wants. As Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central observed, “Instead of being able to blow the world up 11 or 12 times over, we’ll only be able to do it 4 or 5 times.” The agreement:*
*  Sets no schedule for the reductions, as long as the desired levels—1,700-2,200 deployed weapons, compared with roughly 6,000 on each side now—are reached by 2012. (In theory, either side could even increase deployed weapons between now and then as long as they come back down to the agreed levels by the end of the ten-year period.)

**  Weapons withdrawn from active service do not have to be destroyed; thousands may be saved as part of the “active response” force the Bush administration wants to maintain so that it can re-deploy weapons on short notice.

**  Research and development of new kinds of nuclear weapons, like the bunker busting “Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator,” will not be restricted, and missile defense development will move ahead at full speed. In fact, when the agreement comes into force, the U.S. will continue to make massive new investments—at least $33 billion in the next five years alone—in its “New Triad” of long-range strike systems, missile defenses, and a revitalized nuclear weapons production complex. And that doesn’t even take into account the additional billions the administration will be spending on the militarization of space, which Defense Secretary Rumsfeld sees as the “new high ground” for guaranteeing U.S. military superiority for generations to come.

**  Finally, to top it off, either side can withdraw from the agreement with just 90 days notice.
    No wonder one Bush official described it as “our kind of agreement.”

Russia To Maintain Nuclear Arsenal Steve Gutterman, AP, Excerpts (August, 2002)   Russia will maintain its arsenal nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Friday, boasting that the country's SS-20 missile was capable of penetrating any defense system in existence. "The Strategic Missile Forces have been and remain a most important factor in the deterrence of aggressive aspirations and intentions toward Russia and our allies," the Interfax news agency quoted Ivanov as saying at the base in Kartaly, in the Chelyabinsk region.
      He did not name any allies and said Russia's plans for its nuclear forces have "no relation to the U.S. plans for a national missile defense system," according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. "Russia will develop its Strategic Nuclear Forces regardless of the relations it maintains with the United States or any other country," it quoted him as saying. Ivanov boasted about the "superpowerful, highly effective RS-20 missiles" deployed at Kartaly, saying the missile — known in the West as the SS-20 Satan — is the "core of the combat might" of the strategic forces and can "overcome the most modern missile defense system." However, Ivanov said the decision to continue deploying the SS-20 was "in no way connected" to the American withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.

US not to reduce nuclear arsenal to Moscow Treaty levels (March 2004) The United States will not cut its nuclear arsenal to levels designated by an arms accord it concluded two years ago with Russia because it must hedge against an uncertain future, a top administration official announced.
        The Moscow Treaty signed with great fanfare by Presidents George W. Bush of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia in May 2002 calls on both sides to reduce their strategic nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012.
        But it refers to "operationally deployed" weapons, essentially offering both governments a loophole that allows them to move an unlimited number of warheads into storage and keep them indefinitely under lock and key.
        While US officials have often praised this option, Wednesday's remarks by Undersecretary of Energy Linton Brooks before the Senate Subcommittee on Strategic Forces represented the first official indication the Bush administration had actually decided to exercise it.

2002 - 2005: United States New Imperialist Posture

As most Americans know by now, "neoconservatives" are  big government expansionists tied to right wing Israeli extremists who promote U.S. and Israeli expansionism, in the Middle East and worldwide. Project for The New American Century, perhaps the most infamous of the "neoconservative think tanks," issued in 1997 an imperialist manifesto Rebuilding America's Defenses which states that no nation should gain military superiority over the United States and chillingly states: "...the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing even – like a new Pearl Harbor."  It followed the 1996 paper written by most of the same individuals for then Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu called Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.  It details how the United States will be used to realize Israel’s extremist goals of retaining conquered Palestinian territories and pacifying the Middle East to protect Israel - no matter what it costs Americans.  

The policies of neoconservatives who held power in the early years of Bush's administration led to the current Iraq war and occupation, which has cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.  The cost which probably will hit a trillion dollars before it ends.  And even now Israel and the neoconservatives are pushing Bush to attack Iran.  Americans from street activists to former presidents are finally beginning to rebel against this unholy alliance of right wing ideologues and the pro-Israel lobby.

On January 8, 2002 the Department of Defense submitted to Congress its Nuclear Posture Review Report which for the first time named countries, besides Russia, the U.S. might find it necessary to attack with nuclear weapons, i.e., China, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria. In September 2002 President George Bush released the updated The National Security Strategy of the United States.  As the articles below make clear, the policy stated that the United States would use any means necessary to prevent any country or group of countries to challenge the United States' dominance of the world--even if it means pre-emptive strikes using nuclear weapons.  On December 10, 2002 the White House released a six-page strategy document that reiterated that if enemies used weapons of mass destruction the United States would respond with nuclear weapons.  These three documents clearly outlined the United States new, defacto imperialist posture. In 2005 Bush released an updated National Security Strategy which expanded on these precepts. 
The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation compares the 1994 and 2002 Nuclear Posture Reviews In 2006 Bush released another version which was more in line with the multilateral approach of past administrations. However, given Bush's continuing aggressive talk towards Iran and Russia, one must wonder which strategy he truly agrees with.

Bush Shifts Strategy From Deterrence to Dominance Washington Post September 2002
      In a muscular new statement of U.S. strategic priorities, President Bush declared yesterday that the United States must maintain unchallenged military superiority to win the fight against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction that now pose the greatest threat to U.S. national security...

      Possessing "unprecedented -- and unequaled -- strength and influence in the world," it begins, and "sustained by faith in the principles of liberty and the value of a free society," the United States also has "unparalleled responsibilities, obligations and opportunities. The great strength of this nation must be used to promote a balance of power that favors freedom."...

From Paranoia to Arrogance: Our New Nuclear Policy by Ryan McMaken (August 2002)
    Only the most bloodthirsty hawks of the Cold War ever planned to establish nuclear arsenals as anything other than a deterrent, and it was never an option to use nuclear weapons on a country that did not possess its own nuclear weapons. The "first strike" option was never really considered a viable option by any American president, and nuclear weapons were only to be used if it was clear that millions of American deaths were an inevitability. Such was the noble insanity of the Cold War.
      Fast forward to 2002, and we find that things have changed considerably. In February, someone at the Pentagon who had not yet completed the transformation into a complete sociopath leaked the "Nuclear Posture Review" which outlined plans for a nuclear "end game" with Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Syria, none of which possess nuclear weapons. The report also outlined plans to let the missiles fly on Russia and China as well, even though virtually everyone on the face of the Earth thought we had actually normalized relations with them. It turns out, much to the surprise of the Chinese and the Russians, that they are still potential enemies in a nuclear holocaust.
     The biggest change in nuclear policy however, has been the movement away from a "last resort" mentality on nuclear weapons to a "first strike" mentality. The neo-conservative hawks and their allies in Washington have been pushing for years to develop low yield nuclear weapons.
     Today, without any military rival, and with no nuclear power making professions of ill will toward the United States, we have developed plans for the utter destruction of friends and enemies alike, and have developed weapons for use in first strike nuclear attacks in case they prove necessary as a "pre-emptive" measure, or if some adversary threatens our "National Interest" as defined by Donald Rumsfeld. The moral bankruptcy here ought to astound all who confront it, but then, the United States government abandoned the moral high ground a long time ago.

The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy
      In the March/April 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs Magazines political science professors Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press wrote an article "The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy." Its summary reads:
    For four decades, relations among the major nuclear powers have been shaped by their common vulnerability, a condition known as mutual assured destruction. But with the U.S. arsenal growing rapidly while Russia's decays and China's stays small, the era of MAD is ending -- and the era of U.S. nuclear primacy has begun.
To determine how much the nuclear balance has changed since the Cold War, we ran a computer model of a hypothetical U.S. attack on Russia's nuclear arsenal using the standard unclassified formulas that defense analysts have used for decades. We assigned U.S. nuclear warheads to Russian targets on the basis of two criteria: the most accurate weapons were aimed at the hardest targets, and the fastest-arriving weapons at the Russian forces that can react most quickly. Because Russia is essentially blind to a submarine attack from the Pacific and would have great difficulty detecting the approach of low-flying stealthy nuclear-armed cruise missiles, we targeted each Russian weapon system with at least one submarine-based warhead or cruise missile. An attack organized in this manner would give Russian leaders virtually no warning.

    After a later description of the model they used to come to their conclusions, the authors note: To be clear, this does not mean that a first strike by the United States would be guaranteed to work in reality; such an attack would entail many uncertainties. Nor, of course, does it mean that such a first strike is likely. But what our analysis suggests is profound: Russia's leaders can no longer count on a survivable nuclear deterrent. And unless they reverse course rapidly, Russia's vulnerability will only increase over time. China's nuclear arsenal is even more vulnerable to a U.S. attack.

    They ask: Is the United States intentionally pursuing nuclear primacy? Or is primacy an unintended byproduct of intra-Pentagon competition for budget share or of programs designed to counter new threats from terrorists and so-called rogue states? Motivations are always hard to pin down, but the weight of the evidence suggests that Washington is, in fact, deliberately seeking nuclear primacy. For one thing, U.S. leaders have always aspired to this goal. And the nature of the changes to the current arsenal and official rhetoric and policies support this conclusion.

    As evidence they detail impressive improvements to the U.S. nuclear arsenal and note: The intentional pursuit of nuclear primacy is, moreover, entirely consistent with the United States' declared policy of expanding its global dominance. The Bush administration's 2002 National Security Strategy explicitly states that the United States aims to establish military primacy: "Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States." To this end, the United States is openly seeking primacy in every dimension of modern military technology, both in its conventional arsenal and in its nuclear forces.

2007: Tensions Rise Again Between the United States and Russia over Missile Defense and Iran

In March 2007, the U.S. announced plans to build an anti-ballistic missile missile defense installation in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic, both relatively near the Russian borders. American officials said that the system was intended to protect the United States and Europe from possible nuclear missile attacks by far off Iran or North Korea.  Russia naturally saw this as a way of making a U.S. first strike easier.  In response Russia tested a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile which it claimed could defeat any defense system.  In June 2007, Putin warned that if the U.S. built the installations, Russia would target missiles at Poland and the Czech Republic.

On October 16, 2007, Vladimir Putin visited Iran to discuss Russia's aid to Iran's nuclear power program and "insisted that the use of force was unacceptable.” On October 17, Bush stated "if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," understood as a message to Putin. On October 26 Putin compared U.S. plans to put up a missile defense system near Russia's border as analogous to when the Soviet Union deployed missiles in Cuba, prompting the Cuban Missile Crisis which brought the US and the Soviet Union close to nuclear war in 1962.  

This doubtless was a reference to Israel's "Samson Option" - its willingness to use nuclear weapons against not only enemy Arab and Muslim nations but even against nations which have given them diplomatic or military support.  This would include Russia, which would promptly attack the United States back.  It is unclear if Bush agrees with this threat or has been bullied by Israel into accepting its reality. See Israeli Nuclear Threats and Blackmail.


* Israeli Nuclear Threats and Blackmail
* Six Escalation Scenarios to Nuclear War
* Nuclear War Progression (photos/graphics)
* Preventing and Surviving Nuclear War - LINKS
Nuclear War Photos, Films, Video Links