Posts Tagged ‘Missile Proliferation’

When you look at the popular culture, the duck and cover era of civil defense (CD) in the 1950s and early 1960s is often mercilessly mocked. The reason is likely because it seemed insane to take shelter under a desk when nuclear weapons are landing nearby.

However, in those days, the miss distances of the weapons were quite significant, far greater than they are today. As such, they were inclined to be used against soft targets like cities and industrial areas, and less so against hardened military targets. Duck and cover was actually a reasonable bit of preventive guidance for these inaccurate city killers.

However, modern nuclear weapon delivery systems have far greater accuracy. For example, the Claremont Institute’s says a Trident D-5 has 90 meter accuracy. Duck and cover might make a real difference when a weapon misses its target by two miles; not so much when that miss distance is down to 300 feet.

But here we are, fifty years later after the duck and cover era and it would appear much of the world (the parts of the world that make good targets for those who would disrupt our security) is stuck with… duck and cover. What’s up with that?!

First, there is the general weakening and unilateral disarmament of the U.S. nuclear umbrella associated with New START but also with the administration’s decision to depend more on conventional forces (which by the way are likely headed in one direction; down) for U.S./allied security needs. Next, there’s nuclear proliferation (North Korea and Pakistan; Iran’s apparently imminent nuclear breakout; likely growth in Chinese nuclear weapons and certain growth in delivery systems) and even greater missile proliferation. Finally, we’re certain to have less-capable-than-hoped for missile defenses as a result of expected defense cuts.

What’s left? Duck and cover, folks, duck and cover.

Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with taking shelter, and it’s certainly prudent. In fact, given the high-return/low-risk and cost of civil defense, it seems our CD capabilities should be our first step without ignoring the other aspects of deterrence (missile defense; reliable, capable, and available nuclear weapons, delivery systems, and warning methods; conventional capabilities; diplomacy; etc.) which are all part of the deterrence recipe.

When your options are only limited to duck and cover, your approach becomes one of hope (“I sure hope those nuclear weapons miss us!”) and it’s generally well-known within military circles that hope is not a substitute for strategy.

Finally, hope-is-not-a-strategy also explains why the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Japan have vital interests (and investments) in missile defense.


It seems if you work at one of the secret Iranian facilities associated with the nuclear weapons program or the ballistic missile effort, life is fraught with risk. Stuxnet, Revolutionary Guard mishaps, what’s next?

Oh, another mishap. Wonder how many are dead this time?

An explosion rocked the western Iranian city of Isfahan on Monday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, adding that the blast was heard in several parts of the city.


The reported incident occurred about two weeks after Gen. Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam was killed together with 20 other Guard members Nov. 12 at a military site outside Bidganeh village, 40 kilometers southwest of Tehran.

The Revolutionary Guard said the accidental explosion occurred while military personnel were transporting munitions.

Who to blame? Should Iran finger Stuxnet, Part Deux? The Russians or North Koreans (with their traditional quality control “challenges”)? The rocket scientists associated with the Revolutionary Guard? The Protocols of the Zionistic Sons of Katie Elder? All the above?

If it was Israel, look out: Ming150,000 rockets are headed their way, under the command of the winner of the Ming the Merciless look-alike contest.



It seems there’s new evidence regarding the secret training school associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s missile program. Wikileaks got nuthin’ on Songs of Space and Nuclear War (and you still can’t spell Assange without a-s-s).

Iranian School For The Gifted

Iranian Missile WorksIt appears Iran killed at least 20 of its own in a secret missile test, including Revolutionary Guard Gen. Hasan Moghaddam. Details surrounding the disaster are not well known.

Given the observed outcome, all I can advise is this: keep working boys, keep working. You’ll know you’re fully successful when you’re all dead.

Of course, over time, practice makes perfect, especially when Iran is likely to be getting a fair amount of outside help.

In other news related to the foreign policy success of the so-called Russian Reset comes this from NTI:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday said his nation would target U.S. antimissile installations if the two nations cannot come to accord on the Obama administration’s missile defense plans, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, Nov. 22).

The United States and NATO for the last year have sought to reach agreement with Moscow for collaboration on a developing Europe-based missile shield. Several rounds of negotiations have failed to produce a deal, with the sides remaining at odds over the set-up of a cooperative defense system.

The Kremlin has also demanded a legally binding pledge that the NATO defenses would not be aimed at Russian nuclear forces. The alliance has rebuffed the request but says the missile shield is intended to counter ballistic missile strikes from the Middle East, notably Iran.

Medvedev said that should the dispute continue Russia was prepared to deploy Iskander missiles in the far-western Kaliningrad region that could be fired at U.S. missile defense facilities in Europe. Additional missiles could be placed in the west and south of Russia, he added.

New long-range nuclear missiles would be equipped with technology enabling them to defeat antimissile systems, Medvedev said.

There is a potential upside to U.S. national security embedded within Medvedev’s threats:

The president also said that Russia could suspend participation in the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the United States and curb additional arms control discussions with Washington.

"The United States and its NATO partners as of now aren’t going to take our concerns about the European missile defense into account," according to Medvedev.

With security partners like Russia, who needs non-partners?

The good news is that new SecDef Leon Panetta says the Unites States and its allies are

"within reach" of completely breaking al-Qaeda

The bad news is an incrementally nuclear Iran, industrial-level nuclear and missile proliferation from North Korea, and questionable and concerning, but perhaps improving nuclear security in Pakistan.

And then there’s China, who is telling the U.S. to stop spending so much on defense while being acknowledged by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as having arrived as a world power.

I think there may be some sort of lesson about fighting the last war hidden here.

let's all fight

What is the biggest security advantage of New START?

I’d offer having New START out of the way should allow the administration to better focus on the security threats posed by Iran and North Korea.

Others might offer the biggest security advantage of New START should be that it creates an opportunity for the administration to focus much more greatly on what they’ve said is the the nation’s most significant security threat, the threat of nuclear terrorism.

And Mark Stokes and Dan Blumenthal at (but not of) the Washington Post have a still different take.  They say the biggest security benefit of New START is a similar form of ‘addition by subtraction’ — that getting New START off the table will allow the administration to focus on the Chinese missile threat.

With the New START treaty ratified, the Obama administration can turn its attention to the real source of nuclear instability among the great powers: China’s buildup of conventional ballistic missiles. The latest destabilizing system is China’s anti-ship ballistic missile, the "carrier killer" that the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Robert Willard, deemed operational last week.

The Chinese have plussed-up their ballistic missile program to the point where the arms control community will perhaps soon take serious notice.