False warning. The war could start by mistake because the systems giving the warnings are all fallible. This is a particular problem for the U.S., which has 400 land-based missiles on “hair-trigger alert.”
The ambiguity scenario. The U.S., Russia, China, and other countries have doctrines that call for attacking the adversary’s communication nodes, command and control centers, and warning centers. The Pentagon uses some of these same systems for both conventional and nuclear forces. If an adversary attacked these facilities as part of a conventional war-fighting strategy, the U.S. might think they are trying to cripple our nuclear capabilities and launch a nuclear weapon.
The use of limited nuclear weapons on the battlefield. It is very likely that the use of these weapons would result in a full-scale nuclear war.
Case of North Korea. The North Koreans are not likely to resort to the use of nuclear weapons (partly out of self-preservation) unless something forces their hand.
Case of India and Pakistan. This is an example of countries that have had a number of conventional wars. The country that has inferior conventional weapons (in this case Pakistan) might use nuclear weapons to stop a conventional war.
The U.S. could help avoid the possibility of a nuclear disaster by talking to and entering into arms control agreements with other nations. We should IMMEDIATELY dismantle the 400 land-based intercontinental missiles (ICBM) that are on hair-trigger alert, especially given that there are also missiles on submarines. We should preserve the treaties that have already been negotiated, including the Open Skies Arms Treaty, which increases confidence and transparency on military activities of states through information gathering from aerial imaging, and the Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty (INF), a treaty that bans missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,400 miles. President Trump has pulled the U.S. out of these two treaties and is talking of not renewing the New START Treaty, a nuclear arms reduction treaty, which expires in February 2021. Russian President Putin has expressed a willingness to extend this treaty for five years.
The U.S. should convene a meeting of the nine nuclear nations to work toward the elimination of these horrendous weapons and become signatories of the new landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Polly Mann is a co-founder of WAMM and a regular contributor to this newsletter. Marie Braun of WAMM Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons contributed to this article.
Ceremony of the Cranes
Thursday, August 6, 7:30 a.m.
Lyndale Park Peace Garden, 4124 Roseway Rd, Mpls.
Storytelling, cranes, bell-ringing and ribbon displays to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. FFI: email@example.com. Physical distancing to be observed.
Saturday, August 8, 7:00 p.m.
Global Harmony Labyrinth, Como Park, St. Paul. Mayoral letters, storytelling, and ribbon displays to commemorate the
75th anniversary of the U.S. military atomic bombing of
Nagasaki, Japan. FFI: firstname.lastname@example.org. Physical
distancing to be observed.
The Ribbon Project
Join us in workshops to create a ribbon of peace to display on
the 75th anniversary of the U.S. tomic bombing of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. Multiple local workshops planned. FFI:
612-827-5364. The completed ribbons will be displayed at the local Hiroshima/Nagasaki events listed below.