UK's nuclear weapons are vulnerable to a cyber attack, says study

Sunday, 14 Jan, 2018

Jon Wolfsthal, an arms control adviser to the Barack Obama White House, told the paper the changes will come in a "nuclear posture review" prepared by the Pentagon aimed at deterring Russian Federation from using tactical warheads in a conflict in Eastern Europe. He said it was unwarranted as the country already had low-yield weapons like gravity bombs and air-launched cruise missiles. "Russia is also developing at least two new intercontinental range systems, a hypersonic glide vehicle, and a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, undersea autonomous torpedo", the review says.

Now it appears that a new, Pentagon-led Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) will seek to formally shift USA nuclear strategy to align with Trump's more aggressive nuclear notions. The new administration will likely seek to accelerate and bolster the already unaffordable, 30-year, $1.3 trillion scheme to replace and upgrade all elements of the USA nuclear triad and supporting infrastructure at force levels that exceed requirements set by the 2010 NPR Report and follow-on studies. It's a shocking and explicit rejection of decades of bipartisan consensus to reduce the role and number of US nuclear weapons, which led to large-scale reductions in USA and Russian nuclear stockpiles and reduced the risk of nuclear use.

Writing for the website Arms Control Today website, Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, said the administration was lapsing into "dangerous, Cold War thinking". The document stated, "While nuclear deterrence strategies can not prevent all conflict, they are essential to prevent nuclear attack, non-nuclear strategic attacks, and large-scale conventional aggression".

"At best, cyber insecurity in nuclear weapons systems is likely to undermine trust and confidence in military capabilities and in the nuclear weapons infrastructure".

The Trump administration plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a more "usable", low-yield nuclear warhead for US Trident missiles, according a report in the Guardian.

The administration, however, would have us believe that America is falling behind in military capability.

There has been no evidence produced by anyone that Moscow is committed to a wildly adventurist policy of launching tactical nuclear weapons against USA forces based on the assumption that Washington would not unleash its nuclear arsenal in response.

"Although some information is publicly available on USA weapons systems, there is very little information regarding other nuclear weapons states", the report said.

"Russia's belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage is based, in part, on Moscow's perception that its greater number and variety of non-strategic nuclear weapons provide a coercive advantage and at lower levels of conflict", the Review states.

These changes imply that the weapons designers are anticipating that more complex refurbishments of existing warheads might require nuclear explosive testing.

The proposed nuclear policy says a more aggressive nuclear posture is warranted because the world is more risky, with China, North Korea and Iran cited as concerns.

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