Putin, Trump, and the Nuclear Danger
Yves here. This Real News Network interview with MIT’s Theodore Postol (the second part of a series) discusses some of the history in the fraught relationship between Russia and the US which spurred Putin to invest heavily in technologies that could circumvent some of our core weapons platforms.
It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Maté. This is part two of my conversation with Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at MIT. We’re talking about Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent speech where he announced upgrades to his country’s nuclear arsenal, calling it a response to the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty in 2002, as well as the recent Nuclear Posture Review issued by President Trump.
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Several points of the renewed US nuclear strategy which lower the threshold of using nuclear weapons provokes great concern. You can reassure anyone in any way behind the scenes, but if we read what is written and what is written is that it can be launched in response to an attack with conventional weapons or even a cyber threat.
In fact, as Putin said it, certainly since 2004. He actually signals 2004 as a time where there was a decision made in Russia that you couldn’t talk to the Americans and were just going to have to go ahead and build some weapons to make it clear to them that there’s no possible advantage they can gain from missile defenses.
He made that pretty clear in his speech. And the issue of using low yield nuclear warheads in conventional military situations or in response to a cyber attack, first of all, I don’t know how you would know where the cyber attack came from.
Demonstrate the differences
I think when you look carefully at the issues associated with cyber attacks, it’s so easy to conceal the true perpetrator, the identity of the true perpetrator. It would be a remarkable, remarkably reckless thing to do, to respond in any military way to a cyber attack without absolutely having the information that clearly showed you knew who did it.
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And against anybody who’s even modestly competent, even some of these hackers who really are not very competent people, you can hide your address, your location from anybody you’re attacking. So, it’s kind of a crazy, thoughtless and dangerous kind of statement to be making that you’re going to use nuclear weapons or any kind of military force in response to a cyber attack.
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So, it shows a kind of reckless attitude on the part of the Department of Defense people and ignorance, or ignorance, or recklessness and ignorance among the people who wrote the Nuclear Policy Review, and I’m afraid that that is evident in a whole bunch of things they say.