Missile Defense is Still a Multi-Billion Dollar Boondoggle

Contractors rewarded for missile defense failure - “From 2002 through early last year, the Pentagon conducted 11 flight tests of the nation’s homeland missile defense system,” writes David Willman for the Los Angeles Times. “In the carefully scripted exercises, interceptors of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, or GMD, were launched from underground silos to pursue mock enemy warheads high above the Pacific. The interceptors failed to destroy their targets in six of the 11 tests — a record that has prompted independent experts to conclude the system cannot be relied on.”

--“Yet over that same timespan, Boeing Co., the Pentagon’s prime contractor for GMD, collected nearly $2 billion in performance bonuses for a job well done. The Pentagon paid Boeing more than $21 billion total for managing the system during that period. A Times investigation also found that the criteria for the yearly bonuses were changed at some point to de-emphasize the importance of test results that demonstrate the system’s ability to intercept and destroy incoming warheads.” Full story here. http://lat.ms/2cguQzM

The false logic of high alert - “The main reason administration officials give for keeping missiles on alert is the ‘re-alerting race’ and crisis instability. The argument is that if the United States takes its missiles off hair-trigger alert and a crisis starts to brew, it would want to put them back on alert so they would not be vulnerable to an attack. And the act of putting them back on alert—‘re-alerting’—could exacerbate the crisis and lead Russia to assume the United States was readying to launch an attack... This argument gets repeated so often that people assume it’s simply true,” writes David Wright for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

--“However, the fallacy of this argument is that there is no good reason for the US to re-alert its ICBMs in a crisis. They are not needed for deterrence… Moreover, historical incidents have shown that having missiles on alert during a crisis increases the risk of a mistaken launch due to false or ambiguous warning. So having ICBMs on alert in a crisis increases the risk without providing a benefit.The administration should not just take ICBMs off hair trigger alert. It should also eliminate the option for launching nuclear weapons on warning.” Full story here. http://bit.ly/2cGHuwG

Iran deal is here to stay - “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is known, has survived efforts to wreck it by opponents in both Iran and the United States, and the deal is likely to endure into the next U.S. administration,” writes Barbara Slavin for RealClearWorld. “Of course, the Middle East has a tendency to insert itself into U.S. foreign policy debates in unpredictable ways. But Iran has been relatively stable in the face of the crises afflicting many of its neighbors. A President Clinton or Trump is more likely to have to deal with political turmoil in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or Iraq.”

--“As for the future of U.S.-Iran relations, much will depend on Tehran and whether the supreme leader’s successor feels the same need to maintain animosity toward the United States as a prop to regime survival. Both countries’ citizens would benefit from restoring diplomatic relations and working toward common ground. But if real peace is not yet possible, at least the JCPOA has drastically reduced the chances for another Middle East war.” Full story here. http://bit.ly/2cgaeKk

Tweet - @derekjGZ: Amazing @bloomberg graphics shows you what the first 5 mins of your last half hour on Earth looks like: http://bit.ly/2cgcdyy

Grading the Nuclear Security Summits - “The nuclear security summits contained several innovations and uncommon characteristics. They were large gatherings focused on a narrow topic. Initially, this energized rapid action, but it later led to summit fatigue… The summits undeniably advanced progress to ensuring that terrorists will be unable to obtain nuclear weapons or fissile material. Yet that progress remains incomplete… The success or failure of the summits will be measured by the achievements of follow-on efforts. How will the gaps be closed? How will commitment to the need for continuous security improvement become universal?” Read the full report by William Tobey for the Stanley Foundation here. http://bit.ly/2clq2gK

Tweet - @DarylGKimball: “Sen. Ben Cardin Opening Remarks at #CTBT Hearing" from Sept. 7 #CTBT20 http://bit.ly/2c0VJJX

New thinking on North Korea sanctions - “We conclude that sanctions intended to deny North Korea access to WMD-related materials have not worked, and that in some ways, the sanctions have had the net effect of actually improving DPRK procurement capabilities. We judge that some elements of its nuclear and missile programs will continue to depend on procurement from other countries, that sanctions can be improved, and that at least for the near and intermediate term, denial of weapons-related material and technology is a worthy policy objective, if integrated into a broader political strategy,” write John Park and Jim Walsh in a new report for the MIT Security Studies Program.

--“The new international sanctions adopted by the UN in early 2016 represent an unprecedented and noteworthy diplomatic accomplishment. Few analysts expected language on North Korean coal, iron ore, jet fuel, or other items critical to the DPRK’s revenue and procurement. Still, if there is one lesson from the research presented in this report, it is that the DPRK will not simply sit idly by; it will take counter-measures.” Read the full report here. http://bit.ly/2crR971

Quick Hits:

--“The nuclear Google,” by Sharon Squassoni for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. http://bit.ly/2cFBEdV

--“Who Benefits Most From a Sabotaged Iran Nuclear Deal,” by Seyed Hossein Mousavian and Hesam Rahmani for the World Post. http://huff.to/2cD6EIi


--“Iran Sanctions Update: Political and Investment Environment,” featuring Chris Backemeyer, Deputy Assistant Secretary at US Department of State; David Mortlock, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; Barbara Slavin, Acting Director, Atlantic Council, September 9 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. at Atlantic Council, 1030 15th St NW, 12th Floor, Washington, DC. RSVP online. http://bit.ly/2cIDwUk

--“Lessons Learned from Eliminating WMD,” featuring Rose Gottemoeller, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Rebecca Hersman, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Robert Peters, National Defense University; and Philipp Bleek, Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), September 12 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at CNS, 1400 K St., NW, Suite 1225, Washington, DC. RSVP by Sept. 8 online.” http://bit.ly/2c7UoAL

--“20 Years Later: The United States and the Future of the CTBT,” with Rose Gottemoeller, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Adam Scheinman, Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation; Mitsuru Kitano, Japanese Ambassador to the International Organizations in Vienna; and Kairat Umarov, Kazak Ambassador to the United States. September 13 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. at the Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW, Eighth Floor, Washington, DC. RSVP online. http://bit.ly/2ch0v77

--“On Future Nuclear Challenges,” with Ernest Moniz, Energy Secretary, September 13 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC. RSVP online. http://ceip.org/2cwgrQ1

--“The Future of Arms Control and Strategic Stability,” with 10 speakers. September 15 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Carnegie Endowment, 1179 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC. RSVP online. http://ceip.org/2c7ZiNV

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