UN hopes for Turkish troops for peace in Africa

Ban requested Turkey’s contribution as part of the European Union’s military mission, while, for his part, Erdoğan pledged to keep up assistance for the Central African people. AFP Photo
Ban requested Turkey’s contribution as part of the European Union’s military mission, while, for his part, Erdoğan pledged to keep up assistance for the Central African people. AFP Photo

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in order to encourage Turkey to play an active role in a military mission to help end sectarian unrest in the Central African Republic.

During the conversation which took place late on Feb. 24, Erdoğan stated that Turkey was still in the process of evaluating whether to take such a step, sources from the Prime Ministry told Anadolu Agency.

Ban requested Turkey’s contribution as part of the European Union’s military mission, while, for his part, Erdoğan pledged to keep up assistance for the Central African people.

Last week, Ban Ki-moon appealed to the international community to send an additional 3,000 troops and police to Central African Republic to combat escalating sectarian violence until a likely U.N. peacekeeping force is established.

The EU had already requested Turkey to deploy troops to the Central African Republic as part of a union-wide effort. The demand to send troops was brought to the attention of Turkey in Brussels on Feb. 13 at a meeting under the leadership of French Maj. Gen. Philippe Ponties who has been appointed the commander of the EU military operation in the Central African Republic (EUFOR-CAR).

Asking for compensation from Libya

Also late on Feb. 24, Erdoğan held separate telephone conversations with Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu and Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

During the conversation with Zeidan, Erdoğan touched upon damages that Turkish companies suffered due to Libya’s deteriorating security and growing internal tensions, the Prime Ministry sources said. In response to Erdoğan who asked for compensation of those damages, Zeidan said they planned to send an official delegation to Turkey in the coming weeks in order to negotiate these issues.

Meanwhile, Eroğlu initiated the conversation during which he informed Erdoğan about the state of affairs regarding ongoing peace talks with Greek Cypriots on the divided island.

Algeria, Turkey to cooperate on defence industry

The Turkish Cabinet has approved of a cooperation agreement between Turkey and Algeria in the defense industry, a notice published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday said.

The agreement between the two countries, which underlines cooperation in research and development in the defense industry, the production of military accoutrements and providing technical assistance in modernizing those accoutrements, was signed on May 7, 2013.

The agreement says both countries stipulate cooperating on knowledge and expert exchange, developing the abilities of personnel working in the field, providing technical and logistical support and enhancing the capacities of the defense industries in both countries.

With this agreement, Turkey and Algeria will engage in joint projects in R&D and the design and development of military equipment, weapon
systems and auxiliary equipment.

Defense Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Mustafa Avc? signed the agreement on behalf of Turkey.

TZ

Azerbaijan to manufacture Turkish rockets

Azerbaijan and Turkey to sign final document on joint missile production in the near future.

The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet - Russian equivalents).
The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet – Russian equivalents).

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense Industry and ROKETSAN company of Turkey will sign a final document on the joint production of missiles at an Azerbaijani facility, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) told Azerbaijan’s APA.

Technical issues on joint production have already been solved. Necessary measures are being taken to start the production.

SSM has not revealed when the final document will be signed.

According to the agreement, 107 and 122 mm caliber missiles will be manufactured at the Azerbaijani facility with the participation of ROKETSAN. The engines for these missiles will be produced by ROKETSAN, other parts in Azerbaijan.

Relevant discussions have been held since 2008. The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet – Russian equivalents).

APA

NATO head expresses concern about Turkey’s Chinese missile deal

turkish-HQ-9-sam-system(Reuters) – The head of NATO expressed concern on Monday over Turkey’s decision to co-produce a missile defense system with a Chinese firm, saying he expected Ankara to choose a system that was compatible with those of other allies.

Turkey has said it is likely to sign a $3.4 billion missile defense deal with a Chinese firm that is subject to U.S. sanctions, although its decision is not yet final.

The United States has expressed serious concerns to Turkey, saying the Chinese missile defense system would not work with NATO systems.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said choosing a defense system was a national decision.

“What is important for us is that the system acquired by the individual country … must be able to work and operate with the systems in other countries. I expect that Turkey will also comply with that,” the former Danish prime minister told Reuters, speaking in Danish.

“I of course expect that each allied nation makes sure of this. It comes with being a NATO member,” Rasmussen said, speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Copenhagen.

Rasmussen said he understood Turkey had not yet made a final decision and was still in talks on the new defense system.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said last month it favored China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp’s (CPMIEC) FD-2000 missile defense system over more expensive rival systems from Russian, U.S. and European firms.

The United States announced sanctions on CPMIEC in February for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

NATO diplomats say buying a system that did not work with NATO systems would hamper the ability of NATO allies to work together, undermining a principle of the 28-nation alliance.

CYBER CONCERNS

Some NATO diplomats said integrating a Chinese system into NATO’s defenses would raise cyber-security concerns and issues about NATO swapping technical data with a Chinese firm.

Turkey sees a growing threat of spillover from the war in neighboring Syria, as well as wider turbulence in the Middle East, and has been scrambling to bolster its air defenses.

Turkey has said the selection was not politically motivated, and that the Chinese offer met Turkey’s main demands of price and the ability to place much of the production in Turkey.

For China, the deal would be a breakthrough in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons.

Some Western defense analysts have said they were surprised by Turkey’s decision, having expected the contract to go to Raytheon Co, a U.S. company that builds the Patriot missile, or the Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot batteries to southeastern Turkey this year after Ankara asked NATO to strengthen its defenses against possible missile attack from Syria.

By Mette Fraende

Did Israel Use a Turkish Military Base in Latakia Attack?

This story keeps getting weirder and more interesting: RT (formerly Russia Today) reports based on a “reliable source” that Turkey allowed Israeli air-force jet bombers to use one of its military bases to attack the Syria port of Latakia, where the government had stored Russian-made Yakhonts anti-ship missiles.  Israel believed the armaments were destined for Hezbollah, which would use them in the next war in Lebanon to neutralize Israel’s naval forces.  For a discussion of the weapons system and the role it might play in such a battle, read this report.

Given that this story keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, I believe the story is very possibly true.  So now we have to ask ourselves a number of questions:

Why would a Turkish government nursing a deep grudge against Israel for killing 9 of its citizens in the Mavi Marmara massacre, all of a sudden turn around and lend an air base for an attack on a third country?  Further, why would Turkey cooperate with Israel in attacking Syrian missiles destined for Hezbollah?  Turkey has no quarrel with the Lebanese militant group.

There are several answers.  Turkey is opposed to the Assad government and anything that will weaken it may cause Turkey to relax its former animosity toward Israel.  Also, Hezbollah has escalated its involvement in the Syrian conflict by sending thousands of its fighters to capture Qusayr.  This would be a way for Turkey to make the Islamist group pay a steep price for its intervention.  It would be yet another way for both Israel and Turkey to say to Assad that he faces a looming alliance among former enemies who are now united (at least covertly) in their opposition to his rule.

Second, if Israel wanted to attack Syria without violating its airspace it could just as easily have flown north from Israel to a point west of Latakia and attacked from the Mediterranean.  Why did the Israeli air force feel it needed to attack from Turkey?  The answer may lie in the fact that attacking from Turkey would allow Israel to attack from the north rather than the west.  Syria would not have expected an attack on Latakia from the north and therefore might not have defended against it.  This would give the Israeli attackers an element of surprise.

If this account is true, it proves that Middle East relations are based far more on shared interests than on principles.  In other words, pragmatism and even cynicism is the rule of the day.  Turkey, which trumpets its dedication to the Palestinian cause and its implacable opposition to Israel’s Occupation, can do the unthinkable and allow Israeli military forces to use its sovereign territory to attack an enemy.  So much for the notion of Muslim solidarity.  And so much for the Islamist criticism of Muslim states (Saudi Arabia, etc.) that allow non-Muslim military forces (U.S., etc.) to attack fellow Muslim states, thereby betraying Islam.

For Erdogan, the opportunity to bloody Assad’s nose trumped all those considerations.  The other problem with Turkey’s decision is that it will give Israel the impression that since Turkey granted access to its military bases, it will also fold regarding its support of the Palestinians.

Alternately, we may see that Israel retracts its opposition to paying $1-million to each of the families of the victims of the Mavi Marmara attack.  Israeli capitulation on that score may signal a quid pro quo for Turkey’s help in attacking Latakia.

One way to gauge this is by whether Erdogan follows through on his commitment to visit Gaza.  He was supposed to come last month.  But the turmoil in both Egypt and Turkey caused a delay.  If he does visit Gaza Israel should know this alliance is extremely tactical and targeted at a very narrow range of issues.  If he doesn’t, then we’ll know that Israel has succeeded in co-opting yet another opponent of Occupation.

Finally, it’s interesting that the source for this report is a Russian media outlet.  Remember that Russia’s missiles were targeted and destroyed in Israel’s attack.  Vladimir Putin has not responded in any way to this.  Alex Fishman, in yesterday’s Yediot, took his silence as a confirmation that Putin is at heart nothing but a cynical weapons merchant who doesn’t care what happens to his weapons as long as he’s paid for them.  As with so much of what he wrote in that article, I think it’s a crock.

Israel’s attack is an affront not only to Hezbollah and Assad, but to Russia as well.  Putin is not the disinterested arms dealer Fishman makes him out to be.  There will be an accounting for this act of aggression by Israel.  The only question is where and when and under what circumstances.  If RT’s reporter learned her information from a Russian intelligence source, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

I am trying through DC and Turkey-based journalists with U.S. or Turkish military-intelligence sources to confirm this story.

Richard Silverstein

Turkish, US Military Inspectors to Fly Over Russia

 

Experts from Turkey and the United States will make a surveillance flight above the territory of Russia on board a specially fitted Turkish CN-235 plane.
Experts from Turkey and the United States will make a surveillance flight above the territory of Russia on board a specially fitted Turkish CN-235 plane.

Military inspectors from Turkey and the United States will fly over Russia’s territory starting from Monday as part of the international Open Skies Treaty, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

“In the period between July 22 and July 26, experts from Turkey and the United States will make a surveillance flight above the territory of Russia on board Turkey’s CN-235 plane,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russian experts will also be on board the aircraft, to oversee the proper use of surveillance and filming equipment.

The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force on January 1, 2002, establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 34 member states to promote openness and the transparency of military forces and activities. Russia ratified the deal in May 2001.

Under the treaty, each aircraft flying under the Open Skies program is fitted with a sensor suite including optical panoramic and framing cameras, video cameras with real-time display, thermal infrared imaging sensors, and imaging radar.

The image data recorded during the observation flights can be shared among all signatories to support the monitoring of compliance with existing or future arms control treaties.

RIA Novosti

Raytheon’s Mike Boots Explains Turkey’s Patriot Balance

A Dutch soldier standing by a Patriot anti-missile battery at the Diyarbakir military airport in southeastern Turkey. (AFP)
A Dutch soldier standing by a Patriot anti-missile battery at the Diyarbakir military airport in southeastern Turkey. (AFP)

TR Defence’s North America correspondent and acting editor-in-chief Hasan Karaahmet has interviewed Mr. Mike Boots, Patriot Turkey Program Manager at Raytheon Defense Systems, to shed light on some of the most common questions Turkish defense enthusiasts ask regarding Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS long-range air defence program.

Hasan Karaahmet: Mr. Boots, thank you for agreeing to talk to our readers. As a time-tested, battle-proven system, many countries around the world depend on the Patriot, both NATO and non-NATO. What is the driving force behind Patriot’s huge commercial success to this day?

Mike Boots: No other existing system has the proven combat experience of Patriot to engage evolving threats; and no other air and missile defense system has demonstrated the reliability and lower cost of system ownership. Patriot is the backbone of NATO’s lower tier defense, and as you know, Patriot is currently deployed in Turkey by NATO members Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.

Hasan Karaahmet: What is the current level of deployment around the world?

Mike Boots: There are currently over 200 Patriot fire units deployed around the world with Raytheon’s 12 Patriot partners. More than 40 Patriot fire units are now in construction or are undergoing modernization.

Hasan Karaahmet: How about the US? How long does the US military itself plan on using the Patriot air defence system?

Mike Boots: The US Army has committed to fielding Patriot beyond the year 2048.

Hasan Karaahmet: What’s Raytheon’s policy on investments in Turkey?

Mike Boots: Raytheon has a long history working in Turkey — from ground based air defence systems like Stinger and Hawk to tactical radars like Firefinder and Sentinel. From our family of air-to-air missiles like AMRAAM and AIM-9 to naval command management systems like Genesis. Raytheon is committed to partnerships with Turkish industry.

Hasan Karaahmet: Any cooperation prospects in regards to Patriot?

Mike Boots: We are already working closely with several Turkish defence companies to produce Patriot components for export to other countries. For example, Aselsan is a key strategic partner for Raytheon on the Antenna Mast Group for the UAE Patriot system. Roketsan is also a key strategic partner, producing components of GEM-T missile for the UAE and Kuwait. Also, Pagatel is producing command and control shelters, and AYESAS is working on the command and control integration.

Hasan Karaahmet: Turkey’s Undersecreteriat for Defence Industries, the SSM, has adopted a procurement policy favoring local production and technology sharing. What are Raytheon’s views on this?

Mike Boots: Both Roketsan and Aselsan have been awardedRaytheon’s prestigious Supplier Excellence awards for the past two years for the excellent work they have performed on these programs. We anticipate increased global Patriot work share for Roketsan and Aselsan and have recently signed long-ter, agreements with these great companies for collaboration on advanced technology co-development projects in the area of high altitude missile defense. In addition to these strategic partner companies I mentioned, many other Turkish defence companies have the experience and skills we look for in our suppliers. As we win in other countries, they will get the opportunity to compete for additional work for those programs.

Hasan Karaahmet: Can the Patriot system be operated in conjunction with an Aselsan radar or launch a Turkish-made missile with comparable capabilities?

Mike Boots: Patriot can use data and information from a wide variety of sources and can interface with a variety of equipment, including missiles. We would need to know the specific sensors or effectors we are talking about in order to adequately answer that question.

Hasan Karaahmet: Does the US government or certain laws restrict the transfer of know-how on any subsystem or component of Patriot to Turkey?

Mike Boots: No! Turkey is a valuable ally of the United States and a NATO partner. Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS program fulfills an important NATO air and missile defence commitment.

Hasan Karaahmet: Certain reports appeared in the Turkish defence media indicate that the Patriot procurement has been tied to Turkey’s being granted access to F-35 source codes and the SM-2/Aegis technology for TF-2000 class frigates. What can you tell me about this?

Mike Boots: Intellectual property (IP) rights, such as software source codes, are often an issue to be negotiated in any sale of new technology. A customer’s desire for IP rights must be balanced with the rights of the inventor and owner of those rights through the negotiation process.

Hasan Karaahmet: Mr. Boots, how does Patriot compare to the other Western contender in T-LORAMIDS, Eurosam’s SAMP/T? What makes Patriot the better of the two?

Mike Boots: As I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, no other existing system has the proven combat experience of Patriot to engage evolving threats. No other air and missile defence system has demonstrated the reliability and lower cost of system ownership. Patriot is NATO’s lower tier defense with 200 Patriot fire units deployed around the world.

Hasan Karaahmet: In the past, we’ve published statements from mainly US sources that if Turkey opts for a non-Western solution, integration of the SAM system into NATO networks can be problematic. Can you explain to our viewers as to why this is the case?

Mike Boots: We have read and heard similar statements from various sources. NATO is very serious about protecting critical technology from falling into the hands of potential enemies. Patriot is a key element of NATO air and missile defence capability and works seamlessly with the NATO command and control architecture and other NATO defence systems. NATO would be very careful about what other systems might be connected to the architecture.

Hasan Karaahmet: What’s the future for Patriot? Is it going to continue to evolve with new capabilities beyond the GEM=T and PAC-3?

Mike Boots: The Patriot modernization roadmap will ensure Patriot remains the most advanced air and missile defence system in the world. If Turkey chooses Patriot for their long-range air and missile defense system, Turkish industry will have opportunities to participate in co-developing new technologies to help keep Patriot on the leading edge of technology.

 

Just open that damned chapter!

The European Union-Turkey relationship has again moved from one extreme to another. The end result is still the same: the accession process is still on hold. It was on hold when all the EU leaders were praising Turkey for its democratic and economic achievements; it is still on hold as some EU leaders are criticizing Turkey’s government for its harsh crackdown on protests and its interference in the press.   Like a pendulum, the mood changes, yet the facts remain: Croatia and Turkey started their EU accession processes together. Croatia got in last year, while Turkey is still waiting with quite a few chapters to go.

And look who is spearheading the criticism against Turkey’s harsh response to peaceful demonstrators.  Angela Merkel. Have we all forgotten Stuttgart 21? It made 2010 the year of water cannon politics for the chancellor. What was the major criticism against Angela Merkel at the time? Her harsh response to protestors. Stuttgart 21 was about an old train station to be replaced by an underground. It all started when the construction team started to cut down the trees in a nearby park that was to be annexed to the new station grounds. When protesters gathered, riot police showed up and dispersed them with water cannons and tear gas. That displayed the decisiveness of Angela Merkel. When you compare Gezi to Stuttgart 21, the only difference is in the competence of the riot police, if you ask me. The Germans are competent, Turks are not. The criticism on the lack of press freedom, I understand. But harsh response? Stuttgart 21 was harsh, too. That was the year when the CDU lost the state of Baden Württemberg to the Greens in the upcoming elections. It’s not hard to understand why. Populist politicians are the same everywhere, whether they are called Erdoğan or Merkel.

The protests in Taksim Square over cutting down trees in Gezi Park were part and parcel of the Euopeanization of Turkey. It all started with the trees. Unlike Stuttgart 21, fringe leftist groups were not at the core in Gezi Park, they came later. It was the young, urban professionals of Turkey who took to the streets. They are the result of the Europeanization of Turkey and on that day they took the country a few steps further in the same direction. The rapid spread of protests all around the country was partly a response to police brutality in Gezi Park and partly a call for the freedom of the press.

A very European reflex, if you ask me. I find the decision to block the new chapter in the Turkish accession process rather disappointing. Blaming it on harsh response to recent protests however, is rather hypocritical of Ms. Merkel.

Young urban professionals have decided to take action. The EU’s response to these most Europeanized of Turks should not be to abandon them. The people on the street created a conducive environment for a positive agenda. If the EU fails to seize this chance, it would be disgrace – a disgrace toward the protestors in Turkey and towards the ideals of the EU. So? Just open that damned chapter! Period.

Guven Sak

MIT begins probe into ‘foreign links’ of Gezi Park protests

Turkey’s intelligence service has launched a comprehensive investigation to uncover foreign links in the three-week-long Gezi Park protests, upon the government’s instruction.
“Different units of MİT [National Intelligence Service] are working on different aspects of this movement. The outcome of this work will be submitted to the government,” a senior security official said.

Although the protests erupted following a harsh police intervention against a handful environment activists protecting the trees in Gezi Park, at the heart of Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the government believes the mass uprising was a plot against Turkey, in which some foreign powers and international financial institutions played a crucial role. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other top government official have also said they have evidence of this.

MİT’s different units have started to work to find international links to the plot, officials confirmed. “Any incident like this, with this magnitude, is of course under investigation. Our organization is working on this,” they said.

‘Natural for intelligence’

The incident has many dimensions, including security and keeping public order, officials said, adding, “It’s only natural for MİT to come up with its own findings. They would surely be shared with the government.”

A pro-government newspaper, Yeni Şafak, reported a scenario focusing on a possible revolt in Istanbul being discussed at a meeting held at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in February. Government officials have credited such scenarios, adding that the purpose was to slow down the economic and political rise of Turkey. They have also claimed that international media played a part in this plot by agitating the protests through one-sided broadcasting and publications.

The Foreign Ministry has also started research on how these incidents have been conveyed in other countries. “I demanded a report detailing which efforts these countries took to create a perception against Turkey, which instruments were used in this process, what our embassies did and what were our citizens’ reactions,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said.

The initial findings of the probes conducted by MİT, the Foreign Ministry and other state institutions will be discussed at large at the National Security Council (MGK) meeting slated for June 25. Interior Minister Muammer Güler is expected to brief the council on the protests.

HDN

Kroenig: Why the U.S. needs its oversized nuclear arsenal

This week, President Obama gave a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, calling for the United States and Russia to reduce the size of their deployed nuclear arsenals by one-third to around 1,000 strategic warheads. The call for further cuts has been greeted with enthusiasm in many quarters, but these proposed nuclear reductions could potentially be highly damaging to U.S. interests.

In his speech, the president argued that such cuts would be consistent with the goal of maintaining “a strong and credible strategic deterrent,” but this argument rests on a contested theory about how nuclear deterrence works. The Obama administration, and many scholars and experts, believe that a secure, second-strike capability is sufficient for deterrence and that anything more is “overkill.” Therefore, they believe that nuclear warheads in excess of a “minimum deterrent” threshold can be cut with very little loss to our national security.

However, there are those who argue that maintaining a nuclear advantage over one’s opponents enhances deterrence. As Paul Nitze argued during the Cold War, it is of “the utmost importance that the West maintain a sufficient margin of superior capability. . . . The greater the margin (and the more clearly the Communists understand that we have a margin), the less likely it is that nuclear war will ever occur.”

For decades, this debate was largely theoretical – neither camp marshaled systematic evidence in support of its views – but, recently, I methodically reviewed the relationship between the size of a country’s nuclear arsenal and its ability to achieve its national security objectives. I found strong evidence that, when it comes to nuclear deterrence, more is better.

In an analysis of 52 countries that participated in nuclear crises from 1945 to 2001 (think the Cuban Missile Crisis), I found that the state with the greater number of warheads is over 17 times more likely to achieve its goals. In addition, there is qualitative evidence from these crises that leaders in nuclear-armed states pay close attention to the nuclear balance of power, that they believe nuclear superiority enhances their position, and that a nuclear advantage often translates directly into a geopolitical advantage.

For example, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Secretary of State Dean Rusk argued, “One thing Mr. Khrushchev may have in mind is that . . . he knows that we have a substantial nuclear superiority . . . He also knows that we don’t really live under fear of his nuclear weapons to the extent . . . that he has to live under ours.” Even if Russia agrees to match the president’s proposed cuts, the nuclear reductions would attenuate our advantages vis-à-vis Russia and eat into our margin of superiority against other nuclear-armed states, such as China, possibly increasing the likelihood that the United States will be challenged militarily and reducing the probability that we achieve our goals in future crises.

If there is at least some reason to believe that reductions could harm America’s strategic deterrent, then certainly those in favor of reductions provide concrete evidence that the benefits of reductions outweigh these costs, right? Alas, they do not.

Supporters of further cuts argue that reducing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. policy will help us stop the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries. They argue that our large nuclear arsenal makes it difficult (if not hypocritical) to tell, say, Iran that it cannot have nuclear weapons, or to demand that other non-nuclear countries (such as Brazil and Turkey) help us pressure Iran. Therefore, they argue, we can generate goodwill and strengthen our nonproliferation efforts by cutting our own nuclear arsenal.

This argument makes sense at a superficial level, but on closer inspection it falls apart. As Iran’s leaders decide whether to push forward with, or put limits on, their nuclear program, or as Brazilian and Turkish leaders think about getting tougher with Iran, they likely consider many things, but it is implausible that the precise size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is among them. The evidence backs this logic up; the United States has been cutting the size of its nuclear arsenal since 1967, but there is no reason to believe that we have ever received any credit for doing so, or that these cuts have contributed to any breakthroughs on important nonproliferation problems. In short, we can’t stop other countries from building nuclear weapons by getting rid of our own.

Finally, proponents of cuts claim that nuclear reductions will lead to cost savings in a time of budget austerity, but, at least in the short term, nuclear reductions will actually result in cost increases, not decreases. Cutting arsenal size means pulling missiles out of silos, erecting buildings in which to store them, dismantling retired warheads, and decommissioning nuclear facilities. All of this costs money. Only if we think we can maintain a diminished nuclear posture indefinitely is it plausible to think there might be marginal cost savings to be had over the long run. But this would be an unwise bet given that U.S. competitors, including China, are moving in the opposite direction, expanding and modernizing their nuclear forces.

Since there are potential strategic costs and no identifiable benefits to further reducing the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the United States should refrain from making any additional nuclear reductions. It must not go below the 1,550 warheads agreed to in New START (and it should take its sweet time getting down to that number). In addition, the United States should maintain the “hedge” of weapons it keeps in reserve at current levels and halt the transfer of warheads from storage to retirement and elimination. Finally, the Obama administration must follow through on its promise to fully invest in modernizing U.S. nuclear infrastructure so that it does not lose the capability to sustain a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal for decades to come.

Some may find this argument provocative, but it is actually quite anodyne; I recommend simply that the United States maintain the status quo. What is provocative is slashing America’s nuclear arsenal to 60-year lows in the face of evidence suggesting that doing so will harm our national interests.

Newsday