A Threat to Nuclear Arms Control

Jul 29, 2017 · 184 comments
Boregard (Nyc)
How much of this new interest in building missiles has to do with Repubs trying to get more projects in their states?
Joseph Ross Mayhew (Timberlea, Nova Scotia)
Trump WANTS a war - he is doing everything within his considerable power to set the world on a course to WWIII, IV or V, Armageddon (maybe he just wants to cater to the nut-cases on the religious "right", and speed up the End of the World a bit....) or just a nice neat "surgical strike" on some city filled with innocent civilians that ISIS happens to control. He's dismantling the State Department, calling for massive increases in defense spending, rattling all the sabres he has, trying (very successfully, i might add!!) to create an aura of "unpredictability", and planning to not just maintain and upgrade the thousands of operational nukes the USA has ready to annihilate anybody he feels like at any given time - but he wants to develop new kinds of Weapons of Mass Distraction as well. His public record on whether or not he would use nuclear weapons and risk the end of everything we hold dear, is very clear - as in "Somebody hits us within ISIS — you wouldn`t fight back with a nuke?" and many similar innanities - ok outright insanities. Ironically enough, he is doing EXACTLY what North Korea does so well - putting on a tough front, making preparations for war and talking about it openly and often, making it perfectly clear he would do the "shoot first, ask questions never" schtick and of course, the whole "unpredictability" thing. // Be afraid... be VERY afraid. I think the best hope is that he will be removed from office before it is too late.
David B. (Albuquerque NM)
Worldwide there have been dozens of “Broken Arrow” events where nuclear weapons have been dropped or lost. It's a danger just having them around given human stupidity. One of those events was in New Mexico when a 15 megaton Hydrogen Bomb fell out of an airplane. Fortunately, the plutonium wasn’t in it, but there was an explosion and spread of radiation and radioactive bomb fragments. Of course, the Albuquerque City Council did what any rational group would do in the US – they issued a subdivision permit for a residential development for 80,000 residents to be built at the site, called Mesa del Sol. The kids can play in the dirt and suck up uranium dust. The children’s park is about a mile away from the site of a high level nuclear waste dump at Sandia Labs that is leaking toxic chemicals and radiation to the groundwater. No plan for cleanup.

Kirtland AFB has over 2000 nuclear weapons stored underground. Albuquerque is the center of the planet for nuclear weapons development with Sandia Labs and Kirtland AFB combined in the same location. Oh, almost forgot to mention the decades old 24,000,000 gallon aviation gas and jet fuel spill headed for Albuquerque’s most productive municipal drinking water wells.
lfkl (los ángeles)
This piece describes another symptom -of which there are many- of what's happening to a very sick patient. The patient is America and we need a cure not another salve to take away the pain of a particular symptom. The cure is simple. Take the money out of politics. Once that is done we will have people running for office that want to be in service to our country and they will be the best and brightest not the richest and greediest. Obscene amounts of money are raised and spent on elections. Lobbyists spend ridiculous sums of money to influence one side or the other. Our elected officials spend half their time raising money and the more they get from a particular source the more they are influenced to do that party's bidding. In simple terms it's called bribery. If you think we can solve our problems and be great again without removing the money from politics you are a fool.
MotherM (California)
More nuclear weaponry when one successful malignant cyber attack could launch us all into oblivion? Let's allocate the funds instead to upgrading our government computer systems and improving cyber security.

Our security depends on resilient systems underpinning national distribution of resources such as electrical power, transportation ... and even education and wealth. The "American arsenal" is not its weaponry.
s whether (mont)
Can you write a petition for us to sign ?
Your words are elegant.
Thank you for saying what so many believe.
rip (Pittsburgh)
I'm reminded of the TV series The Twilight Zone episode "A Small Talent For War."
Honor Senior (Cumberland, Md.)
If that is all our Enemies understand, that is exactly what we need to do. Braindead "open armed" and "turn the other cheek" Liberals have had their shot at a detente we could "live" with, and failed miserably!
Not Trusted (Bloom County)
Nuclear weapons and climate change are both existential threats to humanity. And they both are certain to exterminate humanity. A bunch of chimpanzees having nuclear weapons is certain to lead to catastrophe, and that is what humans are basically -- chimpanzees.

The only hope for humanity -- however politically infeasible -- is the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

As far as climate change is concerned, I doubt there is any solution, politically infeasible or not.
Occupy Government (Oakland)
To match Russia... to reverse Obama... is this any way to develop national defense policy?

This thing Donald has about Obama -- damnatio memoriae -- is sad.
N.Smith (New York City)
Damnatio memoriae, indeed.
We're living closer to Roman times than anyone dares to think...
Commodus comes to mind.
Wilson1ny (New York)
"...an excessive program to modernize other nuclear weapons systems, including bombers and submarines, that is expected to cost $1 trillion..."

This statement is somewhat deceptive. Divide that $1-trillion by the number of nuclear weapons in our entire nuclear arsenal.
Nuclear weapons are complicated: Wiring insulation gets brittle, warhead arming batteries get old, fuel vapor leak alarms no longer work, retro-rockets (there are up to six that guide the missile in flight) need replacing - not to mention that nuclear missiles carry a substantial amount of high-explosives - designed to initiate the nuclear fission/fusion process - but which by themselves are immensely destructive.

The point being: The $1-trillion figure represents a sum total. The alternative however may be the possibility of losing - through lack of upgrade - a $2-billion dollar submarine, its entire crew and a large chunk of a major city (if the submarine is in port) because of failure to spend $50-million to upgrade that sub's missiles.
Fumanchu (Jupiter)
Maintenance is not upgrading.
Tyrone (NYC)
The United States should offer North Korea a peace treaty that leaves the borders where they are today and have been for the last 60 years, and have the US and China cosign with North & South Koreas. Keeping the Koreas as separate countries will quell China's fears over reunification. There's zero downside for making the offer. North Korea probably won't take such a deal, as the regime needs the US and South Korea as a bogey man. But by offering a peace treaty, it takes the wind out of North Korea's sails. But even if they did take the offer and sign a peace treaty, nothing on the ground changes and with China as a cosignatory, it puts the onus squarely on China if it's puppet misbehaves.
N.Smith (New York City)
Of course, what you're proposing makes perfect sense -- but making sense means nothing when dealing with Kim Jong-un.
There's no reason to doubt he would snub any kind of peace treaty, as North Korea is now on the verge of lauching an ICBM that can reach the continental U.S.
And God help us all when that happens.
Raul Campos (San Francisco)
"Since setting off the nuclear age, America has been the major, if imperfect, force behind the restraints that exist." Yes, and we "set off" the nuclear age with quite a bang, being the only country that has ever used a nuclear weapon against an other nation. Two cities were bombed and the genie, in the shape of a mushroom cloud of radioactivity, definitely exited the bottle. With North Korea successfully testing an ICBM capable of hitting California, you will forgive me for thinking that improving our nuclear capabilities is a good idea. Weakness, in this area, is an invitation to atomic war. Our 80 years of peaceful coexistence with other nuclear powers has been predicated on the belief that any nuclear war between nuclear adversaries would result in mutual assured destruction (MAD). This means that if our response capability is perceived to be vulnerable to a first strike, an aggressor nation may consider launching a first strike as a viable military option. Until we figure out how to obsolete nuclear weapons (such as deploying a fool proof anti-missile defense system) we must maintain our overwhelming capability to annihilate our enemies.
RichD (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Nope. Japan set it off by starting the war. Had they been able to develop an atomic bomb before we did, your fair city of San Francisco would have probably been the first hit. It is naive think otherwise. And if doubt Japan's ability or will to have done that, think again. They would have hit New York City if they could have, and would have thought little about the loss of millions of American lives, of whom their contempt and disdain is well known.
njglea (Seattle)
Yes, The International Mafia, with The Con Don as their talking head in America, have managed to install their greedy Robber Baron brethren in positions of power through their message of fear-anger-hate-WAR-LIES, LIES, LIES.

Reuter's had an article today that China's "leader" is building and elite military and ramping up for WW3. He told the "troops" that the world is not safe. He's right - because of people like him, Putin, Erdogan, Netanyahu, the "Arab block" leaders, Duerte, and all their paid operatives around the world who are creating chaos through "terrorism". It's not terrorism. It's plain old criminal mafia tactics to try to get us in a war mood.

Sorry boys and girls it will not work on me and other smart Americans who see through your manipulation. This will not stand in America. Not now. Not ever again.
Wilson1ny (New York)
"...Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress recently that missiles on American aircraft and ships can counter the new Russian weapons if needed."

Now let the General share with us what the United States, Russia and the world looks like after the U.S. has "countered" those Russian weapons

Make no mistake - he's not talking about countering a single Russian missile with a single one of ours - the logical end to the General's statement is what is the most likely scenario - a full blown exchange.
Steve (Long Island)
Trump should gird for war and ramp up the nukes. The US under the Obama regime was the classic paper tiger a laughing stock around the world. Those days are gone. The adults are in charge.
AE (France)
But a shroudcloth has no pockets, you know.
John Brews ✅❗️__ [•¥•] __ ❗️✅ (Reno, NV)
Nuclear arms control is a chimera. The only control is rational leaders, and they are in short supply. Trump is a case in point.

Nothing Trump has done indicates any concern for anyone or anything outside his family.

Adding to Trump's nuclear capability is insane.
Wilson1ny (New York)
"Rational" leaders do not possess the missile launch keys. The only thing in that nuclear "football" is a computer with verification codes and targeting information.

The weakest link in the nuclear kill-chain is not the President - its the lieutenant sitting at the nuclear missile control desk who has the combination to both safes holding both launch keys and holding a grudge.
Reggie (WA)
Some people find beauty in the explosion of the nuclear device. The brilliant, blinding flash and then the voluminously expanding mushroom cloud.

But if there is any doubt about why we are on this Planet Earth, it is the beauty of the symmetrical lines of the profile of the face of the female military aide. As it was said in the "old days," this is what we were fighting for. As it is said now, these are the individuals with whom we populate our military fighting forces.

Firm jaw, not a hair out of place, erect posture, in obviously good shape to carry the "football." Would we want any other player in that position on the field.

This is not a political comment nor a military comment nor may it be even a politically correct gender comment, but, damn-it, sometimes one just has to observe and speak up for the human form and remind ourselves of what would be lost if the "football" had to be deflated by usage.
Wizarat (Moorestown, NJ)
Our political rhetoric is so screwed up that it would one day make us pay a very hefty price. The politicians are afraid to lead and explain to their constituents that reasonable strength is necessary to maintain an equilibrium in forces to maintain peace. The politicians both Republicans and Democrats do not want to appear weak/soft on Defense.

It is not being weak or soft on Defense that we are talking about, it is being stupid and wasting unnecessary funds that we do not have even to provide basic healthcare for all our citizens. It is not the first time we are balking and reneging on our part of the treaty/agreement. President Trump is rather open in his feelings about Iran and the JCPOA, he wants to walk away from a deal that has gotten rid of over 90% of low enriched uranium from Iran (25,000 pounds); reduced a very significant number of its centrifuges, poured concrete in the Arak heavy water plant, etc. all that without firing a shot. I wonder why President Trump wants to walk away from ensuring that Iran does not become a nuclear power like DPRK. (I do not know if Iran would be the only loser).

President Trump is not a good negotiator otherwise we would have a Health Care deal, How can one negotiate with just one’s own team? You need two to tango. Re Nuclear weapons, it is not a roadway and bridge construction deal to be negotiated, miscalculating is a matter of life and death, and that too could be millions of dead if a nuclear device is used in a major city.
Boregard (Nyc)
I'll keep repeating this till its a meme. Trump never intended to work at the job. (never really wanted to win) He expected to prance into DC, and have everyone kiss his not made in the US ring, and then pay him tribute. In the forms of off the shelf, ready to go legislation (he thinks its that simple!) for the ACA, tax cuts for the wealthy, immigration reform, The Wall (not Pink Floyds), infrastructure, etc. That all his minions, the GOP, and beaten Dems, along with his despicable appointees would do all his bidding, while he basked in the applause of his fans between golf outings.

He simply doesnt grasp that a president has to do actual work, and not just be a silly idea tosser, but one of the backroom workers and salesman and all around well-informed guy.

He didn't want the job to do any work, just to get the applause. Like selling his name for a building he doesn't own, he gets to show up, cut the ribbon and be applauded for doing nothing substantive.
PG (Detroit)
The key words here are "...reverse President Barak Obama's...". More and more it appears that Trumps sole mission is to eradicate anything that Obama accomplished in retaliation for Obama's embarrasment of him at the 2012 Correspondents Dinner. Reason or value to the country be damned.
Miriam (San Rafael, CA)
The NY Times seems to forget that it was Obama who ordered a massive increase in nuclear weapons.
Timothy Shaw (Madison, Wisconsin)
An update of them. And you and republicans would be happy if he removed them I'm sue.
N.Smith (New York City)
And you forget Obama didn't deplete the State Department in order to achieve it.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
Sober assessment of the grave responsibility of all nations to try to restrain themselves regarding the potential expansion on nuclear capabilities...by thrashing sensible agreements to never use these weapons, only there as a permanent deterrent to prevent a nuclear Holocaust. If our irresponsible warmonger in chief ever proposes using nuclear weapons, it is the military duty to absolutely oppose such a foolish act...unless being attacked first, by a like crazy loon.
Doug Trollope (Mitchell, Canada)
First and foremost, get rid of Trump!
John Brews ✅❗️__ [•¥•] __ ❗️✅ (Reno, NV)
Increasing our nuclear arsenal isn't going to advance our influence. Already we have enough nuclear weapons to create Armageddon, to blow N Korea off the planet, to make Russia uninhabitable.

Unfortunately, their use also would make the USA largely uninhabitable too.

Of course, as Hitler has shown, and possibly Napoleon, some leaders would pull the plug on all of us rather than lose control. We suspect N Korea of having such a leader. More and more it looks like we do too.

Arming Trump for an insane adventure that would kill us all is nuts!!
The thing with games of chicken is that they can ultimately blow up in your face.
Rhea Goldman (Sylmar, CA)
Dr. Richard Williams of Davis has perfectly said exactly what needs to be said about President Trump. That during the primaries (for Pres.) the NYT, its OpED section, and its Editorial Board pussyfooted, soft-soaped, and ever so slow-motioned around the very dangerous Trump candidate was incredibly unbelievable.

Any ideas, anyone, on how to fix this?
Paula (East Lansing, MI)
Lord save us from all these politicians--here and in Russia--with tiny hands.
Alfred di Genis (Germany)
Here and in Russia, it only takes a finger, no matter how tiny, to push a button.
Chris Pope (Holden, Mass)
Ah, yes, the ultimate distraction, nuclear war. That ought to take people's minds off that "fake news" Russian investigation witch hunt.
SW (Los Angeles)
North Korea is done with the sanctions and is indicating that they will move forward with a plan to drop a bomb here. Most Americans NEVER learned anything about the Korean War (our failure) in school and have no idea how or why things could become very very bad for us or why killing millions of us supports NK's point. For leadership, we have a gun slinging draft dodging toddler who couldn't shoot straight if he tried well supported by a sycophantic spineless congress who like NK are also trying to destroy the lives of millions of Americans. Rather than chart a real course forward and lead us into a new era following the decline of the US oil hegemony, they want to stock up on WMD, all the better to ensure the coming reduction of the US population. Nincompoops watching the emperor's new clothes...Scare-U-Much yet? Well relax, kickback and watch west wing politics, a bizarre game of you're fired, the lions killing the christians (who with the help of the Russians) voted this hypocrite into office.
AE (France)
Absolutely. They want the casualty count in the American homeland to dwarve the 911 attacks in 2001. Don't try to analyze the acts of madmen, certain forms of evil are beyond human reckoning.
SNillissen (Mpls)
You have been offered no serious evidence that the Russians had influence in getting Trump elected
puvnitwick (MA)
Could someone please replace the keys to the nuclear football with fakes?
ktg (oregon)
The book I am talking about is one of several written by Herman Kahn, about nuclear war and the results.
Dwight McFee (Toronto)
Don't know if you have noticed but the rest of the world thinks you are out of your minds particularly Nuclear. You dropped the first one. Is it guilt that keeps the log in your eye from human compassion. The US is dangerous. It lives for money and fear. Yet it talks family and nation. Hypocrites of the first order!
AE (France)
To Dwight
Method to Trump's madness. He wants to cull the American population in a duofold way : 1/construct the Southern Wall ; 2/initiate a thermonuclear war with foreign adversaries that will make 'fixing up the economy' less 'complicated' for his limited cerebral capacity.
Bhaskar (Dallas, TX)
We, as humankind, flaunt our scientific genius by amassing 15,000 nuclear weapons, and brag our moral responsibility since most haven't tested one since 1998.

Ironically, Presidents Trump and Putin can just be the leaders to rid this scourge of madness, and preserve the future of humanity on this small, lonely marble in the infinite cold, black space.
Deborah (Ithaca, NY)
Apparently if you've emptied your State Department and gutted your embassies, you need a whole lot of shiny new bombs.

So guys ... don't waste any of your hot federal weapons funds on women's health and general healthcare. That would be wasteful. And boring.
Robert McKee (Nantucket, MA.)
There are 2200 nuclear weapons out there between us and them? I wonder, after launching say, 1100 of them, what else would there be to blow up?
David L, Jr. (Jackson, MS)
"The House and Senate bills ... include billions of dollars as a down payment on an excessive program to modernize other nuclear weapons systems[, which] is expected to cost $1 trillion over 30 years." Notice the Board employs the word 'excessive' but makes no attempt to back up its claim.

Howard Zinn once told Dennis Prager that he probably wouldn't support using military force to stop Hitler because he's 'against war.' The Board simply has a distaste for nuclear weapons. Evidence need not be assembled to engage in an attack on them. This conjures up the Catholic priests and nuns who, during the Cold War, drove Albert Wohlstetter half mad.

Brad Roberts, at Lawrence Livermore, who worked for Pres. Obama, notes that allies who count on U.S. deterrence are 'troubled by the aging character of U.S. nuclear forces and continued doubts about American political will to modernize them.' Rod Lyon, at ASPI, agrees: 'Allies are looking for concrete evidence that warheads appropriate to their needs exist within the U.S. arsenal.'

If we don't modernize to produce more accurate, lower-yield weapons, the damage done by the only bombs we do have that are capable of a long-range strike would be very horrific. Our existing weapons with lower collateral effects take hours and even days to strike their target. Since America led the way into the nuclear age in 1945, it has played a singular role in the world. As Roberts writes, we're required 'to compose a military that aligns with' that role.
Saverino (Palermo Park, MN)
"President Barack Obama’s efforts to shrink the number and role of nuclear weapons in security strategy."

Memory seems short at the NY Times. President Obama was praised on your very pages for a new "modernization" of the aging arsenal. You expressed no concerns then and now you're alarmed?
N.Smith (New York City)
You do realize there's a difference between "modernization" and expansion, don't you?
Timothy Shaw (Madison, Wisconsin)
When will Trump's final tweet end this weak, failing, sad world? Tick, tock Donald's clock.
William Alan Shirley (Richmond, California)
The United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea have nuclear weapons (the latter two unwilling to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). Since 1945, all together we have exploded 2,056 nuclear bombs over, on and under our precious Mother Earth’s land and seas. Today, some estimates put the total global nuclear arsenal at about 16,300 including our 7,300 warheads and Russia’s 8,000; where between the two, there are some 2,000 ready to launch on continuous hair-trigger alert.

A submarine attack could reach Washington igniting overwhelming pressure to make, without time for deliberation, the most devastating decision in history, a launch within 12 minutes. The 45 lb. ‘football’ with the launch codes for nuclear attack that is always with the POTUS allowing him the sole authority to launch 925 nuclear warheads from Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana with the destructive force equivalent to some 22,000 Hiroshimas in about 30 minutes. And in so choosing, to the end of the world on a moment’s notice…”

We must save ourseles from those twitching, twittering fingers and the man who, as Obama too gently put it, "...doesn't have the judgment, temperament, the knowledge" to be President.
Rodrian Roadeye (Pottsville,PA)
there will be little to stop Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea from plowing ahead.
Ahead to what, where? A nuke is a nuke is a nuke. It is destructive, it is final. It doesn't matter what megaton, what size, what design or color. If it can't be knocked out of the air it is a killer. Why the rush to modernize? Just to put tax dollars in some industry's pocket?
Michael (Concord, MA)
Renew an arms race with weapons that can never be used? Sounds like something today's Repubicans would favor.
R.Kenney (Oklahoma)
This editorial board seems to think like the Carter years, if we be nice everyone else will too. Get you heads out of the sand. The best offense is a good defense. Nobody will attack another if they know without a doubt they are going to lose.
Ian MacFarlane (Philadelphia PA)
Plowing ahead is an homage to life; digging a grave is a more apt analogy.

Conversations which accept the need for these or any weapons are held by those who have strayed from the path of reason and strike me as a further abdication of the little mental progress humans have made in our preceding half million years.

Raising our fists and bellowing are not traits limited to humans which should indicate to an objective observer just how slowly we are moving from our mental forest.

There is no logical premise found in our ability to reason which precludes its use in solving the problems humanity confronts. Fear rather than acceptance of our natural state has allowed some who recognize this aspect of our mind to formulate more peaceful, less destructive methods of control. I consider the indoctrination of children to accept belief, religious and otherwise, as the major social tool western cultures employ.

Voices of reason are dismissed as impractical and unrealistic by the men who know if the message is heard and followed their reign is over.

Unfortunately, leaders of this sort are the very ones we and other so-called free nations choose while more despotic governments force their will on the citizenry.

I can only trust nothing cataclysmic ever occurs, but until humanity accepts its' origins and advances to a state of behavior only found in the acceptance of reason it will be a close call.

I've found a long handled spade and a flat pick the best tools for digging.
George Olson (Oak Park, Ill)
Why do this? Do we want to provoke a paranoid North Korea to wipe out one our major west coast cities? Do we want to abdicate our role as leader to restrict nuclear power worldwide over the next generations? Why take this approach? It is not a conservative approach or a liberal approach. It is the approach of leaders who are out of their depth in understanding what is meant by a global issue. It is a path to greater weakness as a country. Why do this?
AE (France)
To George Olson
As I have addressed to other NYT commentators, you are a thoughtful and decent soul not in league with the dark forces which animate the Trump White House. Just accept the fact that he is an old man in decline who cannot accept his mortality and seeks to take down as many of us with him when the time comes....
Bayou Houma (Houma, Louisiana)
The only restraint on our unfair international economic and political demands, unless a weak foreign country shares a border with our major adversaries Russia and China, is what our Wild West gunslingers called their pistols, "an equalizer": a nuclear weapons defense.
Yes, "America has been the major, if imperfect, force behind the restraints that exist" for a global test moratorium on nuclear weapons proliferation because we have not wanted challenges to our Anglo-American collaboration to maintain domination of world markets and political influence. Our nuclear weapons are a last resort to meet challenges to our Empire, as much as they are a threat of nuclear retaliation. And countries like North Korea, Pakistan and India have grasped the lessons of our devastation of South Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria. For there's nothing in our laws or international treaties stating that we absolutely abjure the use of nuclear weapons against enemies without them, such as WW II Japan.
It was our lack of a legally binding self-restraint in using nuclear weapons that motivated spies like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The tragic couple even risked and lost their lives, as well as lost their two children to provide our atomic bomb secrets, as an "equalizer," to our Soviet adversary to balance our possession of a weapon of mass terror.
Gerald (Toronto)
One may note the subtle but implied criticism of your own country by the phrase "since setting off the nuclear age", especially the term "setting off", as if this constituted an unwarranted aggression rather than ending a war started by Japan and saving hundreds of thousands of American lives.

And how exactly will adherence to the treaties in question stop North Korea's current provocations?

Where is your editorial to assess the risk of sending a missile practically to Japan's doorstep? Instead you call Trump hawkish.

What is wrong with you?
hcm (anywhere)
WE are not North Korea. WE are the United States. WE can criticize and change and improve OUR policies and actions. WE cannot make Korea do what WE want. What is do hard to understand about that - what is wrong with YOU?
Gerald (Toronto)
We must do our best to control nukes and if they hit us first, which North Korea has said it can do, e.g. that it can reach New York, that's life. Yes?

No war was ever fought like that before by the U.S. or its allies, no aggression was ever deterred like that before, including for the two world wars.

That's my point and the editorial is an ostrich in the sand, it's almost embarrassing.
SNillissen (Mpls)
You dont know your history. The idea that the bomb saved millions of US lives, as the US govt claimed at the time, was little more than a ruse. Japan was completely quaranteened by sea and air. The Soviets had taken all of Manchuria in a week's time from the millioin man Kwantung Army and were ready to strike the Japanese mainland if needed. There is no serious crdible argument which suggests the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs needed to be dropped
mikeoshea (New York City)
There are about 15,000 nuclear weapons in our world. Madness! There are two seriously unstable leaders of nations with these weapons - Kim and Trump. Madness! There are tens of thousands of terrorists who would stop at nothing to get their hands on some of these weapons. Madness! And there are politicians talking about increasing the number and strength of these weapons of annihilation. Madness!

I am an old man who may, if I'm lucky, outlive the ensuing mayhem, but my children - and yours - will not. Do something to stop this Madness from coming to fruition! Life is too precious to let it end in a reign of nuclear terror. Stop the Madness before it's too late!
Kalidan (NY)
This is a response. It is likely not, as the editorial argues, the right response.

I am sure there are many challenges that cloud clear thinking, and definition of effective solutions. Never mind effective implementation of clever solutions. But there are a couple of issues to which we, I suspect, fail to give credence to the extent we must.

First off, we must accept that there are countries and people that are led by sociopaths. There is no diplomatic solution to the likes of N. Korea, ISIS, Taliban etc. We can try all we want; there is only very very selective evidence that diplomacy works in cases like this.

Second, there are semi-sociopaths - with whom diplomacy can work only to the extent of slowing them down a bit, but not changing them (this includes Russia and China). In the world they win, we must lose. Diplomacy has some, but limited appeal.

I guess diplomacy works in other places - an argument outside the scope of this note.

Now, what do we do when we know diplomacy is useless, or semi useless?

I guess we do things like this - that the editorial regards as dangerously misguided. Perhaps so; but diplomacy, the only other known alternative, is not the real alternative. Does it not, and I as this from not knowing, make sense to carry a very large stick sometimes?

Kirk (Montana)
The madness is what is done with these weapons. The Republican policy of preemptive war at their discretion rather than having defensive policies predominate is a prescription for climate change well before mother earth lowers her boom. Elect mad leaders who reduce State Department spending, load your administration with military men (where are the military women), thumb your nose at allies and dismantle international contracts for peace. War is in our future.
Eben Soinoza (<a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a>)
"First off, we must accept that there are countries and people that are led by sociopaths."

Yes, we do. And perhaps the first one to address is our own.
hcm (anywhere)
We do carry a GIANT stick already.
Citizen-of-the-World (Atlanta)
This is MAD: mutually assured destruction.

And why is it on the micro level that ordinary people everywhere are supposed to settle their differences peacefully and diplomatically without brandishing weapons and threatening violence but on the macro level countries can and do saber rattle and come to blows and bombs and bullets?

It's also MIC: military industrial complex. None of this fighting is about religion or about nationality -- the reasons they give us little people. It's about power and money.
John Smith (Cherry Hill, NJ)
THE GOP The gang that couldn't think straight, is at it again. Their resounding failure to come to any sort of agreement on health care, their much vaunted R & R for Obamacare resulted in a period of Rest & Relaxation for legislators--most of whom of the GOPper persuasion have been in R & R for 7.5 years already. Oops! That's right--to them R & R means repeal and replace. Now along comes the numbskulls again with a crackpot plan to make the US weaker and the world a more dangerous place by playing around with the atomic arsenal. Trump can barely manage to pick his nose, which isn't much of an example of leadership. The GOPpers in Congress are a tad better, though they can't wipe their butts without skilled nursing care. I'm terrified that they're going to start watching Dr. Strangelove and confuse it for a documentary on best practices in the military. The GOPpers in Congress will be sitting around singing, We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when. But I know we'll meet again some sunny day, as the mushroom clouds rise up and the planet is burnt to a crisp. That will solve the problem of global climate change, since there will be no climate left to change.
william f bannon (jersey city)
The last sentence mistakenly sees North Korea as not plowing ahead for quite some time including under all recent presidents regardless of their behaviour. California and Alaska deserve a perfect missile defense system given the nature of North Korean dysfunction. The editorial should have advocated missile defense systems for those states. There could be a major incident any month given the leader there and given the recent dumb CIA comment about regime change.
RK (Long Island, NY)
Trump, during the campaign, reportedly said of nuclear weapons, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”

To use a Trump term, "many people" thought he was nuts for saying it, as past presidents saw nuclear weapons as a deterrent and not something to be used. For a candidate for the president to talk casually of using nuclear weapons was indeed madness.

Well, the election is over, and despite the many maddening things Trump said during the election, enough people thought he was fit to be the POTUS and voted for him.

The bull is now in a china shop. Boy, are we in trouble!
AE (France)
Why do you think the birth rate is declining in the United States? The punks from the 1970s blared the nihilist 'NO FUTURE'. Well, they turned out to be prescient prophets, since the mainstream now accepts this probable reality.
Carpe Diem will soon be the order of the day. Shop till you drop, die in debt.
N.Smith (New York City)
Actually the birth rate is NOT declining in the United States, but neither is the mortality rate of delivering mothers -- however, that's another story.
As for your dire prediction; it's easy to sit back and accept 'No Future', than actually getting up and doing something about it.
Fortunately, there are still some of us willing to do just that.
David B. (Albuquerque NM)
The state of the environment is too fragile to start using nuclear weapons. It's all one planet. The health burden and price our own public has to pay for contamination from past production of nuclear weapons is an outrage. The Department of Energy has little to no control over the long-lived radionuclides being spread from all of its current and former nuclear weapons sites - Hanford, Los Alamos, Sandia Labs, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (fires, explosions), Savannah River, Rocky Flats, Idaho National Laboratories, Nevada Test Site, Beatty, NV, etc. The contamination in other nuclear weapon nations is also horrendous.

It's hard to believe that governments can be so stupid to think they can gain some advantage with a nuclear attack. Any advantage of a nuclear attack must be a surprise attack that eliminates the possibility of retaliation. That's hard to accomplish with nuclear subs roaming the seas.

The US is spending ~$35,000,000,000 a year just to maintain the nuclear arsenal -- dust off the bombs, replace the tritium and pay for the workers' testicular cancer. Then there are the New Mexico Senators and Representatives and the national labs always pimping Congress for more money for the weapons labs. It's a boondoggle and a good place to start cutting for taxes.
Theonanda Jones (Naples, FL)
A truly twisted idea is for the United States to do a hail Mary pass using cognitive science as its main weapon, dropping out of the nuclear arms race. The fastest way to get to what I'm talking about is to consider that humans, on planet Earth, should be thought of as a zoo story with countries, different species.

Here's a practical example. In Iraq we should right now be engaging in information, not warfare, but peace-fare: cars driving around speaking in native tongues asking for peace. We have programmed our children to render them obese and sickly via TV; we should be able to render various populations, given to constant war, peaceful using the same technology. ISIS successful recruiting campaigns also come to mind. So why can't the US, the home of commercial TV and movies, use its mass media ideas for good? It hasn't thought of it till I said it here.

Take this approach to its logical extension and a nuclear arms race becomes obviously idiotic to everyone. This can only happen when the government of the countries involved become master human builders via culture. We, the US, start designing language to reflect the latest results in human nutrition, imprint our young with it, and thus create a generation that are so morally and intellectually perfected that none of the stupid apes, read other countries, are able to see them and hence can't touch them militarily.

It sounds like bad science fiction, but consider a zoo, real ones have no fights ever, so too us.
Charles E Owens Jr (arkansas)
I don't Trust This batch of Congress critters, and I don't trust Trump as president. Sadly though I ran a tongue in cheek campaign for president of the USA on my blog in 2007, I barely touched on the Nukes in my thinking. I was a lot like Bernie Sanders was in this past election cycle, but I would have been more radical. We need to not want to kill the rest of the Globe with weapons that We were the Only nation to have used. At the time of Our use of them, the race was on, and they other players in the Real Game of Risk, would have used theirs just as easy or faster. We should not weaken the Rules we set up, that is stupid and suicidal in the future.

We need to be aware that as a Nation we have been meddling in other nations for so long that now that it happened to us on home Turf we get all uppity and mad. But America has been school yard bully for so long that most of the under 50 year old folks, are clueless. This mindset embedded in our Ultra Nationalism was always going to reach right back and bite us. It was just a matter of time. Well it has and now we had better keep Our powder dry or else someone is going to Nuke us, and we will want to get back all those lost chances to keep a nuke free future going.

So write your congress critters and your state ones too, and tell them Peace is the only option you will accept.
Hamid Varzi (Tehran, Iran)
The discussions are always about "Russia being in violation", "Iran being in violation" and so on. What about "the U.S.A. being in violation"?

The Cold War was supposed to have ended in 1989, yet the U.S. still has a military budget larger than the next 8 countries combined and has attempted to encircle Russia with NATO bases and alliances, from the Baltics to the Black Sea, just as it has encircled Iran with 12 military bases strategically located throughout the Middle East.

If there is any single nation breaking the spirit of nuclear disarmament, not to mention the threatening expansion of conventional military capabilities, it is the U.S.. Then when the U.S.'s potential enemies re-arm themselves the U.S. cries foul. A little less hypocrisy would be most welcome.
Tom Stoltz (Detroit, mi)
There are no winners in a nuclear war.

I don't believe a limited nuclear war is possible - once the ICBMs begin to fly, the end of civilization is at hand.

Deterrence is the only purpose of a nuclear weapon, and 200 - 300 warheads on submarines are more than enough to deter.

Expanding our arsenal means more weapons (that we hope we never use) we need to secure, while destabilizing fringe regeims. What a waste of money.
AE (France)
To Tom
It's simple. Donald Trump is an aging old man who cannot accept the limitations imposed by biology. He is ready to take down as many of us as he can to kingdom come.... because he has the power to do so. No one is going to enjoy the honey jar when I'm not around-- that's his alibi.
Equilibrium (Russia)
USA still have very bad or at least strange memory.. The first step to the escalation of confrontation between USA and Russia has been made by USA in 2001 by unilateral withdrawal from 1972 agreement of restriction to deploy antimissile systems. Only stupid people can believe that USA' antimissile system in Europe is not targeted against Russia. Take note, it was long before Syrian and Ukrain conflicts.. The problem is not Russia, the problem is USA, because the USA want to be the imperator of the World and other countries have a role of just a source of USA economic might in the USA international policy. Russia doesn't have such ambitions, Russia is for fair and equal ralationships between countries.. Unfortunaly there is weak hope that the USA even realize that.
Michael Tyndall (SF)
I'm no expert in nuclear policy but recognize the importance of these terrible weapons in preventing the outbreak of large scale superpower wars since the end of WWII.

I don't trust humanity enough to ever ban them entirely, but we should limit their proliferation among less stable regimes that currently have them, and we should vigorously oppose new nations ever getting that capability.

Lastly, I would never trust the current administration to negotiate anything, let alone nuclear weapon deals, with Putin's Russia. Either Trump has something fundamentally wrong in his brain or Putin has some yet to be proved power over him.

I'd prefer Mueller to reveal indictable charges against Trump at the earliest opportunity (assuming our fawning congress would ever act on them). Given his manifest incompetence and inexplicable love of Putin, forming nuclear weapons policy is only one of a long list of threats he poses to the future of America and the world.
Joanne Rumford (Port Huron, MI)
"Food for Thought", Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"(THAAD) Terminal High Altitude Area Defense" For The Great Lakes?

Ask my Sister.
bse (vermont)
This editorial makes me wonder just where all these deliberations about nuclear treaties and policies are taking place and who is participating.

I highly recommend the recent piece in Vanity fair by Michael Lewis about the Energy Dept. and how the Trump people ignore it and/or don't know what it does. So they haven't bothered staffing it (unless you count Rick Perry!) and apparently sent nobody over there after the election for briefings.

Just who is in charge of all these nuclear plans now? Terrifying!

Paul Leighty (Seattle)
My how time flies. Just last year we began the discussion on what to do with your aging nuclear deterent. Now with the Trumpolini gang and the hot heads in charge in the Congress all has changed.

The Airforce wants a new super stealth long range cruise missile and a new manned stealth bomber to carry them. Plus a new ICBM to replace the old Minuteman III's that date back to the sixties. (They still work just fine; the USAF test launched one from Vandenburg just a few months ago) There was talk of abandoning the land based component of the Triad as redundant and unnecessary just a few months ago. Not now.

The Navy wants a new Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine class to replace the not so aged Ohio class, now in service 30 years. There was talk of a much cheaper 'stretched' Virginia class boat that could carry 6 to 8 of the Trident II missiles we already have on a hull design that is already proven and in the water. Not now.

If we are to avoid a very costly boondoggle we must hope that the general incompetence of the Trumpolini people plus the already sky high defense budget get careful scrutiny before any decisions get made. We can have a strong deterrent for a lot less if people will just think rather than react.
J. David Burch (Edmonton, Alberta)
I love the way Americans talk and talk about the "nuclear arms race"and are so adamant that other countries not develop such weapons of mass destruction given the huge elephant in the room - the fact that the only country in the world to have actually killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by dropping two nuclear bombs is the good old U.S. of A.
mitochon (PortlandO)
Today's nuclear weapons each have between ten and one hundred times the explosive force of the Hiroshima weapon, and they are smaller and lighter by far. Such destructive force strains any citizen's ability to imagine. Unimaginable, they are indefensible, and have been described as able to create 'the death of death,' in their effect.

We have thousands of these, thousands, on shelves in bunkers underground, on rockets similar to North Korea's latest, plus at sea and in the air. Thousands.
Now our side angles angle for justification to spend thirty billion per year for the next thirty years to freshen up the electronics, create last minute before use adjustable explosive power, and modernize the conveyances for these diabolical 'gadgets.'

From our stores of total destruction, is there not room to get away from exclusive tit for tat moves with Russia, do we not have a degree of room, by ourselves to slow the cascade of paranoid madness?.
joemcph (12803)
Why does the MSM allow the authoritarian right to brand itself as (fiscally) conservative? While distracting voters with alt-facts, the GOP works overtime to explode the deficit while transferring federal resources from the needy to the wealthy & to war.
RichD (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
"The war started when people accepted the idiotic principle that peace could be maintained by arranging to defend themselves with weapons they couldn't possibly use without committing suicide."

From the movie "On The Beach," - 1957
Nuclear arms control under the control of an out of control president is truly frightening. And Putin, our greatest nuclear rival, knows how to push his buttons.

Trump is not a negotiator - he is a bully. He has no intellect for negotiations and has relied on his gut - indigestion and all - and crudeness to bully for his way. Unfortunately, we all know that Putin will not be his chump, nor will he be bullied. Putin knows Trump is easily played.

Putin is likely laughing and telling himself "If Donald can't even handle little Kim in North Korea, we have nothing to worry."
Belasco (Reichenbach Falls)
A dangerous percentage of the US nuclear deterrant is running on antiquated technology including floppy discs -- a technology about as familiar to most people these days as a slide ruler. We don't need more nuclear weapons. We need to properly manage the ones we have and ideally decommission them. Back in the days when adults were in charge we were even negotiating reducing our nuclear weapons stockpiles to smaller mulitples of what was required to destroy the planet. Then we decided it was too irresistable to expand NATO to Russia's doorstep in contravention to what we promised Gorbachev for the reunificaiton of Germany. Speaking of the Russians if you think their nuclear systems are even as well maintained as the decrepit US system... Add to that recent disclosures during the North Korean launches by what the NYT described as "a former top American intelligence official" that "few trust" the current American missile defence system "to work" in the event it is ever needed and you can see where this is all going. Talk about burying the lead. (See NYT 2017/07/04/us/politics/trump-north-korea ) Oh well. I guess we just need to manufacture a lot more of those little, apparently surprisingly sturdy, little wooden school desks so everyone can"duck and cover" when the time comes.
Dennis (Grafton, MA)
making and maintaining enemies by sanctioning alt nations into seeing things our exceptionalism way has proven over and over: it don't work. How stupid our military and ruling leaders of this policy are.
Meir Stieglitz (Givatayim, Israel)
The INF was not just another arms control treaty, it was the first fruit of Gorbachev’s vision of a nuclear-free world and surprisingly enough Reagan proved to be also (partially) committed to the Universalistic task. It’s signing in 1987 made it possible for G. H. W. Bush to accomplish the 1991 START, which sharply reduced the number of launchers and operational nuclear “devices”, and for B. Clinton to establish the CTBT as a practical near-global taboo on nuclear tests.
The deterrence-destabilizing American missile defense systems in Eastern Europe and the Russians’ cruise missile counteract are the dragon-teethes of the Iran nuclear incitement campaign and the 2001 abrogation of the ABM treaty. Now Obama’s monstrous nuclear “modernization” program is putting the Kremlin under the not entirely unfounded impression that the days of the “Committee on the Present Danger” and war-fighting SIOP are back in Washington. Taking into account that Russia’s claim to a global status hangs on its nuclear “equality” and with the strengthening of the sanctions looming, it’s quite probable indeed that there will be little to stop the Putin’s Russia from answering modernization with modernization.
Humanity is the midst of an accelerating U-turn back to a global nuclear arms race and the foundations of world order now are more fractured than they’ve been since the first half of the Eighties -- with no significant anti-nuclear camp to put it back on the tracks for survival.
Richard Katz DO (Pocono Pennsylvania)
Nuclear subs have enough firepower to take out a continent which is enough of a deterent for any country. They are undetectable and we have many more nuclear subs than then there are continents. It's a shame we can't find better ways to spend money. Possibly single payer healthcare?
Hugh Massengill (Eugene Oregon)
The non-nuclear nations in the UN need to walk out and start another United Nations, in another country, one that has as its first requirement that for a nation to have voting power they need to be totally free of nuclear weapons.
Yes, that will require sacrifice on many parts, but to do less is to sit by and watch the world drift to nuclear war, an inevitability ever since Israel introduced them to the Middle East.
America and Russia are terrible world leaders, they are in it for themselves, and are simply gutless when it comes to cooperating with the rest of the world.
And that comes from an American.
Peace is the best option for safety from war.
Hugh Massengill, Eugene Oregon
AE (France)
For what reason are you really surprised? Donald Trump has already said that it is silly not to use nuclear weapons. He intends to become the first president to launch a nuclear attack since 1945, probably another 'first' which will make his pathetic ego altogether more distinctive. Frightening times.
Shonun (Portland OR)
As dangerous as nuclear weapons are, given their subjection to ever-changing political landscapes, which presently find less reason to adher to old arms limits agreements, let us not mistake what is actually happening here... and it's only ostensibly about nuclear policy. The push towards re-arming has *everything* to do with defense and munitions industries engaging in profiteering.

At the height of the Cold War, the nuclear arms industry was highly lucrative for the elite wealthy who own and/or are officers in those companies. With Republicans fully at the helm in the triumvirate of Senate, House and the presidency, along with supporters in a nationalistic and tribal populace, who understand very little about global policy but would be happy to turn the Middle East deserts "into glass" (Senator Cruz's words) the race is once again on. Industry lobbyists are oozing out of the woodwork, and one can almost hear the swish of cash falling into campaign chests.

This is a unique problem... far more than typical political collusion. Nuclear waste can't be swept under the carpet, to say nothing if weapons are actually used. Re-arming is perhaps our greatest modern folly.
Smith66 (N/VA)
I just don't understand the logic of this piece. Russian has ignored the treaty so we should not reciprocate because its destabilizing? The treat was effectively terminated by Russia's conduct. It's time for retaliation. Putin only understands power, not elegant arguments from defense intellectuals.
ktg (oregon)
the entire world wide nuclear game has never been gone just hiding in the shadows. I grew up with the world protected by the idea of Mutual Assured Destruction, otherwise known as "MAD", I think it meant insane. For those who don't remember or were not born yet "duck and cover" was the extreme parody of survival in a nuclear war. Everyone today should read "thinking the unthinkable" an old book but still prevalent of what a nuclear exchange would bring us. Our world is hanging on a shoestring as long as we continue to play with nukes.
genegnome (Port Townsend)
Indeed, let us increase our military spending. That's where the profits are. Then, increase it some more. We can join the Soviet Union on the glowing dust heap of history.

Or work on sprucing up the planet, make it a little more livable for all of the inhabitants, before it's not.
Literal (Los Angeles)
Considering how the Trump administration has not played well within our NATO allies, and has not shown strength as a leader here in the US, I would hope we could continue with the I.N.F. Treaty, if it has a mechanism to help resolve disputes, and has the backing of our allies. We need to keep a watchful eye on nuclear testing from North Korea.

All bets are off as to how sophisticated and careful approach this understaffed state department and military deliberates the nuclear proliferation situation. Will we negotiate a slow down of production. We're in uncharted waters with our very impulsive, and careless, ignorant president, who may have a hawkish hand in bungling our position.
Dan (Sandy, ut)
The frightening thing, aside from having nuclear weapons is leadership of countries that possess these weapons. That leadership includes the possibility of Iran possessing these weapons is lead by religious zealots, as is Pakistan and possibly Israel.
Further in the spectrum is North Korea whose leader is young and needs to "make his bones" and would possibly use those weapons to prove his point (which I fear our "president" could be tempted to do the same). Lastly, Russia with their leader who is calculating, cunning and a master of the political game, a game that Trump will never master. I do not believe Putin would be stupid enough to engage in a nuclear exchange. Trump? Who knows-we will be informed by twitter.
While true that many nations possess these weapons one can only hope that the "superpowers" have leadership in place that will check the use of these weapons. However, we have two leaders that have proven that no type of checks will temper their ambitions and terrible military programs. Care to guess which two leaders?
seth borg (rochester)
Just what this country needs in a time of foreboding, an out of control Executive, a feckless Congress, and now a push to flex our muscles with added nuclear prowess.
Tom (California)
Affordable health care, affordable education, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, infrastructure, and climate accords and programs are all "unsustainable".

Record breaking tax cuts for corporate billionaires, Wall Street deregulation, tax subsidies for coal and big oil, non negotiable big pharma drug prices, ludicrous military spending increases, unnecessary perpetual wars, and an uncontrolled nuclear weapons build up are all "essential".

Let's face it, Folks... The Republican Party is America's Greatest Threat.

And all it took for the GOP to seize power this time around was a little election tampering and an 18 month campaign of hate, fear, little red hats, and a big fat MAGA dog whistle.
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
The Presidential Apprentice has wondered aloud, multiple times, why we don't USE Nuclear Weapons, " since we have them".
If THIS is not proof of incompetence, let alone insanity, I really don't know just what IS. Seriously.
N.Smith (New York City)
It's not a very reassuring sign when a U.S. president invests more in the country's military arsenal than in its Diplomatic Corps. And that's exactly what is happening now.
By cutting the purse-strings to the U.S. State Department and dismantling the Foreign Service at the expense of fueling the Pentagon, Donald Trump has given all the signals of being someone uninterested in, or incapable of detente. And given the growing nulear threat from countries as disparate as Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, and quite possibly, Iran, the last thing this world needs is the U.S. inciting a world war.
Just for the record. The Cold War never ended.
Not as long as Vladimir Putin and his Soviet mindset occupies a place on the world stage.
He is still very much playing by the KGB Handbook, even though this country, its Congress, and its president fail to recognize it.
It's no small wonder that the United States should now find itself in this position; after disparaging President Obama and callously dismissing Hillary Clinton, a seasoned diplomat, as a 'Warhawk' -- it has ended up by putting a real one in the White House.
Good luck with that.
Bill (Connecticut Woods)
It is good to understand what nuclear war means to the people who survive. Read works by Hayashi Kyoko such as "The Place of the Festival" or Nakazawa Keiji's "Barefoot Gen." Nuclear war needs to be made impossible, and making more weapons in a way that will encourage America's adversaries to build more is simply wrong.

War has no winners, only those who lose and those who lose even more. Nuclear war just makes that reality larger.
AB (Boston)
What possible value can an even larger nuclear arsenal have for us? We already have enough nukes to destroy all the the major cities and major military targets of our adversaries. Do we really think that being able to destroy small towns and local garrisons will make us an even more potent threat?

I realize that it’s not productive to call those you don’t agree with stupid, but how else can one describe those who would waste literally trillions of dollars on a defense system that makes the whole world less secure!
Jean Cleary (NH)
Another way for the Republicans to make fools our of themselves and our Country. I believe in a strong military to protect us, but I also believe that abandoning a treaty that has worked since the Gorbachev-Reagan era is fool hardy. In addition, the money that has been wasted by Congress over the years developing weapons and new fighter jets that have proved to be faulty at the very least is a gigantic waste of taxpayer money.
In addition, by our example recently, it is not a realistic way to protect ourselves or our allies.
The Counties you mention, Iran, India, China, North Korea and yes, even Russia have not attacked us, but the Saudi's gave us the men who brought about September 11, 2001. Let's rout our worst enemies first.
Let's listen to Gen. Paul Selva who recently told Congress "that missiles on American aircraft and ships can counter the Russian weapons if need be.
John Brews ✅❗️__ [•¥•] __ ❗️✅ (Reno, NV)
The editorial provides no evidence that treaties work. N Korea provides a real test case for nuclear control and so far is proving no solution exists., neither negotiation nor intimidation

Of course, common sense makes clear that a nuclear exchange wreaks havoc. In the case of N Korea it would remove this country from the planet, while causing centuries of radiative aftermath throughout the Far East and parts of the USA.

The problem is that one cannot count on common sense . In N Korea, in Russia, in the USA, unstable and irrational leaders are willing to threaten the planet simply to maintain their regimes within their borders by saber rattling to inspire their populations.

It is unfortunate that more rational leadership has not preempted this choice. It could have been done in N Korea, but as already seen in India and Pakistan, and again in Iran, the rational response was too politically difficult to implement.

The billionaires controlling Congtress may have to hope that global warming makes a move to Antarctica habitable and self sustaining when Armageddon breaks out.
Mike (Urbana, IL)
There is one overarching fact that needs to be in front of the public -- and Congress, before it funds more stupidity. Use of even a small fraction of the existing US nuclear arsenal will lead to enough fallout to thoroughly contaminate the atmosphere.

It's typical to see theoretical war scenarios involving 2,000 megaton expenditures or more. Global fallout problems begin at ~60 megatons. That number was why US testing observed fairly strict limits during atmospheric testing in the early Cold War, then quit because it was too dangerous. Once the USSR's testing grew to equal and then exceed US testing, contamination of milksheds became a problem in several regions of the US. We all breath the same air, so nuclear war means mutual nuclear suicide in short order, unless it's a brief, very limited war.

As for treaty observance and enforcement, the US has nuclear intelligence capabilities that remain largely secret. Congress tends to be clueless about this, but there has been little need for the political handwringing that stirs up equally ignorant voters. Yes, violations need to be noted and resolved, but building more weapons is the wrong answer, as they serve little if any purpose than to make the post-attack situation all that more dire.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed, but not yet ratified by the US. Supporting the CTBT Organization provides a significant expansion of US unilateral detection capabilities. It would be a fool's errand to cut funding to it.
Responsible Bob (Gilbert AZ)
Nuclear military is the most preferred military spending. It is restricted to only a few American corporations with highest clearance. It is guaranteed payment up from cost plus expenses for best profits. It is covert so no one finds out if you mess up - unless you mess up big. And best of all, the more warheads, the more the profit in future spending to revise, update, and perform even more expensive tasks. The dollars continue to mushroom - which can impair other military spending on other options.

Nuclear gives the public a chance to see if a politician is interested in reducing government costs or whether it favors corporate special interests.
blackmamba (IL)
The American Single Integrated Operational Plan was based on Mutual Assured Destruction SIOP plus MAD kept the Cold War non-nuclear and hot only between American and Soviet surrogates on the periphery of their respective empires. Plus the dispute between the two superpowers was socioeconomic and political and centered in Europe so rational debate and discussion was possible.

Thus a nuclear weapons France and a nuclear weapons Britain fit within the existing frame work. The addition of China to the nuclear club added an ethnic, geographic and demographic dimension that fit within the capitalist/communist conflict. Because of their roles in war culminating in World War II Germany and Japan were and still are excluded from the nuclear weapons club.

But the nuclear rogue states Israel, India and Pakistan do not fit the Cold War rational model. Ethnic sectarian existential conflicts are not subject to natural logic and clear rational thinking.

America and Russia are poor role models for restraint and control. By their overt and covert meddling in the affairs of non-nuclear nation states encourage some nations to acquire nuclear weapons as a force against their regime being changed. The ultimate nuclear weapons horror is an non-governmental organization with nuclear weapons like the KKK, Aryan Nation, al Qaeda or ISIS.
alan haigh (carmel, ny)
A treaty is no longer valid as soon as one side violates it, but the development of new arms needs to be based on strategic need not some political act of defiance towards the gangster Putin. Wasting money on unnecessary military expenditures is merely playing into Putin's hands.

Because the United State's political system is ever more corrupted by special interests and the influence of huge corporate money (including defense contractors) we've become the least efficient country in the world at every aspect of government controlled spending- health care, defense spending, criminal justice- you name it- if it can be compared statistically our results are abysmal. Our government can't work strategically in a fiscally responsible way. Our current political system doesn't permit it.

The way we won the cold war was through economic success- however we had a tremendous advantage of economic momentum coming out of WWII. We've already squandered much of that momentum. Mindless and excessive defense spending is a problem- not a solution. Russia isn't a key competitor in the game that matters anyway.
blackmamba (IL)
The 'gangster' Putin has a consistent convincing ethnic Slavic goal to make Russia great again.

The reality TV star son of inherited wealth and power Donnie Trump has a convincing consistent goal to make the House of Trump wealthy by converting our White House into another part of their family profitable business empire by their temporary barbarian viper occupation.

We didn't win the Cold War. The Soviet Union lost.
mikecody (Niagara Falls NY)
Since 1945, there have been exactly two uses of nuclear weapons in warfare. Can you say the same about any other new weapons system?

The USSR pledged to bury us, yet never used these weapons to do so. India and Pakistan went to war after both had them, and never used them. Isreal has held of the various Arab factions for years without using theirs.

I think the fears of the usage of these weapons are greatly overblown.
OC (Wash DC)
Maybe you didn't take a focused look at the devastation from the detonation of these two weapons which were minor in their destructive capabilities compared to much of the rest of existing arsenals. Or maybe you are not acknowledging a humanity capable of engineering it's own extinction which is what these weapons and their use represents.
Citizen (RI)
I agree, but that does not necessarily mean we should ignore violations or not seek treaties for fewer nuclear weapons.
What people ought to be more concerned about is the inherently unsafe nature of nuclear weapons. Accidents have happened and will continue to happen, and only through blind luck has there not been an accidental detonation.
One of those in the wrong place or time could be disastrous. That is what we ought to be focused on.
angbob (Hollis, NH)
Mikecody, I suggest you learn about the effects of massive weapons. They go beyond quantitative comparisons to conventional weapons. They are qualitatively overwhelming.
Also, it is misleading to say that Khrushchev's assertion that the soviet Union would bury us was intended as war threat. Rather, he was saying that the Soviet Union would become so economically prosperous, the USA would be relatively insignificant. That is what China is doing today.
Jcaz (Arizona)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't this fall under Rick Perry's department too. God help us.

Another point that rarely comes up - Cuba's elections in 2018. I'm sure that Putin would love having a base there again.
John (Washington)
The number and type of nuclear weapons by itself is an incomplete argument for what is necessary, as one also needs to consider how we should react.

Riding out a strike before retaliation would place the command centers, including the President, bomber force, missile force, and part of the submarine force in port at risk. We would essentially be relying upon the estimated 5 to 6 ballistic missile submarines on patrol at any time for strategic deterrence, some perhaps being cruise missile boats. The triad is now a monad, although with 24 missiles per boat each with a maximum of 4 warheads per current treaties is still a sizeable deterrence. A threat by more than one country may stretch the limits of deterrence, especially if it plays out over time as if the command structure is taken out most of the missiles may be launched in an initial retaliation strike. In this case the basic premise of mutual assured destruction may no longer be viable due to other countries engaging at later times.

Keeping bombers on patrol is too expensive, so the missile force is the only other viable option but as noted one needs a launch on warning policy. The benefit of such a policy would be using the submarines for retaliation strikes, holding some missiles in reserve for continued deterrence. Launch on warning increases risk, and whether it is warranted will depend upon the level of deterrence that the US wants to maintain.
GTM (Austin TX)
The military use of nuclear weapons is simply inconcievable for any reasonable person, unless one's country was in dire danger of being overtaken by an invading force. America needs but a small fraction of our current missle- and submarine-based nuclear forces for a deterrent against foreign designs.

Rather than spend $1 Trillion on nuclear weapons upgrades, America should spend half of that on diplomatic efforts and half on feeding, clothing and caring the sick and elderly in our country.
ktg (oregon)
No offense, but I think I would rather be overtaken as a country than be incinerated in a nuclear exchange, or even worse survive the exchange to live in the aftermath. There is no winner in a nuclear exchange.
Seldoc (Rhode Island)
I wonder. I see where you are coming from, but would it be proper for a country to incinerate the planet, because it was being overtaken by an invading force? The arc of history is long would it be proper to end it because a particular society or culture was threatened?
John Smith (NY)
Instead of wasting money on caring and feeding of illegal aliens in this country how about building more warheads and shrinking the US Armed Forces. This way the World knows that the US settles conflicts by vaporizing its opponents and no longer will put boots on the ground.
Old Crab (Lewisburg PA)
Thank you for this. Also important is the current push to increase warhead accuracy (as detailed by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists); deployment of the "super-fuze" makes the current crop of nuclear warheads much more effective as first-strike weapons.
Michjas (Phoenix)
Nobody is starting a new arms race. The INF bill in Congress was approved with a large majority bipartisan vote. Its purpose was to respond to a Russian violation which, in turn, responded to Obama's proposal to target Iran with an INF missile, a proposal that was perceived as a threat by Russia. Obama eventually backed off his proposal but did not sufficiently address the Russian escalation. That's what most of the Democrats and Republicans in Congress want to do. Congress is finishing off Obama's work. Trump has not addressed this matter. But the Board blames him because he's "hawkish". A fine piece of reasoning that is.
Jim Dickinson (Columbus, Ohio)
The US already possesses a far larger nuclear arsenal than it needs for its own defence and expanding it even further makes very little sense. We should be moving toward the elimination of these weapons of mass destruction, not ramping up the rush to acquire even more of them.

We were alarmed that a loose cannon like Saddam Hussein might have weapons such as these and now the US is lead by someone of questionable judgement also. I suggest that today the US poses a greater threat to human civilization than Hussein ever did.
Fortress America (New York)
nuclear arms control, means regime change in North Korea, and in Iran
William O. Beeman (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Aside from the threat to global peace, the United States would be in direct violation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) if it expands its nuclear arsenal.

The NPT is signed by 200 other nations (including Iran but not Israel, Pakistan, India or North Korea), It requires nations with existing nuclear weapons to reduce their arsenals.

In a time when the US is accusing other nations of escalating nuclear threats, the threat of violating this essential international treaty further weakens US authority in the world and makes America a promulgator of nuclear uncertainty
Dan K (Hamilton County, NY)
Is the US hypocritical? Treaty? Really, the US has to care about a treaty? Trump doesn't care about things like treaties. He cares about, well, unfortunately he doesn't know what he cares about. Why bother with a treaty when you can make more bigger bombs that can blow everything up? Now that's a strategy to be afraid of. That is our government's policy in a nutshell.
Michael (Rochester, NY)
"America has been the major, if imperfect, force behind the restraints that exist"

An interesting statement given that America is also probably the largest source of sales of these weapons since there inception.

America, for all weapons currently available, is the single largest for profit supplier of any (all) weapons of mass destruction.

Further, we are the only nation that has live tested a nuclear weapon an a dense civilian population.

How we, in America, and honestly sit and review ourselves as offering any constraints at all on weapons to the rest of the world, or, in the rest of the world, is beyond my comprehension given the facts.
Crossing Overhead (In The Air)
We must keep our arsenal larger and better equipped than the enemy, and we have plenty of those.

Peace through superior firepower.
Ray Zielinski (Champaign, IL)
And history will remember our priorities: plenty of money for weapons but grudging, lackluster support for healthcare. We spend more on the military than the next dozen or so countries combined, but we must have more. This is not a sign of strength - it's a sign of fear and a lack of the most basic compassion for our fellow citizens. Sad!
Steve Brown (Springfield, Va)
There has been the notion of peace through strength, but I have never really bought into it until last night, when I was watching the military parade in China marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army.

If one's military is big and powerful, that guarantees that no sane nation would attack it. Sure, the cost is high, but perhaps not as high as it would be, if there were frequent wars. Nations behave like some animals, who when sensing danger, will do things to make them appear more formidable.
Bruce Rozenblit (Kansas City,MO)
There is no way to stop the spread of technology. Eventually, any nation that can channel the finds to develop an atomic bomb will able to do so. The major powers have tried to put a lid on nuclear proliferation but maintained a position it's only for us and not for anyone else. That worked for 50 years. Time is up.

The only way to really control it is to eliminate the need for for nuclear weapons. That means we need to get along which is the opposite of Trumopian foreign policy. In Trump's world, its don't mess with me because I'm the biggest, baddest dog on the block. That doesn't work anymore, if it ever did.

That attitude has given rise to asymmetrical warfare which is terrorism. It also drives the development of nuclear weapons.

If you were to ask the military people, they would tell you that atomic bombs are essentially useless as battlefield weapons. They are the opposite of precision weaponry because they are totally indiscriminate, destroy huge swaths of territory and poison it to where troops cannot maneuver through it.

The essential purpose for atomic weapons is as a deterrent. Don't mess with me or you will all die. That's what the nations that are developing them want.

The question that must be addressed is which nations are they afraid of and how do we stop them from threatening them? That's the only way to stop nuclear proliferation. Technology has created a world where we have to all get along. Or else.
Dan K (Hamilton County, NY)
After reading the comments I share this: it is necessary to keep our nuclear arsenal in good repair, the treaties aren't working and there is no hope that this administration will do anything but great harm to the cause of nuclear non-proliferation. A case in point is Iran. Whether you like it or not the treaty to prevent the country from becoming nuclear should be viewed in the context of what it means when they do as North Korea has. Which do you prefer? Obama's method or Trump's?

Trump's strategy is to use force but he doesn't because he can't so he does nothing but encourage nuclear proliferation by being as confrontational as possible. A look into history will give pause to any rational mind followed by a gnawing sense of fear. Would Iran or North Korea be irresponsible with their nuclear technology? What do we do if they spread nuclear weapons about actively assisting others we are directly at odds with? Far better no to put our country in that position to begin with. Soft diplomacy backed up by real consequences as was done with Iran is the only way to successfully contain this rapidly emerging threat. The nuclear threat forces cooperation on some level even if it is the tacit understanding that you don't "cross that line." Or that one or that one as Bugs says to Elmer before he finds he has just stepped off of a very high cliff.
TD (Bronx)
It is a testament to the faulty design of human psychology that we are able to go around our everyday business while nuclear weapons that can obliterate the planet are pointed at us and on hair-trigger alert. The vast majority of us never give this reality a thought, let alone do we invest any of our energy to demand an end to the madness. Indeed, we simply defer to our political-military class and their warped view on the necessity of this great evil. What is wrong with us?!

To all those "progressive" think tanks, institutions, political organizations, lobby groups et alia, I say stop with your daily barrage of instantly deleted emails about peripheral issues. These would be great to focus on were it not for but a handful of existential threats, the first on that short list being nuclear weapons. Unite your energies, your resources, your voices to DEMAND first and foremost that these weapons no longer be on hair-trigger alert. Then start demanding disarmament.

If we do not deal with this issue aggressively it is only a matter of time before nuclear weapons are used, through accident or with intent.
Molly O'Neal (Washington, DC)
The responsibility for the collapse of the arms control regime, if it happens, or for its erosion, which is happening, has to be partly shared by the New York Times which, in its coverage of Russia since Trump's election, has sent the clear message that nothing good can be accomplished by diplomatic engagement with Russia. Instead, blind rage and sputtering moral indignation are the only reactions that one can have toward Russia without being considered a 'useful fool' or worse.
It's about time that we began to consider in the sober light of day the costs of our sacrifice of a constructive if critical stance toward Russia.
old norseman (Red State in the Old West)
Black and white argument for a gray issue. The Times saves its "blind rage and sputtering moral indignation" for specific issues that Trump, in his hero worship role as a Putin toady, is making worse. I can't seem to remember the Times saying that any engagement with Russia is bad. Stupid engagement, maybe, but not engagement in general. It seems as though Trump is out to undo yet another Obama "policy"--don't do stupid stuff. Looks as if that task is mission accomplished. As for your assertion that we have sacrificed a constructive if critical stance toward Russia, I think Trump has more to do with it than the New York Times does.
SW (Los Angeles)
Sorry but it is not the NYT that is sending the message, rather it is reporting on the messages contained in the infantile activities of our toddler-in-chief who likes to watch fights. Trump sets fights up all over the White House, in Congress and all over the World. Scare-U-Much yet?
cbahoskie (Ahoskie NC)
As a rural primary care physician afraid of what will happen and how I as an individual can make the most difference in avoiding a nuclear catastrophe, I have decided that building bridges of cooperation between professionals who are willing to go into harm's way and point out even at risk of sacrificing their lives, if need be, to counter the world's current rush to self-destruction.

So this is what I advocate:

Look to Médecins Sans Frontières as THE premier current example of professionals putting their very lives at jeopardy for the sake of countering mankind's madness.

Look to communicate with the world's primary care physicians which can be done via a > 1 million INTERNATIONAL physician only blog (SERMO) about the importance of OUR coming together & working to stimulate youth to consider serving as Médecins Sans Frontières health care professionals and professional helpers, perhaps by starting out by serving the hinterlands of our individual countries TOGETHER throughout the world.

Look to foundations to support the education of current physicians and future health care personnel by incorporating international corps of physicians and their primary care support staff in the education of youth in first becoming Clinical Medical Assistants and Community Health Workers

Build up then a corps of rural and remote health care personnel who have had international instructors in their education.

Feed those so motivated from this corps into Médecins Sans Frontières efforts.
Responsible Bob (Gilbert AZ)
Rural physicians are a part of about 70,000 primary care physicians that remain in 2621 lowest physician concentration counties. These counties have been on their own since 1978 when the nation turned to cost cutting and special interest health care instead of access and investments in the team members to deliver the care. The financial model in these counties is broken with too little in revenue (lowest paid primary care is over 70% of services, paid 20% lower in these counties, with 5 - 10% less collections) plus rapidly accelerating cost of delivery ($100,000 to $180,000 per primary care physician) from regulation and innovation and certification, plus most rapid increases in complexity of patient, practice, and community). Since they financial design drives training outcomes, the entire model fails for what will be most Americans in the next few decades.

The only solution is local preparation, selection, training, and a 7 year obligation. This process extends retention and gains contributions across local projects, outreach, and other areas specific to health outcomes - outcomes that cannot be improved by any clinical intervention, especially the costly digital clinical interventions. Self sufficient need is illustrated by the treatment of rural areas over decades, after disasters, and after major metro areas become dysfunctional or damaged.
Cathy (Hopewell Junction NY)
If (the US) abandons that role, there will be little to stop Russia, China India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea from plowing ahead."

I am not going to argue in favor of nuclear proliferation, but can the Editors pleas explain how the 1987 agreement has been working, if the Russians have been developing a new cruise missile, North Korea is launching test rockets which will push South Korea and Japan into considering nuclear weapons; Pakistan and India developed nukes to aim at each other, and Iran has been getting closer and closer to having their own?

Is the 1987 accord worth more than the paper it is printed on?

I can fully expect President Trump to choose to do the wrong thing; because he is impulsive, heavy handed, obstinate, opinionated and given to very little introspection or weighing of factual advice.

But to simply state that the treaty is a pillar of arms control, when key nations are not controlling arms at all, is specious.
bse (vermont)
I agree that there are omissions and blind spots in non-proliferation, but that should never deter us from continuing efforts to reduce and even eliminate nuclear weaponry, naive as that sounds. For example, doesn't Israel also have nuclear capabilities that seem to be outside the treaty structures? It certainly is in a position to blow up the Middle East if things go against its interests much further. And it also is run now by right wing zealots. Frightening times for regular people everywhere, whether we are paying attention to the nuclear issue or not.

The point is that every recent administration has known that this is important work to continue no matter what noise and posturing goes on in other arenas. But we need to pay attention to the uninformed majority in the Congress -- they are nuts to talk and act as they have been doing on this issue!

And the ignorance of the Trump people is a threat to the world.
Oversteer (<br/>)
I think we know that the trump administration most likely will reverse "President Obama's efforts to shrink the number and role of nuclear weapons in security strategy". If it is an Obama policy it will be reversed.
Christine McM (Massachusetts)
A large reason the world is so dangerous so suddenly is the election of Donald Trump and the acceleration of North Korea's nuclear program by Kim Jong un.

I would venture to say that Donald J Trump is currently one of the greatest threat to world order. By ratcheting up or nuclear arms and investments and technology, Donald Trump is saying to the world that his intention is to be the biggest and loudest voice in the nuclear choir.

We already know how disruptive he can be in the United States alone. But with a very uneducated view of the world, and a decision to hand over most of his foreign-policy decisions to "the generals" Trump is uniquely unqualified to make decisions that would intensify our nuclear power.

Our investments in nuclear weaponry means allocating taxpayer dollars for the death and distraction over challenges like infrastructure. If Donald Trump's sat down with his cabinet and planned more wisely, it would make us physically safer then another nuclear powered vessel.

Instead he lurches from verbal crisis to crisis, admiring the strength of military displays, and acting like a cartoon president, tweeting bombastic messages around the world.

Eisenhower warned against the military industrial complex that could take over our economy and lead to our ultimate destruction if not carefully checked.

I doubt very much Donald Trump thinks about Eisenhower's warning as he makes his priorities known, which clearly show which priorities are abandoned.
PeteWestHartford (<br/>)
Unlikely that Trump even knows who Eisenhower is.
Outis (Lachea)
The greatest threat to nuclear arms control is the sitting US president. If allies like Japan and Germany can no longer count on protection under America's nuclear umbrella, they will sooner or later decide to acquire a nuclear deterrent of their own - a move Trump himself suggested.

Also, the Iraq war has convinced every enemy of the US that a nuclear arsenal, or, in the very least, a serious nuclear program provides protection from US invasion. In short, there will be many more nuclear programs in the coming years, and the world will have to thank reckless Republican presidents for this development.
Prof. Jai Prakash Sharma (Jaipur, India)
With xenophobic narrow nationalistic euphoria on rise and the post-war world order under severe strains due to renewed power rivalries and shifting alliances among the nations, the hard power acquisition and its crude display seems to be the only way to assert and dictate terms in the chaotic world of today. It's futile to expect sanity or the nuclear self-restraint from the current crop of leaders, who know only about the currency of power and view the international relations as merely a zero-sum game.
SW (Los Angeles)
If we are lucky it would be a zero sum game; however, with a loose cannon instead of a leader we are unlikely to be that fortunate. Post nuclear bomb, will his chumps then recognize that they have been had? Or will they continue the self-deception that supporting Trump's antics is for a greater good?
Alfred di Genis (Germany)
"The treaty worked well until Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, angry at America’s deployment of missile defenses in Europe, declared in 2007 that it no longer served Russia’s interests and proceeded over the next decade to develop a new cruise missile. "

That's not where the story starts. It starts with George W. Bush's arbitrary withdrawal in 2002 from the Antibalistic Missile Treaty which alarmed both Russia and China as the withdrawal ushered in the setting up of American "defensive" missile systems which reignited the nuclear arms race in response. At that time Washington was confident of its nuclear arm superiority over a broken and prostrate Russia and an underarmed China.
In the few years since America's withdrawal, Putin's Russia has reinstated its near-parity in nuclear arms as it finds itself confronted with an expanding NATO, the most powerful military alliance in history, pushing against Russia's borders.
Once more we are faced with the very real possibility, the growing probability, of the extinguishing of human life on this planet. Only the gullible would think that America, the planet's most powerful nation with the largest military budget by far and with many hundreds of military bases stretched around the world as it invades and destroys countries while it flouts international law with contempt, is not the primary aggressor.
Edward Reed (Philippines)
I believe the information in your posting is correct. However, I cannot agree with your concluding sentence. The network of military alliances that the US has built across the world over the past 60 years was largely aimed at maintaining stability of the world order--of course one that benefited the US, but also its friends and allies. While there have been instances where the US crossed the line into aggressive action (Iraq being the most egregious case), these cases have been more the exception. ( I think of East Asia.) I agree that we are now entering a new era of extreme danger where great care is needed to avoid unraveling of this fragile stability. Unfortunately the leadership of the US government is now in the hands of people who seem to understand nothing of the complexity of this world and whose policies may only accelerate dangerous trends.
Henry (Connecticut)
Exactly. The NY Times is compelled by its ideology to start the story after the US has committed an atrocity, in this case destroying the ABM treaty, so that it can blame someone else for a new nuclear arms race. Trump obviously isn't the only scapegoater. The Times/State Department myth about Ukraine starts the story after the US organized a violent overthrow of the constitutional Ukrainian government. According to the Times version Russia invaded - a lie - and annexed Crimea seemingly only because Putin is aggressive. It's Obama who blathered that the world needed nuclear disarmament but not in his lifetime and then committed over a trillion dollars to renew the US nuclear arsenal ensuring a nuclear arms race. It is the US that repeatedly threatens to nuke and yearly practices nuking North Korea that led to the Kims' responding by building their own nukes. Lying about history is fake news, no?
Alfred di Genis (Germany)
You might want to consider that Russia and China do not at all see the establishment of the "network of bases that the US has built around the world" including those virtually surrounding Russia and China, as "aimed at maintaining stability." They are, in fact, aimed at establishing hegemony and are seen as threats just as America would see foreign bases surrounding it as a threat, as, in fact, the US saw the nuclear-armed Russian base in Cuba in the 1960s.
Eben Spinoza (SF)
Here's a cheaper way to reduce the possibility of nuclear way: Buy out Trump's contract, for say $10B. He gets to be a real billionaire, and we get to replace him with a real President.
Dan (Sandy, ut)
You also need to consider throwing in some shiny things like helicopters and airplanes and a few gold-gilded chairs.
Theodore (Puna)
I wholeheartedly agree that nuclear arms control and reduction is an issue of highest priority for the species. The number of near occasions of catastrophe recently released make it clear that every weapon is another opportunity for some control to go terribly wrong.

In this light, I think nuclear modernization is not necessarily a bad thing. The recent Air Force launch officer cheating scandal revealed some embarrassing facts about our ICBM arsenal. If I remember correctly, tape drives (or perhaps floppies) are still in use. The technology is over a half-century old in some cases.

Would not a modernizing of the deterrent, with full transparency to outsiders, be in the interest of all of humanity? Mistakes brought on by antiquated equipment shouldn't spell the end of civilization as we know it.
Joanne Rumford (Port Huron, MI)
"Since setting off the nuclear age, America has been the major, if imperfect, force behind the restraints that exist. If it abandons that role under Mr. Trump and the Republican-led Congress, there will be little to stop Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea from plowing ahead."

It's like seeing someone in a photo then having their life experiences, good and bad, come alive in that photo taken years ago.
Ian Morrison (Sydney Australia)
We've been isolated down here for an age, the "Tyranny of Distance" has meant that most Aussies have regarded the notion of nuclear attack as remote.
North Korea's rise to nuclear prominence has seen us in the target range for a lunatics rantings, time we all woke up and started looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, I'd like my grandkids to have a future!!
nilootero (Pacific Palisades)
An intermediate range missile in practice is one that is launched from Europe or Russia and detonates in Europe or Russia. This makes for an asymmetry of result that American policy makers need to keep in mind when they deal with their Russian counterparts. These same American policy makers would do well to recall that no one, no Russian, or North Korean, or anybody else, wakes up in the morning thinking that they are the bad guy as far too many American politicians and members of the military seem to think. This is not moral equivalency but rather a clear eyed understanding of your opponent.

While given that the rapid technological advances of recent years demands an upgrading of the capability and especially of the reliability of American strategic forces this upgrading should be seen as an opportunity to move away from the war fighting posture not surprisingly advanced by some factions of the military bureaucracy and to present clearly to our opponents a nuclear philosophy of strategic deterrence and not one of tactical utility.
BWCA (Northern Border)
What would anyone expect from president Trump, when candidate Trump said there was no reason for having nuclear weapons if we didn't intend to use them. Trump operates on threats, not on common goals.Sure this is congress acting independently from Trump, but certainly with his tacit approval.
Mark Thomason (Clawson, MI)
"threatening a web of arms control agreements that have ensured the stability of Russian and American arsenals"

Too late. The US already destroyed key parts of that web.

First, the US destroyed the ABM Treaty. That was key to stabilizing deterrence at a lower level of offensive weapons.

Second, the US destroyed its promise made to get Germany reunified and the Warsaw Pact disbanded, a major advance in ending the nuclear standoff. The promise was to keep the two sides separated, to avoid eyeball to eyeball confrontation. The US betrayed the Russians, and did exactly everything it had specifically promised not to do.

The Russians already retaliated, doing things that it specifically explained were retaliation. That is how nations react to treaty violations and broken promises.

So now? We would need to rebuild. There is no web of arms control agreements left to keep stable.

As for the expansion of US weapons, there are many different ideas being proposed, some bad, others worse.

Some seek to replace, but with improved weapons. Others seek to make more weapons of new kinds. Still others seek to blur the line between conventional and nuclear weapons by putting conventional warheads on ICBM's that would look exactly like a nuclear launch until after impact, and after enough time to do a damage assessment of the impact.

If the Russians did any of these things, we'd consider it nuclear aggression and be extremely alarmed.

These ideas have gone on a long time, not just now.
Kovács Attila (Budapest)
The US right now challenges the basic foundation of Russian economy, that is gas export. In fact the constant supply of Russian gas and oil to Europe was the basis of the Cold War and maintained more or less peaceful relationships.

Now this was a bipartisan decision. If the Russian economy seriously suffers because of falling exports, I doubt there will be any reason for them to keep the peaceful relationships detrimental to Russia.

There will be a shooting war.
Mark Thomason (Clawson, MI)
"There will be a shooting war."

There already is, in Syria and in Ukraine. The shooting could only get worse, and spread, and that does seem likely.
Servus (Europe)
Nice try Ivan. Nostalgy of Warsaw pact and separated Germany? And zones of inflence?
Its gone, get used to it, Putin started new aggressions in Europe by invading Ukraine and now would like to consolidate the gains and get even more influenc with threats and propaganda efforts.
Russia initiated armes race did not end well for them last time, so please play it again Putin
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
I've argued for years that we should just gather up ALL the world's nuclear weapons and embed them in the shield wall to better protect all of us from the giant sand worms. Congress has not been sympathetic.

If you're going to have a nuclear deterrent, it needs to effectively deter -- or go Reagan's way and develop antiballistic missile technology that works. We seem to have arrived at a consensus that we don't want to do that, preferring to spend the money on free cheese and Band-Aids ... or a cure for cancer. But it seems that regardless of how much we spend, there's NEVER enough free cheese and Band-Aids, and we also seem to have given up on curing cancer. Our entitlements are swallowing up our disposable production at such a rate that soon you won't be able to tell us from ... Finland. And Finland contributes SO much to the world.

In the meantime, the cost of a new missile, stretched over years, appears to be more affordable than cures for our most pernicious remaining diseases and other afflictions, and not as controversial as "Medicare for All".

As to nothing stopping the bad guys from "plowing ahead" if we choose to do so ourselves on nuclear arms, we should remember that it largely was this competition that bankrupted the Soviet Union. Maybe this is what Congress has in mind. Just make sure, guys, that you keep your eyes on those sand worms.
Rob (Paris)
Wake up Richard. If there is any "free cheese" it's being served up at the Pentagon. Have you ever looked at their budget? We spend 10 times the next several counties together and they want more. Did we run out of $7000 toilet seats? The military/industrial complex won. PS cancer is a big industry too - think about it.
Marc (VT)
Or enough nuclear weapons?
GWoo (Honolulu)
While the west (mostly) abides by the treaties and agreements, it seems that other countries are secretly advancing their own agendas and means. As Mr. Paquette says, we should upgrade and be ready to effectively intercept any missiles coming our way. I hate the idea of increased military spending, but we can't say, "I think this missile interceptor will work, but we haven't tested it since 19xx because it's so expensive to do so."
Paul Wortman (East Setauket, NY)
For a President and a Republican Party that opposed the Iran nuclear deal, it is a hard sell to convince that restraint rather than escalation is the prudent course of action. If President Trump had only advocated such a nuclear rapprochement with Russia he would have gained a lot more support, but his "America First" jingoism seems on a course to a revival of a wasteful and increasing dangerous nuclear arms race. The only potential solution that seems feasible is to offer Russia the quid pro quo of some sanctions relief to re-engage in the I.N.F. Treaty. Now is the time for thoughtful statesmanship by a President and a State Department that are diminished in both.
Richard Williams MD (Davis, Ca)
During the campaign Donald Trump was asked a question about the nuclear triad; he plainly had no idea what the term meant. He also asked repeatedly why we possessed nuclear weapons if not to use them. Trump is obviously volatile, impulsive and often angry; there is reason to doubt that he is fully engaged with reality.
Far more important than any arms control treaty is the imperative to remove the nuclear codes from his control. Every day that we fail to do so represents a renewed threat that our children will never grow up.
AE (France)
But Doctor Williams

HE and his ilk do not care. They will not be around anyway to see your children grow up, their future welfare is not of his concern. Didn't you know, it's all about ME in the here and today!
blackmamba (IL)
But 63 million Americans voted for Trump and 85% of Republicans still support him. While Trump has ceded civilian control over American national defense and security to a class of military uniformed generals who have never won a war nor sustained a peace. In a nation that only 0.75 % of Americans have volunteered to defend in the military uniform of any American armed force since 9/11/01.

Trump is the only President that we have unless and until he is removed from office by Constitutional means, resignation or the mortal judgment of God/Mother Nature.
cherrylog754 (Atlanta, GA)
The hawks in Congress are a worry. But the Administration is outright frightening when it comes to keeping the lid on our nuclear arsenal. Consider the make-up of Trumps key advisors regarding national security. National Security Advisor “General” McMaster, Secretary of Defense, “General” Mattis, and Chief of Staff, “General” Kelly. All great military generals but therein lies the problem. Each and every one of them has a career that closely matches another great General. Colin Powell.

Now go back to the build-up of the Iraq War and General Powell, then Secretary of State knew the WMD intelligence was inadequate, the U.N. Inspection Team headed by Hans Blix found no WMD’s and reported such to the U.N. But President Bush decided to go forward and told Powell to sell it to the U.N. General Powell was likely the only individual that could have stopped the war. He could very well have told the President, no. But his military background always dictates, “You follow orders”. I’m sure it’s not that simple, but that military upbringing had to have a hand in his General Powell’s decision.

We have too many Generals in key positions in this Administration. What we do need are more Robert Gates, John Kerry's, Ashton Carter's, Leon Panetta's, Susan Rice's and Condoleezza Rice's and the like. Too many Generals surround this President and unfortunately it’s just the right mix for a nightmarish nuclear folly to occur.
Michael Tyndall (SF)
I don’t see the particular threat from Russia’s violation of the INF agreement except in so far as it becomes a negotiating chip. The main risk with these weapons is the short interval between firing and explosion. But we can already destroy Russia after a first strike. I will grant that a 10-20 minute shorter window between apparent launch and detonation makes accidents or misperceptions more likely, but we haven't been on a hair trigger nuclear status for many years.

Russia more likely wants to intimidate our allies and stress the Europeans, who could be collateral damage during a major nuclear exchange. But this is an emotional appeal rather than a rational one. Unless they explicitly become nuclear hostages (like the South Koreans), the Europeans may or may not be broadly targeted regardless of the weapons deployed.

Putin, the leader of an inveterate kleptocracy, is taking a page out of Kim Jong Un’s playbook. Despite suffering under appropriate sanctions, he needs to protect his regime by stirring up nationalist sentiments at home and sowing dissension abroad. He completes the trifecta by developing a weapon the West abhors but can be negotiated away with little cost to Russia’s security. And in Donnie, he has the perfect foil to get something for essentially nothing.
Javaforce (California)
I think Congress and possibly the Supreme Court need to look at our arms control situation. The world has changed a lot since the current arms control system has been in place.

Hopefully this issue will be dealt with seriously and not be impacted the tumultuous scene at he White House.
David Paquette (Cerritos, CA)
This article missed two points.

First, the US nuclear weapons systems are badly outdated and are being kept operational way beyond their expected lifetimes. Electronics systems are decades outdated and obtaining replacement parts is difficult. Similarly for some of the unique materials.

Second, the US nuclear arsenal is kept, not for first attack, but as an assurance that any country which does attack with a nuclear weapon would surely be totally destroyed as a response, demolition beyond any human experience.

As long as other nations have nuclear weapons, that passive understanding of utter destruction ought to be enough to stifle a first attack. Although, perhaps if someone as crazy as Kim Jong Un should actually attempt a first attack we may need a demonstration of how it works as a means of enlightenment.

In that context, certain "upgrades" are needed to maintain status quo of technical capabilities of our nuclear system. That is not to say that new capabilities are needed in any sense nor that the numbers of weapons as they stand are not ridiculously excessive for the stated purpose.

From an "innocent civilian death" point of view, it needs to be made clear that it is virtually impossible to use any nuclear weapon, ever, of any size without collateral civilian deaths. That cannot be used as an argument against having any nuclear weapons at all as long as there is no diplomatic means against controlling their use by countries like North Korea.
multalegi (Netherlands)
You might negotiate the removal of all nuclear weapons as proposed in the Non-Proliferation Treaty. That new Treaty will have to include an agreement that powerful countries will not go out to destroy smaller ones as happened to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
Ray Zielinski (Champaign, IL)
"First, the US nuclear weapons systems are badly outdated and are being kept operational way beyond their expected lifetimes. "

Seems like a perfect time to take them out of service and invest in more productive priorities: healthcare; infrastructure.
Anne-Marie Hislop (Chicago)
American used to be a leader, that is, a nation to stand up and show the way. Unfortunately lately we have been reduced to the sniveling underside, "well, they're doing it, so why shouldn't we?" Most Americans would not let their kid get away with something because "Jimmy does it." We have lost our way. If we do not find our gumption and leadership courage soon, the world will pay a terrible price.
AE (France)
Now you know why the Chinese always refer to the United States as a paper tiger. Think Potemkin Village, too. There are supposed to be real recruitment problems in the US armed services due to the epidemic of morbid obesity. All of this entrenched mediocrity should give you pause to think before falling back on old clichés and bromides about America the Model Country.
Bruce Esrig (Northern NJ)
To prevent a crisis from turning into a disaster, decision makers ask first for more time.

It's OK to make threats provided you have plenty of room for posturing and reading your opponent's posturing. And safe paths to follow when backing down.