January 23, 2018

Tension Between Western Delegations on Evacuation of Foreign Nationals from S Korea

This is an interesting matter between Western military, diplomatic and security agencies. It is within the context of sensitivities around the 2018 Winter Olympics (also see). 

These Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea from 9 to 25 February 2018. PyeongChang is a mountainous area of South Korea just 100 km south of the tense Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) with North Korea.

 If any of North Korea's frequent nuclear/missile threats occurred in February this could wreck the usual good feelings of the Winter Olympics. Mass evacuations of foreign nationals is a possibility, however slight.

This deals with the sensitivies of:

1.   promising North Korea that no military exercises will be held in South Korea prior to the February 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Summary of a January 2018 Washington Post report: Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have agreed to postpone the large annual Foal Eagle Exercise until after the Winter Olympics to reduce tensions with North Korea. 

2.  North Korea might decide to feel cheated that "secret" plans were reported in the Japanese media (below) in January 2018 concerning international preparations made in South Korea (SK) for evacuating foreign nationals in case of high tension or conflict with North Korea (NK). 


From the following it appears there is a high degree of ill-feeling on security issues, between and within Western delegations (including Japan and SK) in dealings with NK. The Chinese and Russians must be perplexed.]

On January 21, 2018 Anonymous translated [right-click mouse] page 2 of a Japanese language Gendai article of January 20, 2018. Pete did further translation for context:

"In a period of emergency in the Korean Peninsula, when President Trump has taken military action against NK, concrete measures to rescue US, UK, Canadian, Australian, French and Japanese and Americans nationals from SK are being planned:

In November 2017, the first meeting of Japan and five members of UN Command in SK (US, UK, Canada, Australia and France) was held secretly at Osan US Air Force (USAF) Base 64 km south of Seoul to discuss rescue/evacuation planning for their foreign nationals

[Osan hosts US 7th Air Force Headquarters]. 

"It was a military official consultation and SK was excluded because of possible information leakages to NK through the SK "Blue House"." 

[the "Blue House" is a large complex that is the Executive Office and Official Residence of SK President Moon Jae-in]

Japanese attendance included Counsellor Level officials from the National Security Bureau of the Cabinet Secretariat and uniformed staff from the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD). They were transferred by USAF aircraft travelling from USAF Base Yokota (Tokyo) to Osan USAF Base.

Numbers of the foreign nationals in each region of South Korea, identified by the US, were displayed on a huge screen and projector in the November 2017 meeting room at Osan Base. Measures for transporting the nationals to Busan Port and the Port of Incheon via air, land and sea were explained.

The US Department of State (DoS) informed SK diplomatic and security authorities who had been excluded from the November 2017 meeting. SK reacted by complaining strongly and could [did?] attend the second meeting held in December 2017.

Until [November 2017?] these kinds of meetings have only been held secretly between the US National Security Council (NSC), US Department of Defense (DoD), Japanese NSC (J-NSC) and Japanese  Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). The US Department of State (DoS) and Japanese Ministry of Defense (J-MoD) have been excluded because the security of their information management has been suspect.

"Under multilateral talks discussing the situation in North Korea, it can be understood that leakage of confidential information is a deadly and serious problem."

Translated by Anonymous and by Pete.

Chinese undersea sound surveillance sensors (SOSUS) near Guam

"The Chinese Academy of Sciences recently disclosed that underwater acoustic sensors have been monitoring sea activity near Guam since 2016."

Source: Russia's SputnikNews relaying a Hong Kong, South China Morning Post report of  
January 22, 2018. 


The report indicates "The sensors collect water temperature and salinity data that impact how sound moves through water". These make the underwater acoustic (SOSUS) sensors more accurate AND also provides a scientific research "cover" for basically ASW sensors. 

Once China perfects node sensors near Guam, and in the South, China Sea, China will lay 500+ km  undersea SOSUS cable arrays, stringing many sensors together
-  thereby providing electrical and communications channels to the sensors.

The main (near Guam) Chinese sensor targets would be the US Submarine Squadron 15 (SUBRON 15), at Naval Base Guam island. 

Anderson Air Base (at right) is also on Guam island, as is Guam (Apra) Naval Base, where
SUBRON 15 has long been based. South China Sea on left. All "targets" for China's developing SOSUS systems.

SUBRON 15 mainly consists of:

-  the large submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS-40)

-  four Los Angeles class SSNs, namely USS Key West (SSN 722), USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723), 
   USS Topeka (SSN 754) and USS Asheville (SSN 758). 

-  also an Ohio class SSGN occasionally visits.


See Submarine Matter's June 17, 2015 article, Guam Nuclear Submarine and Bomber Air Base.


January 22, 2018

Suspicious Russian Submarine Fire, Vladivostok, Diesel Vapour? Battery Hydrogen?

KQN has drawn Submarine Matter's attention to a January 21, 2018 Russian claim that the Russian Navy intentionally set a Russian conventional, diesel-electric, Kilo class submarine on fire, on January 21, as part of a “damage control exercise”. This fire was/is at Vladivostok Main Naval Base, Russian Pacific Fleet.

The Kilo is most likely part of the Russian Pacific Fleet's, Vladivostok, 19th Submarine Brigade and may well be an unimproved Project 877 Kilo (likely Pennant Number "B-260", "B-445", "B-394", "B-464", "B-494", "B-187", "B-190" or "B-345"). Intentionally starting a fire is highly unlikely given the cost of a Kilo and close proximity of several other Kilo subs near the fire (see photo below).

Russian Kilo submarine on fire, January 21, 2018, at Vladivostok. (Photo courtesy Anonymous Russian via a scoop by Tyler Rogoway, The Drive January 21, 2018, website).

It will be interesting if the Russians admit the real reason, eg:

-  residual diesel fuel vapour catching alight 

-  angle grinder or welding equipment started a fire of insulation or diesel fuel vapour between the 
   outer hull and pressure hull, 

-  battery maintenance causing release of flammable Hydrogen gas from the batteries, leading to fire. 


-  fire of highly volatile torpedo propellant, then subsequent "cooking-off" of torpedo warheads

Precents include:

-   the welding caused fire between outer and pressure hulls on the Russian Oscar class SSGN "Orel
    on April 8, 2015

-  the fire and explosion of IndianKilo submarine INS Sindhurakshak, on August 14,  2013.


January 18, 2018

Japanese Soryu Higher Power Snorkel (Intake and Exhaust) Study

"wispywood2344" has drawn and labelled this very useful diagram of the Japan's top of the line Soryu class submarine.  The diagram (minus the Stirling AIP) could represent the Japanese entrant "SEA-1000 Japanese submarine (SEA-J)” in the Australia’s Future Submarine competition (which France won in April 2016). larger version of the diagram is at http://blog.livedoor.jp/wispywood2344/others/Soryu_cutaway.svg

Anonymous has kindly provided information for the following. One of the key factors in considering Soryu propulsive power (see January 16, 2018 article) comes through taking account of the efficiency of the snorkel (diesel intake and exhaust) system. If resistance against snorkel intake and exhaust is too high, the diesel generation system does not function well, resulting in poor output. 

Though the effectiveness of intake and exhaust system has been proven for Japanese submarines equipped with generators of around 4MW (total), the effectiveness of intake and exhaust has not been published for 8MW generators (the power required by Australian Future Submarines).

In this current article there is some discussion of the Japanese entrant "SEA-J" (diagram above) a Soryu enlarged for Australian conditions.


SEA-J highly likely omitted the Stirling AIP  (including LOx tanks, sections (9) and (10), 4th compartment) and was lengthened by 6m (from current 84m to 90m). This provided for:
-  extra diesel fuel (to increase range from the current Soryu Mark I's limited 6,100nm 
   range to the 10,000-12,000nm Australia required 
-  extra batteries (for increased fully submerged range on battery) and
-  larger bunks for the on average taller crew. The bunks are already individual for 65 crew
   (ie. no uncomfortable "hot bunking").  

Omitting the AIP (especially the large, weight shifting, LOx tank, of diminishing utility on Australia's long range missions) is easily understood. But the 6m increase in length is less understandable. SEA-J's extra length may be needed to handle an extra two diesel engines (four in all for the 8MW total power) instead of just two diesels in the existing Soryu Mark I


Rearrangements in SEA-J may be new sections 5, 6 and 7 to accommodate the larger, more powerful, diesel driven snorkel sytem. Such a faster working snorkel system would be required for the extra pressure and faster operation of four diesels (totaling 8MW) in SEA-J.

A larger, more powerful snorkel system may also be required in the Soryu Mark II (see Table, for 27SS, laid down in 2015) which may be launced in 2018. Mark II will have more powerful diesels to more quickly charge and technically exploit the new Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) to be introduced in Mark II

Faster charging on Mark II will improve its indiscretion ratio (IR). Indiscretion being a submarine's fully surfaced or shallow submerged danger period, when it is snorting. SEA-J could have also benefitted from fast charge LIBs (if Australia had selected SEA-J).

Mainly by Anonymous 

January 17, 2018

Australian Submarine Expert, Senator Patrick, Forgets US Admiral Johnson

Australia's government owned ABC News service reports, January 17, 2018, in part  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-17/submarine-delays-could-lead-to-cost-blowout-senator-says/9334240

"The cost of Australia's Future Submarine program is likely to blow out by billions of dollars because it is already missing key deadlines, [Rex Patrick] a former defence contractor turned senator has warned.

...In December, [the Australian Defence Department] confirmed two planning documents due to be released last year had yet to be finalised, but the department insisted there had been "no delays to key milestones" and no "cost or schedule impacts" to the $50 billion project.

Senator Rex Patrick, who once also served as a Royal Australian Navy [RAN] submariner, has not been convinced and said some military insiders were privately conceding the submarine program was "starting to go a little bit off the rails".

[The Head of Australia’s Future Submarine Program since September 2013] "Rear Admiral [Gregory] Sammut is a highly respected and highly capable naval officer, however he's never run a major project, he's never run a minor project," Senator Patrick said....” See WHOLE ABC article.


Given the postings rate of senior RAN officers Rear Admiral Sammut has already headed the RAN-Project liaison aspects of the Submarine Program for a long time since 2013. The 50 year Submarine Program will of course see more than six changes of RAN Head.

Head of program is a shared function between senior officers of the Prime Minister’s Department, Minister of Defence Industry, CEO of Naval Group Australia and also Naval Group HQ Cherbourg.

Perhaps the closest thing to THE Program Manager is US Navy Rear Admiral (retired) Stephen E. Johnson (photo below). He is General Manager Submarines in the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, Australian Department of Defence. Johnson worked for 3 years in the management team of US Virginia class submarine program (from 1992-1995) and 6 years on the Seawolf class submarine program (1998-2003). See Johnson’s longer bio here  .

Johnson's Australian Department of Defence Position Description reads "Stephen E. Johnson commenced as General Manager Submarines in the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group on 4 November 2015. Steve is responsible for all aspects of submarine support across Defence in Australia, working across government and industry as the project integrator of our existing submarine fleet and the Future Submarine Project." See here and here.


January 16, 2018

Soryu LABs vs LIBs, AIP and Indiscretion Ratios

Anonymous has provided the following comments from January 13 to 15, 2018 (with some further translation by Pete). This is on the interrelated issues of LABs vs LIBs, AIP and Indiscretion Ratios. The maths are quite challenging.

According to the former Commander of the Japanese Navy Submarines Service, Vice Admiral (retired) Masao Kobayashi, in a lead-acid battery (LABs) submarine, one hour-ventilation by using a diesel generator (DG) is needed after battery charging to release hydrogen generated by the charging process. 

Based on this information, the indiscretion ratio of the five following submarine Cases/scenarios have been reviewed and very roughly estimated for Japanese submarine missions of 70 days. This is where the surveillance period is 50 days and transiting period is 10 days x 2 = 20 days) and the DG output (hotel load + propulsion) is 250kW:

The lower the Indiscretion Ratio (IR) (the snorkeling period per 24 hours) the better.

Case I   (submarine length 84m, LABs, powered 100MW (or is that 100 kW?) - air independent
             propulsion (AIP), 2 x 2MW-generators, model Soryu MK I, IR =7%;

Case II  (length 84m, lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), 2 x 2MW-generators, model Soryu MK II)
              see Table below) IR=6%;

Case III  (long range Soryu proposed for Australian Future Submarine (AFS), length 90m, LIBs, 
               4 x 2MW-gnerators) IR=2.5%;

Case IV  (AFS, length 96m, 100MW-AIP, LIBs, 4 x 2MW-gnerators) IR=2%;

Case V   (AFS, length 96m, 100MW-AIP, LABs, 4 x 1MW-generators) IR=7%.

Comparison of Cases I and V shows that IR is determined by slow charge rate of LABs in a LAB-submarine. Comparison of Cases II, III an IV shows that output of the DG shows critical effects on IR for LIB submarines.

Performance at low speed means IR is Case IV>= Case III >>Case II >Case V = Case I.

Performance at high speed, which depends on batteries, is Case III>= Case IV >>Case II >Case V = Case I.

The facts that:

-  using up stored liquid oxygen (LOx) ends the usefulness of the Soryu’s Stirling AIP, and
-  LIBs are better than LABs

shows the flexibility of operation of each cases: Case III>= Case II >Case IV> Case V=Case I.

The superiority of AIP and LIBs, or simple LIBs, depends on a submarine’s mission. DGs play a critical role in both LIBs-submarines (Cases II and IV) within certain diesel power output ranges.

Anonymous thinks the future of LABs-submarines (Cases I, III and V) are limited with or without AIP and recent the tragedy of Argentina’s ARA San Juan shows LABs are not automatically safe.

More mathatically IR was very roughly estimated as follows:

Over 24 hours the balance of energy supplied [Es] to batteries and energy consumed [Ec] form batteries and AIP is described in equation (1)
(1)   Es = Ec
(2)   Es = Energy from diesel generator [Ed] + Energy from AIP [Ea]
(3)   Ec = Energy for propulsion [Ep] + Energy for hotel load [Eh]

The Indiscretion ratio (IR) which is the snorkeling period [ts] per day (=24h) is described in eq (4)

(4)   IR = ts/24 x 100 (%) = (tg + th)/24 x 100 (%)
(5)   ts = snorkeling period for diesel generation [tg] + snorkeling period for hydrogen release [th
        This is where, th =1h for LABs with hydrogen generation, and th = 0h for LIBs without 
        hydrogen generation.

Charge of batteries (capacity X (MWh)) with Y of C rate, Ed for ts is described in (6)
(6)   Ed = 1000XYtg  This where C daily energy from Z (MWh)-AIP for 50 days-opertion is 
        described in (7)

(7)   Ea =1000Z/50 =20Z
(8)   is derived from (2), (6) and (7), Es =1000XYtg + 20Z
(9)   If 250 kW of energy is consumed in an hour, then, Ec = 250 x {24-(tg + th)} ---
(10) is derived from (1), (8) and (9), 1000XY tg+ 20Z = 250 x {24-(tg + th)}
(11) is derived from (4) and (10), IR =[1-{(1000XY tg+ 20Z)/(250x24)}]x100=(tg + th)/24 x100 .  
       Where, tg = (250 x24-20Z-250 th)/(1000XY+250)  IR is from eq (11)

10MWh-LAB, non-AIP, 0.2 C rate, 2MW-diesel: X=10, Y=0.2, Z=0, th =1, IR=14.8%
10MWh-LAB, 100MWh-AIP, 0.2 C rate, 2MW-diesel: X=10, Y=0.2, Z=100, th =1, IR=11.1%
20MWh-LIB, non-AIP, 0.2 C rate, 4MW-diesel: X=20, Y=0.2, Z=0, th =0, IR=5.8%
20MWh-LIB, non-AIP, 0.4 C rate, 8MW-diesel: X=20, Y=0.4, Z=0, th =0, IR=3.0%
20MWh-LIB, 100MWh-AIP, 0.2 C rate, 4MW-diesel: X=20, Y=0.2, Z=100, th =0, IR=3.9%
20MWh-LIB, 100MWh-AIP, 0.4 C rate, 8MW-diesel: X=20, Y=0.4, Z=100, th =0, IR=2.0%


Though the estimates are based on many assumptions and are rough, the results clearly show the superiority of LIBs over LABs. Anonymous believes LIBs are indispensable to maintain the regional superiority of a conventional submarine.

 TABLE - SORYU & Oyashio Program as at January 16, 2018 

Build No
MoF approved amount ¥
Billions FY
Laid Down
5SS Oyashio
8105 Oyashio
SS-590/ TS3608
¥52.2B FY1993
LABs only
 Jan 1994
Oct 1996
Mar 1998
10 subs
¥52.2B per sub
LABs only
 15SS Feb
Mar 2008
Soryu Mk 1
¥60B FY2004
Mar 2005
Dec 2007
¥58.7B FY2005
Mar 2006
Oct 2008
¥56.2 FY2006
Feb 2007
Oct 2009
¥53B FY2007
Mar 2008
Nov 2010
¥51B FY2008
Mar 2009
Oct 2011
No 21SS
No 21SS built
¥52.8B FY2010
Jan 2011
Oct 2013
¥54.6B FY2011
Feb 2012
Oct 2014
7 Mar 2016
¥54.7B FY2012
¥53.1B FY2013
22 Oct 2013
12 Oct   2016
Mar? 2018
6 Nov 2017
Mar 2019?
27SS First
Soryu Mk 2
LIBs only
28SS  Second
Soryu Mark 2
¥63.6B FY2016
LIBs only
Mar 2021?
29SS First Soryu Mk 3
(1) (3)
¥76B FY2017
LIBs only
30SS Second Soryu Mk 3 (2)
¥71.5B FY2018
LIBs only
Table from information exclusively provided to Submarine MattersLABs = lead-acid batteries, AIP = air independent propulsion, LIBs = lithium-ion batteries. ¥***B = Billion Yen. MHI = Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, KHI Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation of Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

By Anonymous

January 15, 2018

INS Arihant's Temporary Sinking Explains Arighat's Launch & Aridhaman's Delay

It seems the Indian Navy and broader government thought it wise to launch INS Arighat on November 19, 2017 in the then secret knowledge that INS Arihant has sunk at its moorings during a test in February 2017. The Arighat (very similar to Arihant in size and design) launch can be seen as a means of deflecting the political embarrassment and recriminations of the Arihant sinking.

INS Arihant.

Arihant sank at India's major east coast naval base of Visakhapatnam . The cause - allegedly a hatch left open during an Arihant submersion test.

Given the apparent lack of such a hatch on Arihant (reports India's Economic Times, Jan 12, 2018) and likelihood of sensors to avoid major accidents the official "hatch left open" explanation seems suspicious. Maybe instead, sabotage by a disgruntled or bribed crewman or technician? Even Chinese or Pakistani agent involvement?

India's Visakhapatnam east coast naval base. Naval vessels can be seen halfway up the harbour. This is to the right of what looks like the submarine repair and SLBM loading shed that INS Arihant will need to use, or is already under repair at. 

Repairing, or if need be, replacing Arihant's reactor is likely to be a Billion dollar exercise. Involving Arihant being placed in drydock, moved to Visakhapatnam repair shed then being vertically cut open, basically in half.

The Arihant accident not only involves major repair costs but delays India's SSBN and broader indigenous nuclear submarine technical modification/learning program. It also delays training of the  officers and crew who will transition to a full size Aridhaman SSBN around 2020(?).

Compounding the problems is subsequent damage to India's other nuclear submarine, INS Chakra, in early October 2017. Russian built Chakra (ex Nerpa) has been 10 year leased to India. Chakra is used by India as a training platform and technology transfer (including its nuclear reactor) asset.

In fact these negative impacts (repair cost, technical improvements and training program) of the Arihant accident may have delayed Aridhaman's launch by a year or two.


January 14, 2018

False Alarm - Missile toward Hawaii - Emergency employee "feels bad"

False Missile against Hawaii warning - sent to Hawaiian, USA cell phones. More information on sensor or alarm chain of command errors will appear as it becomes available.

From Australia's ABC News January 14, 2018, first details:

[On January 13, 2018 (Hawaii time) a false alarm was sent out to Hawaiian residents and tourists] "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."

It might sound like something straight out of a horror movie, but for 38 minutes terrified Hawaiian residents thought the world was going to end.

...Why did it take 38 minutes to correct the error?

Many have been left asking why it took so long for emergency management to reveal it was a false alarm, with some residents only finding out it was sent in error because of a tweet sent in the interim by US Representative Tulsi Gabbard.

A revised alert informing of the "false alarm" did not reach mobile phones until about 40 minutes after the first warning was sent.

Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency administrator Vern Miyagi said "there was no automated way to send a false alarm cancellation".

"We had to initiate a manual process. And that was why it took a while to notify everyone," he told a media conference.

When asked if that was why it took 38 minutes to notify people, he again replied it was due to the "manual process to provide notification on the smartphones and cellphones".

"We did have other notification that occurred much, much sooner than that," he said.

The agency had tweeted there was no threat about 10 minutes after the initial alert, but residents who were not on Twitter did not see the correction.


Reported January 15, 2018


While the message was a false alarm there was one part that was kind of true. It wasn't a drill, it was simply the result of a guy pressing the wrong button.
And that guy, a [Hawaii Emergency Management Agency] employee who was involved in a warning test of the state's emergency alert system — the wireless emergency alert — now "feels terrible".

Hawaii's emergency management administrator Vern T Miyagi yesterday indicated the man responsible was dealing with some deep regret.

January 12, 2018

Was it actually a North Korean submarine that entered Japan's contiguous zone?

Japan's Mainichi News reported January 11, 2018 that:

"TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A Chinese frigate and an unidentified foreign submerged submarine were spotted Thursday just outside Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands [near Miyako Island] in the East China Sea, the Defense Ministry said, prompting Tokyo to protest to Beijing over the sailing..." 


The Japanese Navy has almost automatically assumed (or decided to announce) that because a Chinese (Type 054 or 054A) frigate was detected, the submarine must also be Chinese.

My alternative theory is that the Chinese Navy spotted a North Korean (NK) submarine. China wishing to avoid another Cheonan Incident pursued the NK sub to warn-off that sub. The Cheonan Incident  was when a NK submarine torpedoed a South Korean surface ship in 2010. An NK sub would also be a threat to Japanese surface ships.

The Chinese frigate's actions is part of China's new policy of pressuring NK to be less belligerent in its actions and threats. China wishes to de-escalate NK vs (South Korea, Japan, US) tensions.

Photo of the Chinese submarine that was forced or decided to surface in Japan's Senkaku Islands area, January 11, 2018.

Chinese submarine?

Comments, with links, received from readers since the first vague Japanese reports, strongly indicate it was a Chinese submarine that surfaced and showed the Chinese flag (above). The submarine appears to be a Type 093 (NATO designation "Shang" class SSN).

Another conclusion is that Japan is utilising its undersea sensor array to detect NK and Chinese submarines. See array MAP B below. The array includes seafloor hydrophones and other sensors, which is strung from the Japanese home islands, via Okinawa (main) Island and via Miyako (in Japan's Senkakus) Island etc. 

MAP A - Neatly illustrates the Japanese Senkakus vs Chinese Diaoyu Islands territorial dispute Significantly Taiwan is also in dispute against Japan. Taiwan calling them the Tiaoyutai Islands. (Map coutesy Malaysia Chronicle, January 18, 2018) 

The Chinese action could be a freedom of navigation exercise (FONOPS) against Japan's disputed Senkakus territorial claim. This may also be a Chinese method to test Japan's anti-submarine defences (including sensitivity of the Japanese seafloor SOSUS-IUSS array in detecting the Chinese sub). The Chinese frigate could also detect counter-moves by Japanese patrolling Soryu or Oyashio class submarines.

MAP B is from page 54 “Map 4. The US ‘Fish Hook’ Undersea Defense Line” in Desmond Ball and Richard Tanter, The Tools of Owatatsumi Japan’s Ocean Surveillance and Coastal Defence Capabilities (2015, ANU Press) http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p309261/pdf/book.pdf?referer=444. The map may depict past or current locations of the eastern Asia - inner western Pacific SOSUS-IUSS seafloor array. 


January 11, 2018

Trump’s Latest "Low-Yield" Nuclear War Ignition Policy Raises Questions

Just when people were becoming relaxed about mega-death via nuclear war, Trump alarms US allies, again. Trump appears to be stoking talk of low-yield nuclear weapons, which frequently overlap with the tactical nuclear weapon category. Hopefully this is a rather blunt first-strike warning to North Korea (to not even consider hitting South Korea or Japan with nuclear weapons).

This has been reported as "President Trump’s administration plans to loosen nuclear weapons constraints and develop more ‘usable’ warheads" in The South China Morning Post, January 10, 2018. Key parts of that article are:

"The Trump administration plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a new low-yield nuclear warhead for US Trident [D5 SLBMs] according to a former official who has seen the most recent draft of a policy review....[This is aimed to deter] Russia from using tactical warheads in a conflict in Eastern Europe.

... Arms control advocates have voiced alarm at the new proposal to make smaller, more “usable” nuclear weapons, arguing it makes a nuclear war more likely, especially in view of what they see as Donald Trump’s volatility and readiness to brandish the US arsenal in showdowns with the nation’s adversaries.

...The [Nuclear Posture Review] also expands the circumstances in which the US might use its nuclear arsenal, to include a response to a non-nuclear attack that caused mass casualties.   [It removes] assurances to non nuclear weapons states that the US will not use its nuclear arsenal against them.”


Problems with this new policy include:

1.  making nuclear war against a non-nuclear enemy more acceptable? That is US nuclear weapons
     can be used in a conventional war, not just as nuclear deterrents?

2.  The intended targets of these "low-yield" nuclear weapons won't trust them to be "limited to
     low-yield" or targeted countries won't limit their nuclear response anyway. China, Russia, North
     Korea, or Pakistan could hit the US or US allies (intentionally or in panic) with high yield nuclear

3.  Use them or Lose Them: China, Russia but mainly North Korea, or Pakistan could feel they have
     to use all available nuclear weapons (of any yield) due to the fear they may lose them to further
     US low-yield strikes.

4.  Could another mass casualty 9/11 justify the US responding with low-yield weapons that kill
     vastly more people, cause unintended health effects to US allies and upset the whole global

5.  Would, as yet, only conventionally armed countries be encouraged to develop nuclear arsenals to
     deter Trump's latest low-yield policy? and

6.  Firing even low-yield missiles exposes a submarine to enemy satellite or radar detection and rapid
     destruction. Would the destruction of a US Ohio SSBN, its 23 remaining SLBMs (with say 100
     nuclear warheads total) be an acceptable trade-off if the SSBN was ordered to fire just one "low-
     yield" warhead on one of its Trident D5 SLBMs?