Former Defense Secretary Perry Warns, Again, Danger of Nuclear War Rising

January 9, 2016

Former Secretary of Defense William Perry is still out there warning of where all this can go, if it's not brought under control. "The probability of a nuclear calamity is higher today, I believe, than it was during the Cold War," Perry said, reports the Guardian's Julian Borger. "A new danger has been rising in the past three years and that is the possibility there might be a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia brought about by a substantial miscalculation, a false alarm."

There are other risks, for sure, such as North Korea and the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir, which, Borger notes, underline the risks inherent in U.S. and Russian nuclear doctrine. Twenty years after the Cold War, neither nation has ruled out first use of its nuclear arsenal and both maintain a launch-on-warning, keeping a combined total of 1,800 nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert, Borger writes. He also describes the other warnings issued by arms control expert Bruce Blair and Gen. James Cartwright, as well as the potentialities of a cyber attack on nuclear warning and launch systems — a threat no one really understands.

Borger also takes note of the measures that Russia is taking to bypass U.S. strategic defenses, such as the Status 6 system that was "accidentally revealed" during a senior defense officials' meeting presided over by Russian President Vladimir Putin a month or so ago.

Borger concludes by coming back to Perry: "In the Cold War, we and Russia were in the process of dismantling nuclear weapons," Perry said. "Today, in contrast, both  Russia and the United States are beginning a complete rebuilding of the Cold War nuclear arsenals. And today Russia is threatening the use of nuclear weapons. Those are very dramatic steps between today and the '90s. That is a major difference."