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    Ex-Pentagon Adviser: US Study on Russian Leader 'Survivability' Ups Nuclear Risk

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    The order by US Congress for intelligence agencies to evaluate the “survivability” of Russian and Chinese leaders in the event of a nuclear strike increases war risks, ex-chief scientific adviser to the US Chief of Naval Operations Theodore Postol told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The comprehensive US study mandated by the Republican-controlled Congress will be carried out by the US intelligence agencies as well as the Strategic Command, which is in charge of the American nuclear forces, according to a little-reported section of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

    “[The order] encourages them to make preparations that will assure that their nuclear forces will be launched and increases danger,” Postol, who is Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and National Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said on Monday.

    Postol expressed his concern that the Russians and Chinese would both interpret the congressional order as further evidence of US planning to have an option to fight and win a nuclear war against them. He noted Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed concern about such possibilities.

    “Putin has spoken out about a wide variety of US activities that connect seamlessly to US objectives to be able to fight and win nuclear wars,” Postol said.

    Postol pointed out that there had already been extensive discussion in the US expert community about Russia setting up a “dead hand” system to assure that they could launch their nuclear weapons if their leadership was suddenly killed or cut off from their ability to command.

    “I have no direct information that such arrangements have been made, but my personal judgment is that such arrangements have almost certainly been put in place,” he said.

    Postol recalled that Putin discussed such dangers with a group of journalists during the June 2016 St. Petersburg Conference on Global Economics.

    “The coherence of this extemporaneous monologue is at one level impressive and at another chilling… [Putin] is speaking extemporaneously about the US efforts to obtain nuclear hegemony over Russia,” Postol noted.

    Putin’s remarks include observations about US efforts to develop more capable offensive weapons, defensive weapons, and improvements in command-and-control and sensing systems that make nuclear war fighting appear to be more viable, Postol stated.

    Postol expressed his concern that the current wave of “highly provocative and non-sensible US discussion about the means needed for nuclear war fighting” could only dangerously alarm the leaderships in Moscow and Beijing.

    “All it does is to confirm the worst fears of Russian and Chinese top political leadership.  It encourages them to make preparations that will assure that their nuclear forces will be launched should some kind of successful US attack on leadership be executed,” he warned.

    Efforts to further expand the capabilities of the US nuclear arsenal could only serve to continue increasing the general danger of nuclear war since the demise of the Soviet Union, Postol concluded.

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    attack, nuclear war, United States, China, Russia
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