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Peter Huessy, the Mitchell Institute Senior Fellow for Strategic Deterrent Studies and President of GeoStrategic Analysis

Luncheon Address, July 14, 2016, Johns Hopkins University, 7th Annual Integrated Air and Missile Defense Symposium  - Johns Hopkins University APL - Laurel, Maryland

China, Russia, Iran and North Korea

“Regional Nuclear Strategies of Victory and the Role of Iran and North Korea as Russian and Chinese Partners”

The Setting: Implications of Brad Roberts at CEIP June 28, 2016

• NK, Russia and China have “nuclear strategies of victory” that involve the use of nuclear weapons in regional conflicts for the purpose of intimidation, coercion and terror. B. Roberts, June 28, CEIP

•“Regional conflicts could very well see the use of nuclear weapons against the United States as superior US conventional capability forestalled Chinese and Russian objectives in Ukraine and the South China Sea.” PRH, Daily Caller, July

• Such a strategy is designed to win regional conflicts by forcing the United States to stand down early without resort to force.

• This does NOT mean in a conflict that the use of nuclear weapons would be limited to the region—the South China Sea, the Straits of Hormuz region, the Korean peninsula or Ukraine…

• Regional conflicts (1) are in danger of going nuclear and (2) may involve threats to the USA homeland.

• (A) USA deterrent policy has to deter/prevent/stop initial use of force because escalate to de-escalate means nukes will/might be used/threatened to be used in a limited basis but quickly to coerce USA to stand down;

• (B) Implication: USA missile defenses must be robust at both the regional and national levels to prevent a fait accompli... 

Nuclear Strategies of Victory

Common problem…

• Russia and China have a common problem: defeating a “conventionally superior nuclear armed major power and its allies”…..

• They worry about the USA “strategies of encirclement and containment”…


• Russia, China and North Korea put the American homeland at risk with nuclear means as the key to induce the USA to back down and not come to the defense of our allies in Eastern Europe, the Middle East or East Asia.

• These regional “nuclear theories of victory”, involve “blackmail, brinkmanship and coercion” and a willingness to “employ nuclear weapons on a very limited basis”. 

The Russian Version

• On July 4th, RT published an essay—“US Military Strategy Could Culminate in Nuclear Conflict”—warning that any armed conflict in Ukraine or the South China Sea would not be confined to those regions. The RT essay went on to note while the US remained relatively unscathed in World War II, today’s military capabilities of China and Russia left no guarantee that the US homeland would remain in a sanctuary. 

The North Korean Version (Is this on behalf of China? 

• SAIS examines new DPRK proposal for “denuclearization”;

• The DPRK claims US hostility had forced the DPRK to acquire nuclear weapons….

• SAIS: If the US caused the problem, then the US must also help resolve it, and here, precisely, are the things the Americans can do.

• But the DPRK also says: “This is precisely the fundamental reason that the denuclearization of the North—which the United States, the puppet gang, and its other following forces are persistently demanding—can never work under any circumstances.”


North Korean Statement on De-Nuclearization

• “The [USA] should commit itself to neither intimidating the DPRK with nukes or through an act of nuclear war nor using nukes against the DPRK in any case.” (SAIS notes the US already promised a negative security guarantee to the North in the 1994 Agreed Framework and gave it to Pyongyang in the September 2005 Six-Party joint statement so doing so again no big deal.)

• “Fifthly, the withdrawal of the U.S. troops holding the right to use nukes from South Korea should be declared.” (Here SAIS think only that the DPRK is calling for US troops to be removed who are capable of using nukes so there is no real call for US troops to withdraw).

North Korea Proposes

• The obvious—and hardly accidental—similarities between the North’s current proposal and the 1992 North-South denuclearization declaration are noteworthy

• The Jan 20, 1992 Joint Declaration on Denuclearization says the ROK cannot allow its territory to be used to deploy nuclear weapons of any state.

• Is this not a call for the US not to deploy or use nuclear weapons in or from the region…… forgo an extended nuclear deterrent over the ROK

• Note: The DPRK does not pledge to get rid of all its nuclear weapons in this proposal

North Korean Proposal Looks a Lot Like…..

• Doug Bandow: CATO July 11th “Exit the Korean Imbroglio to Solve the North Korean Problem”

• As a consequence of what he believes are American invasion plans, Bandow says to avoid war all US military forces must be withdrawn from South Korea because American officials “cannot be trusted”.

• “If we don’t withdraw, the North Korean’s thus have no choice but to develop nuclear weapons to ‘deter’ the United States and serve as the North’s ‘most obvious and perhaps the only sure defense’”.

• CATO and the North Korean Leadership Agree: America is the bad guy.

From Tom Reed’s The Nuclear Express:



South Korea, U.S. to deploy THAAD missile defense, drawing China rebuke

• Reuters: Fri Jul 8, 2016 South Korea, U.S. to deploy THAAD missile defense, drawing China rebuke;

• South Korea and the United States said on Friday they would deploy an advanced missile defense system in South Korea to counter the threat from nuclear-armed North Korea, drawing a sharp and swift protest from neighboring China.

• North Korea threatened "physical response measures" including "ruthless retaliatory strikes" on Monday, protesting an announcement from South Korean and US officials who said the countries would deploy an anti-missile system on the peninsula....(Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 2016)

• "China strongly urges the United States and South Korea to stop the deployment process of the THAAD anti-missile system, not take any steps to complicate the regional situation and do nothing to harm China's strategic security interests," China's Foreign Ministry said.

• "The Chinese side will consider taking necessary steps to maintain national strategic security and regional strategic balance," the defense ministry said in a statement on its website on Friday evening

What are China and the DPRK Up To?

• Remove US extended nuclear deterrent from region

• Remove US capable missile defense systems from the region

• Remove US soldiers from the region to make coming to the defense of ROK very difficult

• Promise DPRK cooperation—Lucy and the Football

• Put onus on the ROK to free its territory and the NW Pacific of nuclear deterrent capabilities

• Create regional zone free of potential US interference into Chinese military expansion

Iran is to Russia what North Korea is to China

Iran Threat Receding….


• Authored by Greg Thielmann on May 18, 2016

• In light of the ongoing implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and an objective assessment of Iran’s missile program, it is high time to suspend the deployment of Aegis missile defense interceptors to Poland…

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US missile defenses should be slowed….curtailed….

• Moscow dismisses out-of-hand U.S. and NATO assurances that these systems have nothing to do with countering Russia’s strategic deterrent.

• BBC’s defense correspondent Jonathan Beale expressed the consequences of NATO barging ahead with ever more capable U.S. missile defenses in Europe: “NATO and the U.S. may also risk being accused of not telling the whole truth”. 


Russia Argues to Prevent US NATO BMD Deployments

• Arguments echo Chinese official criticism of THAAD deployment in ROK

• Russia buys space in regional to operate aggression without USA interference

• US and allied missile defenses are curtailed without Russia or Iran giving anything up of substance….

• Makes Ukraine and Baltic regions less defensible….

• Makes chances of fait accompli by Russian forces more likely

• Design of nuclear strategies of victory clear—eliminate US extended deterrence and ballistic missile defense…

Who Seeks Less USA Nuclear Modernization?

• Brookings calls on US to stop LRSO and B-61 Nuke/Europe

• Senator Feinstein calls on Senate to stop LRSO and B-61

• Global Zero and Ploughshares call for LSRO and B-61 to be cancelled

• Korb/CAP calls for killing of US LRSO/Minuteman and 4-6 strategic submarines

• Markey legislation calls for No LRSO, No Minuteman, Only 6 submarines….

• Arms Control Groups Universally Propose to Stop LRSO—critical capability for extended deterrent capability……….

• Fits Chinese and Russia Nuclear Theories of Victory. Coincidence?

Ilan Berman: Iran’s Deadly Ambition the DPRK Connection

• “Should a stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program precipitate a military conflict with Iran, Iran might retaliate by attacking US infrastructure…”

• “James Clapper made note of North Korea’s export of ballistic missiles and associated materials to…Iran...[thus] providing Iran with an alternative pathway to the atomic bomb…”

• “A delegation of Iranian scientists who offered to pay tens of millions of dollars to the DPRK...which may have served as an atomic proxy for the Islamic Republic….”

The North Korea and Iran Connection

The North Korean Way

• Claudia Rosett: “North Korea has cheated on every deal”…Berman: “The North Korean model represents an attractive way of doing business……

The Iranian Way

• German Intelligence: Iran Still Buying Nuke Material

• Germany’s intelligence service has reported that Iran tried to acquire nuclear, ballistic missile, and “dual use” technology in 2015, including after the nuclear deal was signed in July.

This means? Well, Lets see what Joe Lieberman wrote in the Washington Post in March 2016

• The world has never seemed as dangerous and leaderless as it does now. Only the extremists and bullies act boldly, and therefore they have seized the initiative. It is a moment in history that evokes the haunting words of W.B. Yeats: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

• The simple fact is that there is more instability in the world today than at any time since the end of World War II. The threats come from emboldened expansionist powers such as Iran, Russia and China, and also terrorist aggressors such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. In short, the enemies of freedom are on the march.

• At the same time, the United States — which assumed global leadership after World War II to protect our domestic security, prosperity and freedom — has chosen this moment to become more passive in the world.

• The absence of American leadership has encouraged and exacerbated the instability

Multi-Lateral Talks

What Can We Conclude Re Missiles? 

• Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CONN): The threat from Iranian missiles continues to grow (JINSA Event July 12)

• Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA): Iran will have an industrial scale nuclear capability over time (JINSA Event July 12)

• SASC Senator: After visit to the Middle East, every ally says the Iranian ballistic missile threat is increasing in accuracy, range and numbers….and everyone wants more missile defenses…..

• Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA): Iran has become more aggressive with expanding missile capabilities…. (JINSA Event July 12)

Conclusions: Implications for US and Allied Missile Defenses

• Regional conflicts over the South China Sea or Ukraine are being transformed into potential global conflicts

• The use of missiles armed with nuclear weapons are making missile defenses and BMD what one Senator called the “coin of the realm”…

• The threat is encapsulated by Russia: “Nuclear weapons will shape the battlefield…” according to one key Senator….

• Reagan saw missile defense as dealing with low level nuclear threats to replace the “bluff” of a massive retaliation to limited strikes (Kraemer, p, 295-319, “Inside the Cold War, From Marx to Reagan”

• SDI (including space and air defense) would provide insurance against the use of nuclear missiles by rogue regimes….(Ibid, P.296)

Implications for US and Allied Missile Defenses

• To deter the enemy use of coercion and blackmail through elements of limited nuclear missile strikes, ballistic missile defenses now become the most critical element in defending US/Allies…..

• Stopping an initial use of nuclear armed missile strikes becomes the key to de-escalation and crisis stability….

• In addition, because the adversaries nuclear strategy of victory now explicitly calls for strikes on the US homeland, US CONUS missile defenses cannot be disconnected from our regional and allied issile defense and extended deterrent needs.

• Our missile defense needs are truly global, including and especially protection of the American homeland and must be fully integrated into US nuclear extended deterrent strategy….. 

Summary and Conclusion: Three Implications for US and Allied Missile Defenses

• (1) US missile defense funding is a cumulative $28 billion less over 2009-2018 than the final projected budget left by the George W. Bush administration and based on the threat assessment of 2008-9;

• (2) Two senior Senators warn that allied friends and US military commanders agree on two important things: missile threats from Iran and North Korea, Russia and China are escalating and the need for missile defenses has never been greater……..”We will fill the vulnerable spaces” said one SASC member….

• (3) The defense budget needs to be increased…..especially ballistic missile defenses and savings are readily apparent……..

• Defined savings such as annually: $90B identified by Heritage; $67B identified by Grace Commission; GAO says $125B annual tax and other payments made incorrectly and fraudulently….Overall budget $4 trillion to $5.5 trillion 2016-2025….

Cumulative Reductions in MDA Compare FY2009 vs. FY2017

MDA Budget Requests FY 2004 - 2017

We need a (1) strong nuclear deterrent, (2) a strong missile defense, and (3) leadership to get there.

Missile Defense

Peter Huessy is President of Geostrategic Analysis of Potomac, Maryland, and Director of Strategic Deterrent Studies at the Mitchell Institute.