Fact-Checking the INF Withdrawal

This evening I watched President Trump’s State of the Union address with doubts and concern mixed with curiosity about just what he would choose to address. Major news organizations with far more time and resources than I have will be reviewing in detail over the next few days. However, I thought I would comment on an area he mentioned in which I have some experience and knowledge, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Treaty of 1987.


There have been complaints for the last few years of Russian violations of this treaty. But, rather than pursue a resolution using the mechanism setup in the treaty itself or addressing those concerns by negotiations with Russia (who had threatened to withdraw before) and other affected countries like China (whose missile developments are of concern to the Russians), President Trump chose to withdraw from the treaty first, and was followed by a Russian withdrawal. This followed the pattern of Iran and North Korea, where he complained about the nuclear treaty with Iran but rather than negotiate a better one with North Korea and then negotiate matching changes to the Iran treaty, he unilaterally withdrew from the treaty with Iran and merely shook hands with the leader of North Korea.

Since the treaty was ratified in 1988 and the destruction of weapons was completed in 1991, many of us have forgotten about this whole class of nuclear weapons systems although some of North Korea’s missiles fall into this class. But in the 1970’s they were a major threat to our NATO allies and U.S. forces deployed in Europe.

In March 1976, while I was still serving on a Titan II missile crew, the Soviet Union began deploying its new RSD-10 Pioneer (or SS-20 Saber) with a range of 4700-5000 kilometers, just below the 5500 kilometer minimum for intercontinental weapons set by the SALT treaties. And, unlike their predecessors, the SS-4 and SS-5 which were launched from a fixed site, the SS-20 was a mobile and concealable system that also featured 3 independently targetable RV nuclear weapons. To counter these, the U.S. and NATO only had a small number of shorter range Pershing 1 missiles. So, the U.S. and NATO responded with a planned deployment of 100 Pershing 2 missiles to West Germany and the deployment in several countries of the BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM).

My first thought on hearing this in the SOTU address was “are we going to send the GLCM launchers back to Sicily?” In fact, I really don’t know what President Trump plans do in the absence of the treaty other than to give Russia an excuse to do what they had been threatening for some time. But, I do have some peripheral knowledge of the GLCM, so let us discuss that.

In the early 1980’s, I worked on some technical analyses of various nuclear forces. A big concern was the ongoing replacement of older, less accurate Soviet ICBM’s with newer and more accurate systems like the SS-18 and SS-19. These had sufficient accuracy to threaten our land based missiles in their hardened silos and more warheads as well. Part of the U.S. response was the development of a land-based version of the Navy’s Tomahawk cruise missile system, the BGM-109G. For more information on the history of the GLCM, I suggest this article from Air Force Magazine.


In its own way, the GLCM may have been the most successful weapons system in history. By spending money on building a new base in Sicily and beginning training and deployment of the system, the U.S. gained leverage to talk the Soviets into withdrawing an entire class of nuclear weapons and eventually destroying 1846 weapons systems in exchange for 846 by the U.S./NATO. And it established a basis for transitioning from limiting strategic arms to reducing them.

So where do we go now? As Bob Dylan would say, “things have changed”.

First, although the U.S. and Russia still dominate the strategic arms field, we are no longer in a bilateral situation. The Soviet Union has split up into several successor states with nuclear forces and not all of them have signed onto the INF.

Second, China was never a signatory and their nuclear forces and missile capabilities are much greater than they were in the 1980’s as evidenced by their current lunar exploration activity.

Third, smaller nuclear or nuclear-potential states like North Korea and Iran are a very real threat with the ability to threaten our allies or friendly nations like South Korea and Japan, Iraq and Israel. Part of our response has been to develop defensive systems. But these also threaten the stability of the INF agreement, even if it were still in place.

So, what is clearly needed is ongoing serious negotiations among the many involved parties on a framework for a stable and safer agreement.

But, will any of the leaders involved step up to the plate and accept the challenge?

Green Chile Potato Enchilada Casserole

Baked Casserole


5-6 medium russet potatoes, cut into ¼-1/2 inch cubes

½ tsp salt

½ medium onion, diced

½ Tbsp green chile powder (use other ground red chile if you can’t find this)

½ Tbsp ground garlic powder

1 can Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce

1 cup grated smoked cheddar cheese

1 cup grated white cheddar cheese

Diced green onions

Sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Spray 9 x 13” Corning or Pyrex baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Wash and cut potatoes. Cover with water, add salt and heat to boil. Lower to rolling simmer and boil for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain potatoes and place in the baking pan.
  5. Add diced onion and sprinkle with green chile and garlic powders. Stir thoroughly.
  6. Sprinkle grated smoked cheddar over the potatoes
  7. Pour green chile enchilada sauce over the potatoes and cheese.
  8. Sprinkle white cheddar on top.
  9. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle green onions on top and serve with sour cream.
Serve with diced green onions and sour cream

The difficulties that get overlooked when your autistic child is verbal

I read this and found it interesting for a couple reasons.  My grandson has a cousin who is also autistic and may be similar to this girl.

Also, we are starting to learn there may be many more autistic females than have generally been counted. Because women socialize differently from men, their autistic behaviors may ho unrecognized.


via The difficulties that get overlooked when your autistic child is verbal

My thoughts about Ebola

I follow some of the ongoing discussions about medical science, vaccination, cancer treatments and related areas and occasionally offer a comment.

I’m too busy with studying and job-searching to devote the continual effort needed to comment and reply regularly on the many sites where these topics are discussed. But, once in a while I will toss my hat into the ring and offer my thoughts on the topic at hand.

So, when Carol A Hoernlein PE wrote a blog a few days ago (http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/blog/ebola-on-my-mind/), I made a comment. She responded and after a few days, I decided to take the time to express my ideas and reasoning in more detail. After spending a fair amount of time writing them up, I chose to reblog my reply here in toto.


Thanks for your reply(s).

Primarily I was responding to the overall tone of your article, but let me discuss some specifics and explain further.

The Fear Factor

Personally, I’m worried more about someone with a ski mask and a gun coming in to rob a restaurant or bank where I was than I am about my personal risk of Ebola. But, if I were in one of the nations in Africa where the current outbreak is occurring, I would definitely be highly concerned. I am certainly glad that many scientists have been working for many years to develop a vaccine against this horrible disease.

Modern Medicine

I was in college in 1970 and remember a talk given to incoming students about the limitations of existing antibiotics and developing resistance to them and the challenge of developing future antibiotics that might work in a different manner. Unfortunately, this strategy has been very difficult to implement.  And only a few years later, President Nixon announced a war on cancer. This has helped fund research and resulted in enormous improvements in survival from many of the worst cancers, such as childhood leukemia. So while things were hopeful then, my view as a science student wasn’t nearly as Panglossian as you describe it.

So, although vaccines may not have been the perfect solution for all diseases, they have mainly born out the promise of their early success. Thanks to the MMR, which was introduced in 1971 and some changes in vaccination requirements, we fought off a rise in measles incidence from 13,000 cases in 1980 to 26,000 cases in 1990. As a result, measles was pronounced eradicated in the U.S. about 10 years ago.


Since we don’t want to pay huge taxes for the government to support massive research into vaccines and drugs, we have to rely on the potential for profit from the one treatment that proves successful to fund the necessary research into the dozen or more alternatives that wind up not working or having too many problems to be useable.

But, science researchers are motivated by many factors in addition to profit. There is the challenge of solving a difficult problem. There is the satisfaction of discovering something new about the world. There is the desire to do something important during your life that will help others and that you can remember with pride and satisfaction. I consider that to be a humanitarian endeavor.

I don’t think the Belgian nurses who died from the disease or the Belgian researchers who identified it considered it to be Africa’s private hell.


I don’t think Bill Gates is donating all the money he has contributed (for which he regularly gets castigated by the anti-vaccination crowd) towards a world-wide vaccination program out of an expectation of future profit.

And, while GSK is manufacturing thousands of doses of their vaccine to have available for emergency use and the trials are being fast-tracked, we are doing the necessary testing to ensure the vaccine is both safe for humans like Ruth Atkins (http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/09/17/uk-health-ebola-vaccine-idUKKBN0HC17K20140917) and effective against Ebola.

As for your three links later, we’ll see how the Merck case plays out in court. While they may have oversold how well and how long their vaccine protects against mumps, the competitors weren’t that much better. Mumps and pertussis have both proven to be difficult to develop a vaccine that provides the high level and long lasting immunity we really want.

I’ve been following the Thompson case and read his statement. He never uses the word fraud. My perception is that he was concerned about one statistical outlier (black boys vaccinated between 2 and 3 years age) which was not emphasized in the published paper. No data were “manipulated” because the exact same data were used by Hooker with incorrect statistical methods to generate this whole flap. And, since their analysis showed this blip was due to other confounding factors and none of the many studies of vaccination and autism have shown a particular sensitivity by Africans or African-Americans, there doesn’t seem to be a real problem except in the minds of people like Hooker who are looking for somewhere to point their finger.

Tools in the Medicine Chest

Until the GSK vaccine is shown to be safe and effective, those are all we have. And, regrettably for Thomas Eric Duncan, they were too little too late.

The Fear Meter

The great thing about vaccines is that they work even in countries with poor sanitation, lack of clean drinking water and poor access to nutritious food. And, the U.S. had none of those problems in the 1950’s when hundreds of thousands of children (including me and my siblings) got measles every year and hundreds died from it. Measles is a mild illness compared to smallpox or polio, but it is still deadly. I am curious where you got the idea that doctors “convinced folks the only way to deal with an infectious disease is a vaccine”.

The perception described by the comedy writers on The Brady Bunch was certainly not the perception of the thousands of people who suffered side effects of the disease. And it certainly wasn’t the perception of Roald Dahl, for instance. We put up with these diseases because we had to, not because they were a laughing matter.

Ebola is certainly more deadly than measles. But, fortunately it is not nearly as contagious. For the moment, it is only spread by direct contact. By comparison, you can get measles by walking into an elevator two hours after someone sick with the measles left it. So, keeping a patient in facilities designed to contain some of the nastiest diseases known to man is not the threat to people on the streets of Dallas that you seem to describe.

Moving Target

Rapid mutations in diseases are certainly a problem. We will find out when an Ebola vaccine is demonstrated safe enough for field testing whether it is effective enough to contain the disease and eliminate a relatively local outbreak (and I emphasize the term relatively). Unlike the H1N1 strain of influenza, which quickly spread to all continents around the world, Ebola (except for a handful of cases) is still confined to a few countries in Africa.

So there is hope that the current strategies will eventually succeed. But, the development of an effective vaccine would be a huge benefit in this struggle.

Addition on 9 Oct 2014

I checked in on Carol’s post at Epoch Times this morning and discovered my comment last night failed to post or was deleted. I’m fairly certain I saw it displaying on the screen.

Instead, I noticed she had closed comments on the thread.

Comments closed on Epoch Times after my comment failed to post.
Comments closed on Epoch Times after my comment failed to post.

I find this especially ironic, because in one of her comments to Dorit Reiss, she stated:

. I blog at a paper that was created to fight the worst types of censorship from the Chinese Government. I am not afraid of you. I will refute your points because I believe in debate

Actions speak louder than words, Carol!