Michael Richardson

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de febrero de 2008. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

How many nuclear weapons and delivery systems does a country need as an effective deterrent against the threats of attack? Finding an acceptable balance is critically important in Asia, where four of the world’s nine nuclear-armed states are located.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported in June that all four Asian nations with nuclear weapons — China, India, Pakistan and North Korea — appeared to be expanding their arsenals while the United States, Russia, France, Britain and Israel were either reducing them or holding the number static.

Asia may be sliding into a nuclear arms race, aggravated by underlying tensions and mistrust.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cruise missiles that are difficult to detect, increasingly fast and capable of carrying nuclear warheads are spreading, especially in Asia, complicating arms control and raising the risk of catastrophic conflict.

Until recently, most concerns have focused on the actual or potential spread of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles in China, North Korea, India and Pakistan — the four Asian states known to have atomic arms. Ballistic missiles, launched by rocket engines, follow an arc-like trajectory, attaining hypersonic speeds on the downward leg of their guided journey towards a target.

Until now and probably for some time yet, all long-range ballistic missiles, with atomic warheads small enough to fit on them, are deployed exclusively for strategic nuclear deterrence.…  Seguir leyendo »

China’s program to expand and modernize its conventional armed forces is well-documented and closely watched by nearby Asia-Pacific states, as well as the United States and other more distant countries with interests in the region. However, China’s arsenal of nuclear weapons and delivery systems (missiles and aircraft) is shrouded in secrecy — and controversy.

Japan and other Asian countries worry that the Obama administration, anxious to reduce the $80 billion cost of maintaining and refurbishing America’s aging nuclear arms infrastructure, may be overlooking evidence that China’s atomic arsenal is much bigger than officially estimated.

They also worry that Beijing may be seeking nuclear parity and eventual superiority over both the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Almost a year ago, China and the Philippines were at loggerheads over their conflicting claims to ownership of the Scarborough Shoal fishing grounds and anchorage in the South China Sea, setting alarm bells ringing about a possible grab for control by Beijing in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

Today, the dispute still simmers, but the main zone of contention between China and its neighbors has moved to the East China Sea, where Beijing is contesting Tokyo’s sovereignty and administration over the Senkaku islands.

The confrontation between China and Japan, a key ally of the United States, has become one of East Asia’s most dangerous flash points.…  Seguir leyendo »

The arena for military competition and conflict has expanded dangerously in the past few decades. Wars used to be waged on relatively small areas of land and sea. World War I, fought mainly in Western Europe, involved combat aircraft and military airspace for the first time.

World War II, ending in 1945, started in Europe, spread to Asia and became global in its reach and effects. This extended impact of warfare was intensified in the Cold War by nuclear weapons. Space became a frontier for potential inter-state conflict after the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite in 1957, and both the Soviet Union and the United States later tested weapons that could destroy or disable satellites used for communications and other critical purposes.…  Seguir leyendo »

When the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States drew on its big lead in wealth, resources and technology to achieve an unprecedented level of global military dominance.

That “unipolar moment” appears to have been fleeting. Today the U.S. may be on the verge of a military decline that could have major repercussions for stability and the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region.

Since 1999, America has put a high priority on being able to wage two major wars at the same time, in Asia and the Persian Gulf. In the very near future, it may no longer be able to do so.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will 2013 be the year when one or more of the intractable disputes in the seas off China explode into armed conflict, involving the United States in a wider war to protect its Asian allies? The disputes are about ownership of islands, and jurisdiction over strategic maritime zones and valuable resources.

The answer should be a resounding “no.” Such a war, with no guarantees that it could be contained, would have unpredictable but potentially catastrophic consequences. The major protagonists in these disputes — the U.S., China and Japan — are respectively the world’s three largest economies, with a strong mutual interest in maintaining peace to boost their trade, growth, investment and jobs.…  Seguir leyendo »

When China ratified the United Nations law of the sea treaty in 1996, it was hailed as an important step toward stability and peaceful settlement of disputes in East Asia’s vast, valuable but conflict-riven offshore zone.

So the recent move by the Philippines to turn to the U.N. for a ruling on whether China’s sweeping claims to ownership and control over nearly all of the South China Sea in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia is in line with the 1982 treaty seemed like a perfectly law-abiding step.

But China’s Xinhua news agency said the Philippines’ referring the issue to a U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

When China destroyed one of its own satellites in space six years ago, it alarmed many other Asia-Pacific countries that have invested heavily in orbiting satellites for telecommunications, Earth observation and scientific research.

China's action caused particular concern in the United States, Japan, Australia, India and other nations that use satellites for defense purposes that can include voice and data communications, surveillance, precise navigation and guidance of bombs and missiles.

In 2008, just over a year after the Chinese test, the U.S. fired a modified ballistic missile defense rocket from a warship to shoot down a malfunctioning American spy satellite about 250 km above the Pacific Ocean.…  Seguir leyendo »