Category Archives: Nuclear

Saudi Arabia Promises to Match Iran in Nuclear Capability – NYTimes.com

When President Obama began making the case for a deal with Iran that would delay its ability to assemble an atomic weapon, his first argument was that a nuclear-armed Iran would set off a “free-for-all” of proliferation in the Arab world. “It is almost certain that other players in the region would feel it necessary to get their own nuclear weapons,” he said in 2012.

Now, as he gathered Arab leaders over dinner at the White House on Wednesday and prepared to meet with them at Camp David on Thursday, he faced a perverse consequence: Saudi Arabia and many of the smaller Arab states are now vowing to match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is permitted to retain.

Saudi Arabia Promises to Match Iran in Nuclear Capability – NYTimes.com

Showdown: US Slams Russia over Nuclear War Threats | The National Interest Blog

Gottemoeller’s comments come on the heels of another report that former Russian military officials have told their American counterparts that Moscow would consider using nuclear weapons over disputes involving Ukraine and the Baltics.

Specifically, The London Times reported that during a “high-level meeting” between former U.S. and Russia security chiefs last month, the Russian side said that Putin would consider “a spectrum of responses from nuclear to non-military” if NATO continues to build-up its forces in the Baltic states. They also said there was three flashpoints that could lead to a possible nuclear showdown between the former Cold War adversaries: Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and the Baltic States. According to the report, the former security chiefs had been briefed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before the meeting.

Showdown: US Slams Russia over Nuclear War Threats | The National Interest Blog

China’s Nuclear Warning – WSJ

“Twenty years after an Iran-style deal, North Korea has 20 bombs.”

Even China is now raising flags about nuclear proliferation. Beijing helped Pakistan get the bomb in the 1980s and has been North Korea’s patron from one Dear Leader to the next. But in February Chinese officials warned a group of Americans that Pyongyang has many more nuclear warheads than previously believed: up to 20 already, perhaps 40 by next year.

The new Chinese assessment, reported Thursday by the Journal, is based on updated intelligence concerning North Korea’s ability to enrich uranium. The North Koreans had no such capability when they signed the 1994 Agreed Framework with the Clinton Administration, which required them to stop their nuclear-weapons efforts.

But Pyongyang cheated on that deal, not least by developing a uranium-enrichment program first acknowledged to the Bush Administration in 2002. The North Koreans tested their first bomb in 2006 and were later discovered to be building a secret nuclear facility in the Syrian desert, which was destroyed by Israeli warplanes in 2007. The Bush Administration rewarded this behavior with a new nuclear deal—which Pyongyang again violated by testing bombs in 2009 and 2013.

China’s Nuclear Warning – WSJ

China to Build New Nuke Plants in Iran | Washington Free Beacon

Iran announced that China has agreed to assist in the building of five new nuclear plants across the country, according to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI).

Iran plans to enlist the Chinese in the construction of five new nuclear plants similar in size and scope to the plant currently operating near Bushehr.

Iran’s insistence on building more nuclear power plants has become a key concern for critics of the Obama administration’s diplomacy with the Islamic Republic, as these nuclear structures could potentially be used to assist its nuclear weapons program.

The Obama administration has said in the past that the construction of light water reactors such as the one in Bushehr does not violate existing United Nations restrictions or the interim accord struck with the country in 2013.

China to Build New Nuke Plants in Iran | Washington Free Beacon

Fight Over Ukraine Darkens Future of Russia-U.S. Nuclear Arms Control | Business | The Moscow Times

Dr. Mark Schneider, an arms control negotiator who worked on New START, said engaging the Russians on further nuclear cuts is completely out of the question.

“The focus must be on deterrence, or we run the risk of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s first use of nuclear weapons with potential catastrophic consequences,” he said.

“I can’t read Putin’s mind, but I can read what he says and that scares me.”

According to Dr. Eugene Miasnikov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies, “Russia always considered the New START treaty a valuable instrument” since it does limit U.S. nuclear arms.

Russia isn’t interested in further cuts. Last month, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, who was part of the Russian New START negotiation team, said Russia “is satisfied with the current situation” with regard to strategic arms limitations.

Still, Moscow has problems with the treaty, namely that it doesn’t limit U.S. missile defense or prompt global strike weapons — a U.S. program to develop a new class of hypersonic non-nuclear missiles capable of destroying any target on the globe in under an hour.

Fight Over Ukraine Darkens Future of Russia-U.S. Nuclear Arms Control | Business | The Moscow Times

North Korea Advances Along The Nuclear Path: Washington Should Switch From Coercion to Engagement

North Korea continues along the nuclear path. A new report warns that Pyongyang could amass a nuclear arsenal as large as 100 weapons by 2020. With that many warheads the North would move from marginal local player to significant regional power in the same league as India, Israel, and Pakistan. Iran’s potential program, currently the subject of frenzied negotiation, suddenly looks much less threatening.

Washington has no realistic strategy to deal with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Some policymakers have advocated offensive military action, but that likely would trigger a war which would devastate South Korea. In contrast to Iran, U.S. presidents long ago stopped intoning that “all options” are on the table. The price of war simply would be too high.

North Korea Advances Along The Nuclear Path: Washington Should Switch From Coercion to Engagement

Showdown in Lausanne: Iran nuclear talks enter their final stretch | World news | The Guardian

Meanwhile, however, time is running politically. Congress gave the Obama administration until March 24 before passing new sanctions. The White House probably has a little longer. Congress goes into recess three days after that deadline until April 13. But when the Republican majority comes back they will surely be in an combative mood, and emboldened by the victory of their closest foreign ally, Binyamin Netanyahu, defying expectations and the polls. If there is no deal by mid-April, Congress will unleash new sanctions and the window for talks could close definitively.

Even if there is a framework deal here, it will come under withering fire from Netanyahu and Congress. Its best hope of survival is for Obama to keep it alive in Washington until the end of his term in 22 months time. By then, it is hoped, it will have demonstrably defused tensions in the Gulf and kept Iran at least a year away from even the capacity to make a nuclear warhead. Obama’s successor, even a Republican, would not be able to throw all that away.

Showdown in Lausanne: Iran nuclear talks enter their final stretch | World news | The Guardian

Keith Payne: the ‘Nuclear Utopians’ Are Wrong – WSJ

Unilaterally reducing or eliminating America’s nuclear arsenal will not make the world a safer place.

Nuclear utopians and realists also perceive international relations differently. Utopians see an orderly system that functions predictably and increasingly amicably. Based on this perception they make two confident predictions.

The first is that U.S. deterrence will work reliably even with a relatively small nuclear arsenal, or even nuclear zero. In 2010 the authors of an essay in Foreign Affairs predicted confidently that a U.S. capability to retaliate “against only ten cities” would be adequate to deter Russia.

A second prediction is that differences between the U.S. and Russia or China will be resolved without regard to nuclear threats or capabilities. The 2012 report by the Global Zero Commission claimed that, “The risk of nuclear confrontation between the United States and either Russia or China belongs to the past, not the future.”

Nuclear realists have no confidence in these predictions. Before the nuclear age, great powers periodically came into intense conflict, and deterrence relying on conventional forces failed to prevent catastrophic wars. Since 1945, however, a powerful U.S. nuclear arsenal appears to have had a decisive effect in deterring the outbreak of World War III and containing regional crises and conflicts. Further deep U.S. reductions now would likely increase the risks of war, possibly including nuclear war.

Keith Payne: the ‘Nuclear Utopians’ Are Wrong – WSJ

The problem of nuclear utopians is a subset of another problem – the rise of modern liberalism. It is during the rise of modern liberalism that the nuclear utopians were created. They push the world into conforming with their model of how things should work. Anything that doesn’t actually conform is ignored or distorted to make it conform. And it works as follows:

Countries and cultures are really no better or worse than any other. That some countries have succeeded more than others is evidence of some nefarious behavior – they cheated. The US, Israel and Europe would fit into this category. Countries worse off are only behaving badly in reaction to those better off. Russia, China and Iran would fit into this category. Also, reactions are always proportional to the victimization. Therefore, Russia, China and Iran would never use nuclear weapons unless the other side used them first.

‘In 2010 the authors of an essay in Foreign Affairs predicted confidently that a U.S. capability to retaliate “against only ten cities” would be adequate to deter Russia.’

How can they be so confident?

Ah, the founding ideas behind modern liberalism give them that confidence. They know that countries only act proportionally. As long as America never uses nuclear weapons, then America’s enemies will never use them. In their hearts, they know America can unilaterally disarm its nuclear arsenal completely and still be safe. They only specify “ten cities” in order to get you to buy into their ideas. Once the nuclear arsenal is reduced to that level there will be calls to reduce the arsenal even further. Let there be no doubt – America is going to nuclear zero.

 

 

What Iran Won’t Say About the Bomb – NYTimes.com

OVER the course of a dozen years, ever since atomic sleuths from the United Nations began scrutinizing Iran’s nuclear program, hundreds of inspections have uncovered a hidden world of labs and sprawling factories, some ringed by barbed wire and antiaircraft guns, others camouflaged or buried deep underground. Yet despite that progress, Iran has so far managed to evade a central question — whether it knows how to build an atom bomb.

Warhead Checklist: 12 Issues, 11 Unaddressed

Atomic inspectors cite evidence that Iran has taken a dozen clandestine steps toward ?a?tom-bomb development. Iran denies this. It has declined to give technical replies to all but one of the specific allegations.

Under Discussion
1. DETONATORS
Fired electrically, detonators can initiate a nuclear blast as well as aid mining and explosive welding. Last year, Iran provided material on how it used them for civilian applications.

On the Table, but Not Addressed
2. EXPLOSIVE LENSES
The detonators ignite explosives that focus the shock wave inward to compress bomb fuel, making a supercritical mass. Iran is alleged to have experimented with such compression.

3. COMPUTER MODELING, CALCULATIONS
Computers can model how a bomb core releases subatomic particles in chain reactions. Iran is alleged to have modeled these and calculated the explosive force.

Never Discussed
4. NEUTRON INITIATOR
A spark plug at the core of some atom bombs, when compressed, fires bursts of subatomic neutrons that help initiate the chain reactions. Iran is alleged to have worked on a possible spark-plug design.

5. URANIUM-235 METAL CORE
Uranium purified in factories gets turned into metal for casting and machining into bomb cores. Iran is alleged to have explored building such components.

6. BOMB-FIRING TEST
The underground test of an atom bomb requires long cables that carry high voltage to fire the sphere of detonators. Iran is alleged to have studied long-distance firing.

7. FUSING, ARMING AND FIRING SYSTEM
A complex system atop a missile arms and fires an atom bomb when it reaches the intended target. Iran is alleged to have worked on a firing system.?

8. RE-ENTRY VEHICLE ON SHAHAB-3 MISSILE
A nose cone atop a missile shields the bomb during fiery re-entry through the earth’s atmosphere. Iran is alleged to have worked on fitting a spherical payload into a re-entry vehicle.

9. FUEL COMPRESSION TEST
Experiments with a mock core make sure the explosive compression of bomb fuel is highly uniform. Iran is alleged to have made and tested mock components.

10. PROGRAM MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE
Atomic design, manufacturing and testing require strong coordination and quality control. Iran is alleged to have formed such executive and administrative teams.

11. PROCUREMENT ACTIVITIES
Buyers acquire a range of devices, raw materials, specialty items and training needed for bomb development. Iran is alleged to have used ostensibly private companies as procurement cover.

12. COVERT ACQUISITION OF BOMB FUEL
The Nonproliferation Treaty forbids secret work on the acquisition of bombs. Iran, a signatory, is alleged to have once formed undisclosed programs for making bomb fuel.

Source: International Atomic Energy Agency

What Iran Won’t Say About the Bomb – NYTimes.com

The threat of nuclear war is higher than at any time in the past 25 years – Business Insider

The thought of “nuclear combat — toe-to-toe with the Russkies,” as Major Kong put it in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr Strangelove,” feels like a return to the cold war. But this is different. In the cold war the two sides were broadly committed to international stability, with nuclear weapons seen as a way to preserve, rather than challenge, the status quo. This did not mean there were no risks — things could quite easily have gone terribly wrong by accident or design, and the mutual interest in stability could have waned. But both American and Soviet leaders showed themselves highly risk-averse when it came to nuclear weapons. Protocols such as the use of the “hot line” evolved to defuse and manage crises, and great care was taken to prevent the possibility of accidental or unauthorised launch. The development of “second-strike” nuclear forces, which could guarantee a response even after the sneakiest of sneak attacks, bolstered stability.

The new nuclear age is built on shakier foundations. Although there are fewer nuclear weapons than at the height of the cold war, the possibility of some of them being used is higher and growing. That increasing possibility feeds the likelihood of more countries choosing the nuclear option, which in turn increases the sense of instability.

Many of the factors that made deterrence work in the cold war are now weakened or absent. One is the overarching acceptance of strategic stability. Some of today’s nuclear powers want to challenge the existing order, either regionally or globally. Both China and Russia are dissatisfied with what they see as a rules-based international order created for and dominated by the West. There are disputed borders with nukes on both sides between India and both China and Pakistan.

The threat of nuclear war is higher than at any time in the past 25 years – Business Insider

The problem here is that the progression into the future is not linear, even though it feels like it is. No, we move into the future in an exponential manner where the past heavily influences the future. This feedback loop process means long periods of stability will be followed by a crash. Now a few people are finally noticing that the problem called nuclear war is raising its head again. Only now the problem is much worse because the vast majority of people in the West still do not believe a nuclear war is possible. So the West is poorly prepared for one. And that means the probability of such an event is a lot higher than most people think.

Think of a nuclear war like you would a (big) avalanche. What is the probability of a (big) avalanche? Well, that depends on how much snow has fallen. What if snow falls the same amount each day? Then you would just need to know the time since the last big avalanche if you can’t take a direct measurement. You need to know time of stability. And from history you need to know how often the mountain has avalanches. But the probability of an avalanche lies near 0% for a very long time. After a long time the probability of avalanche then starts to go from near 0% to near 100% fairly rapidly. After a long period of stability, and noticing that an avalanche is becoming a threat, then the mountain has entered the period of rapid run up to avalanche where the probability goes from 0% to near 100%.

The primary reason you should be really worried about a nuclear war is the amount of time that has passed since World War II – 70 years. This time is the most important factor in predicting the next crisis. For the US, a big crisis happens about 60 to 80 years since the last big crisis. So the 70 years suggests that time is just about up. Both 9/11 and the 2008 crash also suggest that time is just about up. Big shocks can’t happen without big problems present. During this 70 years most of the US has fallen asleep concerning nuclear war. And that is a big problem.