Category Archives: Nuclear

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.

 

A quarter of a century after the end of the cold war, the world faces a growing threat of nuclear conflict

“Although the world continues to comfort itself with the thought that mutually assured destruction is unlikely, the risk that somebody somewhere will use a nuclear weapon is growing apace.

After the end of the cold war the world clutched at the idea that nuclear annihilation was off the table. When Barack Obama, speaking in Prague in 2009, backed the aim to rid the world of nuclear weapons, he was treated not as a peacenik but as a statesman. Today his ambition seems a fantasy. Although the world continues to comfort itself with the thought that mutually assured destruction is unlikely, the risk that somebody somewhere will use a nuclear weapon is growing apace.

Just rhetoric, you may say. But the murder of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader, on the Kremlin’s doorstep on February 27th was only the latest sign that Mr Putin’s Russia is heading into the geopolitical badlands (see article). Resentful, nationalistic and violent, it wants to rewrite the Western norms that underpin the status quo. First in Georgia and now in Ukraine, Russia has shown it will escalate to extremes to assert its hold over its neighbours and convince the West that intervention is pointless. Even if Mr Putin is bluffing about nuclear weapons (and there is no reason to think he is), any nationalist leader who comes after him could be even more dangerous.

Towards midnight

China poses a more distant threat, but an unignorable one. Although Sino-American relations hardly look like the cold war, China seems destined to challenge the United States for supremacy in large parts of Asia; its military spending is growing by 10% or more a year. Nuclear expansion is designed to give China a chance to retaliate using a “second strike”, should America attempt to destroy its arsenal. Yet the two barely talk about nuclear contingencies—and a crisis over, say, Taiwan could escalate alarmingly. In addition Japan, seeing China’s conventional military strength, may feel it can no longer rely on America for protection. If so, Japan and South Korea could go for the bomb—creating, with North Korea, another petrifying regional stand-off.

Nuclear weapons: The new nuclear age | The Economist

Well, it appears that a few people are starting to wake up. There is probably not much time left to sleep. There is western tension with Russia, China and Iran. Effectively, regions surrounding Russia and China are at a tipping point where it won’t take a lot to start a war. And Israel is threatening to take on Iran. How long can it be before something happens? I am wondering if we will make it to the end of Obama’s term in office – January 20, 2017.

NATO’s Nuclear Nightmare over Ukraine | RealClearDefense

… While it’s true the Russians haven’t employed nuclear weapons, they are already on the table as a means of coercion. As Dr. Matthew Kroenig of Georgetown University argued in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing recently, “The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is very much a nuclear crisis.” While the U.S. has made great pains to marginalize nuclear weapons in its strategy, over the past two decades Russia has moved nuclear weapons front and center to its national strategy. Not only do Russia’s national leaders, including Putin himself, imply or sometimes explicitly threaten to employ nuclear weapons, the military conducts exercises showing just how it would do it. Russian foreign minister Lavrov, even stated that Russia had the “right” to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea.

The Russians hold to a theory that by employing “tactical nuclear weapons” that is, ones that will incur limited damage, as opposed to total destruction, the enemy (i.e. NATO), would immediately sue for peace, deeming any further conventional fight not with the cost. Ambassador Robert Joseph explained at a recent conference that, “Russia’s doctrine assumes an asymmetry of interests and a lack of willingness on the part of the enemy to risk nuclear war.” Moscow may calculate that it wants to put an end to NATO more than the alliance, including the U.S., wants to engage in a retaliatory strike. The Russians are surely wrong about this, and that means a quickly escalating catastrophic war. And to be sure, Russia has a great number more of these lower yield battlefield nuclear weapons than what the U.S. has—some estimate as many as ten times as many. This is why the number and type of nuclear weapons the U.S possess matters and matters greatly.

NATO’s Nuclear Nightmare over Ukraine | RealClearDefense

Is America’s Nuclear Arsenal Dying? | RealClearDefense

As Russia and other nations around the world flex their “nuclear muscles,” when it comes to the United States, maintaining a credible nuclear force is certainly a tough task. Challenges include: declining research, development and acquisition budgets; uncertain prospects for modernization, and an American public that lacks a clear understanding how nuclear weapons contribute to national security.

The U.S. nuclear force has prevented a great power war for seven decades. Yet the commitment to maintain a credible nuclear force appears shaky.

That is certainly not the case in competitor nations such as Russia, China and North Korea. While sanctions and low oil prices have crippled Russia’s economy, the Kremlin is still doggedly spending billions of dollars on modernizing its strategic rocket forces. Washington’s lack of commitment takes a toll on more than investment. It does not go unnoticed by the men and women who man the nation’s nuclear submarines, bombers, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). That only makes executing a nuclear mission more difficult, both practically and morally.

Is America’s Nuclear Arsenal Dying? | RealClearDefense

Iran says accelerating nuclear progress | The Times of Israel

According to a report by the semi-official Fars news agency, Rouhani said Iran has made “highly important progress in the nuclear field,” but that such advancements have been eclipsed by the ongoing nuclear negotiations with world powers.

“We don’t and will not take permission from anyone to make progress in science and knowledge,” the president said, adding, perhaps in a veiled reference to Israel’s objection to what it considers Iran’s drive to develop nuclear weapons, that Tehran would continue to prove its enemies’ claims false.

Iran says accelerating nuclear progress | The Times of Israel

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The RADTriage Radiation Detector is a U.S. Military-grade personal dosimeter that instantly detects radiation exposure in the event of a dirty bomb, nuclear reactor accident such as Fukushima and Chernobyl and other sources of radiation. This always-on wallet card/badge radiation detector does not require batteries or calibration. The sensor strip instantly turns darker when it detects harmful levels of radiation. The latest version, Model 20 (this model), begins alerting at 20 mSv. This product was recently extensively tested –along with other dosimeters over a period of nearly 2 years ( 2011-2013 ) by the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMOD). IMOD selected our dosimeter and we have just received the first order for 8,000 RADTriage with VLLD (visual lower limit detection) of 50 mSv.

Amazon.com: RADTriage 20 Personal Radiation Detector for wallet or pocket

Vladimir Putin’s war chiefs ‘could go nuclear’ – UK defence bosses have warned – Mirror Online

“This is the most serious crisis to have faced Europe, arguably, since the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. There is a threat of total war.”

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has warned that Russia was increasingly trigger happy about using its nuclear weapons.

Mr Fallon spoke out as Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande arrived in Moscow for crunch talks on the crisis in Ukraine.

The Defence Secretary said Britain must update its nuclear arsenal in response to Russia’s war-mongering.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, he said the Kremlin’s military planners may have “lowered the threshold” for the use of nuclear weapons.

Vladimir Putin’s war chiefs ‘could go nuclear’ – UK defence bosses have warned – Mirror Online