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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

China concerned at the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal

China warns North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is expanding, report says, Guardian, 23 Apr 15 
Chinese experts believe their communist ally may already have an arsenal of 20 warheads and the enrichment capacity to double that figure by next year. 
Chinese nuclear experts believe North Korea may already have a nuclear arsenal of 20 warheads and the uranium enrichment capacity to double that figure by next year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The estimate, which the Journal said was relayed to US nuclear specialists in a closed-door meeting in February, is significantly higher than any previously known Chinese assessment.

It also exceeds recent estimates by US experts which put the North’s current arsenal at between 10 and 16 nuclear weapons.

A leading expert on North Korea’s nuclear programme, Siegfried Hecker, who attended the February meeting, said a sizeable North Korean stockpile would only compound the challenge the international community faces in persuading Pyongyang to decommission the weapons.

“The more they believe they have a fully functional nuclear arsenal and deterrent, the more difficult it’s going to be to walk them back from that,” Hecker told the Journal.

The Chinese estimate reflects growing concern in Beijing about the nuclear ambitions of its errant ally, and is the latest in a series of expert assessments that suggest Pyongyang is moving faster down the nuclear path than previously thought.

A recent report by US researchers warned that North Korea appeared poised to expand its nuclear program over the next five years and, in a worst case scenario, could possess 100 atomic arms by 2020……http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/23/china-warns-north-koreas-nuclear-arsenal-is-expanding-report-says

April 25, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Catholic Church strongly urges for nuclear weapons ban at UN treaty review conference

pray-radCatholics to press nuclear weapons ban at UN treaty review conference, Dennis Sadowski  Catholic News Service  |  Apr. 24, 2015  It was April 11, 1963, as the Catholic church was in the midst of the Second Vatican Council, that St. John XXIII issued his landmark social encyclical Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”) that included a call for a verifiable ban on nuclear weapons.

More than 50 years later, the Holy See continues to make the moral case for nuclear disarmament.

The Vatican’s most recent public comment came in December at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

“The time has come to embrace the abolition of nuclear weapons as an essential foundation of collective security,” the Vatican said in a paper titled “Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition” delivered to the conference.

In it, the church held firm to its stance that any use of nuclear weapons was immoral and argued that the time has come to abandon nuclear deterrence — the principle that such weapons might be used and that they exist to deter another country from using them. Previously, the Vatican conditionally accepted deterrence as “a step on the way toward progressive disarmament.”

But that has not happened, and Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, is likely to reiterate its call for total nuclear disarmament during the monthlong Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference opening April 27 at the United Nations….

“Look what the policy of deterrence means morally,” the bishop continued. “In order for deterrence to work, you have to intend to use it. What does that intention mean? That means you are willing to use an indiscriminate weapons to kill innocent people. Again, that is not morally acceptable.”……..

Pax Christi is among dozens of peace groups meeting and marching in New York in the days leading to the conference. Pax Christi also sent a statement to Catholic members of Congress signed by more than 1,200 people and organizations calling attention to the church’s stance. A copy of the Vienna statement and a letter from the Japanese bishops’ conference addressing nuclear weapons on the 70th anniversary of the use of atomic weapons at the end of World War II also were part of the package………………

Sr. Mary Ann McGivern, an NCR contributor and member of the Sisters of Loretto who served on her order’s Committee for Peace, joined the Pax Christi delegation. She attended the 2005 review conference.

McGivern told CNS her community has proposed that the U.S. enact a unilateral nuclear weapons ban.

“We’re saying that no matter what the rest of the world does, it’s time for the United States to set aside our nuclear weapons,” she said.

While it is unlikely that any proposal for quick action on a ban will find its way into the U.N. conference’s final report, McGivern said she hopes the idea will begin to percolate among the delegates.

“The only way real abhorrence against nuclear weapons develops,” she said, “is for people to gather, hear one another and take those ideas back home.” http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/catholics-press-nuclear-weapons-ban-un-treaty-review-conference

April 25, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear deal a good template for all countries, to reduce nuclear weapons proliferation

diplomacy-not-bombsCould Iran be the start?Ifpress.com  Erika Simpson,  Postmedia Network Friday, April 17, 2015 Japan’s prime minister during the Fukushima catastrophe, Naoto Kan, delivered a message at the World Uranium Symposium in Quebec City in mid-April that it is time for the world to put an end to nuclear power. The symposium, held for the first time in Canada, tackled uranium issues, ranging from mining to fuel for nuclear reactors to explosive material for nuclear weapons.

This year will be a key year for debating the future of uranium, nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons. It’s the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it’s time again for the UN conference that reviews the nuclear non-proliferation treaty every five years.

But the most high-profile nuclear issue is the interim accord between Iran and six world powers to restrict Iran’s development of nuclear power.

In the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, one fatal flaw is the quid pro quo deal in which the nuclear haves agreed to provide uranium and nuclear energy to the have-nots, which would continue to be non-nuclear, and in exchange the haves promised to get rid of their nuclear arsenals and move toward general disarmament. Fifty years ago, diplomats should have foreseen the problems with such discriminatory arrangements.

Another problem with the treaty stems from oil-rich countries, like Iran, and poor countries, like India and Pakistan, seeking to build nuclear power plants for reasons ranging from abundant energy and technological prestige to their not-so-secret desire to build nuclear weapons.

But by agreeing in the interim accord to enrich uranium to 3.7% only, Iran will forego the possibility of producing weapons-grade and weapons-usable uranium. Iran also promises to take two-thirds of its centrifuges out of service — the most-advanced centrifuges needed to make highly-enriched uranium.

In fact, India, Israel, Pakistan and many other countries will have nuclear programs that are far more extensive and dangerous than Iran’s. Moreover, all countries with nuclear power and nuclear weapons will continue to produce hundreds of thousands of tons of nuclear waste that need human stewardship for many generations into the future.

If the fundamentals of the Iranian deal could be treated as a template for all countries, the international community would be well on its way to choking off the supply of weapons-usable material everywhere.

But the Iran deal will be opposed by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Republicans in the U.S. Congress and the remaining strong supporters of Israel in the Harper cabinet. In a rare bit of bipartisan compromise, the U.S. Congress and the Senate foreign relations committee amended language that threatened to give U.S. hawks a chance to derail the talks and raise the risk of military strikes.

All the proliferators that refuse to sign the non-proliferation treaty and accept the strictest safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency — like Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan — must be sanctioned, not just Iran………

Within the existing framework of international law, the proposed Iranian deal is as good as we can expect.

The entire nuclear regime, especially its cornerstone treaty, needs much stronger debate and qualified support.

The good news is there are many regional nuclear-weapon-free treaties around the world, covering large swaths of Central and Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia. Each commits the states not to deploy, construct, receive or test nuclear weapons on its territory. Already 113 nations — a majority of UN members — have signed or ratified these treaties, and 50% of the world’s land area is governed by them.

There are even opportunities here in Canada to dismantle the nuclear option……..

Erika Simpson was a speaker at the World Uranium Symposium and will be a speaker at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference. She is an associate professor of international relations at Western University and the author of the book NATO and the Bomb. http://www.lfpress.com/2015/04/17/could-iran-be-the-start

April 23, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cold war nuclear strategy is obsolete – USA and Russia should scrap these risky policies

atomic-bomb-lHow to Avert a Nuclear War, NYT,  By JAMES E. CARTWRIGHT and VLADIMIR DVORKINAPRIL 19, 2015 We find ourselves in an increasingly risky strategic environment. The Ukrainian crisis has threatened the stability of relations between Russiaand the West, including the nuclear dimension — as became apparent last month when it was reported that Russian defense officials had advised President Vladimir V. Putin to consider placing Russia’s nuclear arsenal on alert during last year’s crisis in Crimea.

Diplomatic efforts have done little to ease the new nuclear tension. This makes it all the more critical for Russia and the United States to talk, to relieve the pressures to “use or lose” nuclear forces during a crisis and minimize the risk of a mistaken launch.

The fact is that we are still living with the nuclear-strike doctrine of the Cold War, which dictated three strategic options: first strike, launch on warning and post-attack retaliation. There is no reason to believe that Russia and the United States have discarded these options, as long as the architecture of “mutually assured destruction” remains intact.

For either side, the decision to launch on warning — in an attempt to fire one’s nuclear missiles before they are destroyed — would be made on the basis of information from early-warning satellites and ground radar. Given the 15- to 30-minute flight times of strategic missiles, a decision to launch after an alert of an apparent attack must be made in minutes.

This is therefore the riskiest scenario, since provocations or malfunctions can trigger a global catastrophe. Since computer-based information systems have been in place, the likelihood of such errors has been minimized. But the emergence of cyberwarfare threats has increased the potential for false alerts in early-warning systems. The possibility of an error cannot be ruled out………..

In theory, no sensible head of state would authorize a launch-on-warning strike after receiving information that just one missile, or a small number of missiles, were inbound, on the assumption that this was not an intentional, full-scale attack. But the launch-on-warning doctrine still rules in both Russia and the United States — in which case the risk, however small, of cataclysmic error remains.

This risk should motivate the presidents of Russia and the United States to decide in tandem to eliminate the launch-on-warning concept from their nuclear strategies. Continue reading

April 20, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Escalating danger in Indian Ocean as China to sell submarines to Pakistan

Xi’s Submarine Sale Raises Indian Ocean Nuclear Clash Risk Bloombeg 17 Apr 15 Soon a brash naval captain may pose a bigger risk of triggering a nuclear crisis between India and Pakistan than a religious terrorist.

China is likely to conclude a sale of eight conventional submarines during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Islamabad on April 20, more than doubling Pakistan’s fleet. Analysts say it may be the first step in helping Pakistan gain the ability to fire nuclear weapons at sea, keeping pace with rival India.

The submarine sale will add to tensions in regional waters as Prime Minister Narendra Modi bulks up India’s navy to prevent China from gaining a foothold in the area. Xi’s visit, the first by a Chinese head of state to Pakistan since 2006, will also outline investments in gas pipelines, highways and rail links that will give China access to the Arabian Sea, in part through territory claimed by India.

 While Pakistan’s efforts are still “embryonic,” its naval commanders want to follow Israel’s example of equipping conventional submarines with nuclear-tipped missiles, Iskander Rehman of the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based policy research group, said in a March 9 report. Nuclear weapons at sea pose a greater risk than stationary land-based arsenals because they are submerged and harder to detect.

“We are now entering a new era whereby naval interactions will occur under a perpetual nuclear shadow,” Rehman said by phone. “My main concern is less the risk of nuclear terrorism, but rather the dangers tied to naval friction within a newly nuclearized maritime domain.”…….http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-16/xi-s-submarine-sale-raises-risk-of-nuclear-clash-in-indian-ocean

April 18, 2015 Posted by | weapons and war | Leave a comment

Increased risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, with Canada-India uranium sales deal

Canada-India uranium deal will spur proliferation, experts warn Arms control experts say Canada sends the wrong signal to countries that play by the rules By Evan Dyer, CBC News 17 Apr 15 India test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile Thursday, just hours after signing a deal to buy 3,000 tons of Canadian uranium.The Agni-III missile, which has a range of over 3,000 kilometres, was fired from the Indian army’s test range on Wheeler Island in the Bay of Bengal. India declared the test a success…….While the terms of this week’s deal are not public, the nuclear cooperation agreement, first announced in 2010 and finalized in 2013, includes assurances that India use Canadian material for civilian purposes only……..

some nuclear proliferation experts say India has been able to make such a deal without abiding by the rules set out for most other countries that abide by the international non-proliferation regime. And they warn that countries the West has been attempting to bring into the rules-based system — such as Iran — will be less inclined to submit when they see the rules don’t apply to India.

Canadian technology used to gain bomb…..Of particular concern to the rest of the world was that India developed its bomb using nuclear material from a reactor it had acquired from Canada ostensibly for civilian use……..

Some experts fear Canada appears to be selling India uranium with fewer controls and conditions than it typically demands from NNPT member countries that do play by the rules.

“Normally there’s some sort of tracking and accounting system so that Canada would be receiving information from India very specifically about what Canada-sourced material is being used for,” says Trevor Findlay, a senior research fellow at Harvard University’s Managing the Atom project.

“In this case, because the agreement [to buy the uranium] is secret, we have no idea whether that’s in place, and it probably isn’t because the Indians have been pushing against that,” he told The Current.

Findlay and other experts warn that the special treatment for India shows other governments a country can ignore the rules, build the bomb, tough it out for a few decades and emerge on the other side as an accepted nuclear weapons power.

Already, Pakistan says the deals give India a strategic advantage, and Pakistan has blocked preliminary talks on the most important arms control initiative in years: a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty that would ban future production of weapons-grade material.http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-india-uranium-deal-will-spur-proliferation-experts-warn-1.3036540

April 18, 2015 Posted by | Canada, India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA still complies with New START plan – has cut nuclear warheads

U.S. Cuts Nuclear Warhead Levels In compliance with New START, U.S. now has 1,597 treaty warheads; Russia, 1,582 Washington Free Beacon AP BY: Bill Gertz  April 16,
Despite nuclear saber-rattling by Moscow, U.S. nuclear forces are close to reaching warhead, missile, and bomber numerical cuts required under the 2010 New START arms treaty, a senior Pentagon official told Congress on Wednesday.

U.S. nuclear warheads counted under the treaty with Russia were reduced from 1,642 to 1,597 between Sept. 1 and March 1, said Robert Scher, assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities.

Russian nuclear warheads were cut from 1,632 to 1,582 during the same period, Scher told the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee in prepared testimony.

The treaty requires both nations to reduce their deployed strategic warhead arsenals to 1,550 by February 2018.

For land-based and sea-based missiles and bombers, U.S. forces were reduced from 912 to 898, and Russian missiles and bombers were cut from 911 to 890.

The treaty limit for those weapons is 800 strategic delivery vehicles by 2018.

Scher said the reductions continued despite “serious concerns” over souring U.S.-Russia relations………http://freebeacon.com/national-security/u-s-cuts-nuclear-warhead-levels/

April 17, 2015 Posted by | weapons and war | Leave a comment

Utah Radiation Control Board insists on public input to review of depleted uranium waste plan

Utah Radiation Control Board insists depleted uranium hearings go on By BRIAN MAFFLY | | The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Apr 15  EnergySolutions wants to put the process on hold after state faulted its proposal to accept radioactive waste. Utah Radiation Control Board members Tuesday pushed back against EnergySolutions’ request to delay a public review of the company’s plans to bury depleted uranium in Tooele County.

Board members told company executives they want to move forward with a public process that will culminate this summer with a decision whether to accept the nation’s 700,000-metric-ton stockpile of radioactive waste that is low-level now, but becomes increasingly hotter over the next 2 million years.

“This literally is of national interest, and we keep punting it down the road,” said radiation board chairman Peter Jenkins. “It is time to get additional opinions on it.”

On Monday the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released a long-anticipated safety evaluation of EnergySolution’s plan to bury the waste at its Clive landfill 80 miles west of Salt Lake City……..

Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the enrichment process required to produce fissionable material for nuclear bombs and fuel. The nation’s stockpile of the waste is currently stored at three federal sites, in Kentucky, Ohio and South Carolina.

EnergySolutions proposes burying most of the waste in an 80-acre, west desert landfill cell, covering 55-gallon barrels of the stuff with concrete, clay and rocks.

Meanwhile, 5,800 drums already have been shipped to Clive from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River, S.C. site. After the state blocked further shipments, those barrels were placed in a metal warehouse in Clive.

EnergySolutions also has buried 49,000 tons of depleted uranium under previous disposal contracts………

Eight technical issues remain unresolved, including questions about frost damage, infiltration, evaporation and erosion of the cell that would hold the depleted uranium, as well as how the waste could affect the environment in “deep time” — tens of thousands of years from now. http://www.sltrib.com/home/2399963-155/utah-radiation-control-board-insists-depleted

April 15, 2015 Posted by | depleted uranium, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Fears of a nuclear Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) cause Pentagon to re-open Cheyenne mountain bunker

EMP Nuclear Attack Fears Have US Reopen Cheyenne Mountain, ARUTZ SHEVA Israel International News, By Mark Langfan 4/11/2015, Days after Iran deal, Pentagon acts fearing nuclear missile attack that would burn out America’s electronic-based defenses. The Pentagon has decided to reopen the Cheyenne Mountain Air Defense facility, which housed the heart of America’s air and missile defense of North America. The facility had been mothballed in a “cost-saving” move in 2006.

Last week, Admiral William Gortney, head of US NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and US Northern Command, reversed that decision and announced the Pentagon was spending an opening ante of $700 million to oversee reactivation of the Cheyenne mountain-embedded facility.

The reason – the Pentagon’s fears of a nuclear Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack by a missile that would burn out America’s overly-dependent defense, which is based on modern electronics.

US NORAD and US Northern Command aren’t just acronyms. They represent the last-ditch American defense of the continental United States homeland. NORAD originally stood for North America Air Defense Command, but now stands for North American Aerospace Command. US Northern Command is the area-specific designation of the US military command that is responsible for the continental United States homeland.

Given the current US military fear of an inter-continental ballistic (ICBM) missile attack with an EMP nuclear-device, Admiral Gortney explained that “because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain’s built, it’s EMP-hardened. And so, there’s a lot of movement [in the Pentagon] to put [military] capability into Cheyenne Mountain and to be able to communicate in there.”

In early 2013, this author warned against a similar Iranian “Fatwa-compliant” EMP attack against Saudi Arabia, and a North Korea EMP attack against South Korea.

In an even more startling admission, Admiral Gortney revealed that his “primary concern” was whether the Pentagon was “going to have the space inside the [Cheyenne] mountain for everybody who wants to move in there, and I’m not at liberty to discuss who’s moving in there.”

The Cheyenne mountain bunker is a half-acre cavern that was carved into a mountain in the 1960s that was originally designed to withstand a Soviet nuclear attack. During the Cold War, the United States feared a Soviet nuclear attack scenario that would feature an opening Soviet “EMP decapitation” nuclear attack.

Such a nuclear attack was not the launch of a massive Soviet nuclear first-strike against American cities, but instead, a first-strike Soviet “EMP decapitation” attack that would explode a nuclear device high-above the United States, burning out all of America’s command and control communication systems, and thus severing America’s President from being able to order the US military to retaliate.

By first electronically destroying America’s communications systems, the Soviets would thus have “decapitated” the US’s ability to respond to a secondary more massive follow-on Soviet nuclear attack on American cities.

Thus, a successful Soviet nuclear EMP attack on the US would have “trumped” the concept of MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction, because America would have been unable to retaliate and destroy the Soviet Union in response to a Soviet nuclear attack.

During the Cold War, airmen stationed inside the massive complex were poised to send warnings and firing codes that could trigger the launch of America’s vast web of nuclear missiles. Now, in light of the latest nuclear EMP dangers hanging over the United States, the US military, and the United States of America- itself, once again hopes to be protected by the mountains of Colorado…….http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/193883#.VSrsY9yUcnk

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Reference, safety, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Issues of anger and violence – in commander in charge of moving nuclear bombs

exclamation-SmFlag-USAHe Handles American Nuclear Weapons, Has ‘Anger’ Issues A federal agent who ferries nuclear bombs around the U.S. allegedly threatened to kill a co-worker and got into physical fights with others—and bosses weren’t informed, an audit finds.The Daily Beast By R. Jeffrey Smith, 10 Apr 15  “…….the commander of a nuclear courier squad based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee—where the uranium portions of H-bombs are fabricated, stored, and periodically moved to other federal sites—allegedly threatened to kill one of his colleagues two years ago, and senior officials did not learn about it for five months, according to a recent inspection report by the Department of Energy’s top auditor.

Moreover, the commander in question repeatedly engaged in related misconduct without more senior officials being promptly informed, the report said. “Each of the seven incidents” described by the commander’s colleagues during the auditor’s investigation “involved physical or verbal altercations,” the report said. The misconduct began as long as a decade ago, but it wasn’t reported up the chain of command……….

The report noted that on two other occasions, in 2004 and 2008, the commander got into physical altercations with couriers, according to the accounts of those who worked with him, but senior officials said these also were not properly reported.

The alleged misconduct is embarrassing for a group of military and special forces veterans that arguably performs one of the nation’s most sensitive tasks—securely transporting nuclear bombs and weapons-usable nuclear materials among several dozen government factories, storage sites, and military installations nationwide, such as missile and bomber bases and submarine ports.

The stated mission of the little known courier group, the Office of Secure Transportation—an entity within the department’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)—is to “defend, recapture, recover” the bombs or explosives they transport. ……This story is from The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C. To read more of their work on nationral security, go here or follow them on Twitter.….http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/10/he-handles-american-nuclear-weapons-has-anger-issues.html

April 11, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

No transparency in USA’s massive modernisation of nuclear weapons

nuclear-missile-readyUS wants nuclear transparency, but not for its own bombs, The National  March 29, 2015 Amid all of last week’s headlines parsing Iran’s nuclear infrastructure as the deadline for a potential deal with world powers drew near, it was easy to miss the item in the Science section of The New York Times. It was about the US hydrogen bomb programme.

The H-bomb, the paper reminded readers, is a thermonuclear device. Its destructive power is 1,000 times that of the bomb that instantly killed 80,000 people in Hiroshima in 1945. And it has long been a feature in the ­arsenals of nuclear-armed states.

The news peg was a memoir by one of the founders of the US H-bomb programme, Kenneth W Ford. But even though he cited publicly available material, US Department of Energy censors blocked the book.

Transparency, of course, has never been deemed a virtue in any nuclear weapons programme anywhere in the world. That said, Iran’s leaders might see the irony in being held to stringent transparency requirements while states with well-established nuclear-weapons capability are absolved of the equivalent accountability.

But the basic hypocrisy of the major world powers’ application of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is well-established. Five of the countries currently negotiating with Iran, which is an NPT signatory, are acknowledged to have nuclear weapons. The NPT requires signatories to submit their nuclear facilities to constant inspections to verify their commitment to refrain from building weapons. Meanwhile, the established nuclear weapons states are meant to negotiate their way to disarmament. But 45 years after they adopted the NPT, the established nuclear powers have not ended their addiction to nuclear weapons.

In that period, four non-signatories – India, Pakistan, Israel and South Africa – developed nuclear weapons, although post-apartheid South Africa signed the NPT and allowed the dismantling of its nukes. Meanwhile, a fifth country, North Korea, developed nuclear weapons after withdrawing from the NPT . So the negotiations with Iran are not aimed at keeping the Middle East free of nuclear weapons as much as to maintain America and Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region.

But the censoring of Ford’s book reveals a deeper peril in America’s national conversation about nuclear weapons – or, more accurately, the absence of a national conversation about nuclear weapons………

In April 2009, president Obama made a historic speech in Prague committing to pursue a “a world without nuclear weapons”and to reduce the number of warheads in the US arsenal. But he also pledged, in light of continued nuclear capability by rival powers, to ensure that the US maintains an “effective arsenal”.

That commitment has now translated, according to the budget he submitted to Congress last month, into a massive modernisation scheme, which would cost $348 billion (Dh 1.28 trillion) over the next 10 years and as much as $1 trillion over a 30-year period.

Still, don’t expect to see much public debate over just what the US is building, and the circumstances in which it might conceivably decide – once again – to destroy a civilian population centre in a matter of minutes.

The world would be a much safer place if, as the NPT intended, efforts to stop new countries acquiring nuclear weapons were matched by the attempt to hold accountable those that already have them.

Tony Karon teaches in the graduate programme at the New School in New York http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/us-wants-nuclear-transparency-but-not-for-its-own-bombs#page2

March 30, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Nuclear Naval Arms Race between India and Pakistan

India and Pakistan Locked in a Nuclear Naval Arms Race A new report provides a useful summary of the naval nuclear dynamics in the Indian Ocean. The Diplomat By Franz-Stefan Gady March 28, 2015 A while back, I reported on the murky detailssurrounding Pakistan’s sea-based nuclear deterrent. Much of it remains a mystery, including its future submarine force.

Conversely, the Indian Navy still does not have a capable ballistic missile with which to arm the INS Arihant – New Delhi’s only ballistic missile submarine (which only began sea trials in December). India’s submarine fleet is also experiencing difficulties in maintaining its readiness rate, which has dropped below 40 percent.

However, both India and Pakistan are set to continue to develop their naval nuclear forces, as a new report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace points out. Yet, this should not automatically be a cause for alarm, Iskander Rehman, the author of a newly released Carnegie policy paper, argues.

“By further institutionalizing relations between their navies and by insisting on stronger transparency with regard to naval nuclear developments, both countries may succeed in adding a greater degree of stability to what otherwise promises to be a dangerously volatile maritime environment,” he notes.

Rehman highlights a few other interesting points about the naval nuclear dynamics in the Indian Ocean:

  • India’s pursuit of a sea-based nuclear strike force is the next logical step in its quest for an assured retaliatory capability.
  • To enjoy an effective sea-based deterrent vis-à-vis China, India’s other prospective nuclear adversary, New Delhi has to develop larger SSBNs with greater missile carriage capacity and more powerful nuclear reactors.
  • Pakistan’s naval nuclear ambitions are fueled primarily by the sense of a growing conventional, rather than strategic, imbalance between New Delhi and Islamabad.
  • By dispersing low-yield nuclear weapons across a variety of naval platforms, Islamabad aims to acquire escalation dominance and greater strategic depth and to reduce the incentives for a preemptive strike on its nuclear assets.

Interestingly, Rehman also underlines that, “the submarine-based leg of India’s nuclear triad will have a major impact on the nation’s existing command-and-control arrangements.”…….http://thediplomat.com/2015/03/india-and-pakistan-locked-in-a-nuclear-naval-arms-race/

March 28, 2015 Posted by | India, Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia leaves way open to acquire nuclear weapons

Saudi Arabia says it won’t rule out building nuclear weapons, TKG News  March 27, 2015 Saudi Arabia will not rule out building or acquiring nuclear weapons, the country’s ambassador to the United States has indicated.

Asked whether Saudi Arabia would ever build nuclear weapons in an interview with US news channel CNN, Adel Al-Jubeir said the subject was “not something we would discuss publicly”. Pressed later on the subject he said: “This is not something that I can comment on, nor would I comment on.”

The ambassador’s reticence to rule out a military nuclear programme may reignite concerns that the autocratic monarchy has its eye on a nuclear arsenal.

Western intelligence agencies believe that the Saudi monarchy paid for up to 60% of Pakistan’s nuclear programme in return for the ability to buy warheads for itself at short notice, the Guardian newspaper reported in 2010.

The two countries maintain close relations and are sometimes said to have a special relationship; they currently have close military ties and conduct joint exercises.

The Saudi Arabian regime also already possesses medium-range ballistic missiles in the form of the Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force. In addition it has significant nuclear expertise in the form of a civilian nuclear programme of the kind Iran says it wants to develop.

In 2012 the Saudi Arabian government threatened to acquire nuclear weapons were neighbouring regional power Iran ever to do so……..http://www.tkgnews.com/saudi-arabia-says-it-wont-rule-out-building-nuclear-weapons/

March 28, 2015 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA plans for storage of the 5% of nuclear wastes that originate from defense programs

wastes-1Flag-USAU.S. to pursue storage for nuclear waste from defense programs, Japan Times, BLOOMBERG

 MAR 25, 2015 WASHINGTON – The Energy Department plans to build a storage site for high-level nuclear waste from U.S. weapons systems. Energy officials, who didn’t give a timeline for developing the repository, said they will start by identifying potential locations and gain local support for the project. President Barack Obama signed a memorandum Tuesday backing the department’s plans.

An administration official who requested anonymity to discuss the plan said building the storage site probably will face fewer obstacles than establishing a repository for waste from nuclear power plants.

That’s in part because U.S. defense programs produce about 5 percent of all nuclear waste, the official said. Waste from generating electricity accounts for 85 percent of the total…http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/25/world/u-s-pursue-storage-nuclear-waste-defense-programs/#.VRR7wfyUcnk

March 27, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Grave danger in Australia’s planned uranium sales deal with India

Australia and India face a graver test than cricket Against the backdrop of Australia and India squaring up in the World Cup cricket, the two nations now face a test with much graver consequences, write Dave Sweeney and Jim Green. SBS News, 26 Mar 15 When Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed a uranium deal with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last  September, he praised India’s “absolutely impeccable non-proliferation India-uranium1record”. This praise came despite the reality that India is actively expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal and its missile delivery capabilities.

Mr Abbott declined to answer serious questions about India’s nuclear weapons program or the inadequate safety standards in and inadequate regulation of its civil nuclear program. Instead, he offered a cricketing cliché, declaring that Australia and India trust each other on issues like uranium safeguards because of “the fundamentally ethical principle that every cricketer is supposed to assimilate – play by the rules and accept the umpire’s decision”.

Gaining comfort from clichés while ignoring inconvenient truths might work for those in Canberra and mining company boardrooms but it fails any real world test.

The proposed India uranium agreement is currently being considered by federal parliament’s treaties committee, and it has yet to be ratified by parliament. Submissions to the treaties committee have raised many serious concerns − and not just from the usual suspects.

Those raising concerns and objections include John Carlson, former Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office; Ron Walker, former Chair of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors; Prof. Lawrence Scheinman, former Assistant Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; Princeton University physicist Dr M.V. Ramana; and nuclear arms control expert Crispin Rovere.

The uranium agreement with India weakens Australia’s nuclear safeguards standards, increases the chances of Australian uranium finding its way into Indian weapons and would lead to further undermining of nuclear checks and balances. If the uranium agreement is approved there will be sustained pressure for Australia to apply equally inadequate standards to other uranium customer countries. As John Carlson notes in his submission: “If the Government does compromise Australia’s safeguards conditions, inevitably this will lead to other agreement partners asking for similar treatment.”

Mr Carlson’s critique carries particular weight given that for over two decades he was the head of Australia’s nuclear safeguards office……..http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/03/26/comment-australia-and-india-face-graver-test-cricket

March 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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