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USA’s super costly new bomb could ignite anew arms race

bomb B61-12Inside the Most Expensive Nuclear Bomb Ever Made http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/nuclear-weapon-obama-most-expensive-ever

Could America’s latest atomic weapon ignite a new arms race?

—By  and 

September/October 2015 issue Engineers at the United States’ nuclear weapons lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico,have spent the past few years designing and testing the B61-12, a high-tech addition to our nation’s atomic arsenal. Unlike the free-fall gravity bombs it will replace, the B61-12 is a guided nuclear bomb. A new tail kit assembly, made by Boeing, enables the bomb to hit targets far more precisely than its predecessors.
Engineers at the United States’ nuclear weapons lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico,have spent the past few years designing and testing the B61-12, a high-tech addition to our nation’s atomic arsenal. Unlike the free-fall gravity bombs it will replace, the B61-12 is a guided nuclear bomb. A new tail kit assembly, made by Boeing, enables the bomb to hit targets far more precisely than its predecessors.

Using “Dial-a-yield” technology, the bomb’s explosive force can be adjusted before launch from a high of 50,000 tons of TNT equivalent to a low of 300 tons—that’s 98 percentsmaller than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima 70 years ago.

Despite these innovations, the government doesn’t consider the B61-12 to be a new weapon but simply an upgrade. In the past, Congress has rejected funding for similar weapons, reasoning that more accurate, less powerful bombs were more likely to be used. In 2010, the Obama administrationannounced that it would not make any nuclear weapons with new capabilities. The White House and Pentagon insist that the B61-12 won’t violate that pledge.

The B61-12 could be deployed by the new generation of F-35 fighter jets, a prospect that worries Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists. “If the Russians put out a guided nuclear bomb on a stealthy fighter that could sneak through air defenses, would that add to the perception here that they were lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons?” he asks. “Absolutely.”

So far, most of the criticism of B61-12 has focused on its price tag. Once full production commences in 2020, the program will cost more than $11 billion for about 400 to 480 bombs—more than double the original estimate, making it the most expensive nuclear bomb ever built.

This story comes from our friends at Reveal. Read more of their coverage of the B61-12 and national security.

Len Ackland is a former newspaper reporter and editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine. He is the author of Making a Real Killing: Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West.

Burt Hubbard is the editorial director of I-News. His numerous awards include two prestigious Best of the West awards, a National Education Award for investigative reporting, and Reporter of the Year in Colorado.

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

All States must sign, ratify Nuclear Test Ban – call from United Nations

flag-UN-largeUN urges all States to sign, ratify Nuclear Test Ban as ‘critical step on road to nuclear-free world’ http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51744#.VeDS4SWqpHw 28 August 2015 – For the fifth International Day against Nuclear Tests, United NationsSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed voluntary moratoria on testing imposed by nuclear-armed states but stressed that these cannot substitute for a legally-binding treaty.

“The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is essential for the elimination of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Ban said in a message. “It is a legally-binding, verifiable means by which to constrain the quantitative and qualitative development of nuclear weapons.”

The UN General Assembly declared 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Testsin December 2009, adopting a unanimous resolution that calls for increasing awareness and education “about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.” 2010 marked the inaugural commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

Reminding the world that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the dawn of the nuclear age, the UN chief said 70 years ago in 1945, “the Trinity Test unleashed the power of more than 20,000 tons of TNT and precipitated over 2,000 additional nuclear tests.”

“Pristine environments and populated communities in Central Asia, North Africa, North America and the South Pacific were hit,” he said. “Many have never recovered from the resulting environmental, health and economic damage. Poisoned groundwater, cancer, leukaemia, radioactive fallout – these are among the poisonous legacies of nuclear testing.”

“The best way to honour the victims of past tests is to prevent any in the future,” he said, noting that two decades after the CTBT was negotiated, “the time has long past for its entry-into-force.” “I welcome the voluntary moratoria on testing imposed by nuclear-armed States,” Mr. Ban said “At the same time, I stress that these cannot substitute for a legally-binding Treaty.”

“On this International Day, I repeat my longstanding call on all remaining States to sign and ratify the Treaty – especially the eight necessary for its entry-into-force – as a critical step on the road to a nuclear-weapon-free world,” he said.

The General Assembly resolution that established the world day was initiated by Kazakhstan, together with a large number of sponsors and cosponsors with a view to commemorate the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991.

In his remarks, Assembly President Sam Kutesa said the recently held 2015 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had highlighted the stark reality of the increasing divisions between the States parties over the future of nuclear disarmament.

“It is now time to bridge the gap and work with more resolute political will to ensure that the NPT continues to remain the cornerstone of global security,” he declared.

Mr. Kutesa applauded the efforts of the Government of Kazakhstan, not only for initiating the International Day, but also for its continuing leadership in efforts to end nuclear weapons testing and to promote a world free of nuclear weapons.

He also commend the recent announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme, reached in Vienna between the international negotiators and Iran as an important step forward on this critical issue.

“I hope this agreement will benefit the non-proliferation regime and will lead to greater mutual understanding and cooperation on the many serious security challenges in the Middle East and beyond,” he said.

He also announced that on 10 September, he plans to convene an informal meeting of the General Assembly to mark the International Day under the overall theme ‘Towards Zero: Resolving the Contradictions.’

August 29, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pakistan building up nuclear weapons in fear of India’s nuclear weapons

atomic-bomb-lflag-pakistanPakistan stockpiling nuclear arms due to fears over India: U.S. report, National Post,  Tim Craig, Washington Post | August 28, 2015  SLAMABAD, Pakistan – A new report by two American think tanks asserts that Pakistan may be building 20 nuclear warheads annually and could have the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile within a decade.

The report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center concludes that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities because of fear of its arch-rival, India, also a nuclear power. The report, released Thursday, says Pakistan is far outpacing India in the development of nuclear warheads.

Analysts estimate that Pakistan has about 120 nuclear warheads, while India has about 100.

In the coming years, the report states, Pakistan’s advantage could grow dramatically because it has a large stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could be used to quickly produce low-yield nuclear devices. India has far larger stockpiles of plutonium, which is needed to produce high-yield warheads, than Pakistan does. But the report says India appears to be using most of its plutonium to produce domestic energy.

Pakistan could have at least 350 nuclear weapons within five to 10 years, the report concludes. Pakistan would then possess more nuclear weapons than any country except the United States and Russia, which each have thousands of the bombs.

“The growth path of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, enabled by existing infrastructure, goes well beyond the assurances of credible minimal deterrence provided by Pakistani officials and analysts after testing nuclear devices,” the report states.

Pakistani military officials were not available to comment on the report.

Western officials and analysts have struggled for years to get an accurate assessment of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. Several Pakistani analysts questioned the findings of the report, saying it is based on a faulty assumption that Pakistan is using all of its existing stockpiles of fissile material to make nuclear weapons.

Mansoor Ahmed, a nuclear expert at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, said he suspects that a more accurate assessment of Pakistan’s capability is that it can develop no more than 40 to 50 new warheads over the next several years.

Ahmed, however, doesn’t dispute that Pakistan’s military is seeking to expand its nuclear capabilities………

India and Pakistan, which have fought three major wars, became declared nuclear powers in 1998. Since then, Western leaders have been increasingly alarmed about the potential for a nuclear exchange between the rivals.

India has adopted a no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons. Pakistani leaders have repeatedly declined to take a similar stance, saying they might be forced to resort to using the weapons should India’s larger army ever invade Pakistan.

India views nuclear weapons “as a political tool, a prestige item, not something you use on a battlefield,” Krepon said. In Pakistan, he said, nuclear weapons are seen as “things you have to be willing to use” to guarantee stability.

But Krepon and Dalton said there is still time for Pakistan to slow down the development of its nuclear arsenal. If it does, they said, the international community should consider what steps it can take to recognize it as a responsible nuclear state.  http://news.nationalpost.com/news/world/pakistan-stockpiling-nuclear-arms-due-to-fears-over-india-u-s-report

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Claim that you can buy a nuclear warhead on the black market

You can buy a nuclear warhead on the black market http://www.businessinsider.com/you-can-buy-a-nuclear-warhead-on-the-black-market-2015-8?IR=T

Paul Szoldra, We Are The Mighty You can buy anything on the Bulgarian black market, including drugs, women, guns, and even fully functional nuclear warheads.

Fascinated by a French reporter’s ability to purchase a nuclear warhead on the black market, American journalists from Vice traveled to Bulgaria to meet the man who sold it, according to the video below.

They met with Ivanoff, a former military-intelligence colonel turned entrepreneur, whose business led him into the Saudi Arabian building industry.

Through his business dealings, Ivanoff met with terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden, who was interested in making a “dirty bomb” out of radioactive waste. Ivanoff suggested why not get the real thing, a nuclear warhead.

 

August 29, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA Defense experts give unwise advice on new generation nuclear weapons

Beware the Nuclear Experts, Defense News,  By James Doyle, an independent nuclear security specialist supported by the Ploughshares Fund and non-resident associate of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. August 20, 2015 In their July 13 Defense News commentary, Clark Murdock and Thomas Karako advocate a mobilization of America’s nuclear weapons industry to build a new generation of forward-deployed, low-yield nuclear weapons.  Their commentary is a summary of recommendations from their “Project Atom” study recently completed at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). America should think twice before heeding the advice of these so-called nuclear experts.

Nuclear deterrence is risky business to be sure, but Murdock and Karako’s recommendations suffer two fundamental flaws: They ignore the lessons of history and neglect a fundamental requirement of nuclear strategy. That requirement is the need to assess how America’s nuclear weapon deployments will be perceived by her potential nuclear-armed adversaries.

With respect to Murdock and Karako’s recommendation that the United States develop and deploy additional “tactical” nuclear weapons to its NATO allies, it is critical to remember that we have been down this road before. We know that deployments such as those proposed by the CSIS study can increase rather than decrease the risk of nuclear war by miscalculation.

In the early 1980s the United States deployed the stealthy nuclear ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) to the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Italy, and the highly accurate Pershing II nuclear ballistic missile to Germany.

These deployments, ostensibly in response to the Soviet Union’s deployment of its SS-20 nuclear ballistic missile, came at a time of high tensions between Washington and Moscow. The GLCMs and Pershing II together provided the US and NATO the theoretical potential to launch a nuclear strike destroying the Soviet political and military leadership in eight to 10 minutes from the time the Pershings were fired.

This led the Soviets to believe that they could only inflict similar nuclear damage on the West if they launched their nuclear forces immediately following the reception of warning of a NATO nuclear attack, but before the incoming NATO and American nuclear weapons detonated on their forces.

This need to “launch on warning” under extreme time constraints is the classic definition of lowering the nuclear threshold, not raising it, as is desired….

The idea of “controlling nuclear escalation” in Europe or any other nuclear-armed region was discredited decades ago. As the authors admit, “the distinction between strategic and nonstrategic nuclear weapons is long obsolete and any use of a nuclear weapon could have profound strategic effects.”………

The fundamental basis of nuclear strategy is not only to be prepared to retaliate to a nuclear attack but also to see the balance of nuclear forces through the eyes of your potential nuclear-armed adversaries.   In other words, in the nuclear age your adversaries’ sense of security becomes your concern.

No side prevails in a nuclear exchange. Both will suffer consequences that far outweigh any advantage that was sought by their initial use. Only the maintenance of a strategic dialog, serious efforts to reduce tensions and the establishment of operational and diplomatic means to resolve periodic crises can avoid nuclear war. These are the essential lessons of the Cold War……….

The real danger is when both sides lack an understanding of the mentality of the other. Deploying another generation of mini-nukes as urged by the “Project Atom” report without seeking to improve this understanding through diplomatic means will make nuclear war more likely. http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/commentary/2015/08/20/beware-nuclear-experts/32083997/

August 24, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear bombing of Japanese cities was not needed to end World War 2

text-historyThe Real Reason America Used Nuclear Weapons Against Japan. It Was Not To End the War Or Save Lives. True Activist.com  August 6, 2015 by True Activist Atomic Weapons Were Not Needed to End the War or Save Lives. By Washington’s Blog / globalresearch.ca

Like all Americans, I was taught that the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to end WWII and save both American and Japanese lives.

But most of the top American military officials at the time said otherwise.

The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey group, assigned by President Truman to study the air attacks on Japan, produced a report in July of 1946 that concluded (52-56):

Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

General (and later president) Dwight Eisenhower – then Supreme Commander of all Allied Forces, and the officer who created most of America’s WWII military plans for Europe and Japan – said:

The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.

Newsweek, 11/11/63, Ike on Ike

Eisenhower also noted (pg. 380):……….

Why Were Bombs Dropped on Populated Cities Without Military Value?

Even military officers who favored use of nuclear weapons mainly favored using them on unpopulated areas or Japanese military targets … not cities.

For example, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy Lewis Strauss proposed to Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal that a non-lethal demonstration of atomic weapons would be enough to convince the Japanese to surrender … and the Navy Secretary agreed (pg. 145, 325):……..

The Real Explanation?

History.com notes:

In the years since the two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, a number of historians have suggested that the weapons had a two-pronged objective …. It has been suggested that the second objective was to demonstrate the new weapon of mass destruction to the Soviet Union. By August 1945, relations between the Soviet Union and the United States had deteriorated badly. The Potsdam Conference between U.S. President Harry S. Truman, Russian leader Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill (before being replaced by Clement Attlee) ended just four days before the bombing of Hiroshima. The meeting was marked by recriminations and suspicion between the Americans and Soviets. Russian armies were occupying most of Eastern Europe. Truman and many of his advisers hoped that the U.S. atomic monopoly might offer diplomatic leverage with the Soviets. In this fashion, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan can be seen as the first shot of the Cold War.

New Scientist reported in 2005:……….http://www.trueactivist.com/the-real-reason-america-used-nuclear-weapons-against-japan-it-was-not-to-end-the-war-or-save-lives/

August 19, 2015 Posted by | history, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America feared that Israel would deploy nuclear weapons

New Documents Reveal US Fear of Israel Deploying Nuclear Weapons, Sputnik News 19 Aug 15  The US State Department disclosed part of its “Foreign Relations of the United States” series covering the 1969-1972 Arab-Israeli dispute, revealing interesting details about the Middle East.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Over 40 years ago US wanted to ensure that Israel would not seek nuclear weapons in order not to worsen fragile relations with the Arab neighbors, newly released US State Department documents unveiled.Washington’s 1969 objectives included persuading Tel Aviv to provide written assurances it would “stop production and will not deploy ‘Jericho’ missiles or any other nuclear-capable strategic missile.”……..http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20150818/1025889677.html

August 19, 2015 Posted by | Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America and Churchill planned huge pre emptive nuclear strike on USSR

atomic-bomb-lUnthinkable as it may seem, Churchill’s plan literally won the hearts and minds of US policy makers and military officials.

These “first-strike” plans developed by the Pentagon were aimed at destroying the USSR without any damage to the United States.

The 1949 Dropshot plan envisaged that the US would attack Soviet Russia and drop at least 300 nuclear bombs and 20,000 tons of conventional bombs on 200 targets in 100 urban areas, including Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg)

the Kennedy administration introduced significant changes to the plan, insisting that the US military should avoid targeting Soviet cities and had to focus on the rival’s nuclear forces alone.

 

text-historyPost WW2 World Order: US Planned to Wipe USSR Out by Massive Nuclear Strike, Sputnik News. Ekaterina Blinova. 15 Aug 15,  Was the US deterrence military doctrine aimed against the Soviet Union during the Cold War era really “defensive” and who actually started the nuclear arms race paranoia?

 Just weeks after the Second World War was over and Nazi Germany defeated Soviet Russia’s allies, the United States and Great Britain hastened to develop military plans aimed at dismantling the USSR and wiping out its cities with a massive nuclear strike.

Interestingly enough, then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had ordered the British Armed Forces’ Joint Planning Staff to develop a strategy targeting the USSR months before the end of the Second World War. The first edition of the plan was prepared on May 22, 1945. In accordance with the plan the invasion of Russia-held Europe by the Allied forces was scheduled on July 1, 1945.

Winston Churchill’s Operation Unthinkable The plan, dubbed Operation Unthinkable, stated that its primary goal was “to impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire. Even though ‘the will’ of these two countries may be defined as no more than a square deal for Poland, that does not necessarily limit the military commitment.” Continue reading

August 17, 2015 Posted by | history, Reference, UK, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Greg Boertje-Obed , Megan Rice & Michael Walli continue their fight for nuclear disarmament

Let us never repeat the sin of nuclear destruction Seventy years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we continue to call on all people to eliminate the evil of atomic weapons, Aljazeera America, August 9, by Greg Boertje-Obed , Megan Rice & Michael Walli

Rice,-Megan-etc

On July 28, 2012, we entered the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and shut it down in an act of non-violent resistance. We hung protest banners, poured human blood and spray-painted graffiti with messages of peace on the uranium facility’s walls. Calling ourselves the Transform Now Plowshares, we tried to stop the continuation of our country’s nuclear weapons production, because it is illegal, immoral and irrational. The reckless quest for enduring nuclear superiority has led our country and our world into a harrowing danger zone in which the threat of planetary annihilation hangs over all of creation.

Because of our action, Y12, a charter facility of the Manhattan Project from which the uranium that obliterated Hiroshima 70 years ago was issued, stopped its deadly work for more than two weeks. We were subsequently charged for property damage and sabotage, tried and sentenced to three to five years in federal prison. After two years imprisonment, an appellate court threw out our sabotage conviction this past May and ordered our resentencing. Our next court date is Sept. 15.

But the challenge to resist nuclear weapons is not ours alone. It is a shared responsibility, and a shared opportunity to secure a future for our human family and for Mother Earth.

Nuclear weapons remain poised to destroy all life on the planet, something no rational person would want. These weapons have been involved in many accidents, and we know they can be set off unintentionally. Despite these dangers, our government has continually updated plans to fight and supposedly win a war using nuclear weapons. Our soldiers repeatedly prepare and train to launch them. As a matter of longstanding international law, nuclear weapons, which are designed to unleash massive indiscriminate destruction on civilians, are weapons to commit war crimes. In fact, preparing to use such weapons is itself a war crime.

Simply mining for the uranium and assembling the weapons already kills many people. Workers in nuclear bomb factories regularly die from many types of cancer. The late scientist Rosalie Bertell estimated many years ago that 10 million people have died from the building and testing of nuclear weapons.

We need to be particularly concerned about nuclear weapons today because many nations are beginning the process of spending massive amounts of economic resources to upgrade and expand the death-dealing power of nuclear weaponry. The U.S. alone is preparing to spend a trillion dollars on this effort. This is unconscionable.

The great religious traditions teach that we ought to act on behalf of life and to intervene for the downtrodden and poor, the orphans and widows. The vast resources dedicated to killing and preparing to kill are a waste and a theft from those who are destitute and in need, and thus contradict that divine directive to cherish and serve life itself. In conscience, we must struggle against the massive forces of death if we are to fulfill our commitment to practice compassion and love for people, life and the planet.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu used to say to his opponents in the latter days of South Africa’s Apartheid: “Come over to the winning side.” We believe that the forces for life and love are stronger than the forces of death and destruction. We invite everyone to join the struggle in order to be on the side of hope and life, even though it often looks as if we are not on the winning side……….

Greg Boertje-Obed, a former U.S. Army officer, is a member of Veterans for Peace and co-founder of Transform Now Plowshares, a non-profit interfaith activist group that favors non-violent resistance to nuclear weapons.

Sister Megan Rice, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus since 1950, is a co-founder of Transform Now Plowshares, an interfaith pacifist group that favors non-violent resistance to nuclear weapons. She served as a teacher in the U.S. until 1962 and until 2003 in West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana). 

Michael Walli, a member of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington, D.C., is a co-founder of Transform Now Plowshares, a non-profit interfaith activist group that favors non-violent resistance to nuclear weapons. http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/8/let-us-never-repeat-the-sin-of-nuclear-destruction.html

August 10, 2015 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

29 top USA scientists back Obama’s ‘stringent’ deal with Iran

President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal gets the backing of 29 of the nation’s top scientists who call it ‘stringent’

  • The president’s Iran nuclear deal was praised by the scientists who include former White house advisers, Nobel laureates, and makers of nuclear arms
  • Their support will come as a welcome respite for the President who has faced stiff opposition from within his own party
  • Obama has been forced to try and reach undecided members of congress in a bid to push through the deal which has already divided opinion
  • But in the letter, all 29 scientists hailed the deal as ‘innovative’ and ‘stringent

By BELINDA ROBINSON FOR DAILYMAIL.COM, 10 Aug 15 ……….. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3191369/Obama-s-Iran-nuclear-gains-support-29-U-S-scientists.html#ixzz3iM9PyKj9

August 10, 2015 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA nuclear weapons numbers shrink, but nuclear weapons budget balloons out

weapons1Why the US nuclear budget grows while the stockpile of warheads shrinks
Obama’s plan to modernize and replace the nuclear arsenal will soon push nuclear weapons spending to Cold War levels
 Aljazeera America, August 7, 2015  by Michael Pizzi   @michaelwpizzi & Michael Keller   @mhkeller “……… American taxpayers will soon be spending more on nuclear weapons in real dollars than they have since the end of the Cold War. In October 2013, just four months after calling for yet another one-third reduction in the stockpile, President Barack Obama announced plans to “modernize” the entire nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years, arguing that updating and replacing the so-called nuclear triad — the submarines, jets and ballistic missiles designed to deliver warheads — will help create a leaner, sleeker nuclear fleet. But leaner doesn’t mean cheaper, at least not in the short term. According to a recent study by two researchers at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Jeffrey Lewis and Jon Wolfsthal, Obama’s modernization program could carry a price tag of over $1 trillion, vaulting nuclear weapons spending relative to the overall defense budget to a level comparable to the 1980s………

Watchdog groups say the lack of transparency behind Obama’s ambitious nuclear weapons spending is worrying. Except for an unprecedented data release on the nuclear stockpile in 2010, the government doesn’t provide comprehensive budget estimates for its nuclear weapons programs. Instead, the budget for nuclear weapons spending is spread across two different departments, Defense and Energy, and it often overlaps with conventional military spending. A regular bomber, for example, can be “nuclear certified” to carry nuclear warheads, meaning that its cost might be hidden in the conventional military budget. In other cases, research and design programs for nuclear weapons modernization are classified and therefore don’t show up in spending estimates at all.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan body that tracks government spending, has projected Obama’s plans for the nuclear arsenal at $348 billion through 2024. But that time frame stops just before the modernization plan’s costs are projected to spike, in the mid-to-late-2020’s, said Lewis of the Monterey Institute. A recent study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington D.C.-based think tank that works closely with the Pentagon, found that the actual cost could total $963 billion between 2014 and 2043.

In short, the American public and even their representatives in Congress have very little idea how much these weapons will end up costing them. “If you’re a member of Congress, you can’t make informed decisions about need and affordability if you don’t know the current and projected costs of the things you’re supposed to exercise oversight over,” said Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association. “Whether you think we need more or fewer or zero nuclear weapons, we ought to know from a good-government perspective how much this is going to cost.” http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/8/7/us-nuclear-stockpile-shrinks-but-budget-grows.html

August 7, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear power and nuclear weapons plans intrinsically linked

peaceful-nukeflag-UKShining a light on Britain’s nuclear state, Guardian, Phil Johnstone and  , 7 Aug 15 
Debates over Trident and energy policy are rarely joined up. But are there deeper links between Britain’s nuclear deterrent and its commitment to nuclear power? 
Two momentous issues facing David Cameron’s government concern nuclear infrastructure. The new secretary of state for energy, Amber Rudd, recentlyconfirmed her enthusiasm for what is arguably the most expensive infrastructure project in British history: the Hinkley Point C power station. At the same time, a decision is pressing on a similarly eye-watering commitment to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Ostensibly distinct, both of these issues are intensely controversialextremelyexpensiveagonisingly protracted, and often accompanied by vicious political rhetoric. Yet commentators rarely ask how these decisions might be connected. Could such links help to explain the strength of the UK’s nuclear lobby? Britain remains one of only a handful of countries committed to a “nuclear renaissance”, with senior government figures asserting the manifest falsehood that there is “no alternative” to nuclear power. Meanwhile, support for renewables and energy efficiency has been cut.

It seems that Whitehall is in denial about the widely acknowledged performance trends of nuclear power and renewables. The reality is that renewables manifestly outperform nuclear power as low carbon energy sources. Successive UK andinternational studies show they are already more competitive than nuclear. And renewables costs continue to fall. Yet after more than half a century of development (and far greater levels of cumulative public support), nuclear costs keep rising. The performance gap just keeps on growing.

Nor is there any good excuse for ignoring such overblown nuclear promises. Problems of reactor safetynuclear waste and weapons proliferation remain unsolved. Nuclear security risks are uniquely grave. With finance in question andtechnical difficulties mounting, the deteriorating prospects of the Hinkley project are the latest episode in a familiar pattern.

So why is the UK so persistent in pursuing new nuclear power? If the nuclear lobby is driving this, why have other countries with stronger nuclear industries nonetheless developed far more sceptical positions? In the case of Germany, this has meant the country with the world’s most successful nuclear industry and a less attractive renewable resource than the UK, nonetheless undertaking a wholesale shift from one to the other.

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One striking factor is an apparently strong correlation between those countries most eager to construct new nuclear with those expressing a desire to maintain nuclear weapons. But care is needed before jumping to conclusions. Historically,links between enthusiasms for nuclear power and nuclear weapons are well-explored. Almost all the attention here has focused on possibilities for diverting nuclear weapons materials like highly enriched uranium and plutonium. These connections were crucial in early nuclear developments, and remain so in contemporary proliferation threatsBut it is highly doubtful they explain the UK situation. An elaborate global nuclear safeguards regime introduces formidable barriers. And the UK has since the end of the Cold War maintained enormous gluts of key weapons materials………

the links between UK civilian nuclear power and military interests in nuclear submarines run deep. What is remarkable is the complete lack of discussion these provoke in the media, public policy documents, or wider critical debate. Yet the stakes are very high. Does the commitment to a submarine based nuclear deterrent help to explain the intensity of high-level UK support for costly, risky and slow nuclear power, rather than cheaper, quicker and cleaner renewable technologies?

If so, the conclusions are not self-evident. For some supporters of a nuclear deterrent, the additional burdens of nuclear power may seem entirely reasonable. But the almost total silence on these connections raises crucial implications for democracy. Imminent decisions that the government must take over nuclear power and the nuclear deterrent are hugely significant. There is a responsibility on all involved to be open and accountable. Otherwise, it will not just be electricity consumers and taxpayers that pay the price, but British democracy itself.

Phil Johnstone is a research fellow and Andy Stirling is a professor of science and technology policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex.  http://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2015/aug/07/shining-a-light-on-britains-nuclear-state

August 7, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The atomic bombing of Nagasaki, and its aftermath – theme for this week

Entering the nuclear age, body by body — the Nagasaki experience, Asia Times, BY  on AUGUST 6, 2015   (From TomDispatch.com)

By Susan Southard  [This essay has been adapted from chapters 1 and 2 of Susan Southard’s new book Nagasaki Life After Nuclear War
book, 
Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, with the kind permission of Viking.] “…….The five-ton plutonium bomb plunged toward the city at 614 miles per hour. Forty-seven seconds later, a powerful implosion forced its plutonium core to compress from the size of a grapefruit to the size of a tennis ball, generating a nearly instantaneous chain reaction of nuclear fission. With colossal force and energy, the bomb detonated a third of a mile above the Urakami Valley and its 30,000 residents and workers, a mile and a half north of the intended target. At 11:02 a.m., a superbrilliant flash lit up the sky — visible from as far away as Omura Naval Hospital more than 10 miles over the mountains — followed by a thunderous explosion equal to the power of 21,000 tons of TNT. The entire city convulsed.

At its burst point, the center of the explosion reached temperatures higher than at the center of the sun, and the velocity of its shock wave exceeded the speed of sound. A tenth of a millisecond later, all of the materials that had made up the bomb converted into an ionized gas, and electromagnetic waves were released into the air. The thermal heat of the bomb ignited a fireball with an internal temperature of over 540,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Within one second, the blazing fireball expanded from 52 feet to its maximum size of 750 feet in diameter. Within three seconds, the ground below reached an estimated 5,400 to 7,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Directly beneath the bomb, infrared heat rays instantly carbonized human and animal flesh and vaporized internal organs.

As the atomic cloud billowed two miles overhead and eclipsed the sun, the bomb’s vertical blast pressure crushed much of the Urakami Valley. Horizontal blast winds tore through the region at two and a half times the speed of a category five hurricane, pulverizing buildings, trees, plants, animals, and thousands of men, women, and children. In every direction, people were blown out of their shelters, houses, factories, schools, and hospital beds; catapulted against walls; or flattened beneath collapsed buildings.

Those working in the fields, riding streetcars, and standing in line at city ration stations were blown off their feet or hit by plummeting debris and pressed to the scalding earth. An iron bridge moved 28 inches downstream. As their buildings began to implode, patients and staff jumped out of the windows of Nagasaki Medical College Hospital, and mobilized high school girls leaped from the third story of Shiroyama Elementary School, a half mile from the blast.

Nagasaki victimThe blazing heat melted iron and other metals, scorched bricks and concrete Nagasaki-drawing-1
buildings, ignited clothing, disintegrated vegetation, and caused severe and fatal flash burns on people’s exposed faces and bodies. A mile from the detonation, the blast force caused nine-inch brick walls to crack, and glass fragments bulleted into people’s arms, legs, backs, and faces, often puncturing their muscles and organs. Two miles away, thousands of people suffering flesh burns from the extreme heat lay trapped beneath partially demolished buildings.

At distances up to five miles, wood and glass splinters pierced through people’s clothing and ripped into their flesh. Windows shattered as far as eleven miles away. Larger doses of radiation than any human had ever received penetrated deeply into the bodies of people and animals. The ascending fireball suctioned massive amounts of thick dust and debris into its churning stem. A deafening roar erupted as buildings throughout the city shuddered and crashed to the ground……http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176032/     http://atimes.com/2015/08/entering-the-nuclear-age-body-by-body-the-nagasaki-experience/

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | 1 Comment

70 years on, the nuclear threat looms as large as ever

Ban the bomb: 70 years on, the nuclear threat looms as large as ever, The Conversation, Associate Professor, International Education and Learning Unit, Nossal Institute for Global Health, School of Population and Global Health at University of Melbourne August 6, 2015 “……..The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Hiroshima best photo copy

Rumours had been circulating in Hiroshima that the city was being saved for something special. It was. The burst of ionising radiation, blast, heat and subsequent firestorm that engulfed the city on August 6 killed 140,000 people by the end of 1945. Many were incinerated or dismembered instantly; others succumbed over hours, days, weeks and months from cruel combinations of traumatic injury, burns and radiation sickness.

Three days later, another B-29 carrying a bomb equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT headed for Kokura. Because of clouds blocking visibility, its cargo was dropped over Nagasaki instead, raining similar radioactive ruin and killing 90,000 people by the end of 1945.

In both cities, ground temperatures reached about 7000° Celsius. Radioactive black rain poured down after the explosions.

In both weapons, less than one kilogram of material was fissioned. The physics of the Hiroshima bomb were so simple and predictable that the bomb was not tested prior to use. The Nagasaki plutonium bomb required a more sophisticated design. A prototype was exploded at Alamogordo in New Mexico on July 16, 1945, detonated by Australian nuclear physicist Ernest Titterton.

The survivors of the two bombings bore the legacy of terrible injuries and scars on top of the cataclysmic trauma of what they witnessed. They also faced discrimination and ostracism, reduced opportunities for employment and marriage, and increased risks of cancer and chronic disease, which stalk them, even 70 years later, for the rest of their days.

Over the past 30 years I have had the privilege of visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki on a number of occasions. What never ceases to amaze me is the extraordinary compassion, wisdom and humbling humanity of hibakusha. Never have I heard even the slightest hint of an understandable desire for revenge or retribution.

An unfulfilled quest

The constant yearning of hibakusha is that no-one else should ever suffer as they have suffered: nuclear weapons must be removed from the face of the earth.

In the newly established United Nations, there was the same understanding. The first resolution passed at the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in London in January 1946 established a commissionto draw up a plan “for the elimination of national armaments of atomic weapons”.

Today, there is ample cause for existential despair and a poor prognosis for human custodianship of the biosphere. No nuclear disarmament negotiations are in train. Even reduced from their Cold War peak, massively bloated nuclear arsenals of 15,650 weapons jeopardise not only the living but those yet to be born.

Were one Hiroshima bomb to be detonated every two hours from the end of 1945, the global arsenal would not yet be consumed. All the nuclear-armed states continue to invest massively in development and modernisation of their arsenals. In the Conference on Disarmament, it has not been possible to agree even on an agenda for 19 years.

The five-yearly review conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the principal treaty regulating nuclear weapons and legally binding nuclear-armed states to disarm, recently ended in failure. Britain, Canada and the US (acting for Israel, not even a party to the treaty), refused to accept a March 2016 deadline for a conference, promised for 20 years, to discuss a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, conflict in Ukraine and Crimea has re-inflamed Cold War risks of armed confrontation and nuclear war between NATO and Russia.

However, there are grounds to be hopeful about decisive progress on a circuit-breaker. The first ever intergovernmental conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons have been held – three in the past two years. These have led to 113 nations signing a humanitarian pledge committing them to work to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons……..

In appealing to the 1982 UN Second Special Session on Disarmament, Hiroshima Mayor Takeshi Araki said:

Hiroshima is not merely a witness of history. Hiroshima is an endless warning for the future of humankind. If Hiroshima is ever forgotten, it is evident that the mistake will be repeated and bring human history to an end.

Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima added:

Nagasaki has to be forever the last city in the world bombed by nuclear weapons!

On the 70th anniversary of the bombings, banning nuclear weapons is long overdue. The remaining survivors should see negotiations on a ban treaty underway by the time a new year dawns. https://theconversation.com/ban-the-bomb-70-years-on-the-nuclear-threat-looms-as-large-as-ever-45491

August 7, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

One living witness to the history of Hiroshima bombing survivors

Survivor Koko Kondo shares horror of Hiroshima’s ground zero by: YUKA HAYASHI The Wall Street Journal August 06, 2015 Every year, Koko Tanimoto Kondo tours her hometown carrying the tiny, tattered pink tunic she wore on the day, 70 years ago, she and her family survived the world’s first atomic bombing.On storytelling tours around the August 6 anniversary, Ms Kondo, who was eights months old when the bomb hit, tells ­students about the devastation that destroyed her home and haunted her for decades.She recalls when her American fiance abandoned her days before their wedding because his relatives thought radiation ­exposure had made her unable to bear children.

She shares the humiliation she felt as a teenager, standing naked on a stage while doctors and ­scientists scrutinised her for signs of radiation’s long-term effects on the body.

She offers tales of ordinary Americans who sent food and built homes for the victims, and continued for decades after the war to send cheques on birthdays to sons and daughters of Hiroshima connected through “moral adoption”.Ms Kondo’s father, Kiyoshi Tanimoto, was a US-educated minister at a church in Japan. When Hersey visited Hiroshima in the spring of 1946, Tanimoto shared with him a detailed ­account of the horror and chaos he witnessed. In the book, Tanimoto is described as passing by “rank on rank of the burned and bleeding”, scurrying to find water for dying victims, and removing a dead body from a rowboat to carry those who were still alive, after apologising to the dead man for doing so.

Ms Kondo and her mother were buried under the parsonage of her father’s church. Her ­mother managed to hoist her out of the rubble after chipping away at “a chink of light” that they could eventually fit through. When Tanimoto was reunited with his wife and baby, he was “so tired that nothing could surprise him”. Hersey wrote in his ­account, which first appeared in the New Yorkermagazine in ­August 1946, a year after Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the first and only cities in history to experience a nuclear bombing………..

Ms Kondo shows the visitors where her father’s church stood before it collapsed, burying her under the rubble. She takes them to the river her father crossed in a rowboat to carry victims, some grotesquely burned, to escape the devastation. They go to the Red Cross Hospital, where thousands went for refuge. Ms Kondo’s brief appearance in the book Hiroshima, by journalist John Hersey, set her on a path to become a messenger from ground zero. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/wall-street-journal/survivor-koko-kondo-shares-horror-of-hiroshimas-ground-zero/story-fnay3ubk-1227471529950?from=public_rss&utm_source=The%20Australian&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Japan, social effects, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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