Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin is overseeing the modernization of Russia’s nuclear weapons capabilities and during a talk show on the state-run Rossiya 1 television channel boasted that Russia had managed to develop a new technological breakthrough which will somehow overcome any U.S. missile defense system.
Over the next 30 years, the bill could add up to $1 trillion. Instead of spending less on nukes, we’re spending more – and a new nuclear arsenal comes at the expense of more important national security programs.
Missing a nuclear opportunity http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/230565-missing-a-nuclear-opportunity 25 Jan 15 By Will Saetren In the State of the Union address, President Obama once again failed to rekindle his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. This is inexcusable. The Cold War ended nearly 25 years ago, but the threat of nuclear annihilation remains. Preventing nuclear disaster is possible, but it requires a serious commitment from all of us – the government, private sector, and regular citizens. Continue reading
The Short Walk Home. How PM Modi, President Barack Obama Clinched Nuclear Deal NDTV All India | Reported by Nidhi Razdan (with inputs from agencies) | January 25, 2015 Within hours of US President Barack Obama’s arrival in Delhi, a landmark breakthrough on nuclear trade was clinched with Prime Minister Narendra Modi……….
Sources say America has forfeited its demand on insistence on “flagging” or tracking the nuclear material they supply to India, required under its rules to ensure it is not being used for military purposes. India said the demand was intrusive, especially because safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, are in place.
Nuclear commerce worth billions of dollars was meant to be the centrepiece of a new strategic relationship between the United States and India, allowing New Delhi access to nuclear technology and fuel without giving up its weapons.
But a tough liability law which was cleared by the Indian parliament in 2010 and holds equipment suppliers liable for damages for an accident had meant that billions of dollars in trade were held up by concerns over exposure to risk. The US said this is a sharp deviation from international norms that put the onus on the operator to maintain safety. For India, the law grew out of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, the world’s deadliest industrial accident, at a factory owned by U.S. multinational Union Carbide Corp, which families are still pursuing for compensation.
The law had so far effectively shut out Western companies from a huge market, as energy-starved India seeks to ramp up nuclear power generation by 13 times, and also strained U.S-Indian relations. …http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/the-short-walk-home-how-pm-modi-president-barack-obama-clinched-nuclear-deal-653481
How a nuclear near-miss in ’95 would be a disaster today Twenty years ago, a string of coincidences nearly set off a US-Russia nuclear crisis, but calmer heads prevailed. The risk is much higher today By Theodore Postol Boston Globe JANUARY 25, 2015 ON JAN. 25, 1995 — 20 years ago today — the launch of a lone scientific rocket from a small island off the northwest coast of Norway set off Russia’s nuclear attack early warning system.
As the rocket took off, it initially passed above the horizon of the curved earth into the field of view of Russian radar. After the motor shut down, the rocket then coasted to higher altitudes — into the middle of the major attack corridor between the US intercontinental ballistic missile fields at Grand Forks, N.D., and Moscow. Unknown to the scientists who launched it, one of the rocket’s stages finished its powered flight at an altitude and speed comparable to that expected from a Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile. This combination of events exactly fit the template of an attack scenario under which nuclear weapons are intentionally exploded at high altitudes so as to blind early warning radars before a major bombardment of Russian nuclear forces.
The most immediate explanation for what went wrong that day appears to be serious shortfalls in the Russians’ detection apparatus. But the underlying root cause stems from Russian paranoia. Fears created and bolstered by the relentless, obsessive — and ongoing — American nuclear force modernization program. This initiative was, and remains today, heavily focused on increasing the killing power of each deployed US nuclear warhead, producing and reaffirming concerns by Russian military analysts and leaders that the United States might truly be preparing to fight and win a nuclear war against Russia.
What happened after these initially ambiguous events has been a source of extensive speculation in the West. Fortunately, political tensions between Russia and the United States and Europe at the time of the incident were very low, but it is known that the alarm caused Russia’s then leader, Boris Yeltsin, to be called and kept closely informed by the Russian military leadership while the rocket was tracked until it reached and passed its maximum altitude of 1,400 kilometers.
Today the situation is far more dangerous……….. In the different political circumstances of 2015, the same cautious assessment of the rocket’s trajectory by Russia’s political and military leaders might not be possible……..
Both sides need to be very careful. While the United States cannot control what the Russians do, it can act so as to make foolish decisions on their part — and on ours — less likely. Three ways to achieve this end are worthy of consideration……..https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/01/25/how-nuclear-near-miss-would-disaster-today/TG4nhiUzPyFtcV0QGybj6J/story.html
CBO: Nuclear arsenal to cost $348B over decade http://thehill.com/policy/defense/230520-cbo-nuclear-arsenal-to-cost-348b-next-decade By Martin Matishak – 01/23/15 1 The U.S. will need to spend $348 billion over the next decade to maintain its nuclear arsenal, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released on Thursday.
The nonpartisan agency said that, while the estimated price tag is lower than a previous estimate of $355 billion in December 2013, the figure still amounts to 5percent-6 percent of the Obama administration’s national defense plan over the next 10 years
The updated estimate comes as the administration is set to unveil its fiscal 2016 budget on Feb. 2, and with sequester cuts set to resume, the timing could not be worse for the three legs of the U.S. nuclear “triad.” The land-, sea- and air-based platforms and the atomic weapons they carry “are reaching the end of their service lifetimes,” the CBO warns.
“Over the next two decades, the Congress will need to make decisions about the extent to which essentially all of the U.S. nuclear delivery systems and weapons will be modernized or replaced with new systems.”
Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, argues the cost of maintaining the arsenal could still top $1 trillion over the next 30 years. He cites a report from the National Defense Panel’s 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review that found refurbishing all three legs of the triad would cost roughly that amount.
Last year, the think tank released a report that said the U.S. could save around $70 billion by adjusting plans for new ballistic submarines and bombers, delaying or nixing the purchase of new delivery systems and taking a new approach to rebuilding warheads.
“CBO’s reports on the projected costs of nuclear forces have brought a much-needed dose of fiscal perspective to the debate about the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal,” Reif wrote.
“Whether one thinks the United States has too many or too few nuclear weapons, it is no longer possible to hide from their immense cost.”
Cancer-stricken soldier denied disability claim over exposure to depleted uranium CTVNews.ca Staff , January 20, 2015 A cancer-stricken warrant officer who served with the Canadian military for nearly three decades is facing a long appeal process after Veterans Affairs denied his application for disability compensation.
Alain Vachon of Calgary spent 27 years in military service, which included deployments to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bosnia and Kosovo, among other places. For the past two years, he has been battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system.
Vachon believes his exposure to depleted uranium at Camp Doha in Kuwait caused his illness. Although Canadians did not use depleted uranium, the American troops at the base did, Vachon said. There was an incident in which “their ammunition dump blew up,” he said in an interview with CTV Calgary………
The couple has a letter from the military admitting that Vachon was exposed to depleted uranium, pesticides and other unknown substances………. http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/cancer-stricken-soldier-denied-disability-claim-over-exposure-to-depleted-uranium-1.2198339#ixzz3PhSiGCYs
It’s a stunning approach with which the digital spies deliberately undermine the very foundations of the rule of law around the globe. This approach threatens to transform the Internet into a lawless zone in which superpowers and their secret services operate according to their own whims with very few ways to hold them accountable for their actions.
New Edward Snowden Files Reveal Scope of NSA Plans for Cyberwarfare At Der Spiegel, “The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle“: http://americanpowerblog.blogspot.com.au/ by Donald Douglas 19 Jan 15
The NSA’s mass surveillance is just the beginning. Documents from Edward Snowden show that the intelligence agency is arming America for future digital wars — a struggle for control of the Internet that is already well underway.
Normally, internship applicants need to have polished resumes, with volunteer work on social projects considered a plus. But at Politerain, the job posting calls for candidates with significantly different skill sets. We are, the ad says, “looking for interns who want to break things.”
Politerain is not a project associated with a conventional company. It is run by a US government intelligence organization, the National Security Agency (NSA). More precisely, it’s operated by the NSA’s digital snipers with Tailored Access Operations (TAO), the department responsible for breaking into computers.
Potential interns are also told that research into third party computers might include plans to “remotely degrade or destroy opponent computers, routers, servers and network enabled devices by attacking the hardware.” Continue reading
Rebranding the nuclear weapons complex won’t reform it, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Robert Alvarez, 18 Jan 15 “…….Although it is also technically under the aegis of the Energy Department, the US nuclear weapons complex has operated for decades on an entirely different philosophy. Called “least interference,” it is a philosophy based on an “undocumented policy of blind faith in its contractors’ performance,” in the words of a 1996 Government Accountability Office report. Despite several attempts at reform, the Energy Department’s management of the weapons complex was widely conceded to be an extraordinary and expensive mess.
In late November of last year, with little fanfare, the latest in a long line of advisory panels recommended ways to fix the dysfunctional administration of the nuclear weapons research and production complex, which commands more than 40 percent of the Energy Department’s budget. The Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise calls for elimination of the semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Agency, which Congress established within the Energy Department in 1999, and for the nuclear weapons program to be placed under the direct control of a rebranded Energy Department, henceforth to be known as theDepartment of Energy and Nuclear Security.
Given that the panel was dominated by members with ties to weapons contractors, it comes as no surprise that the panel’s report advocates a reduction in federal oversight of contractors that run the complex, in effect doubling-down on the least-interference policy that is at the heart of so many weapons complex problems.
And by focusing on branding and protection of contractors, this latest panel to examine the US nuclear weapons complex diverts attention from the thorny problem repeatedly raised by other expert panels: The nuclear weapons production and laboratory system created during the Cold War is simply far too large for the current military situation and needs drastic consolidation that includes the closing of labs and other facilities.
NNSA: A failed management fix. Wide latitude granted to nuclear weapons contractors, bolstered by national security secrecy, have enabled widespread problems in the handling and disposal of radioactive materials—problems that now constitute the largest and most expensive environmental mess in the United States. There were regular and frightening nuclear safety and safeguard lapses. Efforts to fix old weapons facilities and to build new ones became all-but-endless money-devouring boondoggles.
In response to these problems, Congress established the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) in 1999, giving it semi-autonomous status within the Energy Department and a bureaucracy separate from the department’s. Within this new structure, the NNSA was expected to improve oversight of a variety of activities associated with the weapons complex, including maintenance and modernization of the US nuclear warhead stockpile; operation of national research laboratories; and direction of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons production sites. It was also tasked with carrying out nuclear non-proliferation activities and housing—but not interfering with—the Office of Naval Reactors. “The new organization should focus on reducing bureaucratic red tape to free scientists to spend more time with experiments and less time filling out forms,” said then-Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican who led the effort to create the NNSA.
Under the NNSA, however, management problems in the weapons complex not only continued but worsened. By November 2011, the Energy Department inspector general recommended elimination of “duplicative, redundant National Nuclear Security Administration functions” while calling for a process to downsize the Energy Department’s national laboratory complex.
To counteract this threat, the NNSA, its contractors, and Congressional supporters set into motion an effort to gain unfettered authority. By June of 2012, the House of Representatives passed a defense spending bill that, over the objection of the White House, granted unprecedented oversight of budgets to lab contractors and eliminated the Energy Department’s oversight and enforcement of health, safety, security, and financial standards. But the NNSA’s effort was punctured in late July, when three peace activists, one an 82-year-old Catholic nun, penetrated several security barriers to stage a non-violent protest at the nation’s largest nuclear explosive storage facility, inside the Y-12 plant in Tennessee.
Apparent conflicts of interest. After this embarrassing episode, a compromise was reached in Congress, establishing an advisory committee that would make recommendations about the fate of the NNSA. The Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise was charged with recommending options for the “appropriate governance structure” of the nuclear weapons complex.
Congressional leaders appeared to pay little attention to appearances of conflict-of-interest as they appointed panel members who had remarkable connections to contractors that run the sites overseen by the NNSA—the agency whose leadership the panel was to review. The panel appointees with questionable connections include:…………..http://thebulletin.org/rebranding-nuclear-weapons-complex-wont-reform-it7935
Budget Busters: The USA’s SBIRS-High Missile Warning Satellites https://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/despite-problems-sbirs-high-moves-ahead-with-3rd-satellite-award-05467/ Jan 19, 2015 by Defense Industry Daily staff SBIRS early warning satellite: As part of its effort to institute cost reforms, the U.S. Air Force will weaken requirements for the space-based infrared system (SIBRS), among others. The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS)-High satellite program is a key component of the USA’s future missile alert system, designed to give maximum warning and monitoring of ballistic missile launches anywhere in the world. The new satellites will replace the existing Defense Support Program (DSP) fleet. Their infrared sensors have 3x the sensitivity of DSP and 2x the revisit rate, while providing better persistent coverage.
Unfortunately, the program has been beset by massive cost overruns on the order of 400%, technical challenges that continue to present problems, and uncertainties about performance. Despite these problems, the U.S. Air Force is proceeding with the program, and has terminated potential alternatives and supplements. However, as part of a January 2015 effort to institute cost reforms, the Air Force will weaken requirements for the program, and at least three other major procurement programs.
- Rebranding the nuclear weapons complex won’t reform it, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Robert Alvarez, 18 Jan 15
“…………Lab overcapacity, in particular, contributes to an inflated weapons complex cost structure, within which the average full time employee is two to three times as expensive as in the private sector. Since 2006, when management of the weapons labs was transferred from the nonprofit University of California to for-profit entities,administrative fees have jumped by 650 percent at Los Alamos. The bloat in the weapons complex is hardly limited to the national labs; the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee has excess capacity that is comparable, in size, to two auto assembly plants.
The Obama administration should establish a commission—one, this time, that is not dominated by the very contractors that run the nuclear weapons complex—to analyze and downsize the redundant elements of that complex. The Defense Department accomplished such a downsizing over the past 20 years; it’s long past time for the Energy Department to begin shedding its surplus capacity. Given that weapons facilities dominate the wage and benefit structures of large areas in several states, such streamlining will no doubt meet stiff congressional resistance. Still, the downsizing sword could eliminate redundant facilities and free up funding to rebuild those that are truly needed.
- Too big to succeed. Perhaps the most significant aspect of management reform in the nuclear weapons complex is coming to terms with its size. From the start, this newest review panel was directed to place the thorny problem of downsizing the weapons complex—an issue raised by several expert panels over some 20 years—off the table. By focusing on organizational boxes, Congress made sure that the panel would not tackle a most obvious problem: The nuclear weapons production and laboratory system is simply too large for the nation’s current needs.
- Finally, the most recent study of the weapons complex raises a fundamental question: Could it be that the “orphan” status of nuclear weapons in the United States reflects not presidential and congressional inattention, but changing priorities in the real world of international security? When the president spoke last year of “reducing the role of nuclear weapons in our security strategy,” he seemed to unequivocally answer this question.
- By rebranding the Energy Department in a way that gives nuclear weapons production equal status with the whole of US energy policy, the congressional panel has tried to impose on the government a Cold War urgency that does not reflect the actual relevance of nuclear weaponry in the 21st century. Some estimates have puta trillion-dollar price tag on replacing our decaying nuclear deterrent. With the stakes so high, is it really in the nation’s interest to rely on a panel dominated by the interests of weapons contractors for advice on managing the problems of the weapons complex? http://thebulletin.org/rebranding-nuclear-weapons-complex-wont-reform-it7935
- Rebranding the nuclear weapons complex won’t reform it, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Robert Alvarez, 18 Jan 15“………..The NNSA was removed from its transuranic waste management responsibilities at Los Alamos and, in an unusual “management alert,” the Energy Department’s inspector general warned that contractors at the lab—the source of the compromised waste drum—“failed to ensure that changes to waste treatment procedures were properly documented, reviewed, and approved, and that they incorporated all environmental requirements.” Recently, the State of New Mexico levied a fine of more than $54 million against the contractor running Los Alamos, which the Energy Department is contesting. At the same time, the Energy Department has cut the Los Alamos contractor’s award fee by $57 million, a 90 percent reduction.
About a month after the accident at WIPP, the advisory panel informed Congress in its interim report that the NNSA had to go. http://thebulletin.org/rebranding-nuclear-weapons-complex-wont-reform-it7935
- The WIPP leak: Another embarrassment. In February 2014, in the midst of the panel’s deliberations, another major mishap involving NNSA and its contractor at the Los Alamos National Laboratory occurred. At least one drum containing a potentially explosive mixture of plutonium waste burst open at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) geologic repository in New Mexico. The wastes shot up about a half-mile through the ventilation system to the surface, contaminating 22 workers. The Energy Department estimates it may take years before it can restore operation at the nation’s only operating high-hazard radioactive waste geological disposal site, at an expense of more than $550 million……. http://thebulletin.org/rebranding-nuclear-weapons-complex-wont-reform-it7935
MPs will not vote on Trident’s replacement, the largest UK submarine project in a generation, until 2016. But a Ministry of Defence report, slipped out over Christmas, reveals that spending on the project’s “assessment phase” is to increase by a further £261m this year. Of this money, which will be drawn down from the project’s future budget, £206m will be spent on new facilities at the BAE Systems shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness.
On Tuesday the SNP and Plaid Cymru will force a debate on the Trident upgrade, which is expected to cost £20bn in total.
Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader and defence spokesman, said: “When Labour MPs have voted with the Tories for another £30bn of austerity cuts, it is frankly scandalous that a further quarter of a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money is to be spent on Trident before parliamentarians even get a vote on whether or not to replace the system.
“In no other democracy, at a time of deep austerity and cuts, would over £3bn be spent on committing to such a massive project without consulting parliamentarians. Robbing the future budget of Trident only suggests they have already underestimated the eye-watering final cost.”
The MoD report, The UK’s future nuclear deterrent: 2014 update to Parliament, reveals that more than half a billion pounds – some £1.4m a day – was spent on the project in the last financial year alone……. report reveals that the total cost of the project’s assessment phase, at the end of which a decision on whether to proceed with Trident’s successor will be taken, will rise to £3.3bn, nearly £300m more than the MoD originally indicated.
The revelation has prompted fury from pro-disarmament parties, which could play a crucial role in any future coalition government……http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/17/trident-future-election-agenda-costs-spiral-nuclear-submarines
The Marshall Islands’ latest nuclear test – Marshall Islanders are well-acquainted with the horrors of the nuclear arms industry. Belen Fernandez, Aljazeera, 18 Jan 15
The list of accused is as follows: the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, North Korea, Pakistan, and Israel. Israel has made the cut despite fervently denying possession of a nuclear arsenal.
The spectacle is unfolding at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the main judicial organ of the United Nations. A recent New York Times article on the Marshall Islands’ “near-Quixotic venture” quotes Phon van den Biesen, head of the country’s legal team, on the ultimate aim of the effort: “All the nuclear weapons states are modernising their arsenals instead of negotiating [to disarm], and we want the court to rule on this.”……….
The diminutive nation happens to be the site of no fewer than 67 US nuclear bomb tests in the 1940s and 50s, during an almost 40-year period in which the US administered the Islands under a UN trusteeship. As Greenpeace notes, one of these tests involved a bomb 1,000 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Such machinations have predictably resulted in thorough environmental contamination and continuing health complications for the local population, ranging from radiogenic cancers to babies born without bones.
As Marshallese nuclear survivor Lemeyo Abon told the UN Human Rights Council in 2012: “After the [US] testing programme we’ve had to create new words to describe the creatures we give birth to.”
Lexical fallout aside, other US contributions to Marshallese culture include the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, which continues to generate revenue for US corporations.
The widespread territorial displacement necessitated by the previous era of fanatical nuclear testing meanwhile highlights the irony of Marshallese government support for the US-funded entity that displaces and otherwise oppresses Palestinians……….. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/01/marshall-islands-latest-nuclear-201511352947395615.html
US Department of Defense is the Worst Polluter on the Planet Project
Censored October 2, 2010 The US military is responsible for the most egregious and widespread pollution of the planet, yet this information and accompanying documentation goes almost entirely unreported. In spite of the evidence, the environmental impact of the US military goes largely unaddressed by environmental organizations and was not the focus of any discussions or proposed restrictions at the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This impact includes uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil. Continue reading
The average age of a U.S. nuclear warhead is 27 years. Many of the buildings where the nuclear missiles and bombs are stored date back to the 1950s — and it shows. Blast doors on the country’s nuclear missile silos are too rusty to seal shut. The roof of a security complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., that houses most of the U.S. supply of enriched uranium collapsed in March. ……
That’s an understatement…….. The institutional rot has led to a number of frightening near-misses.
In 2007, six nuclear missiles went missing from a North Dakota facility for 36 hours. It turned out they’d been accidentally attached to a plane’s wings and flown over several states to Louisiana, where they were left sitting unprotected on the tarmac for hours. A year before, four missile nose cones were accidentally sent to Taiwan instead of helicopter batteries. The most serious near-disaster occurred back on Jan. 21, 1961, when two nuclear bombs slipped from the belly of a B-52 flying over the North Carolina city of Goldsboro. Both bombs were set to detonate, and failed to do so after suffering minor damage to the parts needed to initiate an explosion — a stroke of luck that saved the city from annihilation……….http://theweek.com/articles/533721/dangers-ouraging-nuclear-arsenal
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