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New, powerful, submarine-launched nuclear weapon begins production in USA














Trump Administration Begins Production Of A New Nuclear Weapon, NPR, January 28, 2019 “….The weapon is a variant of the Navy’s primary submarine-launched nuclear weapon, the W76-1. That warhead is a “strategic weapon,” meaning it makes a very big boom. The W76-1 is believed to have a yield of around 100 kilotons, according to Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, an arms control advocacy group. By contrast, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima had a yield of about 15 kilotons.


January 31, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA Pentagon wants to fly small nuclear reactors in transport jets – Gee, I hope they dont crash

The Pentagon Wants a Nuclear Reactor That Fits in a Transport Jet, Foxtrot Alpha , Kyle Mizokami  30 Jan 19, The Department of Defense wants a portable nuclear reactor the size of a main battle tank that’s capable of being lifted to overseas hot spots. The reactor would provide megawatts of power for U.S. forces, providing juice for everything from Xboxes to directed energy weapons. A mobile reactor would also make the military less reliant on diesel fuel for electrical generators, which in some cases must be sent along dangerous resupply lines.

According to the Federal Business Opportunities website, the Department of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office has officially put out a request for information for a “Small Mobile Nuclear Reactor.”………

Despite more than seventy years of development, portable or even semi-portable nuclear reactors have not achieved the kind of success dreamed of early in the Nuclear Age. Between 1964 and 1972 a nuclear reactor, PM-3A, provided 1.8 megawatts of power to the U.S. research station at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Unfortunately the reactor was also seriously buggy, malfunctioning 438 times over its operational lifespan resulting in a reliability rate of just 72 percent. It was also implicated in a spike in cancer-related deaths.

The NB-36 bomber was a proposed nuclear-powered heavy strategic bomber that used the R-1 nuclear power plant for propulsion, but concerns about environmental damage should the plane crash shelved the nuclear-powered aircraft concept indefinitely. …….

January 31, 2019 Posted by | safety, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Security dangers in South Asia increase as India and Pakistan develop nuclear weapons programmes

Nuclear programmes of India, Pakistan increase risk of security incident in South Asia: US spymaster, Economic Times, Jan 30, 2019  WASHINGTON: There is an increased risk of a nuclear security incident in South Asia due to continued growth and development of Pakistan and India’s nuclear weapons programmes, America’s top spymaster told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The remarks of National Intelligence Director Daniel Coats is part of US intelligence community’s assessment of worldwide threats in the year 2019.

While Pakistan continues to develop new types of nuclear weapons, including short-range tactical weapons, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and longer range ballistic missiles, India this year has conducted its first deployment of a nuclear-powered submarine armed with nuclear missiles, he said.

“The continued growth and development of Pakistan and India’s nuclear weapons programmes increase the risk of a nuclear security incident in South Asia, and the new types  .. ……..

January 31, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, safety, weapons and war | Leave a comment

AS USA Prepares to Withdraw From INF Treaty – the Threat of Nuclear War Grows

Nuclear Threat Grows as US Prepares to Withdraw From INF Treaty, there are nine nuclear nations and the risks are incalculable. But is anyone paying attention? LAUREN WALKER  BY Jon Letman,  January 29, 2019

With the US poised to begin its withdrawal the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty on February 2, there’s been an uptick in media focus on arms control and the nuclear weapons, even as the US public remains largely disengaged.

The INF treaty, signed by the US and Soviet Union in 1987, led to the elimination of nuclear and non-nuclear ground-launched ballistic and cruises missiles with a range of roughly 310 to 3,410 miles (500 to 5,500 km). Since 2013, however, the US has accused Russia of violating the treaty at least 30 times, pointing to Russia’s SSC-8 ground-launched cruise missile as posing “significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security.” Meanwhile, Russia denies violating the INF.

In December, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an ultimatum: the US would “suspend [treaty] obligations” in 60 days if Russian compliance could not be verified.

“Russia’s lawless conduct,” Pompeo warned, “will not be tolerated in the realm of arms control or anywhere else.”

Pompeo also expressed concern that INF non-compliant weapons (China, North Korea and Iran are not INF signatories) were being used to “threaten and coerce the United States and its allies in Asia.”

Russia counters that rocket launchers used by the Aegis Ashore system at a US naval base in Romania and slated for deployment in Poland and Japan could be used offensively and are in breach of the INF, charges flatly rejected by the United States.

With the INF teetering on the brink of collapse, many wonder if the New START treaty, which President Donald Trump called “one sided” and a “bad deal” will be the next to fall. In 2017, Trump told Reuters, “if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”

INF’s demise comes as nuclear weapons arsenals are being “modernized,” non-nuclear weapons development is accelerating, and concerns of system vulnerability are on the rise. Arms control experts and world leaders worry that without INF, new weapons development could accelerate and expand.

In Honolulu, the East-West Center, a non-partisan educational institution, hosted an international gathering of visiting nuclear arms researchers, academics and reporters three days before the one-year anniversary of a ballistic missile warning scare that terrified many residents in Hawaii on January 13, 2018.

One of the speakers, David Santoro, director and senior fellow for nuclear policy at the Pacific Forum, said, “I think it’s very clear now that … the nuclear problem is coming back with a vengeance.”

“For a very long time we thought that this was a thing of the past — something we had to deal with during the Cold War,” Santoro said.

He warned that if the US withdraws from INF, extending the New STARTtreaty will be much more difficult, adding, “We have to extend New START by 2021, otherwise arms control between the US and Russia is gone.”

Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center, said that as the US and China compete vigorously in the areas of security and economics, “We’ve even seen this competition intensify to the point where the gloves seem to be off,” he said, pointing to a shift under the Trump administration by characterizing China not as a partner-competitor, but as an unambiguous adversary. He also pointed to a bolder stance by Chinese President Xi Jinping in calling for an end to US strategic pre-eminence in global governance.

Roy said the US shouldn’t take for granted what he called China’s “minimal deterrent posture” which he described as being limited to second strike capability not developed to intimidate the US.

Roy suggested the US should avoid policy steps that would “provoke China into trying to compete as vigorously in the area of numbers of nuclear weapons as China competes with the United States in lots of other areas.”

China still has a relatively low number of nuclear weapons (less than 300) compared with both the US and Russia, each with well over 6,000. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), nine nations maintain more than 14,400 nuclear weapons.

“I think we are going to see increasing competition in other areas which will impact the nuclear relationship between [China and the US],” Santoro added. “There are a number of flashpoints that we need to worry about increasingly today,” pointing to Taiwan and the South China Sea as two examples.

According to Santoro, the nuclear weapons climate has become more complicated as what was once a “two-player game” has morphed into a “multi-player game.” He points to “severe nuclear competition” between India and Pakistan threatening potentially negative consequences for China’s defense strategy, which in turn affects the US-Russia nuclear relationship.

Santoro also mentioned the standoff between the US, NATO and Russia over the 2014 annexation of Crimea where, according to hacked European diplomatic cables reported by The New York Times, Russia is suspected of housing nuclear weapons.

For a country like North Korea, which is in a militarily weaker position than not just the US, but South Korea too, Santoro said nuclear weapons are “almost irresistibly desirable,” noting that from North Korea’s perspective, nuclear weapons are the one thing that ensures its survival.

“No other conventional capability or political arrangement can do it,” Santoro said. “They have seen what has happened to Iraq [and] Libya and constantly mention these cases as evidence that they need the ‘magic’ of nuclear weapons.”
On January 24, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board announced the “Doomsday Clock” would remain at two minutes to midnight in 2019, a reflection that concerns go well beyond nuclear weapons.

Newly manufactured US low-yield “mini nukes,” precision-guided munitions, AI-enabled fully autonomous weapons, advanced cruise missiles, and the spread of sophisticated (but potentially vulnerable) missile defense systems around the world, and expanding into space and cyber domains come into play in the nuclear realm. Meanwhile, Russia, China and the US are pursuing their own hypersonic weapons.

On January 17, when the Trump administration unveiled its Missile Defense Review (video), Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan delivered a stark warning about the defense capabilities of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran saying, “These threats are harder to see, harder to track, and harder to defeat.” Speaking directly to the four countries, he said, “We see what you are doing and we’re taking action.”

That action includes investing in ground and sea-based missile defenses with more interceptors, new kill vehicles, and improved coverage of priority regions like the Indo-Pacific. Shanahan, a former Boeing senior vice president of supply chain and operations, said, “We are focused on new capabilities for new threats,” referring to hypersonic weapons, space-based sensors and directed energy for boost phase missile intercept.

He went on to say the Missile Defense Review “includes a policy shift towards greater integration of offensive and defensive capabilities because missile defense necessarily includes missile offense” [italics added].

Cascading Crises

Today, with the speed of communications, an accident in judgment based on intentionally leaked or false information that spreads quickly through open sources like social media could easily create a situation that has cascading effects.

Jaclyn Kerr, an affiliate at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, expressed alarm about this risk while speaking to a group of journalists at the East-West Center, asking:

What if these effects have repercussions that cause catastrophe-type-level events that weren’t expected, like critical infrastructure damage — something was an implant in a network but it goes awry and leads to something actually failing and loss of life. But there’s no way to assess whether that was intentional or not, and that leads to a military attack in a different domain, conventional or otherwise, and it spirals out of control and nobody trusts the information coming from the other side because it’s an environment of disinformation.

She imagines new types of escalation dynamics not seen before.

For example, imagine a message sent in error (or intentionally) warning that New Delhi or Islamabad was moments away from a nuclear attack. The warning time for missiles launched between India and Pakistanwould be much shorter than the 20-30 minutes it would take for an ICBM to travel between Eurasia and North America.

Imagine a head of state who is irrational, impetuous and prone to making critical decisions based on cable television news and social media posts being “triggered” by a widely circulated (but unconfirmed) report of a spike in radiation coinciding with a seismic event in Ukraine, or an incident in the South China Sea, or the Taiwan Straits or the Baltic Sea. Or the Persian Gulf. Or Kashmir….

All of these scenarios and countless other mundane, but more likely events, such as a compromised weapons, energy, or other critical system, underscore the threats we face in 2019.

Faster, Smaller and More Complex

Andrew Futter, associate professor of International Politics at University of Leicester, looks at nuclear and conventional weapons and worries what could go wrong and how complexity can undermine safety.

“It worries me when I hear about modernization programs … the comingling of nuclear and conventional weapons,” Futter said, warning about the outcomes of technology driving human behavior, rather than the opposite. “Just because we can build things, doesn’t necessarily mean we should,” he said.

Most nuclear weapons states, Futter noted, prioritize being able to usethe weapons over keeping them safe, and with weapons on a permanent state of high alert and closely linked to warning systems, it creates a context where accidents may occur.

“We’re living in a nuclear climate where we have less and less time to do most things and we still have a lot of systems that are very tightly coupled between warning and use,” Futter said.

The January 2018 Hawaii ballistic missile scare, Futter contends, was merely a continuation of something that has gone on for a long time, citing a history of nuclear scares. The difference was, he suggested, that today identifying and diagnosing errors with potentially catastrophic results requires doing so in much smaller, more complex, faster-moving digitized systems.

This growth of newer, faster, more complicated systems, the modernization of nuclear and conventional weapons, and the deterioration of arms-control treaties like the INF, stand in sharp contrast to the low level of awareness of the threats by the American public, which is largely ignorant about nuclear issues, according to Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Wellerstein, creator of the popular Nuke Map, an online authoritative tool that offers a visual simulation of how a nuclear detonations of varying sizes would impact anywhere in the world, said, “Americans’ perceptions of nuclear threats have just been continuously going down.” One reason for this, he suggested, is a lack of nuclear weapons coverage outside of specialized news sources other than in times of crisis.

“There are a lot of nuclear threats out there. They don’t just occur during crisis periods and yet, the American approach to these things in the general public is, ‘Oh my god, crisis period — I care about it!” followed immediately by, “Oh good, we don’t have to think about it anymore again (until the next crisis period),” he said.

Others have expressed similar concerns, noting the lack of inclusion of nuclear weapons-related issues in American public education and the media.

Wellerstein pointed out that, owing in part to a decades-old aura of secrecy surrounding nuclear weapons, many people have a sense they aren’t well-informed on nuclear issues, with some Americans admitting they deliberately avoid nuclear weapons-related news.

In a world where nuclear issues are rapidly evolving, Wellerstein said he expects that “in a few years people are going to be in a whole new world without realizing it, and I think it’s going to be a rude shock when that finally hits home.”

Mourning Armageddon

In Hawaii, where the January 13, 2018, ballistic missile warning scare is still fresh in people’s minds, many recalled the event on the one-year anniversary, but quickly turned their attention elsewhere. One Oahu resident, a musician named Makana, saw the false alarm as an opportunity to reflect on the broader threat of nuclear war. While on a goodwill tour to Russia last October, he performed in school, clubs and elsewhere in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

During the tour he attended a meeting at the Russian Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry just as Trump was announcing plans to withdraw from the INF treaty. Makana recalled one Russian general thundering, “End of INF treaty! This is very bad!” Recounting the incident, Makana described how, in his own naiveté, he replied, “I have an idea. We should make a BFF treaty,” to which Russians who understood the reference (“Best Friends Forever”) broke into laughter.

On the same visit, Makana visited a recently declassified Russian foreign ministry nuclear bunker. One hundred sixty feet below central Moscow, the bomb shelter was dark and eerie but, Makana noticed, had excellent acoustics.

On the spot, the musician created and recorded a song about the threat of nuclear war, releasing it as a video entitled Mourning Armageddon on the anniversary of the Hawaii missile alert scare.

At the end of the video, Makana cranks a hand-held air raid siren in the dim light. Pausing, he surveys the grim, tomb-like surroundings, breathes a heavy sigh, and says, “It’s a time machine to a place I hope never materializes.”

January 31, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Oh goody! It’s a rosy time coming for investors, (such as Donald Trump) in nuclear weapons!

What It Would Cost to Modernize the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal — and Who Would Benefit, Yahoo Finance Lou Whiteman, The Motley Fool, Motley Fool, January 28, 2019  The United States would have to spend $494 billion over the next decade to enact its plan to modernize its nuclear arsenal, a figure that highlights the opportunity before contractors as the Pentagon seeks ways to pay for one of its top priorities. The total, which comes from a biannual report put out by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is 23% higher than the $400 billion price tag in the 2017 estimate. It comes at a delicate time for the Pentagon, which, after enjoying two years of steady budget increases, is facing a much less certain fiscal 2020 allocation.

……..Here’s who stands to benefit from the push to renew the nuclear triad.

Next-generation bombers

Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) in late 2015 beat a team including Boeing (NYSE: BA) and Lockheed Martin to design and build a new long-range bomber. The Pentagon is expected to purchase at least 100 aircraft, with deliveries expected to begin in the mid-2020s and extend for a decade.

The plane, now known as the B-21, has been a near-casualty of Congressional budget battles in recent years, but the Pentagon continues to spend upwards of $2 billion per year on development. Overall, the CBO expects the Pentagon to spend $49 billion on bomber acquisition between now and 2028, which would easily make the B-21 Northrop’s most important platform……….

America’s most important deterrent

The Columbia-class submarine, designed to take over for the Ohio-class ballistic missile sub and house the nation’s stockpile of Trident sub-launched ballistic missiles, features a stealth electric drive propulsion system and improved maneuverability. The sub, to be built by General Dynamics’ (NYSE: GD) Electric Boat subsidiary with support from Huntington Ingalls (NYSE: HII), is due to be operational by 2028 to ensure second-strike capability should the U.S. be hit by a catastrophic attack………

A new rocket competition

The only major piece of the triad renewal still up for grabs is the task of replacing the nation’s arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles. …….In August 2017, the Air Force awarded Boeing and Northrop Grumman $349 million and $329 million, respectively, to develop competing new designs, with a goal of selecting a winner next year. The government is expected to spend more than $60 billion on ICBMs over the next decade, meaning the award would be a needle-mover for the eventual winner.

The stakes are also high for the two potential manufacturers of the solid-propellant rocket engines that will be used to power the missiles. Northrop brought one of the two contenders in-house last year with its $9.2 billion deal for Orbital ATK. The other, Aerojet Rocketdyne (NYSE: AJRD), has warned the Air Force and lawmakers it needs to win at least part of this procurement to remain a viable supplier.

Given the Pentagon’s priority to nurture a healthy and competitive supply base, it would not be a surprise to see both Aerojet and the former Orbital business split the ICBM engine award.

How to invest

…….for long-term investors who have seen defense holdings battered by near-term budget concerns, the longer timeline should provide some peace of mind.

January 29, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

France’s government snidely changes law to avoid paying compensation to Polynesian victims of atomic bomb testing

Dismay in Tahiti over changed nuclear compensation law French Polynesia’s nuclear test veterans organisations are dismayed to find out that a planned change to the compensation law for test victims was quietly altered last year.

It emerged that in the finance act passed in France in the week before Christmas, a provision of negligible exposure for compensation claimants was included.

This was against the recommendation of a commission set up in 2017 which advised for the reference to negligible risk to be removed as a way to improve the 2010 compensation law.

There had been widespread clamour to change the law because most applications had been thrown out.

The head of the Moruroa e tatou organisation Roland Oldham told the public broadcaster that the situation was simple.

He said the French state refused to compensate the test victims by playing for time.

Father Auguste Uebe-Carlson of the Association 193 also condemned this change, saying the fight was continuing.

The 12-member commission which advised the French legislature was headed by a French Polynesian Senator Lana Tetuanui, who is yet to comment.

France tested 193 nuclear weapons in the South Pacific over a 30-year period, with some of the atmospheric blasts irradiating most islands.

January 29, 2019 Posted by | France, Legal, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Genetic effects of radiation, and other pollutants, in children of Gulf War veterans

January 29, 2019 Posted by | children, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Aldermaston – Britain’s bomb factory – it’s a slow motion train crash

Times 27th Jan 2019 The AWE bomb factory starts to implode. Protesters wanted to shut Aldermaston in the 1960s. Today, it may have become its own worst enemy. Budget blow-ups and project delays, along with safety concerns aired repeatedly by the nuclear watchdog, have turned AWE into a slow-motion car crash.
Last year the National Audit Office (NAO), which polices government spending, confirmed what many in the industry had long feared: crucial projects to upgrade the facilities are in trouble. Pegasus, a £634m plan to replace a tired building at Aldermaston that handles and stores enriched uranium, is suspended with no clarity on when work will restart.
Mensa, a facility being built at Burghfield to assemble and dismantle nuclear warheads, has ballooned in cost from £734m to £1.8bn. It was due to open in 2017 but that has been delayed to 2023.

January 29, 2019 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear disarmament, non proliferation, “peaceful use” on the agenda as France, Russia, Britain and the United States meet in China

World’s nuclear weapons club to meet in China as trade talks and Meng Wanzhou extradition deadline loom
Eyes will be on Beijing, Washington and Vancouver in week of high-stakes diplomatic meetings,
 SCMP, Lee Jeong-ho   Liu Zhen, 26 January, 2019 China will host a key nuclear weapons meeting in Beijing next week, the outcome of which could affect efforts to stop the spread of nuclear arms around the globe.

The meeting on Wednesday of five major nuclear powers – China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States – will coincide with the start of a new round of high-stakes trade talks between China and the US in Washington.

In Beijing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying confirmed “nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy” would be on the agenda of the nuclear club known as the “P5”.

“The theme will be strengthening coordination of the five nuclear-weapon states and safeguarding the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons mechanism,” Hua said.

……..Zhao Tong, from the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy’s nuclear policy programme, said the Beijing gathering would also lay the groundwork for a five-yearly conference in 2020 to review the non-proliferation treaty.

At the last review conference in New York in 2015, member countries failed to reach agreement on how to advance the treaty. …….

Zhao said Hua’s remarks suggested that next week’s meeting would also be a crucial chance for the US and Russia to discuss their differences over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which US President Donald Trump said the US would withdraw from.

“The US and Russia should take this important opportunity to discuss ways to ease the INF dispute. If INF is abandoned, the New START that remains between them will also suffer … which will be a very dangerous trend,” Zhao said.

New START is a nuclear arms reduction treaty Moscow and Washington signed in 2010. The INF Treaty was signed by the US and the then Soviet Union to eliminate short and intermediate-range missiles.

Meanwhile in Washington, all eyes will be watching to see whether US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin can reach a trade deal with the Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Liu He. ……..

January 29, 2019 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Doomsday Clock at 2 minutes to midnight – “The New Abnormal”

January 26, 2019 Posted by | climate change, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Tiny mobile nuclear reactors for U.S. military – a plan fraught with dangers

The U.S. Military Wants Tiny Road Mobile Nuclear Reactors That Can Fit In A C-17

The power demands to sustain American military operations are only increasing, but small nuclear power plants could present new problems.The Drive, BY JOSEPH TREVITHICK, JANUARY 24, 2019   The U.S. military’s secretive Strategic Capabilities Office, or SCO, is asking for potential vendors to submit proposals for small mobile nuclear reactors to help meet ever-growing demands for power during operations in remote and austere locations. This request for information comes as the U.S. Army, in particular, is looking to extend the amount of time its units can operate independent of established supply chains, but portable nuclear power could introduce new risks to the battlefield.

SCO first announced that they were looking for “information on innovative technologies and approaches” relating to a possible future “small mobile nuclear reactor prototype design” on FedBizOpps, the U.S. government’s main contracting website, on Jan. 18, 2019. The organization posted an amended version of the notice, which outlines a “multi-phase prototype project” as part of what it is calling Project Dithulium, four days later. …..
SCO basic requirements envision a reactor that can generate between one and 10 megawatts of energy, less than the average output for even a small research reactor, and weigh less than 40 tons. The final design would need to be portable by semi-trailer truck, ship, or a U.S. Air Force C-17A Globemaster III cargo plane.

The goal is to develop a system that personnel can set up in three days or less and shut down and pack up in less than a week. The reactor itself would remain functional for at least three years without needing new fuel.

SCO is hoping to consider up to three designs under the first phase of the project, which would be an in-depth design study that would last between nine and 12 months. The plan is to then down select to a single design for Phase II, in which the winning contractor would build and demonstrate their prototype reactor.

There are a number of potential concepts already in various stages of development that could meet SCO’s requirements. The U.S. Department of Energy’s own Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), in cooperation with the Westinghouse power company, has been working on one design called MegaPower for some time now. Westinghouse is separately working on its own eVinci micro reactor design……….

There is no fixed timeline yet for when Phase I might begin, but as the request for information notes, there is already significant demand for this kind of miniaturized portable power plant. …….

The Army is certainly watching the SCO’s Project Dithulium, if it isn’t involved in it directly. In October 2018, the service put out its own report on the potential uses of nuclear power on the battlefield………

The other branches of the U.S. military have their own requirements for this kind of portable power, as well. The Air Force and the Marine Corps are both actively exploring new concepts for rapidly establishing bases that could benefit from the addition of power from small nuclear reactors.

But this is hardly the first time the U.S. military has explored using mobile nuclear reactors to meet its power needs. The Army experimented with a host of land-based designs between the 1950s and 1970s, before shelving the concept………

However, one of the biggest potential problems with battlefield nuclear power continues to be safety. There are obvious concerns about what happens when you begin deploying dozens, if not hundreds of small nuclear reactors into areas that are, by definition, full of hostile threats……

even if the reactor itself cannot catastrophically fail, something that may be a tall order to ensure in austere conditions regardless of the design, powering remote and austere bases with nuclear power could run other risks. If hostile forces end up destroying the reactor, it could potentially lead to the hazardous dispersal of radioactive material.

This, in turn, could produce short- and long-term health and safety concerns for U.S. forces and innocent civilians in the surrounding area. Even if the risk is minor, the perception of those dangers could impact public opinion about American military activities ….

There’s also a proliferation issue in building a large number of mobile reactors and placing them in war zones. There is also a matter of disposing of the nuclear waste material they’ll produce. …..

A reactor that is by design mobile would almost certainly be an attractive target for terrorists or militants looking to build a so-called “dirty bomb” that mixes radiological material and conventional explosives.  ….

On top of that, unlike existing portable generators, any mobile nuclear reactor would require much more robust control systems to ensure its safe and reliable operation. Depending on the reactor’s exact configuration, there is the possibility that a cyber attack might be able to shut it down or otherwise hamper its operation at a critical point.

In October 2018, the Government Accountability Office released a report that slammed the Department of Defense’s existing protections against cyber attacks and said that the U.S. military did not have a good grasp of the extent of the potential threat. Nuclear reactors spread across an area of operations would only increase the potential vectors for such an attack. ……

January 26, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear, climate threats keep Doomsday Clock close to apocalypse

Time’s running out

A renewed nuclear arms race, rising greenhouse gas emissions and the emergence of state-sponsored disinformation campaigns have left the modern world as close to annihilation as it was at the height of the Cold War, atomic scientists said on Thursday.

What is the Doomsday Clock?

The Doomsday Clock, created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as an indicator of the world’s susceptibility to apocalypse, remained at two minutes to midnight for a second year running in what the scientists called a dangerous “new abnormal.”

“Though unchanged from 2018, this setting should be taken not as a sign of stability but as a stark warning to leaders and citizens around the world,” the Chicago-based group said in a statement.

Two main factors

Humanity’s two simultaneous existential threats of nuclear war and climate change were exacerbated during the past year by the “increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world,” the group said.

“In many forums, including particularly social media, nationalist leaders and their surrogates lied shamelessly, insisting that their lies were truth, and the truth ‘fake news,'” it said.

Nuclear threat

Since the election of US President Donald Trump in 2016, the clock has closed in on midnight in successive 30-second moves in 2017 and 2018, in part because of escalating tensions with North Korea over its nuclear program.

The last time the clock was as close to midnight as it has been in the past two years was in 1953, when the US-Soviet arms race escalated as Moscow tested a hydrogen bomb in August after the detonation of an American H-bomb the previous November.

Despite a softening of barbed rhetoric between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the past year, the group saw rising threats in nuclear-armed nations’ programs of “‘nuclear modernisation’ that are all but indistinguishable from a worldwide arms race.”

On climate, the group said carbon dioxide emissions resumed an upward climb in the past two years.

Clocking out

To turn back the clock, it recommended steps including fortifying and extending US-Russian nuclear treaties with limits on modernisation programs, adopting safeguards to prevent peacetime military incidents along NATO countries’ borders, citizen demands for action on climate change and multilateral talks to discourage the misuse of information technology.

The bulletin was founded by scientists who helped develop the United States’ first atomic weapons. When the clock was created in 1947, it was set at seven minutes to midnight.

January 26, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA’s nuclear weapons modernisation plan to cost $494 billion over the next decade

Here’s how many billions the US will spend on nuclear weapons over the next decade, Defense News

January 26, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia could be planning for nuclear wrapons

World War 3 fears SURGE as experts warn Saudi Arabia could be seeking ‘NUCLEAR weapons’

FEARS Saudi Arabia could be seeking to build nuclear weapons have surged following reports the Kingdom has launched a domestic ballistic missile programme. Express UK By JAMES BICKERTON, Jan 25, 2019 According to a report published in The Washington Post, Saudi Arabia appears to have constructed a ballistic missile factory, which could threaten to trigger a new Middle Eastern arms race. Saudi Arabia already owns foreign-brought ballistic missiles but has yet to construct its own. A number of experts have warned this could signal a Saudi desire to become nuclear armed.

Satellite images taken in November appear to show a ballistic missile factory near the town of Al-Watah, according to the report.

The site is situated next to an existing Saudi Arabian missile base.

A team led by nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis, from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, uncovered the pictures.

Mr Lewis said the images raise “the possibility that Saudi Arabia is going to build longer-range missiles and seek nuclear weapons”…..

January 26, 2019 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America may be overspending on unnecessary nuclear weapons – the nuclear triad now obsolete?

Does America Still Need the Nuclear Triad? The U.S. can deliver nuclear weapons from air, land, and sea. That could change. Jan 24, 2019   Popular Mechanics, By Kyle Mizokami

“……..Because the U.S. can launch nukes from the air, land, or sea, it would be practically impossible for another country to knock out America’s offensive capabilities and prevent the counterstrike.

The U.S. is currently working on replacing all three legs of the triad: bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched missiles. It’s an overhaul that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and no doubt overshoot the Pentagon’s price estimates when all is said and done. But before we spend all that money, one must look around and ask the question: Is this still the best way? In the 21st century, does America really need three ways to launch nukes?………

During the Cold War, each arm of the triad justified its existence by doing something better than the other two. Strategic heavy bombers such as today’s B-2 Spirit and the longstanding B-52H Stratofortress could carry many nuclear bombs and strike multiple geographically distinct targets ……..

Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) loft nuclear warheads into space on ballistic trajectories. They are buried by the hundreds in underground concrete silos scattered across America……

The third arm of the triad was nuclear-powered submarines carrying their own nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles……

But as the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close, the nuclear triad is showing its age. The B-2 Spirit bomber was introduced in the 1990s, while the B-52H has been flying since the early 1960s and may keep working for decades to come. The Minuteman III ICBM was first deployed in the early 1970s. The U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines date to the 1980s and 1990s.

After decades of pushing back plans to replace all three arms, the U.S. is now faced with a situation where it needs to replace all three at once. The new B-21 Raider bomber, which will replace the B-2 bomber, will cost an estimated $97 billion dollars. The new ICBM, Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), will cost around $100 billion. Finally, new ballistic missile submarines will cost $128 billion.

That adds up to a serious bill. The cost is about the equivalent of running the entire U.S. Armed Forces for five months. And the price tag could rise substantially if any of the programs run into expensive technical problems. If history is any guide, then at least one of them will.

Could the U.S. thrive in 21st century without a nuclear triad? To see a possible way forward, just look at the emerging colossus of China. The world’s most populous nation is building more aircraft carriers, more amphibious ships, and more modern combat aircraft than ever before. What China is not doing is significantly expanding its nuclear arsenal.

China has approximately 280 nuclear weapons, a number we can deduce from the amount of fissile material it has produced. That total represents about one sixth the number of deployed U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons. China’s nukes are spread between land-based ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles. It has no air-delivered nuclear weapons for its modest bomber force. In other words, China has a diad.

China is a “no first use” country, meaning it has vowed to never use nuclear weapons first. It also bother with advanced nuclear technologies such as anti-ballistic missile systems or placing multiple warheads on a single missile. Why not? China’s entire nuclear philosophy boils down to this: The country may very well be destroyed by a surprise nuclear attack, but enough Chinese nuclear weapons will survive to make the attack simply not worth it.

Essentially, China’s nuclear doctrine is assured destruction, but stripped of unnecessary complexities. China doesn’t lose any sleep over Russia or America’s overwhelming advantage in nuclear arms. As long as China can hit back and nuke at least a handful of American (or Russian) cities, the balance of terror remains.

Does China’s nuclear posture work? Even a strike against tiny North Korea runs the risk of a nuclear counterstrike by China, and the loss of just one American city would be a catastrophe.

……. it’s hard to ignore the stripped-down logic of the Chinese model, which says the only credibility necessary is the ability to strike back after an attack—the rest is just overthinking the issue.

If that’s truly the case, then what use is a triad? Could the U.S. get rid of one or two arms of the triad, spending that money elsewhere in the defense budget to enhance conventional capabilities?

………Could the U.S. cut ICBMs and rely on a force of submarines and bombers, or submarines alone? These are important questions the American people need to ask before spending $300 billion replicating the weapons of the Cold War. Perhaps the U.S. should stick with the nuclear triad—but at the very least, America needs a national conversation about what nuclear security means and how to achieve it.


January 24, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment