Archive for the ‘Nuclear Weapons’ Category


The article Taking disarmament seriously, as with many arms control advocacy pieces, presumes what it sets out to prove.

That doesn’t work for me.  I can’t take disarmament arguments seriously without serious arguments.  Arms controllers tend to be full of “we gotta” while ignoring the “and here’s how we’re gonna” part.

So in the “we gotta” regard, the article attempts to build a sense of crisis regarding nuclear war while attributing the lack of nuclear war to luck, which, sans evidence, is a hard thing to do.  The “we gotta” also always assumes the efficacy of arms control treaties. (more…)


The Washington Times and the Washington Post both report on Russian ‘compliance issues,’ regarding the 1991 version of START, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the international convention banning biological weapons.

Compliance issues is of course code for both purposeful cheating and inadvertent non-compliance.

Are these compliance issues serious?  Well, the headline in the Post says this could sink new START.

I expect the script from the arms control industry to be something like  “I’m shocked, shocked to find that non-compliance is being accused of the Russians!  People need to get out of their Cold War mentality.  These are minor and easily explained issues.”

Hmm.  Didn’t we just catch, trade, and release a dozen Russian spies?

At what point is non-compliance considered cheating and based on outcomes, how much more serious is the later?

The way ahead for new START should be to perform due diligence, and to have full understanding and knowledge of the capabilities, limitations, and vulnerabilities associated with the treaty.  As it is, the tension in the political theater includes the significant treaty issues both of pace and content.

The Times article goes w-a-y further into nuclear proliferation issues regarding North Korea, Iran, Syria, China, Russia, and Myanmar AKA Burma.

Anti-nuclear proliferation versus arms control appears to be where the real security issue–right now–most seriously lies.

Valerie Plame on how to dismantle 23000 atomic bombs, the title of which is of course never answered.  In fact, how to get to zero nuclear weapons, the real intent of the film being promoted, appears to be unaddressed as well.

Is nuclear proliferation a great threat?  Yes.  Do we have a plausible plan that will get the world to zero nuclear weapons?  Absolutely not.  Does the United States having 5000-plus nuclear weapons threaten world peace?  No.  That’s about like asserting that the police department having more bullets makes a town unsafe.

Ignore the misrepresentations in the introduction (she was actually outed by Richard Armitage; her husband’s assertions were all proven wrong) of the Mother Jones article which is a puff piece designed to highlight the movie Countdown To Zero.

If Valerie Plame looked like Helen Thomas, the media would have had zero interest in anything she had to say.

According to the LA Times, if new START is not ratified by the Senate, it will be for three reasons:

  1. Missile defense concerns
  2. Nuclear modernization concerns
  3. Verification concerns

Not mentioned are a few other areas critics bring forward:

  1. Lack of an integrated security effect–Russia’s ten-to-one tactical nuclear weapons are ignored
  2. Lack of effect on nuclear proliferation
  3. Weak or non-effect of a bilateral treaty in a multilateral nuclear world

The second group tends to be glossed over by the arms-control industry.

Has the Iranian disinformation campaign kicked-off?

So the Iranian spy-guy and former $5 million man turns out to be a radiation safety specialist who asserts there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. Little ventured, little lost.

If he says Iran has no nuclear weapons program, we’d have to know how he knows. Conversely, if he said there is a nuclear weapons program, the guy’s informational bona fides would have to be vetted.  Chances are excellent he couldn’t do either one and was let go.

It seems clear that the people of Iran would benefit greatly if their leaders allowed for intrusive nuclear inspections, provided no clandestine nuclear programs exits.

Still, as David Kay points out, even intrusive inspections and verification efforts are incapable of keeping a determined (and already nearly nuclear) nation like Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

If you want to know if something works, you use it, or at least test it.

Unless the something is a nuclear weapon.

Then we use computers and simulations in lieu of testing.  That seems reasonable…up to a point.

So why do we test our ICBMs, SLBMs, or bombers?  To make sure they work.

Vandenberg had a Minuteman III test this week and the Navy tested two Trident IIs this week as well.  Somewhere, I’m confident that a B-52 and a B-2 flew a mission.

So still no nuclear weapons tests?  I wonder if a ‘must-test’ metric even exists.

The idea that the U.S. not testing will keep someone like Iran or Syria from pursuing a nuclear weapons program is absurd at every level.

The compelling point here is that nuclear life extension programs are not the same as nuclear modernization.

Nuclear weapons, as with Overhauling and Pimp My Ride, can end up with a configuration where the existing product is a significant departure from the original.

The good news for those shows is they can turn the key and determine with certainty if Jamie’s Cutlass Supreme can make it out of the garage, or if the hot tub in the back of Uncle Rico’s love van will actually hold water and blow bubbles.

Since we haven’t tested nuclear weapons since 1992, would they still go boom as required?  The folks at the labs–at this point–say yes.

As author John Noonan points out, the average age of our nuclear weapons is about 30 years old.  In continuing the vehicular analogy, I’d prefer to be driving a modern car with capabilities like anti-lock brakes, air bags, and fuel injection than one of that approximate vintage such as the Chevy Chevette, AMC Pacer, Dodge Omni, or the Yugo.

I’m sure I’ve missed a good “I Can’t Drive 55” tie-in here, but I don’t want to be accused of nuclear warmongering.