Tag Archives: nuclear weapons

Nuclear Weapons

Today is the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the nuclear bomb on Nagasaki. It is probably a good time to review our own nuclear weapons.

From the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

Given this lack of attention to nuclear weapons, it’s not surprising that in August 2007 a B-52 accidentally flew six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles across the country, from North Dakota to Louisiana, or that four nuclear-missile fuses were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan in 2006. Gates was correct to hold Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne responsible for their lack of attention to nuclear weapons. But the bigger issue is why the Pentagon still needs to keep so many nuclear weapons in its inventory nearly two decades after the Cold War–particularly when just about everyone in the military believes they present minimal strategic utility. General Cartwright, who in 2007 moved from STRATCOM to become Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said as much. In Congressional testimony on March 8, 2007, he declared, “As good as [U.S. conventional weapons] are, we simply cannot be everywhere with our general purpose conventional forces, and use of a nuclear weapon in a prompt response may be no choice at all.”

At the height of the Cold War, the United States possessed more than 30,000 nuclear warheads in its inventory. Today, Washington continues to maintain nearly 10,000 warheads. Reducing that number to no more than 1,000 (600 operational and 400 in reserve) would be more than enough for deterrence; one of the last air force officers to command STRATCOM, Gen. Eugene Habiger, has actually suggested this number. Doing so would allow the air force hierarchy to direct its attention and resources to the challenges of the twenty-first century. According to the recently fired Secretary Wynne, the air force has a budget shortfall of $100 million over the next five years because the baseline defense budget is projected to decline in real terms over this period.

More importantly, reducing our own nuclear arsenal would enable the United States to gain the moral high ground in nonproliferation matters and in our increasingly tense relations with Russia. What better way to enhance our negotiating position with the North Koreans and Iranians than by our living up to Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which obliges us to reduce and eventually eliminate our nuclear stockpile in exchange for others not developing these weapons? And what better way to negotiate a new nuclear reduction treaty with Russia and enhance the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program than by reducing our own nuclear arsenal?

Obama Derangement Syndrome: Iranian Episode

uranium nuclear

If you haven’t noticed, our country has split up into two separate tribesIdiots and Morons. Each tribe has approximately 30-40% of the population. (There’s a separate group that doesn’t belong either tribe that seems to always keep its head stuck firmly in the sand. I really won’t cover or discuss the Independents.) The great thing about this tribal system is that you can take any subject, any subject, and within a few seconds you know where another American stands on every issue because we all root for our tribe. If an American is against abortion, that must mean they don’t believe in climate change… Because that’s the way our tribes work. This tribalism is so sad and so stupid. This brings us to Iran.

One of the stupidest and craziest things about our tribalism is that we are against things without even thinking about it. The best example is an Iranian nuclear deal. Let’s review – during the Bush Administration, for multiple different reasons, we decided that we were not going to directly negotiate with Iran. During the Bush Administration, Iran had somewhere around 200-300 centrifuges. During nuclear negotiations in which we never specifically took part, because at the time we didn’t talk to our enemies, we took the stance that Iran could not have one centrifuge. To us, at the time, this was a nonnegotiable position. So, Iran took the position that we were being unreasonable and continued to acquire centrifuges and nuclear materia. Now, it is widely believed that Iran has over 18,000 centrifuges. (Read more about uranium enrichment.) So, what to do?

Really, and practically, there are three options. First, we can continue on the path set out by George W. Bush. We can continue to try not to negotiate with Iran. We could let the other members of the UN Security Council try to hammer out a deal that we are not part of. (Read the Iranian nuclear timeline.)

The other thing we can do is to take the posture that this is a national security issue. Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is a direct national threat to the United States and our allies under the Bush doctrine. We could and should launch a preemptive military strike to degrade or destroy Iran’s capabilities to develop a nuclear weapon.

The final option is to try to figure out a way to negotiate a settlement in which Iran gives up the ability to make a nuclear weapon in some verifiable manner. On one hand, we get unfettered access to inspect Iran to make sure that it is meeting whatever criteria we agree upon. On the other hand, if Iran complies with these inspections, we began to ease sanctions and we began to invite Iran back into the international community.

If you’re not from one of the tribes, when you sit back and look at your three options, you really only have one option. The first option has been tried and has failed. So I think we can all agree that doing nothing and not negotiating with our “enemies” is clearly the wrong way to go about things. In my opinion, the second option needs to stay on the table, but is not something I think we need to implement now. Instead, we should wait. We should wait until the third option doesn’t work. To me this is the only course of action to make sense. Also, I might add that inspections worked in Iraq. We have irrefutable evidence that inspections did work.

What are your thoughts?

Rick Santorum: Weapons of Mass Destruction

I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. I think this tale illustrates a very important point about Rick Santorum. Data and information do not penetrate his cranium.

Let’s go back to the dark days. We invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003. One of the premier reasons for going to war was that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction. We all remember Colin Powell in front of the UN General assembly laying out the case against Saddam Hussein. According to the Bush administration, Iraq had tons of weapons of mass destruction. This included chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Many people have discussed the frantic and futile search for weapons of mass destruction in 2003. Thomas Ricks has done one of the best jobs at documenting the search in his book, Fiasco. The fact that President Bush and Vice President Cheney personally got involved in the search is critically important. Judith Miller, New York Times reporter and cheerleader for the war, went to Iraq to personally “show” the military where to look. Yet, there were no weapons of mass destruction found. By late 2003 and early 2004, it was clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction to be found in Iraq. By September 2004, the Iraq survey group announced that they did not find any evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction at the time of our invasion in 2003. More study and more handwringing by the Bush administration revealed even more evidence that there were no weapons of mass destruction at the time of our invasion. Yet, in June of 2006, then Senator Rick Santorum decided that he had found something that nobody else had found, chemical weapons in Iraq. He called a press conference to announce his findings.

Congressman Hoekstra and I are here today to say that we have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons. It’s a document that was developed by our intelligence community which for the last two and a half months I have been pursuing. And thanks to the help of the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was ultimately — he was able to get it in his hands, and I was able to look for, and look at.

[…]

This is an incredibly — in my mind — significant finding. The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction is, in fact, false.

We have found over 500 weapons of mass destruction. And in fact have found that there are additional weapons of mass — chemical weapons, still in the country, that need to be recovered.

He was on Hannity and Colmes later on that evening waving his victory flag.

Rick Santorum found nothing. The Iraqi survey group had mentioned “a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions” were discovered after the invasion. For some reason that wasn’t good enough for Rick. He needed more. He KNEW he was right. He was wrong. He showed none of the judgment that one would expect from a Senator. It is clearly not the judgment that we would expect of the president. I find it amazing that people actually sit down and listen to Rick Santorum. When somebody goes that far out of their way to be wrong, it is somewhat mind-boggling. If this were the first incidence of Rick Santorum being way out a limb, you could forgive him, but it is not. Back in 1999, after the invasion of Kosovo, the Clinton Administration was celebrating the victory of NATO forces over Slobodan Milosevic. It was Rick Santorum who called a press conference and stated that he “rejected any notion of a NATO victory.” He knew better. Now, we are beginning to see a pattern. Somehow, some way, Rick Santorum gets this crazy notion in his head and no amount of data is going to change his mind. Rick Santorum is dangerous.