International nuclear watch & discussion -28-Mar-08

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Postby Gerard » 26 Mar 2008 05:44


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Postby Tilak » 26 Mar 2008 07:14

Pentagon Admits Mistaken Shipment of Missile Fuses
By Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 25, 2008; 2:35 PM

The U.S. Air Force mistakenly shipped fuses that are used in nuclear weapons to Taiwan in 2006, believing the crates contained helicopter batteries, officials at the Pentagon announced this morning.

The error -- undetected by the United States until last week, despite repeated inquiries by Taiwan -- raises questions about how carefully the Pentagon safeguards its weapons systems.
{As if somebody is going to buy such bull crap}
It also exposes the United States to criticism from China, a staunch opponent of a militarized Taiwan.

Pentagon officials said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has launched a full investigation. The devices -- which, when attached to a missile, help launch the detonating process -- have been returned to the United States, and President Bush has been briefed.

"There are multiple players; there are multiple parties involved," said Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense policy. "We'll do a thorough investigation, and those who are found responsible will be held accountable." :rotfl:

Among other things, officials will try to determine why no one noticed that the four boxes of components were missing, even though Pentagon policy requires inventory reconciliation every three months. The probe will also focus on whether any other material has been wrongly shipped or cannot be located. An initial evaluation suggests the devices were not tampered with while they were in Taiwan, officials said.

Henry, who called the error "disconcerting," said the government of Taiwan acted "very responsibly," quickly notifying the United States that the four boxes it received in fall 2006 did not appear to contain what had been ordered. However, both he and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne added, more than a year passed before the United States realized what had been shipped and moved to get the fuses back.

"It wasn't until this week that we became aware that they had something akin to a nose-cone assembly," Ryan said. "There were early communications, but we thought we were hearing one thing, and in reality they were saying something different."

Ryan said U.S. officials have notified authorities in Beijing, which considers Taiwan to be part of China and opposes its independence. Neither he nor Wynne answered a reporter who asked how China responded.

"Our policy on Taiwan arm sales has not changed. This specific incident was an error in process only and was not indicative of a policy change," Henry said. "We made an error in execution, and we notified them as soon as we were aware of it." :oops:

Wynne described the devices as "the electrical firing mechanism that allows" an intercontinental ballistic missile "to detonate -- just like the fuse on a stick of dynamite." The fuses were manufactured for use on a Minuteman strategic nuclear missile but contain no nuclear materials.

The devices would not work on any other missile system, officials said.

The nose cones, designed for a missile system that dates to the 1960s, were declared excess in March 2005 and shipped to a warehouse on an Air Force base in Wyoming, officials said. It is unclear whether they were placed in a classified storage area or how they were eventually mistaken for crates of batteries.

In response to a question from a reporter, Wynne said the Pentagon is still analyzing whether the shipment violated U.S. law or any treaties regulating arms trade and nuclear weapons policies.

"If there was a violation, we are coming forth with it as soon as we became aware of it," Wynne said. "And if there was something that was amiss, it clearly was not intentional. The United States stands by its treaty obligations."


This is clearly pre-emption on the part of US, due to an unfavourable election result in Taiwan... As the "selective proliferation" drama of US and P5 might unfold.. That will leave the Perkovich and Milholin's to turn around and say "if this could happen in US.. imagine what would happen in case of India ... blah blah" [ie. trying to cover up it's own doo doo and leverage it into an advantage wrt. others like India].

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Postby Gerard » 26 Mar 2008 08:52


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Postby Gerard » 27 Mar 2008 00:56

Mozambique: Assembly Ratifies African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone
The first nuclear-weapon free zone was Antarctica, declared as such in 1959. Much more significant was the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty, which declared Latin America and the Caribbean to be a nuclear weapon free zone. This was followed by the Rarotonga Treaty in 1985 (for the South Pacific), the Bangkok treaty in 1995 (for south-east Asia), and the Semipalatinsk Treaty in 2006 (for central Asia).
All parties to the Pelindaba Treaty undertake "not to conduct research on, develop, manufacture, stockpile or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over any nuclear explosive device by any means anywhere" and "not to seek or receive any assistance in the research on, development, manufacture, stockpiling or acquisition, or possession of any nuclear explosive device".

They also pledge to prohibit the stationing of any nuclear device on their territory. Not only does the treaty seek to ban nuclear tests in Africa, but the signatories also promise "not to assist or encourage the testing of any nuclear explosive device by any State anywhere".

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Postby Gerard » 28 Mar 2008 04:09


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Postby Gerard » 28 Mar 2008 23:55

Nuclear weapons
Just how low can you go?

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Postby svinayak » 29 Mar 2008 00:00

Image

Gerard
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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 00:14

U.S. warhead error adds to troubled history
Taiwan had apparently accumulated enough plutonium-bearing spent fuel from the Lung Tan reactor by 1988 for more than 10 weapons. It was also making a secret reprocessing facility and had even begun shaping bomb cores.

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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 00:42


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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 04:03

DPRK formally denies uranium enrichment, nuclear co-op with Syria
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday categorically denied it had ever carried out uranium enrichment nor had it proliferated nuclear facilities to other countries.

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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 04:06


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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 04:12

Lawsuit to stop Large Hadron Collider
Walter F. Wagner and his colleague Luis Sancho have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop work on the Large Hadron Collider, a gigantic atom smasher on the Franco-Swiss border that's set to start operations in May.

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Postby Sanjay M » 29 Mar 2008 06:45


Gerard
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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 21:15


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Postby SaiK » 29 Mar 2008 21:20

Gerard, you the vital clue for me to visit here and see the links you post. Keep it up buddy.

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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 21:21


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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 21:42


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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 21:48

Disarmament redux: The U.S. foreign policy establishment is beginning to consider progress toward "the d-word"—above and beyond deterrence—a global security imperative.

http://thebulletin.metapress.com/conten ... lltext.pdf

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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 21:51

U.S. nuclear forces, 2008

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
Volume 64, Number 1 / March/April 2008
Nuclear Notebook

http://thebulletin.metapress.com/conten ... lltext.pdf

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Postby Gerard » 29 Mar 2008 21:55


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Postby Rye » 30 Mar 2008 02:36

Excerpt from Gerard's "public" discussion post.

Does the following set of facts point to a country that is about to give up nukes?


Energy is calling its plan to consolidate and rebuild the nuclear weapons complex "Complex Transformation." The draft environmental impact statement evaluates four transformation options: a status quo option; the preferred option for consolidating functions and an alternative that would concentrate some functions still more; and a "capability-based" option that would assure a "capability to manufacture and assemble weapons at a nominal level," which Energy defines as 50 nuclear weapons a year.

Energy's "preferred" option would reduce square footage in the weapons complex by 9 million square feet and cut personnel by 20-30 percent. Like now, it would maintain eight facilities in seven states, but reconfigure some of their functions. For example, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory would lose its plutonium facility and hydrotesting capability, becoming more of a nuclear weapons research and development lab, while Los Alamos National Laboratory would enlarge its plutonium pit production rate by about eight times, but lose the work it does on high explosives and testing of warhead components in simulated environments. The preferred option is largely designed to consolidate highly enriched uranium, plutonium, and tritium (which are toxic and expensive to guard) in fewer places.

I admired the activists' tenacity. Many complained that Energy had ignored their criticisms from an earlier hearing about how to shape the study now under discussion. Yet, although their views were clearly unwelcome, they came back to make their criticisms all over again. And, for three hours, they were in Energy's inner sanctum, making stony Energy officials listen.

Many of the activists said the new complex would violate U.S. commitments to disarmament under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The activists also, and this must be a first, kept invoking former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger with approval. (Kissinger recently signed on to two Wall Street Journal op-eds that called for the abolition of nuclear weapons; see "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons" and "Toward a Nuclear-Free World.")

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Postby Gerard » 30 Mar 2008 03:27

But did the US actually say they were giving up their nukes?

The NPT after all is an arms control treaty, not a disarmament treaty.

A disarmament treaty (like the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Warfare Convention, the land mines treaty) sets a date by which all countries must destroy their arms. It does not create two classes of states - those that get to keep their weapons and those which must not possess them. The NPT is unique in this regard.

Arms control is not disarmament. It is about controlling who is allowed to have certain armaments.

What Shultz, Kissinger, Perry and Nunn propose is actually not disarmament. They wrote that
we must establish a goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and take incremental steps toward that goal, ratifying the CTBT, negotiating a verifiable fissile-material cutoff treaty, and establishing greater international control of the nuclear fuel cycle


The US is promising a goal of disarmament, not actual disarmament. In exchange for this goal, it wants arms control - treaties like the LTBT, CTBT, FMCT whose real aim is to hobble the technological capability of potential competitors. The next increment is GNEP - taking the fuel cycle (and thus any potential for breakout capability) away from other states and reserving that to a chosen few.

The "early date" referred to in article VI of the NPT is now a distant goal. The rights of NNWS under article IV are now collective rights, to be exercised under the control of the NWS.

After all, if they were really serious about disarmament, there would be no need for CTBT, FMCT etc. since there would be no weapons to test or produce fissile material for.

The US and the Soviets drafted the NPT as arms control and other states interpreted it as disarmament.
As PT Barnum used to say, "there is a sucker born every minute".

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Postby Rye » 30 Mar 2008 03:42

Gerard wrote:
The next increment is GNEP - taking the fuel cycle (and thus any potential for breakout capability) away from other states and reserving that to a chosen few.



The reason for the GNEP is so that these select few countries become the next generation of Nuclear Sheikhs getting fat off fuel cycle revenues without lifting a finger.


These select few nuclear sheikh countries cannot let the knowledge of building the plants slip to other countries that are currently poor, and they cannot let these countries develop beyond a certain point because they will then start competing with the "international community".

The profits from being in control of crucial parts of the global energy trade will make the current set of Oil sheikhs look like the street corner kerosene vendor, if the revenue generated from the fuel cycle energy trade is compared to the revenues generated from the current global oil trade.

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Postby Gerard » 30 Mar 2008 04:44

There is a lot of whining by NNWS at the NPT meetings about the article VI obligations of the NWS.

These are the same states that in 1995 extended the NPT indefinitely, for all time, without specifying a time frame (not even a hundred years) by which total nuclear disarmament should take place.

In 1998, some Brazilian academics criticized India and suggested it follow the lead of Brazil in signing the NPT. Brazil was benefiting they said, from US help in their space programme, while India's programme was under sanctions. Well, it is 2008 and India is sending a probe to the moon while Brazil's SLV is yet to fly successfully. Not even a football has been sent into orbit by Brazil.

Article VI promises disarmament in the future... and the future is always in the future...

Article IV, which exists because of the influence of Homi Bhabi, is about to be subverted under GNEP, in the name of article VI.

Such is the fate of those who read a treaty, not for what it said, but for what they wanted it to say.

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Postby Gerard » 30 Mar 2008 06:28


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Postby Gerard » 30 Mar 2008 06:33


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Postby Gerard » 30 Mar 2008 06:37


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Postby Rye » 30 Mar 2008 07:10

NKorean military hardliners seen behind nuclear deal deadlock
7 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Hardliners in North Korea's powerful military may be resisting a US-led deal for the hardline communist state to disband its nuclear weapons program, according to US experts.


Is it a coincidence that the west raises pressure on China in the Tibet issue and North Korea suddenly has a problem cooperating with the "international community"?

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Postby Gerard » 30 Mar 2008 07:20

Professor pushes nuclear power
Singh's passion for nuclear power generation developed over the past few years as he became convinced that global warming is being caused by human activity. Yet he also thinks the U.S. was right to reject the Kyoto Treaty because China and India were exempted from having to reduce emissions.
Truth is, he said, Three Mile Island's partial meltdown resulted in no immediate fatalities and one long-term cancer fatality. The Chernobyl meltdown was infinitely worse because of Soviet-era incompetence. It killed about 60 people immediately and put thousands of others at enhanced cancer risk.

By contrast, nearly 4,000 people were killed when the Union Carbide subsidiary pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, accidentally released methyl isocyanate into the air 24 years ago, Singh said. About 15,000 people reportedly have died since then as a result of the pesticide exposure.

"Nobody has called for the shutdown of chemical processing plants," Singh said. "Why do we call for the shutdown of nuclear plants after Three Mile Island?"

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Postby Gerard » 30 Mar 2008 18:42


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Postby Sanjay M » 31 Mar 2008 01:57

Nanomaterials Efficiently Convert Nuclear Radiation into Electricity

The materials they are testing would extract up to 20 times more power from radioactive decay than thermoelectric materials, they calculate.


Here's another blurb, but with a lot of interesting comments below it:

http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl ... 28/1529235

Here's even more detail:

http://nextbigfuture.com/2008/03/direct ... -into.html

Another predictable advantage of the nano-structure is the property of self-repairing and self-organizing structure to compensate the radiation damage and improve the lifetime. Due to the direct conversion the power density of the new materials may increase from the actual average of 0.2 kw/cm^3 to about 1 kw/cm^3 driving to miniaturization of nuclear power sources and reductions of the shield weight. At these dimensions and power densities of few thousands horse power per liter the nuclear power source becomes suitable for mobile applications as powering trains, strategic airplanes, etc. These new developments may drive to the production of high power solid-state compact nuclear battery for space applications, leading to a new development stage.
Last edited by Sanjay M on 31 Mar 2008 08:24, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Gerard » 31 Mar 2008 05:05


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Postby Sanjay M » 31 Mar 2008 08:56

Regarding these new efficient "radioelectric" or betavoltaic materials, if these allow for power outputs that are seen to be feasible for transportation applications, then I'm wondering which applications might be the best?

Preferably ones which require long endurance between refuelings.

Space probes are obvious of course - particularly those which away from the sun, where sunlight is weak. Maybe the next Mars rovers? They could be dune-buggy sized.
How about powering a Chandrayaan-2 moonrover exploring the dark regions of the Moon, searching for frozen water?

But what about applications here on Earth?

Maybe an Indian nuclear sub could use this. Perhaps something smaller than the ATV. It would be much more compact than a mini nuclear reactor with turbine assembly. The thing could directly power an electric drive. Your submersible could be smaller and have more room inside it.
The Tata Nano of N-submarines?

What about powering a base/outpost/station in the Himalayas or the Antarctic?
If you had to man an outpost high up near the Tibet border, then this high-efficiency betavoltaic system could provide long-term steady heat and power, without danger of overload/meltdown/etc. Just think of it as an oversized radium-watchdial, with enough power to light your outpost, and even give hot water for hot showers.

What about powering a large land-transport vehicle to rove around the Antarctic wasteland? The thing could travel around for years, without having to refuel.

What about powering a large airship-blimp that could fly around the world nonstop without refuelling? Something like a Walrus type of craft?

Or what about powering a GlobalHawk type of drone, for long-loitering and surveillance?

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Postby Gerard » 31 Mar 2008 18:59

Would-be nuclear nations a risk
Global community needs to train, follow up on countries that are novices in generating power from atomic fission.

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Postby Gerard » 31 Mar 2008 19:00

The new nuclear risk
By Joschka Fischer
Global disarmament must start at the top - with the US and Russia. But first we need to update the non-proliferation treaty
The NPT remains indispensable and needs urgent revision. However, this central pillar of international proliferation control is on the brink of collapse. The most recent review conference in New York, in May 2005, ended virtually without any result.
The essential defect of the NPT is now visible
the treaty permits the development of all nuclear components indispensable for military use - particularly uranium enrichment - so long as there is no outright nuclear weapons program. This means that in emerging nuclear countries only one single political decision is required to "weaponise" a nuclear program. This kind of "security" is not sufficient.
Solving this problem will require the internationalisation of access to civilian nuclear technology, along with filling the security gap under the existing NPT and substantially more far-reaching monitoring of all states that want to be part of such a system.

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Postby Gerard » 31 Mar 2008 19:08


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Postby Gerard » 31 Mar 2008 19:18

Joschka Fischer does not propose amending article VI to include a cutoff date for the NWS to disarm... not in ten years, twenty years, or a hundred years. He does not propose that Europe take the lead in disarmament, with France and the UK destroying their weapons. Instead he proposes more arms control measures - GNEP restrictions via amending the rights of NNWS in article IV.

While they are amending the NPT, India should propose an amendment of its own... just a single character in the treaty text needs to changed for India to sign the NPT... in article IX - changing a '6' to a '7'.


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