Two Of The Ten Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7)

US Nuclear Deal With Russia Fails as Tensions Rise

The Trinity Bomb Los Alamos

The Trinity Bomb in Los Alamos
WASHINGTON — The growing confrontation between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine has derailed a recent accord that promised one of the most expansive collaborations ever between the countries’ nuclear scientists, including reciprocal visits to atomic sites to work on projects ranging from energy to planetary defense.
It was only 11 months ago that the American energy secretary — Ernest J. Moniz, a former M.I.T. professor who has championed scientific programs that would bury the Cold War competitions between the United States and Russia — went to Vienna to sign the agreement, an indication of how recently the Obama administration believed it had a chance of building on a quarter-century of gradual integration of Russia with the West.
Handshakes and congratulations exchanged with Mr. Moniz’s Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Kirienko, sealed an arrangement that would let Russian scientists into, among other places, the heart of the American nuclear complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was constructed 70 years ago, and a dozen sister laboratories devoted to the making of the American nuclear arsenal. In return, American scientists would be allowed deep into Russian nuclear facilities, including the birthplace of the Soviet bomb.
The Energy Department’s announcement of the deal also highlighted its potential for “defense from asteroids,” shorthand for a proposal to recycle a city-busting warhead that could be aimed at an incoming earth-destroyer — a plot Hollywood had imagined 15 years before in two far-fetched thrillers, “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact,” in which Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck, among others, saved humanity.
Today, the real-life accord is on ice. This year, the Energy Department canceled nuclear meetings, symposia and lab visits with Russia.
Daniel B. Poneman, the deputy energy secretary, said that Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March had prompted the decision to freeze the accord.
“We’ve made it very clear that this is not a time for business as usual,” Mr. Poneman said Friday in his office. He added, however, that the Energy Department continued to work with Russia on the security of atomic materials.
American officials and experts say the decision will limit how much each side knows about the other’s capabilities and intentions after more than two decades in which American and Russian nuclear scientists worked alongside one another. Those programs let once-bitter rivals, locked in the ultimate arms race, take each other’s measure and deepen relationships, reducing the chances for deadly miscalculation and technological surprise.
Now, both sides are slipping back toward habits reminiscent of the Cold War. The joint atomic projects have declined substantially. Last week, Washington accused Moscow of violating a major arms treaty on missile technology. After the negotiation of the modest New Start treaty in 2010, progress toward another round of nuclear warhead reductions is dead in the water and unlikely to be revived during President Obama’s term in office.
Satellite photographs released publicly by American intelligence agencies purport to show the movement of heavy arms across the Ukrainian border from Russia — evidence reminiscent of the kind released by the United States during conflicts half a century ago over Cuba and Berlin.
Perhaps most startling is not the direction of these steps, but their speed: As recently as January, the two sides were meeting regularly on joint arms control and scientific programs. The cancellations show how rapidly Mr. Obama has moved from a strategy that assumed Russia’s continued interest in cooperation to one that assumes that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is out to take as much territory and control as he can, and that letting Russian scientists into America’s nuclear complex is unwise.
For Mr. Obama, the motivation for negotiating the accord clearly had much less to do with asteroid destruction than geopolitics.
The United States’ 20-year effort to secure Soviet nuclear materials was winding down. Siegfried S. Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos weapons lab who has worked closely with Russian scientists, said the agreement had promised a new phase of teamwork and technical collaboration.
“It was an attempt to get back to good scientific cooperation,” Mr. Hecker said. “Unfortunately, such things were struggling before Ukraine and have gone nowhere since.”
That is not true of every effort at cooperation. Americans and Russians are still working alongside each other, though increasingly at cross-purposes, on the Iranian nuclear negotiations. The United States still needs its astronauts to ride to the International Space Station on Russian rockets, and it wants to keep buying Russian engines for its missiles.
Even so, at a moment when the White House is imposing sanctions and working to counter the flow of weapons into Ukraine, it might be difficult to justify an exchange of nuclear scientists. But some experts say it is when times are tense that such midlevel interchanges are the most critical.
“The idea of having thick relations with Russian nuclear scientists is a good idea,” said Graham Allison, a Harvard professor who negotiated some early deals on securing the Soviet arsenal during the Clinton administration, the peak of cooperation between American and Russian nuclear weapons scientists. “People get to know each other, work on joint projects, and there is a basis for conversation and cooperation.”
That was part of the impetus, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, behind the West’s effort to fund new projects for Russian nuclear scientists. Keeping them busily employed, the theory went, made it less likely that they would sell their expertise to Iran, North Korea or a terrorist group with nuclear ambitions.
But the agreement last fall went far beyond that: It promised cooperation on complex, if peaceful, nuclear programs, including wide Russian access to the American nuclear complex.
While it would have allowed both sides to exclude “sensitive” military sites, it listed 137 American installations at 15 locations from coast to coast, including the centers for nuclear weapons design at Los Alamos and in Albuquerque and Livermore, Calif.
The 25 installations at Los Alamos included firing sites, the Warhead Verification Test Lab, the Sigma Complex for materials development and the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility, a giant X-ray machine that can peer into bomb processes.
The accord also listed five installations at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, including a giant particle accelerator that runs through miles of tunnels. At the Livermore lab, the Russians were to get access to a $5 billion laser the size of a football stadium designed to ignite miniature hydrogen bomb explosions.
The September accord was posted online late last year by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit news organization based in Washington. The disclosure received little public notice.
In October, a month after the accord was signed, Russian and American scientists from the nuclear laboratories held preliminary discussions on planetary defense, said an American official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the topic’s political implications.
In January, the State Department held a space forum in Washington with representatives of many countries, including Russia. It called for international cooperation on projects such as defending Earth from asteroids.
“We may have different flags patched to our spacesuits,” John P. Holdren, the president’s science adviser, said in an opening address. But as cooperative space projects have demonstrated, he added, “we can transcend these differences.”
William J. Burns, the deputy secretary of state, told the group that the United States welcomed global support for missions that would “help us learn how to better defend our planet from a catastrophic asteroid collision.”
While asteroid defense may seem like the stuff of science fiction, the risk burst into public consciousness early last year when a meteor exploded over Russia and injured more than 1,200 people, mostly as windows shattered into clouds of flying glass. “It’s not a laughing matter,” said William E. Burrows, author of the new book “The Asteroid Threat.” “If it brings the international community together, that’s a good thing.”
But the cooperative mood vanished after the invasion of Crimea. Russia complained bitterly: In April, Rosatom, its state nuclear energy company and partner in the accord, put out a statement calling the suspension of the partnership “a mistake that contradicts the constructive atmosphere that has built up.”
Politics, it added, “should have no place in this field.”

Sorry, We Will Fight A Nuclear Iran (Daniel 7-8)

The State Journal-Register


US Israel Iran War

As a combat veteran, my world view was profoundly impacted by my deployment to Iraq.

While the United States rid the world of a brutal dictator, the tremendous costs of the war — thousands of American lives lost, more than 10 times as many wounded and a cost estimated at $1 trillion — are stark reminders of the dangers of launching an unnecessary war as a result of shortsighted foreign policy.

As Iraq descends further into chaos, the world’s attention has shifted to Iraq’s neighbor Iran, as the United States and its partners sought to prevent another unnecessary war in the Middle East.

Iran, a country that has vowed to blow Israel off the map and provided weapons to the United States’ enemies during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is getting alarmingly close to developing a nuclear weapon. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described the Iranian situation as “the most significant national security problem this country has faced in the last 50 years.”

Last year, the United States forced Iran to the negotiating table after the successful use of diplomacy and aggressive economic sanctions. Both sides reached a preliminary agreement for Iran to effectively freeze its nuclear program in exchange for the West gradually reducing sanctions.
While diplomats in Vienna recently were unable to reach a long-term deal, negotiations were extended until November, preserving the hope for a diplomatic solution.

The costs of failing to reach a deal are immense. A nuclear Iran represents a clear and present danger to America and its allies. If a nuclear Iran was imminent, the Obama administration would be under tremendous pressure to conduct military strikes — strikes that largely would be ineffectual without the presence of ground troops to fully eliminate Iran’s nuclear program.

Critics who oppose an agreement argue that Iran cannot be trusted to keep its promises, insisting it will continue to pursue a nuclear weapon in secret.

While a history of provocative actions and defiance of the international community make one weary of trusting Iran’s sincerity, critics routinely ignore that any deal would include verification of compliance. Without a deal, we are blind to everything Iran does; with a deal, its power plants and research facilities are under a microscope of cameras and inspectors.

Still, those focused on vilifying President Barack Obama are sure to insist that negotiating with Iran shows more weakness from an administration that has “emboldened our enemies.” This is simply not true. Dick Cheney’s foreign policy got us into the war with Iraq, and it will get us into a war with Iran just as quickly.

By isolating Iran from the world and forcing it to the negotiating table, our goal of an Iran without a nuclear weapons program is within reach.

Achieving a deal with Iran will not be easy, but it is essential. Iran has seen how the United States handles a nuclear North Korea with kid gloves while brashly invading a non-nuclear Iraq. It will not easily be dissuaded from its nuclear ambitions.

The choice Americans face is another long and costly war in the Middle East or a diplomatic resolution.

The Bush administration’s go-it-alone, diplomacy-be-damned approach to foreign politics does not work, and the military bore the brunt of the costs of this shortsighted policy.

We have an opportunity to learn from the past decade’s mistakes and give diplomacy a chance. Failure to do so will have dire consequences for our military, our country and the international community.

War should be an option of last resort, not the offspring of a faulty worldview.

Derrik Gay is a former intelligence officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and a student at Northwestern University. He is a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council. He lives in Evanston.