Nuclear Talks With Iran Similar To North Korea

The US Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Aging nuclear arsenal grows ever more costly

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Pipes, tanks and other equipment rust in the humid Southern air. Leaky roofs leave puddles on factory floors. Abandoned buildings are scattered across an 800-acre site contaminated with hundreds of tons of mercury.

If this were a factory making cars in Detroit or steel in Pennsylvania, it would have long ago been shuttered.

But this is the Y-12 National Security Complex, a linchpin of the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons complex, responsible for making thermonuclear assemblies for hydrogen bombs.

The 1940s-era plant is part of a weapons program that has become increasingly costly to operate because of aging equipment, deteriorating facilities and soaring overhead costs. At its root, it is bloated and mismanaged, say former Energy Department officials, outside experts and members of Congress.

The nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile has shrunk by 85% since its Cold War peak half a century ago, but the Energy Department is spending nine times more on each weapon that remains. The nuclear arsenal will cost $8.3 billion this fiscal year, up 30% over the last decade.

The source of some of those costs: skyrocketing profits for contractors, increased security costs for vulnerable facilities and massive investments in projects that were later canceled or postponed.

“We are not getting enough for what we are spending, and we are spending more than what we need,” said Roger Logan, a senior nuclear scientist who retired in 2007 from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “The whole system has failed us.”

The Defense Department’s fleet of submarines, bombers and land-based missiles is also facing obsolescence and will have to be replaced over the next two decades, raising the prospect of further multibillion-dollar cost escalations.

Now the Obama administration is moving forward with a plan to modernize the strategic weapons system over the next decade, an effort the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost $355 billion. That comes as the Pentagon is under pressure to reduce its budget, and outside experts warn that the modernization could reach $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

“Simply stated, there is no plan for success with available resources,” said Norman Augustine, a former Pentagon and defense industry official who is leading a review of the Energy Department’s bomb program.

U.S. nuclear weapons strategy rests on a triad of delivery systems — bombers, submarines and land-based missiles — developed early in the Cold War to deliver warheads anywhere in the world.  Today, elements of the systems are virtual museum pieces. An example is the B-52. One of the massive gray bombers recently sitting on a tarmac at the Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana rolled off Boeing Co.’s assembly line in 1960 — during the Eisenhower administration.

Under current plans, B-52s will probably fly another 26 years. By the time the bomber retires, it will be 80 years old — older than any strike aircraft ever flown in military service.

The other legs of the nuclear triad are 450 1960s-era Minuteman III missiles based in silos in Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska, and 14 Ohio-class submarines from the 1980s that are also nearing the end of the design life of their nuclear propulsion systems.

The nuclear warheads that these vehicles carry are maintained at the legacy sites of the Manhattan Project. Although it is significantly smaller than in its Cold War heyday, the Energy Department industrial complex stretches from South Carolina to California with more than 40,000 employees.

The department has three scientific design laboratories, a site for underground experiments the size of Rhode Island and an assembly factory on the flatlands of West Texas, despite the fact the government hasn’t designed, built or tested a new nuclear warhead in decades.

When the U.S. stockpile reached its peak in 1967 with 31,255 warheads and bombs, it cost $7 billion annually in today’s dollars to build and maintain nuclear weapons.

In that year, the government had seven reactors humming to make plutonium; it built submarine reactors, refined large quantities of plutonium and uranium and manufactured new weapons. Almost once a week, it set off a bomb underground in Nevada.

Today, it does none of those things, but simply maintains the existing 4,804 weapons at $1.3 billion more than in 1967. And the costs would be even higher if items such as submarine reactors, included in the 1967 budget, were added.

We are not getting enough for what we are spending, and we are spending more than what we need. The whole system has failed us. – Roger Logan, a retired senior nuclear scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Don Cook, chief of the nation’s nuclear weapons program for the Energy Department, argued that the size of the stockpile doesn’t matter, because the facilities still have to have capability and special machines to repair even small numbers of weapons.

“You would think the saving grace would be having smaller numbers of weapons, so somehow it must be cheaper, but it doesn’t work that way,” Cook said.

Critics sharply dispute that assertion, saying the department’s capacity is beyond its needs, its vast complex is a political pork barrel, and its operations are hindered by mismanagement.

Profits paid to the contractors that run the system have tripled since 2006 to $312 million, The Times found.

The eight major nuclear weapon labs and production sites are run by a network of joint ventures and private companies, including the University of California, Bechtel Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., Honeywell International Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

The increases came after a series of embarrassing security lapses at Los Alamos National Laboratory while it was managed by the University of California. The lapses led to a movement to pay more and demand far stricter security.

Cook said the agency knew it would have to pay more to attract top-tier defense contractors. “Part of the deal was profit,” he said.

As a result, profits paid to the new consortium hired to run the Los Alamos lab jumped tenfold to $59 million in 2013. At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which is now run by the University of California and San Francisco-based Bechtel, among others, profits grew from $4 million to $41 million.

Costs for security at the labs since 2003 have doubled to $665 million annually in the last decade, a response to Sept. 11. The department also spends more than $100 million a year on cyber security.

Another major cost is maintaining parts for the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Of 70,000 nuclear weapons that the U.S. built, only about 4,800 remain in service. But the government must still maintain a costly inventory of old parts.

Those parts, as well as some retired parts that are too sensitive or toxic for disposal, all have to be guarded in high-security warehouses, said Philip Coyle, former deputy director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and more recently scientific advisor to the Obama administration.

At a Texas warehouse, congressional investigators this year found a stash of 3 million parts, about half of them common screws, nuts and bolts that did not appear to need any special security measures.

In 2010, the Energy Department opened a $549-million warehouse at Y-12 for thousands of parts.

Among the parts are pieces of a megaton-sized weapon that is stored in case Earth has to be defended from an inbound asteroid, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

The $355-billion modernization plan being championed by the Obama administration would upgrade weapon production facilities, refurbish warheads and build new submarines, bombers and ground-based missiles.

The Air Force wants $91 billion to design and build 80 to 100 bombers to replace B-52 and B-2 bombers. The Navy plans to replace its fleet of 14 missile submarines with 12 new boats, along with new missiles, costing about $60 billion. The Air Force would get new land-based missiles and a command-control system for the underground silos at a yet unspecified cost.

“If modernization isn’t done properly, the perception of U.S. strength is at risk — and by extension our national security is at risk,” said Norton A. Schwartz, a retired four-star general who served as Air Force chief of staff.

So far, Congress has set aside only a small fraction of that money. The Energy Department has made several attempts to replace outdated facilities, but the efforts have collapsed.

This year, the department shelved plans for a new plant in South Carolina that would have converted surplus plutonium to commercial reactor fuel. Nearly $4 billion was spent before the project was deemed too expensive.

The department also halted a new plutonium manufacturing plant in New Mexico when the cost shot up sixfold to $5.8 billion.

At the Y-12 National Security Complex, officials put on hold plans to replace the main production facility, a uranium foundry known as Building 9212 that was built during World War II. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, a federal oversight panel, has warned that an earthquake could cause the building to collapse, trigger a fire and release uranium into the environment.

The project to replace it was stopped after costs rose from $600 million to between $12 billion and $19 billion, after $500 million was spent.

Vartebedian reported from Oak Ridge, Hennigan from Barksdale Air Force Base.

Dealing With The Devil

Obama Betrays The United States In Secret Letter To Iran

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L. TODD WOOD — NOVEMBER 7, 2014

The letter to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei supposedly went something like this: you help us in the fight against the Islamic State and we will look the other way in your effort to develop and acquire a nuclear weapons capability.

This letter was from the President of the United States.

In short, Obama is willing to sell out our national security in the process of making himself look good in fighting the new terrorist entity in Iraq. (Yes, the Iraq where he removed troops to get reelected, the consequences to America’s security be damned.)

Now the American public, and his Rasputin advisor, has told Obama that ISIS is a problem. They have told him that he will go down in history as the president who lost the Middle East, who maybe was a terrorist himself. He cannot afford this in his legacy, so he will do anything to prevent this narrative.

This includes allowing a forsworn enemy of Israel and America to get the atomic bomb. Iran has declared multiple times in recent memory that their goal is the destruction of Israel, the Jewish State. They have supported terrorism all around the world, not just the Middle East.

The Islamic state is a jihadist state that wants nuclear weapons. Iran IS a jihadist state that WILL SOON HAVE nuclear weapons.

Many experts are now voicing the fact that the existence of Obama’s letter destroys all chances of Iran being pressured into halting the development of nuclear weapons. Obama doesn’t care about this. He never cared about this.

This was his plan all along. Just like Iran, he delayed, he looked the other way, he negotiated, and now he has dealt with the devil himself. The only problem is he just got caught.

I don’t think the existence of this letter was meant to be public. Now, he will scramble to deny, obfuscate, and generally just ignore the weak mainstream media as they make feeble attempts to hold him accountable.

This episode is just another example of the treasonous nature of this administration. I have said multiple times that he is the Manchurian president, not concerned with the security of our country. No, he has a much darker agenda.

We will not understand the full evil of his presidency until long after he is gone and the truth comes out. That is, IF he leaves office in 2016.

Iran’s Uranium Stockpile Grows

Iran’s uranium stockpile grows before deadline for nuclear deal

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Video cameras are set up for a news conference prior to a meeting between EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna October 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger/Files

(Reuters) – Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium gas has grown by 8 percent to nearly 8.4 tonnes in about two months, U.N. atomic inspectors say, an amount world powers probably will want to see cut under any nuclear deal with Tehran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency issued a confidential report on Iran to IAEA member states on Friday, less than three weeks before a Nov. 24 deadline for Iran and six world powers to resolve their stand-off over Tehran’s atomic activities.

Iran’s holding of refined uranium gas is one of the factors that could determine how much time it would need for any attempt to assemble nuclear weapons. Iran says it has no such goal but the West wants verifiable action by the Islamic Republic to make sure it cannot produce an atomic bomb any time soon.

Iran and the six states will meet in Vienna from Nov. 18 to try to seal a long-term agreement to end a dispute that over the last decade has often raised fears of a new Middle East war.

The IAEA report said Iran’s stock of uranium gas refined to a fissile concentration of up to 5 percent stood at 8,390 kg, a rise of 625 kg since its previous report in September.

Iran says it produces enriched uranium to make fuel for nuclear power plants. But if processed to a high degree, 90 percent, the material could also provide the fissile core of a nuclear weapon, which the West fears may be its ultimate aim.

Iran halted its most sensitive enrichment work – of 20 percent refined uranium – under an interim deal with the powers last November. But it is still making the lower-grade uranium.

Western experts say Iran would now be able to amass enough high-enriched fissile material for one bomb in a few months, if it opted for such a weapon of mass destruction. The United States wants this “breakout time” extended to at least a year.

One way to help achieve that, Western officials and experts say, is for Iran to ship out a large part of its stockpile to Russia where it would be turned into nuclear fuel rods, making it much more difficult to process into bomb material.

Diplomats said there was as yet no agreement on this issue and that the main sticking point in the talks – Iran’s overall enrichment capacity – remained unresolved.

“It’s a piece of the puzzle,” one Western diplomat said. “The Iranians agree on the principle, but it’s a point that doesn’t resolve everything.”

Iran agreed under last year’s temporary accord with the United States, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and China to limit its reserve of low-enriched uranium gas by converting new production into a less proliferation-sensitive oxide form, which it started doing a few months ago.

The stockpile is now above the defined level but Iran still has time to reduce it before the temporary deal expires this month, when it is supposed to be replaced by a long-term one.

Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the non-proliferation program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank, said he believed the powers would want to see the holding sharply reduced in any permanent settlement.

“If the stockpile is eliminated, then it may be possible to allow Iran a larger number of centrifuges,” he said, referring to the machines that produce enriched uranium.

(Additional reporting by John Irish; Editing by Mark Heinrich)