The New Age of Nuclear Terrorism

https://defenceindepth.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/blog-post-rob-and-chris-nuclear-terrorism.jpg?w=532&h=299Banking Against the New Age of Nuclear Terror BloombergView
Tobin Harshaw
(Bloomberg View) — Arguably, nuclear weapons are now a greater threat to the U.S. and the world than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Actually, it’s not even arguable: North Korea is showering the Pacific with nuclear-capable missiles; South Korea and Japan may in turn pursue their own programs; President Donald Trump is again talking of ripping up the Iran nuclear pact; the Tehran regime is illegally testing its own ballistic arsenal; nuclear-armed Pakistan’s increasingly volatile politics raise a threat to India and beyond; Russia’s Vladimir Putin is eyeing a Soviet-style buildup; China is building nuclear-capable submarines; and there is always the worry that terrorist groups might get their hands on enough radiological material to craft a “dirty bomb.”
QuickTake Nuclear Power
Yet here’s some good news: On Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency will officially open the world’s first “bank” for enriched nuclear fuel in Kazakhstan. The LEU facility is an important option for countries that want the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy, without the significant costs of uranium enrichment and without the risks of proliferation. Low-enriched uranium is needed for peaceful reactors, and the bank says it will provide an assured international supply of nuclear fuel on a nondiscriminatory, nonpolitical basis in the event of a supply disruption.
While many nations and groups — including the European Union, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and Kuwait — deserve credit for the bank’s creation, special mention goes to two great Americans: former senator Sam Nunn of Georgia, and a fellow from Nebraska more familiar to Bloomberg readers for his success in other fields: Warren Buffett.
Buffett put up an initial $50 million for the bank, which other donors matched two-for-one. Nunn, who for decades was Congress’s leading light on military issues, is the founder, along with Ted Turner, of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit group that has done much of the legwork on efforts to keep nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists. (Take a moment to check out its Nuclear Security Index, an interactive graphic on global risks of theft and sabotage involving fissile materials.)
Another great American, Ernest Moniz, a longtime nuclear scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who most recently served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of energy, is now the chief executive officer of NTI. (He has also won the coveted “Best Hair at the State of the Union” award from USA Today.) Before Moniz headed off to Central Asia for the big event, we had a wide-ranging chat about the most pressing global threats related to nuclear threats. Here is an edited version of the interview:
Tobin Harshaw: We are going to talk primarily about your new project, the LEU bank, and its role in global nonproliferation. But I think it might help first if we give readers a quick briefing on the role of the Energy Department in the U.S. nuclear weapons program. In a nutshell: When did that start, what does it encompass, and why doesn’t the Pentagon have the entire program under its control?
Ernest Moniz: The history of Department of Energy has two threads, one of which goes back to the Manhattan Project during World War II and then the now-defunct Atomic Energy Commission and eventually the DOE. The challenges in nuclear security evolved, and as the Cold War ended, there was a new focus on the security and safety of weapons and nuclear material globally. The DOE’s role involved reducing threats as well as maintaining the U.S. military deterrent. Sustaining the stockpile is not in the Pentagon because its stewardship is a science and technology job suited to DOE National Laboratories.
The second major thread came in 1970s with the oil embargoes and other energy crises. That led to the official creation of the department in 1977, which took in offices from elsewhere such as the Interior Department while new regulatory structures were established.
TH: So what is the full extent of the department’s role in terms of the nuclear deterrent?
EM: Today about 62 percent of the DOE’s annual spending is considered part of the national security budget. Including clean-up costs, this is about $18.5 billion, of which nuclear security is over $12 billion. This involves maintaining the stockpile — making sure the deterrent is safe, secure and reliable without having to do any testing, which is very important — and securing and eliminating nuclear weapons-usable materials across the world. The department also has a shared responsibility with the Navy to provide the propulsion for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines.
TH: I want to bring up a paradox: Even as the U.S. hopes to tamp down on the spread of nukes around the world, the Pentagon has started a $1 trillion modernization of its arsenal. This was initiated under President Obama, who famously won a Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. As a former member of his administration, can you explain why the modernization is necessary?
EM: They are quite different issues. I don’t like to call it a “modernization program,” because it implies in some minds that this is a whole brand new arsenal. For the DOE, this is really about upgrading the facilities and doing life-extension programs for the weapons without having to do any tests. For the military, it’s about improving the delivery systems, not new nuclear bombs.
It is expensive, and the Energy Department cost is expected to be about $80 billion over decades. But as secretary of energy, I had a hard time accepting our workers going into 50- to 60-year-old buildings doing high-hazard work. There are tremendous safety issues. Even now, we won’t be able to adequately replace the uranium facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, until 2025.
We fully support and endorse working toward the vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and we want to continue the lowering of their profile in our national security posture. But no serious person feels we can reach that goal in less than decades. As long as they are our fundamental deterrent, we have to make sure they are safe and reliable and that the workforce is in a safe environment.
TH: OK, let’s move on to the new project. Give us a brief explanation of the LEU bank, and how it can help in trying to keep a lid on global proliferation and keep nuclear material from getting in the wrong hands.
EM: The issue, particularly as nuclear power emerges in different countries that have not had it, is the security of the fuel supply. And that is where the bank comes in. The IAEA owns the bank, and any country in good standing on its nonproliferation agreements is eligible to use the material in the bank for its energy program if there is a breakdown in the commercial supply chain. This gives nations no reason to pursue a concerning — and economically nonsensical — development of indigenous enrichment capacity.
TH: Where will it come from?
EM: The IAEA is going out for proposals, and countries will make bids. Under the schedule, we hope to have all the material in hand by the end of year. It will come from commercial fuel suppliers or consortia. Kazakhstan is hosting the bank and has been an enormously positive influence on nonproliferation efforts worldwide since its independence from the Soviet Union.
TH: So the big worry is that, otherwise, nations would start enriching on their own?
EM: It’s that there could be a lot of claims from these countries that they need their own enrichment programs because of insecure supplies. With the availability of the bank, and the clearly bad economics of developing an enrichment program for a small nuclear program, it would be an obvious concern now if a country went ahead anyway. The question they will face is: Why are you doing this?
TH: What are some of the nations with nascent energy programs the bank is geared to?
EM: For example, Mexico has a very small program. The U.A.E. is now building South Korean reactors. The Russians are selling to Eastern Europe and elsewhere. And now in the Middle East, there are at least nominal agreements with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey for building Russian reactors. The Russians would prefer to be the sole fuel suppliers for those plants going forward, but a country could be concerned if it’s tied to just one supplier, which is where the fuel bank comes in — as a backup should there be any cutoff in supply.
TH: Congratulations, then, on the bank, and on NTI’s other efforts to lower future threats. Now let’s talk about current concerns. First, how much does the idea of terrorists getting their hands on a weapon or a so-called “dirty bomb” worry you?
EM: There is a special risk of terrorists and dirty bombs. Indeed it’s another area where NTI focuses, because it’s not only a question of power and weapons: There is also a very large use of radioisotopes in medicine, industrial work, oil and gas. These radioisotopes could be very dangerous in the wrong hands.
One of the areas NTI has been working on with success is to encourage governments — especially mayors and governors — to work toward the replacement of cesium-137, which is used for blood irradiation and other treatments, with X-rays, which do not provide this sort of risk. The costs of replacing the cesium sources with X-rays are reasonable once you consider you don’t need the type of security you need to ensure the radioisotopes stay where they are. You may have seen the stories about when ISIS had control of Mosul, which had a substantial cobalt-60 source that could have been used for a dirty bomb. Perhaps they didn’t know how to handle it. Some counties in Europe have moved to eliminate these materials, and we should do so as well.
TH: You were a big supporter of the Iran nuclear deal. At its second anniversary, have things turned out as you hoped?
EM: They have, in the sense that the IAEA continues to provide the data that indicate full compliance. That is where I hoped we would be and are. But we are not there in terms of a lot of the political discussion, particularly in terms of the possibility of Trump withdrawing, which would be a very bad decision. It would ironically isolate the United States. Because as long as Iran complies, the Europeans and others will continue to deal with Iran, but it will have justification for wriggling out of one or more of the stipulations.
TH: Last, before you rush to the holiday hotspot of Astana, Kazakhstan, let’s briefly talk North Korea. The consensus among experts seems to be that we will just have to live in a world where Kim Jong Un has nukes. Do you agree?
EM: Well I think certainly a lot of the language being used today is not helpful. But I think we cannot let go of the vision of a denuclearized peninsula, just as we cannot give up on the vision of a denuclearized world.
Going back to 1990s, I do not believe we have addressed the North Korea situation in a broad enough way — that is, I don’t think we can have security and stability there unless we address in a serious way the legitimate security concerns of North and South Korea, China and Japan. And also the Russian and U.S. postures. At its core, we need to broaden discussion beyond nukes to the full security discussion of those four neighbors. Until there is stability and a feeling of full trust there of all the regional parties, progress on denuclearization will be difficult at best.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Tobin Harshaw writes editorials on national security, education and food for Bloomberg View. He was an editor with the op-ed page of the New York Times and the paper’s letters editor.
For more columns from Bloomberg View, visit http://www.bloomberg.com/view.

The British Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Great Britain’s Nuclear Weapons Could Easily Destroy Entire Countries

Kyle Mizokami
The United Kingdom maintains a fleet of four ballistic missile submarines with the ability to devastate even the largest of countries. This fleet came into being after its ally, the United States, canceled a key weapon system that would have been the cornerstone of London’s nuclear arsenal. Fifty years later, the UK’s missile submarine force is the sole custodian of the country’s nuclear weapons, providing a constant deterrent against nuclear attack.
The United Kingdom’s nuclear force in the early 1960s relied upon the so-called “V-Force” strategic bombers: the Avro Vulcan, Handley Page Victor and Vickers Valiant. The bombers were set to be equipped with the Skybolt air-launched ballistic missile, which could penetrate Soviet defenses at speeds of up to Mach 12.4 (9,500 miles an hour). Unfortunately technical problems plagued Skybolt, and the U.S. government canceled the missile in 1962.
Skybolt’s cancellation threatened to undo the UK’s entire nuclear deterrent, and the two countries raced to come up with a solution. The United States agreed to offer the new Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missile to replace Skybolt. The United Kingdom had no missile submarines to carry Polaris—it would have to build them.
A study by the Ministry of Defense concluded that, like France, the UK would need at least five ballistic missile submarines to maintain a credible deterrent posture. This number would later be reduced to four submarines. Like the French Le Redoutable class, the submarines would bear a strong resemblance to the U.S. Navy’s Lafayette-class ballistic missile submarines, with two rows of eight missiles tubes each behind the sail. Unlike Lafayette and Le Redoutable, the new submarines of the Royal Navy’s Resolution-class would have their hydroplanes on the bow, with the ability to fold up when parked along a pier.
Most of the submarine was British, with two built by Vickers Armstrong at Furness and two by Cammel Laird at Birkenhead. The missiles, missile launch tubes and fire control mechanisms, however, were built in the United States. Each submarine was equipped with sixteen Polaris A-3 submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The Polaris had a range of 2,500 miles and was originally equipped with a single British warhead. A midlife improvement for the missile, Polaris A-3TK, replaced the single warhead with six Chevaline multiple independently targetable warheads of 150 kilotons each.
The first submarine, HMS Resolution, was laid down in 1964 and commissioned in 1967, followed by Repulse and Renown, commissioned in 1968, and the aptly-named Revenge in 1969. Resolution first successfully launched a missile off the coast of Florida in February 1968.
In the early 1980s, it became clear that the Resolution class would eventually need replacement. Despite the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet threat, London held firm and built all four ships. The UK again decided to build its own submarines and outfit them with American missiles. The result were the four Vanguard-class submarines: Vanguard (commissioned in 1993), Victorious (1995), Vigilant (1996) and Vengeance (1999). Vanguard carried out her first Trident II missile firing in 1994, and undertook her first operational patrol in 1995.
At 15,000 tons displacement, the Vanguards are twice the the size of the Resolution class that preceded them. Although each submarine has sixteen launch tubes, a decision was made in 2010 to load each sub with just eight American-built Trident II D-5 submarine launched ballistic missiles. The Trident II D-5 has a range of 4,600 miles, meaning it can strike targets across European Russia with ease. Each D-5 carries eight multiple independently targetable warhead 475 kiloton thermonuclear warheads, giving each submarine a total of thirty megatons of nuclear firepower.
UK missile submarine crews, like their American counterparts, maintain two crews per boat to increase ship availability. Under a program known as Continuous At Sea Deterrence (CASD) at least one submarine is on patrol at all times, with another coming off patrol, another preparing for a patrol and a fourth undergoing maintenance. According to the Royal Navy, CASD has not missed a single day in the last forty-eight years without a submarine on patrol.
In 2016, the Ministry of Defense announced the next generation of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, dubbed Successor, would be the Dreadnought class. The Royal Navy will builds four Dreadnought-class subs, each weighing 17,200 tons, with construction beginning in September 2016. Each will have twelve missile tubes instead of sixteen, and the subs will recycle the Trident II D-5 missiles from their predecessors. The Dreadnought boats are expected to enter service in the 2030s and have a thirty-year life cycle. The ministry expects the new submarines to cost an estimated $39 billion over thirty-five years, with a $12 billion contingency. The introduction of the third generation Dreadnought class will provide the UK with a powerful strategic deterrent until the 2060s and possibly beyond.

Trump Prepares to Upgrade Babylon the Great (Daniel 8:8)

© Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency An unarmed Minuteman missile at a launch facility near Wall, S.D. The Air Force has announced new contracts to begin replacing the aging Minuteman fleet.

During his speech last week about Afghanistan, President Trump slipped in a line that had little to do with fighting the Taliban: “Vast amounts” are being spent on “our nuclear arsenal and missile defense,” he said, as the administration builds up the military.
The president is doing exactly that. Last week, the Air Force announced major new contracts for an overhaul of the American nuclear force: $1.8 billion for initial development of a highly stealthy nuclear cruise missile, and nearly $700 million to begin replacing the 40-year-old Minuteman missiles in silos across the United States.
While both programs were developed during the Obama years, the Trump administration has seized on them, with only passing nods to the debate about whether either is necessary or wise. They are the first steps in a broader remaking of the nuclear arsenal — and the bombers, submarines and missiles that deliver the weapons — that the government estimated during Mr. Obama’s tenure would ultimately cost $1 trillion or more.
Even as his administration nurtured the programs, Mr. Obama argued that by making nuclear weapons safer and more reliable, their numbers could be reduced, setting the world on a path to one day eliminating them. Some of Mr. Obama’s national security aides, believing that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election, expected deep cutbacks in the $1 trillion plan.
Mr. Trump has not spoken of any such reduction, in the number of weapons or the scope of the overhaul, and his warning to North Korea a few weeks ago that he would meet any challenge with “fire and fury” suggested that he may not subscribe to the view of most past presidents that the United States would never use such weapons in a first strike.
“We’re at a dead end for arms control,” said Gary Samore, who was a top nuclear adviser to Mr. Obama.
While Mr. Trump is moving full speed ahead on the nuclear overhaul — even before a review of American nuclear strategy, due at the end of the year, is completed — critics are warning of the risk of a new arms race and billions of dollars squandered.
The critics of the cruise missile, led by a former defense secretary, William J. Perry, have argued that the new weapon will be so accurate and so stealthy that it will be destabilizing, forcing the Russians and the Chinese to accelerate their own programs. And the rebuilding of the ground-based missile fleet essentially commits the United States to keeping the most vulnerable leg of its “nuclear triad” — a mix of submarine-launched, bomber-launched and ground-launched weapons. Some arms control experts have argued that the ground force should be eliminated.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress in June that he was open to reconsidering the need for both systems. But in remarks to sailors in Washington State almost three weeks ago, he hinted at where a nuclear review was going to come out.
A new nuclear cruise missile would extend the life of America’s aging fleet of B-2 bombers.
© Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images A new nuclear cruise missile would extend the life of America’s aging fleet of B-2 bombers. “I think we’re going to keep all three legs of the deterrent,” he told the sailors.
The contracts, and Mr. Mattis’s hints about the ultimate nuclear strategy, suggest that Mr. Obama’s agreement in 2010 to spend $80 billion to “modernize” the nuclear arsenal — the price he paid for getting the Senate to ratify the New Start arms control agreement with Russia — will have paved the way for expansions of the nuclear arsenal under Mr. Trump.
“It’s been clear for years now that the Russians are only willing to reduce numbers if we put limits on missile defense, and with the North Korean threat, we can’t do that,” said Mr. Samore, who is now at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. “I think we are pretty much doomed to modernize the triad.”
At issue in the debate over the cruise missile and the rebuilding of the land-based fleet is an argument over nuclear deterrence — the kind of debate that gripped American national security experts in the 1950s and ’60s, and again during the Reagan era.
Cruise missiles are low-flying weapons with stubby wings. Dropped from a bomber, they hug the ground to avoid enemy radars and air defenses. Their computerized brains compare internal maps of the terrain with what their sensors report.
The Air Force’s issuing last week of the contract for the advanced nuclear-tipped missile — to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Missile Systems — starts a 12-year effort to replace an older model. The updated weapon is to eventually fly on a yet-undeveloped new nuclear bomber.
The plan is to produce 1,000 of the new missiles, which are stealthier and more precise than the ones they will replace, and to place revitalized nuclear warheads on half of them. The other half would be kept for flight tests and for spares. The total cost of the program is estimated to be $25 billion.
“This weapon will modernize the air-based leg of the nuclear triad,” the Air Force secretary, Heather Wilson, said in a statement. “Deterrence works if our adversaries know that we can hold at risk things they value. This weapon will enhance our ability to do so.”
The most vivid argument in favor of the new weapon came in testimony to the Senate from Franklin C. Miller, a longtime Pentagon official who helped design President George W. Bush’s nuclear strategy and is a consultant at the Pentagon under Mr. Mattis. The new weapon, he said last summer, would extend the life of America’s aging fleet of B-52 and B-2 bombers, as Russian and Chinese “air defenses evolve to a point where” the planes are “are unable to penetrate to their targets.”
Critics argue that the cruise missile’s high precision and reduced impact on nearby civilians could tempt a future president to contemplate “limited nuclear war.” Worse, they say, is that adversaries might overreact to the launching of the cruise missiles because they come in nuclear as well as nonnuclear varieties.
Mr. Miller dismisses that fear, saying the new weapon is no more destabilizing than the one it replaces.
Some former members of the Obama administration are among the most prominent critics of the weapon, even though Mr. Obama’s Pentagon pressed for it. Andrew C. Weber, who was an assistant defense secretary and the director of the Nuclear Weapons Council, an interagency body that oversees the nation’s arsenal, argued that the weapon was unneeded, unaffordable and provocative.
He said it was “shocking” that the Trump administration was signing contracts to build these weapons before it completed its own strategic review on nuclear arms. And he called the new cruise missile “a destabilizing system designed for nuclear war fighting,” rather than for deterrence.
The other contracts the Pentagon announced last week are for replacements for the 400 aging Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles housed in underground silos. The winners of $677 million in contracts — Boeing and Northrop Grumman — will develop plans for a replacement force.
During Mr. Obama’s second term, the ground-based force came under withering criticism over the training of its crews — who work long, boring hours underground — and the decrepit state of the silos and weapons. Some of the systems still used eight-inch floppy disks. Internal Pentagon reports expressed worries about the vulnerability of the ground-based systems to cyberattack.
Mr. Perry, who was defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, has argued that the United States can safely phase out its land-based force, calling the missiles a costly relic of the Cold War.
But the Trump administration appears determined to hold on to the ground-based system, and to invest heavily in it. The cost of replacing the Minuteman missiles and remaking the command-and-control system is estimated at roughly $100 billion.

Obama’s Great Betrayal (2 Kings 25)


Obama chose dishonor, and Israel will have war

Iran is taking over Syria. The distant enemy is coming closer. The US is out of the picture. Those who put their trust in the new world sheriff, Donald Trump, have to admit he appears to be far more concerned with the American media than the Iranian imperialism. That is who he is.
The world’s sheriff is not whoever has more power—the United States has a lot more—but whoever uses the power he has.
Netanyahu had to go to Vladimir Putin this week again for another round of talks with the Russian leader during his vacation in Sochi. It’s not clear whether Putin is going to stop the Iranian threat. It is clear, however, that he’s the only one there is any point in talking to.
ISIS has been defeated on the ground. Over the last year, its fighters have been pushed out of Mosul in Iraq, and in the coming year, probably, they’ll also be pushed out of Syria’s Raqqa, the caliphate’s capital. The problem is that the alternative for ISIS on the ground—Iran and Hezbollah—is just as bad.
The strengthening and spreading of Iran’s influence were made possible, inter alia, because of the nuclear deal. European nations were quick to court the country that got Barack Obama and John Kerry’s stamp of approval. Most of the sanctions were lifted. Europe rushed to renew the massive deals and oil purchases. In the five months that followed the sanctions’ removal, Iranian exports—excluding oil—grew by $19 billion. The oil production soared from an average of 2.5 million barrels a day during the sanctions to close to 4 million barrels a day in recent months. The billions increased accordingly.
Many of the heads of Israel’s defense establishment, unlike Netanyahu, determined the nuclear deal was the lesser of evils. Its advantages, they claimed, outweigh its shortcomings.
I’m afraid they were wrong. The Iranian threat was twofold: Both the development of nuclear weapons and regional subversion. It is possible there is a temporary waning of the first threat. The second threat, meanwhile, continues growing. Iran is stirring the pot: it has militant affiliates in Yemen; it is fighting in Iraq and turning it into a protected state; Syria is also becoming a protected state; and Lebanon, for a long time now, has been under the control of Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah.
Between Iran and Israel there is a growing, ever expanding territorial corridor under Iranian control, and the Shiite nation is planning on building a sea port in Syria, perhaps an airport as well. This didn’t happen because of the nuclear agreement, but there is no doubt the nuclear agreement served to bolster Iran and its expansionist aspirations.
Obama and Kerry managed to mislead the international community in general—and the American public in particular—by claiming the alternative to the agreement was war. That’s not true. The alternative was continuing and the sanctions and imposing additional, harsher sanctions. Only then, it might have been possible to deal with both threats. Now, it is too late.
Most of the time, Netanyahu’s conduct was appropriate. He was among those who pushed for the sanctions on Iran. He spurred the international community into action. But at some point, something went wrong. Netanyahu became a nuisance. Instead of showing a little more flexibility on the Palestinian issue, in order to get more on the Iranian issue, he made himself the American administration’s enemy on both matters. The result was a complete failure. Iran’s nuclear capabilities were not curbed, and Tehran is now turning into a regional power. Chamberlain, said Winston Churchill, was “given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” As time goes on, it becomes all the more apparent Obama has chosen dishonor. Iran is becoming a world power, and Israel might pay with another war.