Babylon the Great Seeks More Nukes

US Air Force Wants to Get New Nuclear Weapons Faster

MARCUS WEISGERBER

Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force CMSgt. Kaleth O. Wright visit Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.— Design work is barely underway for the U.S. Air Force’s new ICBMs and nuclear cruise missiles, and already the service’s top general is looking for ways to speed up the process.

Less than three months after the Pentagon awarded contracts to begin designing crucial cutting-edge components for the proposed weapons, Gen. David Goldfein said he’s “comfortable with the technology I’m seeing,” but “not as comfortable with the schedule.” The new ICBMs and cruise missile are expected to be battle-ready in the late 2020s — if Congress and the White House approve the acquisitions, whose cost is expected to approach $100 billion.

“My sense is that we’re in a good place right now in terms of how we’re working with industry going forward,” the Air Force chief of staff said in an interview. “The question I’ll continue to have is: How to I move it left. How do we get this capability earlier. Because if you can actually get it faster, you can get it cheaper sometimes.”

In August, the Air Force chose Boeing and Northrop Grumman to work on the new ICBM, a project called the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent. It is meant to replace the Minuteman IIIs that sit ready in silos spread across Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota.

Over the next three years, the two companies will collectively build about 20 different prototypes of components for the new ICBM, according to officials at the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center here who are overseeing the project. The Air Force will then evaluate the two firms’ work and — and, if Congress and the Pentagon give the go-ahead — choose one of them to build more than 400 new ICBMs.

When Goldfein asked officials here whether it would be possible to speed things up, Maj. Gen. Shaun Morris, the commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, said, “We’re looking at that.”

As for the new cruise missile — called the Long-Range Standoff weapon — the Air Force has hired Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to develop technology and make parts over the next five years before choosing a winner. The missile is intended to replace the Air-Launched Cruise Missile, which is carried by the B-52 bomber.

Goldfein said the fundamental role of the two new nuclear weapons will not change significantly from their predecessors.

“What changes is the operating environment that they’re going to execute their missions in,” he said.

The Long-Range Standoff is being designed to fly in an anti-access, area-denial environment, the military term for a region where an enemy has air defenses that can detect, shoot down or electronically jam non-stealthy aircraft and weapons.

As for the new ICBM, it “will operate in an environment where cyber vulnerabilities are different than what the Minuteman faced [and] has far more congestion in space than what Minuteman faced,” Goldfein said.

Then there’s the cost. Just last month, the Congressional Budget Office said it could cost $1.2 trillion to operate, maintain and upgrade the Pentagon’s nuclear forces over the next 30 years. That includes buying new stealth bombers, Navy submarines, and command-and-control infrastructure. The Pentagon has said the new ICBM could cost $85 billion. The Air Force is planning to buy about 1,000 new nuclear cruise missile, estimating a price tag of about $10 billion. Experts have questioned whether all of the new weapons are affordable.

The size of the nuclear force and new types of new nuclear weapons are being looked at as the Trump administration conducts a Nuclear Posture Review, which is expected to wrap up as soon as next month or early next year.

The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Could The India-Pakistan Conflict Go Nuclear? An Expert Explains.

The two countries are both nuclear powers and have been in conflict since 1947.

Eugene Daniels

If experts could describe the relationship between India and Pakistan in one word, it’d probably be adversarial. And that adversarial relationship has lasted, well, since the countries were created. Let’s rewind to after the end of World War II. The British decided to back out and what was known as the British Raj was split in two, which is where the problems really started.

„It was fairly hastily decided. There were some sort of basic principles or plans for divisions but they weren’t fully adhered to. … What evolves from that is still something both India and Pakistan have to take ownership of. Which is a fairly nasty process,“ Sameer Lalwani, an expert on the region with the Stimson Center, recently told Newsy.

That’s led to three major wars and consistent fighting across the border. There have been attempts to get along but something always goes wrong, sometimes because of terrorism.

„In public statements, Pakistan is much more of a vocal advocate for conflict resolution. Whenever the two parties are close resolving this or getting the process started, spoilers tend to emerge from the Pakistani side. On the other side, India routinely seems to eschew the the possibility of conflict resolution by prioritizing the issue of terrorism above all else,“ Lalwani said.

You may be thinking this doesn’t concern us here in the U.S. If this is a fight between neighboring countries and doesn’t really leave the borders, why should you care? Nukes.

It’s the only place in the world where you have two nuclear powers that regularly, almost on a daily basis shooting at each other. When people think about the highest risk of a nuclear war, the highest probability seems to be with India and Pakistan just because of the daily kinetic activity that doesn’t exist with North Korea. That doesn’t exist with Russia and China,“ Lalwani said.

That nuclear component has forced the rest of the world to pay more attention to the region, but if there’s going to be an ending to the conflict, Lalwani thinks it’s likely going to be bilateral and incremental. It’s in their rational and strategic interests.

„We might be more hopeful for something like modus vivendi, which is sort of a live and let live situation rather than a full-fledged conflict resolution formalized process, but a modus vivendi can sort of lead to a conflict resolution. Like cease-fires can eventually can become the basis for peace accords if you can get to that stage,“ Lalwani said.

Time For Babylon the Great to Prepare Her Nukes

It's time for America to resume nuclear testing

It’s time for America to resume nuclear testing

Robert Monroe, opinion contributor

 

America must resume underground nuclear testing, and we must do it immediately. Our lives depend upon it. The very existence of the United States may well depend upon it.

During World War II, we developed nuclear weapons through testing, and they enabled us to save many millions of lives in ending that conflict. During the half-century of Cold War we tested nuclear weapons as needed. We won that war because the testing enabled us to gain and hold a supremacy in nuclear technology and weapons that the Soviet Union could not match.

But in 1992, our president unwisely declared — voluntarily and unilaterally — a U.S. moratorium on nuclear testing. Today, a quarter-century later, we are risking everything by mindlessly continuing to observe this moratorium. We don’t question it. We don’t debate it. We don’t think about it. The reasons we entered into it no longer exists, and we don’t even recognize it. Like lemmings, we continue to race toward the edge of the cliff.

It’s time for America to wake up.

From the moment we created nuclear weapons, the U.S. has led the international effort to control them, to enable the world to live comfortably with nuclear weapons. We led all the early nonproliferation efforts. The U.S was the foremost creator of the landmark Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1970 – the greatest arms control treaty in existence.

For the past five decades America has been the world’s strongest nonproliferation activist, creating more programs, finding more efforts, and supporting more non-governmental organizations than any other nation. Finally, for the past eight years our President Obama has made “a world with nuclear weapons” America’s paramount national objective, backing it up with deep cutbacks of all types in the U.S. nuclear weapons capability.

What is the result of these decades of intense nonproliferation effort? Total failure internationally; and grave nuclear weakness and vulnerability for America.

The world has given passive nonproliferation a good try, and it simply doesn’t work. Nuclear threats have increased immensely — technologically, geographically, and numerically — particularly during the Obama years.

Now, two rogue states, North Korea and Iran, are creating such a global cascade of proliferation (in self-defense) such that nuclear weapons will soon be commonplace, uncounted, many uncontrolled, and frequently used. Imagine demolished, radioactive cites, large and small, dotting the globe in a world of nuclear horror and chaos. The only way to prevent that scenario is through active nonproliferation.

The NPT gave this forceful answer a strong start by creating two tiers of states: the five approved nuclear weapons states (permanent members of the United Nations Security Council), and establishing all others (currently 185) as non-nuclear weapons states. Clearly, the long-term solution is to charge these five with the responsibility for enforcing nonproliferation, individually or collectively, on behalf of the world. To ensure they have the capability as well as the responsibility, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty must be inapplicable to them. This must be America’s global diplomatic crusade for the next decade, as soon as we have denuclearized the two rogues, with military force, if necessary.

Unfortunately, since the Cold War ended in 1991 America’s misguided emphasis on passive nonproliferation, has degraded our nuclear weapons capability beyond belief. We were in a nuclear freeze for almost two decades, followed by Obama’s active dismantlement. Here’s how we stand today. No U.S. nuke has been tested for a quarter-century; we cannot be sure they will work. Every weapon is years beyond the end of its design life. Designed for massive destruction, our arsenal is unable to deter most of today’s nuclear threats. We have no capability to produce plutonium pits (the heart of nuclear weapons); recovery will take a decade.

We’ve done no research whatsoever in advanced nuclear technologies; our adversaries are decades ahead of us. Our scientists, designers, engineers, and production managers have no experience in their professions. Our testing facilities, and knowledge, are virtually non-existent; recovery will take years.

All of these capabilities must be recovered in full — as rapidly as possible — and the key to everything is nuclear testing. We must resume underground nuclear testing as soon as possible.

For the Energy Department, the highest priority (existential) need is testing the principal deployed warheads of our strategic deterrent (W76, W78, B61 and so on.) to ensure their reliability. Almost as urgent is the need to conduct exploratory testing of advanced, low-yield (10-100 ton) warheads. Russia is decades ahead. Exploratory work maximizing fusion rather than fission output is vital, possibly leading to pure fusion warheads. Other exploratory testing is essential if we are to avoid technological surprise.

The Defense Department’s underground testing in the essential military science of “nuclear weapons effects” is in even worse shape, as their national lab for this purpose (Defense Nuclear Agency) was terminated twenty years ago.

Of broad, overreaching importance is bringing the “scientific method” (which centers on testing) back into all our nuclear weapons laboratories.

The nation’s top nuclear strategists and experts are within weeks or months of producing the Nuclear Posture Review, which will establish the nuclear weapons policies of the Trump presidency. Indications are they will shrink from nuclear test resumption, as have our indifferent leaders for 25 years. If they do, America may cease to exist before there’s another chance. We must bite the bullet. Announce nuclear test resumption as the central element of the Nuclear Posture Review, and then work round-the-clock to detonate the highest priority test within three to five years.

Robert R. Monroe, vice admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.), is former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency.

Too Late To Evacuate New York City (Revelation 6)

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Is It Time to Move Our Cities? | The Tyee

The end of this wretched summer will go unlamented by all North Americans: raging wildfires from B.C. to California, no fewer than three catastrophic hurricanes (so far), and two disastrous earthquakes in southern and central Mexico.

Having grown up in Mexico City when it was a sleepy pueblo of just three million under clear blue skies, I’ve taken its latest earthquake very personally. I went through a couple of minor quakes there, and a big one in July 1957. Even then, everyone knew the Valley of Mexico was a terrible place to build even a pueblo, let alone a huge national capital.

Much of the valley used to be a lake, and the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán was built on islands in it. The conquering Spaniards drained the lake looking for treasure (no luck), and then built a new city on the lake bed. The water kept seeping back. I recall a huge excavation across the street from our house, the intended foundation of a large building; it was a vast rectangular lake, supporting billions of mosquitos.

Downtown, the Palace of Fine Arts had been started circa 1910; it sank into the lake bed, and wasn’t finished until the 1930s. In the 1950s, you had to go down a long flight of stairs from street level to enter it.

Mexico City’s spongy soil, like the Fraser Delta’s, tends to liquefy in severe earthquakes. That made the quakes of 1957 and 1985 notably bad, and led to tougher building codes. But corruption, like love, will always find a way, and almost 50 buildings collapsed in the Sept. 19 quake. Hundreds more will have to be abandoned and demolished.

The quake brought out the very best in the Mexican national character, with neighbours struggling to rescue neighbours. But it’s been a struggle they should not have had to make.

Move Mexico City?

That thought sank in with me when I read a comment on a New York Times report about the quake. The commenter was Jonathan Katz, who was a reporter in Port-au-Prince when the 2010 Haitian earthquake hit, and who stayed on to report the cholera outbreak. He also wrote a superb book about the disasters and our response, which only made them worse.

Katz suggested that the government: “… gradually move Mexico City to somewhere else in Mexico. Mexico City sits on a dried lake bed, terrible seismically because it amplifies earth movements. Buildings also settle (in some cases by a whole storey) and it’s in a basin that traps air pollution. Plan a new city on a ridge (good bedrock, fresh breezes) not too far away, and gradually move government offices there. The rest of the city will follow, especially if new building in the old Mexico City is forbidden by zoning.

“Costa Rica did something like this after Cartago was largely destroyed by an earthquake. The capital is now San Jose.”

That’s not the only example Katz could have cited. The capital of colonial Guatemala, now known as Antigua, suffered repeated earthquakes until the capital was moved to what is now Guatemala City. Brazil moved its capital in the early 1960s from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia simply to move both population and national attention away from the coast and into the country’s vast interior. For that matter, Washington, D.C. was a politically chosen capital for the U.S., as was Ottawa.

So Katz’s idea isn’t entirely farfetched. Granted, 21.3 million Mexico City residents aren’t likely to pack up their belongings and move next week. But that population has grown sevenfold since the 1950s because the city was where the money and jobs were. Move the money and jobs elsewhere, and the people will follow.

Megathrust quakes and tsunamis

Those of us on the coasts of North America might start seriously thinking about relocation as well — especially here in B.C. We have focused most of our population in the southwest corner of the province. That’s like most of the population of California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington state choosing to live in San Diego. Our choice has put us at risk of earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires and floods.

We might therefore begin to think where to house ourselves (and likely millions of refugees from the south) in places that would be somewhat safer and more sustainable.

It wouldn’t be easy. Geologically, our whole province is a multi-vehicle crash site of ancient island chains piled up against the Rocky Mountains. We’ll always have earthquakes, large and small.

But we might find some good sites in the Cariboo or Chilcotin. By “mining” our existing coastal cities, we could build new cities relatively cheaply before the coasts go under water. Dams on the Fraser, Skeena and other rivers could preserve glacier meltwater otherwise lost to the rising sea. Genetic engineering could help develop new forests resistant to drought, fire and beetles.

It may seem like a bizarre proposal, but history and prehistory are full of civilizations that stayed put and disappeared, like the Mound Builders of the American Middle West. Over 3,000 years ago, a flourishing civilization in the eastern Mediterranean collapsed under the impact of climate change and invasions.

Other societies moved and changed. The Maya recurrently abandoned their great cities (and their overlords) and went back to small-village farming when serious drought ruined the corn harvests. In New Mexico, the “great house” civilization of the Anasazi deserted its old sites in an 11th-century drought and built a new society — after a dark age of violence and starvation.

We know why those civilizations changed or died, but if we think we’re somehow smarter than they were, we’re the greater fools. We should try to learn from their fate, and act accordingly. Whatever the short-term cost, we might just manage to survive the worst time in humanity’s 300,000-year history. That time has already begun. [Tyee]