Canadian nuclear horn rises: Daniel 7

Uranium production to resume in Canada

13 April 2021

Canada’s Cameco and Orano Canada on 9 April both announced plans to resume uranium production. Cameco said that it plans to restart production at its Cigar Lake uranium mine located in northern Saskatchewan. Production at Cigar Lake was temporarily suspended in December 2020 due to increasing risks posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. At that time, the availability of workers in critical areas was shrinking due to the pandemic, with more individuals screening out or residing in communities with pandemic-related travel restrictions.

“The safety of our workers, their families and communities is always our top priority,” said Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel. “In recent months we have implemented several enhanced safety protocols for Cigar Lake, including increased distancing between passengers on flights, mandatory medical-grade masks for all workers and increased sanitisation and physical barriers in our eating areas. We also worked with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and have established a licensed COVID-19 testing facility at the mine site. These further safety measures, along with the provincial vaccine rollout programme and increased confidence around our ability to manage our critical workforce, have given us greater certainty that Cigar Lake will be able to operate safely and sustainably.”

Cameco said the timing of production restart and the production rate at Cigar Lake will depend on how quickly it is possible to remobilise the workforce. “Cameco will not be in a position to provide updates to our outlook for 2021 until production has resumed and we understand the rate at which we will be able to sustainably operate the mine, it said.

Gitzel said Cameco always intended to resume production. “There are significant costs associated with having the mine in temporary care and maintenance, and we have a home in our contract portfolio for these low-cost pounds. We will also continue to purchase material, as needed, to meet our committed deliveries. Having said that, worker health and safety is our top priority, and we will not hesitate to take further action if we feel our ability to operate safely is compromised due to the pandemic.”

Cameco said its strong balance sheet has provided the company with the financial capacity to successfully manage the production disruption at Cigar Lake. As of 31 December 2020, Cameco had $943 million in cash and short-term investments and a $1 billion undrawn credit facility. The Cigar Lake operation is owned by Cameco (50.025%), Orano Canada (37.1%), Idemitsu Canada Resources Ltd (7.875%) and Tepco Resources (5.0%). It is operated by Cameco.

Orano Canada said it will resume production at its McClean Lake uranium mill over the coming weeks in tandem with the announced restart of production at the Cigar Lake uranium mine. Production has been paused at McClean Lake since late December, “but the operation has maintained its staffing levels to minimise disruption to our employees while performing maintenance, training and preparations to enable a smooth restart of the mill”, Orano said.

“I am pleased with the restart of production at the Cigar Lake mine and McClean Lake mill,” said Orano Canada President and CEO Jim Corman. “We are encouraged to see that the vaccine roll out in northern Saskatchewan specifically is having a real impact and that the pace of vaccinations throughout the Province is accelerating.

“Safety remains our utmost priority and we have been proud to continue to offer a safe workplace over this difficult year.”

Orano Canada accounted for the processing of 10 million pounds of uranium concentrate produced in Canada in 2020. Orano Canada has been exploring for uranium, mining and milling in Canada for more than 55 years. It is the operator of the McClean Lake uranium mill and a major partner in the Cigar Lake, McArthur River and Key Lake operations. The company employs over 450 people in Saskatchewan, including about 320 at the McClean Lake operation where over 46% of employees are self-declared Indigenous. Orano Canada is a subsidiary of the multinational Orano group.

The Russian Nuclear Horn Has a Massive Amount of Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Daniel 7

Russia Has a Massive Amount of Tactical Nuclear Weapons. Why?

The United States and Russia still actively deploy 230 and 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons respectively—arsenals which are not regulated by treaty, unlike strategic nuclear weapons. But calling them “tactical” and “non-strategic” weapons is arguably a misnomer.

As former Defense Secretary James Mattis once told Congress, “I don’t think there is any such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon. Any nuclear weapon used any time is a strategic game-changer.”

The term “tactical” implies shorter-range, less destructive, and more “useable” weapons qintended for striking battlefield targets and forward bases in sparsely or unpopulated areas, not wiping out cities, factories and power plants across the globe.

But U.S. and Russian arms control treaties simply define non-strategic weapons as those with a strike range inferior to 3,417 miles. Of course, regional rivals like China, India, and Pakistan consider their non-intercontinental range nuclear weapons to be strategic anyway.

The U.S. non-strategic arsenal is made up of roughly 230 B61 nuclear gravity bombs droppable by jet fighters. 100 to 150 B61s are forward-deployed for use by NATO allies to form a kind of collective-responsibility pact.

However, the Trump administration cited Russia’s development of sophisticated non-strategic weapons as cause to reintroduce less powerful W76-2 nuclear warheads onto Navy submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

However, Russia’s non-strategic arsenal is believed to have shrunk between 2009 and 2018 from 3,800 to 1,910.

Where the hawks are more on point is that Russia has developed more precise, longer-range dual-capable missiles which can be used to deliver either a conventional or nuclear warhead, creating dangerous ambiguity.

Cold War Legacy

In the early years of the Cold War, the Soviet and U.S. militaries thought nuclear weapons would be liberally employed in future wars—and not just for civilization-shattering strategic attacks.

A tank column barreling through your lines? Drop a nuke on them with an artillery piece, fighter bomber, or even a portable “nuclear bazooka.”

Enemy warships pummeling your submarine with depth charges? Respond with the “special weapon” in the torpedo tubes.

Lack enough interceptors to stop an incoming bomber formation? Time to launch a nuclear air-to-air missile.

Many of these applications were essentially ways to work around the limited precision of early guided weapons. NATO, in particular, saw tactical nukes as a last-ditch hedge against the land warfare behemoth that was the Warsaw Pact.

But in the post-Soviet era, Russia isn’t favored to win a prolonged conflict against NATO. So now Moscow sees non-strategic nukes as a more useable hedge against U.S. military power.

But would Moscow actually use nukes?

Moscow’s official policy states it will use nuclear weapons to retaliate against an adversary’s use of a weapon of mass destruction, or to preemptively strike against an imminent nuclear attack identified by Russian intelligence.

However, the policy states Moscow may also use nukes in response to non-nuclear attacks threatening to disarm Russia’s nuclear forces, or that threaten the existence of the Russian state itself.

Unfortunately, these latter conditions could be interpreted broadly. In practice, Russian officials have not hesitated to threaten nuclear weapons use injudiciously.

Arms control expert Hans Kristensen writes:

“…officials explicitly threatened to use nuclear weapons against ballistic missile defense facilities, and in regional scenarios that do not threaten Russia’s survival or involve attacks with weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, the fact that Russian military planners are pursuing a broad range of upgraded and new versions of nuclear weapons suggests that the real doctrine goes beyond basic deterrence and toward regional war-fighting strategies, or even weapons aimed at causing terror.”

One theory is that Russia may make limited nuclear attacks a part of an “escalate to deescalate” strategy in which Russia quickly seizes a disputed territory, then employs a nuclear weapon to shake the resolve of NATO countries assembling forces for a counterattack, bringing an end to hostilities.

However, some critics argue this analysis exaggerates or mischaracterizes the prominence of “escalate to deescalate” in Russian strategic thinking. Instead, nukes may be a way of maintaining “escalation dominance” in the face of superior NATO airpower rather than instrumental to coercive offensive strategy.

Regardless, military analyst Michael Kofman argues the Russian military sees non-strategic nuclear weapons as likely to play a major role in future conflicts:

“…while the Russian military leadership may believe that a nuclear war cannot be won, it does not believe that limited nuclear use will necessarily result in uncontrolled escalation. Russian thinking in this area is based on deterrence by intimidation, or fear inducement, and deterrence through limited use of force…A modernized nuclear arsenal, with lower yields and precise means of delivery, is better able realize such missions, whether it is select use for the purpose of escalation management or nuclear warfighting in geography proximate to Russia’s own borders.”

However, he cautions that calls for the United States to match Russia’s arsenal capability for capability make little sense because Russia’s non-strategic nukes are premised on U.S. conventional military superiority.

Let’s conclude by surveying Russia’s estimated non-strategic nuclear forces based on a report by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Naval Nukes

Nearly half of Russia’s non-strategic arsenal (930 warheads) are estimated to belong to the Russian Navy. Of greatest relevance are long-range (1,550 miles) subsonic Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles, as well as P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship missiles (range 500 miles), both understood to be nuclear-capable.

Both the P-800 and Kalibr can be mounted on Russian frigates, corvettes, and Yasen-class submarines. The P-800 is also deployed on the truck-mounted Bastion-P coastal defense systems, which are believed to have twenty-five nuclear warheads allocated.

The Russian Navy also reportedly still maintains nuclear torpedoes, depth charges, and anti-submarine rockets. Like dropping hand grenades in a fishing pond, these weapons allow the destruction or disabling of submerged vessels in a given sector without having to nail down their exact position.

Nuclear Surface-to-Air Missiles

The same report estimates that Russia still maintains 290 nuclear warheads for surface-to-air missiles for S-300 and S-400 long-range air defense systems—likely for ballistic missile defense contingencies. Similarly, the A135 missile defense system protecting Moscow is believed to have ninety 10-kiloton warheads.

Missile defense is often described as similar to shooting down a rifle bullet with another bullet. Nuclear warheads again offer a cheap solution to the precision problem: instead of having to accurately impact an incoming warhead, an air defense nuke can lean on its considerable blast radius.

Land-Based Batteries

The Russian Army is estimated to possess only seventy nuclear warheads for its missile batteries. Its precise Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile system can also swap its regular warhead for up to a 50-kiloton nuke.

Four battalions of the Iskander-K variant instead launch a variant of the nuclear-capable Kalibur missile called the 9M729 Novator, the development of which ushered in the demise of the INF Treaty regulating intermediate-range missiles.

Non-Strategic Bombers

More of Russia’s non-strategic nuclear firepower comes in the form of 500-600 air-launched weapons carried by Su-34 and older Su-24M attack jets and longer-range Tu-22M supersonic bombers, which can carry dual-capable Kh-32 supersonic anti-ship and land-attack missiles.

Russia has also developed a unique air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missile with a 1,200-mile range. This is currently deployed by ultra-fast MiG-31K interceptors, and can also be carried by the Tu-22M3M bombers. In the future, Moscow is expected to employ Su-57 stealth fighters in a nuclear strike role too.

Russia will likely continue to improve the speed, stealth, and precision of its non-strategic nuclear arsenal in the 2020s. Future arms control negotiators might, therefore, seek to finally address ostensibly “non-strategic” nuclear weapons. However, Moscow may only be open to restrictions to non-strategic nukes if exchanged for restrictions to U.S. space-based capabilities and an end to the NATO nuclear sharing policy.

Sébastien Roblin writes on the technical, historical and political aspects of international security and conflict for publications including the National Interest, NBC News, Forbes.com and War is Boring.  He holds a Master’s degree from Georgetown University and served with the Peace Corps in China.  You can follow his articles on Twitter.

Image: Reuters.

Save the Oil and the Wine: Revelation 6:6

I

ran Says It Will Return To Nuclear Compliance After U.S. Lifts Oil Sanctions

By Julianne Geiger – Apr 09, 2021, 4:30 PM CDT

Iran insists that it will only start complying with its obligations under the nuclear deal after the United States removes all the sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said.

World powers, including the United States, started talking about the deal in Vienna this week.

“Iran will return to its JCOPA obligations once the US fully lifts its sanctions in action and not in words or on paper, and once Iran verifies the sanction relief,” Iran Press News Agency reported, citing the Ayatollah as saying.

On Thursday, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for political affairs, Abbas Araqchi, also said that Tehran would resume full compliance with the so-called nuclear deal only after the United States lifts all sanctions, including those on Iran’s oil exports.

“The US must lift anti-Iran sanctions [and only] then Tehran would resume compliance with [the] JCPOA,” Araqchi told Iran’s Press TV from Vienna on Thursday.

The United States, under the Biden Administration, is seeking to revive the nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as it is officially known, after the Trump Administration pulled out of the agreement in 2018 and imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil, shipping, and banking industries.

The Biden Administration, however, has set Iran’s return to compliance with its nuclear activities as a condition before it would consider lifting the sanctions.

Despite the fact that the United States and Iran are now indirectly talking—via the European, Russia, and Chinese signatories to the nuclear deal—positions remain apart. Both the United States and Iran are demanding that the other make the first concession.

Analysts see the start of indirect talks as a positive sign toward lifting the sanctions on Iran’s oil exports at some point in the future. However, most analysts also see the return of Iranian barrels legitimately on the oil market as a move that would be taken into account by the OPEC+ group so that oil prices would not sink.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

Russia’s tsunami bomb: Revelation 8:10

Russia’s tsunami bomb: Nuclear missile designed to hit the ocean floor

Vladimir Putin Photograph:( Reuters )

Gravitas desk

Apr 08, 2021, 10.29 PM (IST)

Russia appears to have developed a nuclear weapon capable of sneaking along the bottom of the sea and detonating along the coastline to flood the area with what one official described as “radioactive tsunamis.”

Defence Experts have emphasized concerns regarding a specific “super-weapon” of Russia ‘The Poseidon 2M39 torpedo’.

It could wipe out entire cities Leaving behind toxic radioactivity. Russia has more futuristic weapons in its arsenal.

According to the reports Russia is planning to carry out different tests of this missile this year. Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked for an update at key stages. Putin wants to deploy the Poseidon in the arctic by the summer of 2022.

Advanced weapons are one way for major countries to exert power and Russia isn’t short on ideas.

Putin is putting the weight of the Russian state behind futuristic weapons. One of them is the flying AK-47.

A video had emerged in 2018 shows the prototype of a flying gun.

A report two years ago said that an arms maker had filed a patent for a drone. Equipped with a standard Kalashnikov rifle. But some believe this version of the weapon makes little sense.

Russia also has unmanned tanks it is called the Uran-9.

The Uran-9 is a tracked unmanned combat ground vehicle (UCGV) developed and produced by JSC 766 UPTK (currently by Kalashnikov Concern), and promoted and offered by Rosoboronexport for the international market.

The Uran-9 was first deployed during the Syrian civil war. It didn’t work as intended. But, it was inducted into military service in January 2019.

Last year, Russia successfully test-fired a Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile in the Arctic. The frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea fired a Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile, hitting a naval target 450 km away in the Barents Sea at a speed of over Mach 8.

In early January, the same frigate test-fired a Tsirkon missile for the first time, striking a ground target over 500 km away.

Russia’s biggest adversary united states, wants hypersonic missiles of its own.

On Tuesday, the US Air force tried to test one near Los Angeles. But the missile failed to detach from the wing of the plane. The kremlin must be having a good laugh about this one.

(With inputs from agencies)

Save the Oil! Revelation 6:6

Imam Khamenei: Verification of US Sanctions Removal Means Iran Should Be Able to Sell Its Oil

Imam Khamenei in live address on the occasion of Al-Mabaath Al-Nabawi (Thursday, March 11, 2021 / photo by Tasnim news agency).

Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said any US claim to having removed Iran’s sanctions must be verified by Tehran and this means that the Islamic Republic should be able to sell its oil under normal conditions and receive its money.

Imam Khamenei’s remarks came in a post on his Instagram page on Thursday as an Iranian negotiating team is in the Austrian capital city of Vienna to discuss conditions for the revival of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], with other signatories to the deal.

“Verification [of US sanctions removal] means [being capable of] selling oil in an official manner, with ease and under normal conditions, and its money be received by Iran,” His Eminence added.

Imam Khamenei’s Instagram account also released a video in which His Eminence reiterated that Tehran is in no hurry for Washington to come back to the nuclear agreement.

His Eminence added that the signatories of the nuclear agreement failed to abide by their commitments under the deal, noting that the decision by the Iranian government and parliament to rollback Tehran’s nuclear commitments was right.

Imam Khamenei stated that commitment on one side should be reciprocated by commitment on the other side and the US must remove all sanctions if the West wants Iran to return to JCPOA compliance.

His Eminence also noted that Tehran will return to full compliance with the nuclear deal once it verifies sanctions have been really removed by the US.

Imam Khamenei said other signatories to the deal have no right to set conditions for Tehran as long as they have not fulfilled their obligations, emphasizing that this is Iran’s definitive policy from which Tehran will not step back.

The United States began imposing heavy economic sanctions against Iran in 2018 after former US President Donald Trump scrapped the JCPOA, which was signed by Iran and world powers, as a result of which Iran was barred from economic transactions with the rest of the world, including selling its oil and receiving its money.

While the Trump administration described its anti-Iran measures as the “maximum pressure” policy, Tehran slammed the measures as “economic war,” “economic terrorism” and also “medical terrorism,” maintaining that the sanctions have severely harmed Iranians but failed to bring the nation to its knees.

The new US administration of Joe Biden has conceded that the so-called maximum pressure campaign has failed, promising to replace it with a new policy, but it has so far failed to take any practical steps in that direction and has actually followed suit with Trump-era policies toward Iran.

Iran remained fully compliant with the deal for an entire year but as the remaining European parties failed to fulfill their end of the bargain, Tehran began in May 2019 to scale back its JCPOA commitments in several steps under Articles 26 and 36 of the accord covering Tehran’s legal rights.

Source: Iranian Agencies

The Aging Nuclear Horn of Babylon the Great: Daniel 7

US Nuclear Weapons Are Aging Quickly. With Few Spare Parts, How Long Can They Last?

30 Mar 2021

Special to McClatchy Washington Bureau | By Tara Copp

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. — When hundreds of land-based nuclear armed ballistic missiles were first lowered into underground cement silos spread across the vast cornfields here in 1970, the weapons were only intended to last a decade before a newer system came in.

Fifty years later, these missiles — called the Minuteman III — are still on alert, manned by members of the U.S. Air Force in teams of two who spend 24 hours straight below ground in front of analog terminals from the 1980s, decoding messages and running tests on the missiles’ systems to check if they could still launch if needed.

But it’s not the age of weapons or the decades-old technology that troubles their operators. It’s that the original manufacturers who supplied the gears, tubes and other materials to fix those systems are long gone.

Several years ago, the motor on one of the industrial-sized caged elevators that slowly descends 100 feet below ground to the launch control center broke, an airman with the base’s 791st Maintenance Squadron told McClatchy. A fix was not available for months.

Instead, maintainers resorted to rigging a pulley to lower supplies down for the crews, the airman said, who spoke on the condition they not be named.

We’re severely constrained with spares,” the airman said. “The technology does its job. The challenge is sustaining it.”

To make repairs, airmen are often forced to take parts from another machine. Two of the airmen at Minot told McClatchy the facility’s missile guidance system often needs parts or attention because of constant wear and tear.

You can only do that so many times until the system fails,” said Lt. Col. Steve Bonin, commander of the 91st Operations Support Squadron at Minot.

The price to modernize

Next month Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will seek billions to keep the 50-year-old land based missiles running while a debate begins on whether they should be replaced.

It’s a difficult ask: At the same time, the Pentagon is also in the middle of the most expensive nuclear modernization effort in its history.

All three legs of the nuclear triad — air, land and sea defenses launched from silos, overhead strategic bombers or nuclear submarines — are getting replaced with newer weapons systems, simultaneously.

The next-generation replacement bombers, missiles and submarines now under development have a price tag topping $400 billion and are expected to be a primary topic of questioning during hearings next month as lawmakers debate whether modernizing all three legs is necessary.

“In my humble opinion, we’re building more weapons than we need,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said during a Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion in December. “We need to look at ways to have a robust deterrent in a more cost-effective manner. And hat’s what we’re going to work towards.”

Kansas City complex

Due to the high cost of developing brand-new weapons, the default for the military has often been keeping the existing nuclear missiles running for a few additional years.

All of the repair and life extension work for nuclear missiles or bombs is handled at just a few offsite locations across the U.S. All of the non-nuclear parts of any of the warheads rely on just one place, the Department of Energy’s Kansas City National Security Campus.

“There are no backup places,” said Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the former head of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which is responsible for maintaining the nation’s nuclear stockpile. That means there isn’t a way to quickly obtain spares in an emergency, she added.

The non-nuclear parts of the weapons are tightly controlled in Kansas City because of the high cost if a counterfeit part slips through.

Even for a simple part like wiring, a counterfeit that is set to degrade faster could effectively disable a missile without aircrews realizing the damage, Gordon-Hagerty said.

The non-nuclear components that are produced at the Kansas City facility include items as basic as wiring or bolts, and as complex as the weapon’s firing system. They make up more than 80% of each weapon, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

As the missiles have aged, they’ve needed more work.

Last year, the GAO reported that the Kansas site would need to expand to meet the levels of repair now needed.

“The workload of the Kansas City site has increased and is currently at the highest level since the end of the Cold War,” the GAO said.

The agency cautioned that supply chain issues and a lack of floor space at the Kansas City site could hamper future plans to swap out parts and extend the life of the weapons.

Milley’s message

Navy Adm. Charles Richard, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, wonders how many life extensions are left for the missiles.

“When I say heroics, I’m talking about where people are doing some very innovative things to reverse engineer and creatively replace parts and things like that,” Richards said.

He added that another service life extension is “certainly past the point of being cost-effective and approaching the point where you can’t do it at all.”

To prepare for upcoming congressional hearings on the defense budget, Milley went to Minot.

He climbed inside a B-52 Stratofortress that’s been flying since 1960 to talk to the crew and ask them what upgrades would help their missions. The UH-1N Huey that carried him to the missile silo has been in service since 1969. The wall deep underground at the launch control center that he signed as he departed was built around 1962.

“We’re moving into a period where the engineering lifespan of these systems is nearing its end,” Milley said. ”Nuclear deterrence, strategic deterrence, I think, has been effective in preventing great power war for seven decades, since the end of World War II. And until, unless we have something better come along, I think we need to update and modernize the one we have.”

As he departed the launch facility, Milley took a marker to write a message to the missileers. It’s a place near the exit where crews who have completed their tours and visiting defense leaders have also scribbled notes.

“Every day there is no nuke war you won,” Milley wrote.

This article is written by Tara Copp from Special to McClatchy Washington Bureau and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Divepublisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

The China Nuclear Horn Courtesy of the USA

China builds advanced weapons systems using American chip technology

By Ellen Nakashima and Gerry Shih

April 7, 2021 at 1:21 p.m. EDT

In a secretive military facility in southwest China, a supercomputer whirs away, simulating the heat and drag on hypersonic vehicles speeding through the atmosphere — missiles that could one day be aimed at a U.S. aircraft carrier or Taiwan, according to former U.S. officials and Western analysts.

The computer is powered by tiny chips designed by a Chinese firm called Phytium Technology using American software and built in the world’s most advanced chip factory in Taiwan, which hums with American precision machinery, say the analysts.

Phytium portrays itself as a commercial company aspiring to become a global chip giant like Intel. It does not publicize its connections to the research arms of the People’s Liberation Army.

The hypersonic test facility is located at the China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center (CARDC), which also obscures its military connections though it is run by a PLA major general, according to public documents, and the former officials and analysts, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

The headquarters of the world’s largest semiconductor maker, TSMC in Hsinchu, Taiwan, is pictured on Jan. 29, 2021. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)

Phytium’s partnership with CARDC offers a prime example of how China is quietly harnessing civilian technologies for strategic military purposes — with the help of American technology. The trade is not illegal but is a vital link in a global high-tech supply chain that is difficult to regulate because the same computer chips that could be used for a commercial data center can power a military supercomputer.

Hypersonics refers to a range of emerging technologies that can propel missiles at greater than five times the speed of sound and potentially evade current defenses.

The U.S. system created the world’s most advanced military. Can it maintain an edge?

The Trump administration was set to place Phytium and a handful of other Chinese companies on an export blacklist late last year, but ran out of time, according to former U.S. officials. Such a listing would block technology of American origin from flowing to those firms. And, experts say, it would slow the advance of China’s hypersonic weapons program, as well as other sophisticated weapons and more powerful surveillance capabilities.

The designation package now awaits Commerce Department action.

Phytium did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

American firms generally argue that export controls hurt their profits while encouraging China to send its business elsewhere and develop its own industries. But analysts note the United States’ policy is that American technology should not aid the Chinese military and that curtailing future progress by the PLA is worth the cost in lost business.

As tensions between China and the United States deepen, so too have questions over the proper limits for American and Taiwanese firms doing business with China.

Semiconductors are the brains of modern electronics, enabling advances in everything from clean energy to quantum computing. They are now China’s top import, valued at more than $300 billion a year, and a major priority in China’s latest Five-Year Plan for national development.

In January 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tianjin, 70 miles from Beijing and home to Phytium, and touted the company’s importance to the country’s “indigenous innovation” effort. Today, Phytium boasts it is “a leading independent core chip provider in China.” The company markets microprocessors for servers and video games, but its shareholders and main clients are the Chinese state and military, according to government records.

Phytium was founded in August 2014, according to business registration records in a public government database. It was created as a joint venture of the state-owned conglomerate China Electronic Corp. (CEC), the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, and the Tianjin municipal government, according to the records.

The national supercomputing center is a lab run by the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), a premier military research institution whose current president and immediate past president were PLA generals.

In 2015, the Commerce Department placed both organizations on its trade blacklist list, for involvement in nuclear weapons activity, a designation that bars U.S. exports to the firms unless a waiver is obtained.

Phytium’s ownership has changed hands over the years, but its shareholders often have links to the PLA, records show.

“Phytium acts like an independent commercial company,” said Eric Lee, a research associate at the Project 2049 Institute, a Northern Virginia think tank focused on strategic Indo-Pacific issues. “Its executives wear civilian clothes, but they are mostly former military officers from NUDT.’’

In China’s rugged hinterland lies Mianyang, a city in southwest Sichuan province that is a center for research in nuclear weapons. It is also home to the country’s largest aerodynamics research complex: CARDC.

CARDC, which says it has 18 wind tunnels, is heavily involved in research on hypersonic weapons, according to former U.S. officials and U.S. and Australian researchers. Its director, Fan Zhaolin, is a major general, but he is pictured in civilian clothes on the center’s website.

The center has been on the U.S. trade blacklist — called the “entity list”— since 1999 for contributing to “the proliferation of missiles.” In 2016 Commerce further tightened restrictions on the facility.

CARDC, said Tai Ming Cheung, director of the University of California San Diego’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, is “a beating heart of Chinese hypersonic research and development.”

The research center and Fan did not respond to emails seeking comment.

China’s major investments in hypersonics is a major concern at the Pentagon.

“The only way to reliably see a hypersonic vehicle is from space, which makes it a challenge,” said Mark J. Lewis, until recently the Pentagon’s director of defense research and technology. If it is traveling at hypersonic speeds — going at least a mile per second — it gives a missile defense system very little time to figure out what it is and how to stop it, he said.

Hypersonics is a critical, emerging military technology, said Lewis, the executive director of the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies Institute. China could target Navy ships and air bases in the Pacific, he said, adding that a conventional cruise missile would take an hour or two to reach its target while a hypersonic missile could do so in minutes.

“It is a huge concern,” he said.

In 2014, the U.S. Air Force released an unclassified report on the technology of air warfare that included hypersonics. “Anyone could pick up this document,” Lewis said. “Then we basically took our foot off the gas. There was no sense of hurry, of alacrity.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese read the American research. Their scientists began showing up at U.S. conferences. They started investing. “They saw that hypersonics could give them a military advantage,” Lewis said. “And they acted.”

China, unlike the United States, has fielded a hypersonic weapon: a medium-range hypersonic glide vehicle.

Hundreds to thousands of different configurations of heat, vehicle lift and atmospheric drag need to be analyzed to make a hypersonic missile work, which would be too expensive and time-consuming through physical testing alone, said Iain Boyd, Director of the Center for National Security Initiatives at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “If you didn’t have supercomputers it could take a decade,’’ he said.

In May 2016, CARDC unveiled a “petascale” supercomputer that would aid the aerodynamic design of hypersonic missiles and other aircraft. A petascale computer can handle one trillion calculations per second.

In 2018 and 2019, CARDC scientists published papers showcasing their supercomputer and noting their calculations were done with Phytium’s 1500 and 2000 series chips, though the papers do not discuss research on hypersonic weapons.

CARDC, Phytium, the military university and the Tianjin supercomputing lab are currently developing an even faster computer — able to handle “exascale” speeds of a million trillion calculations per second. The supercomputer, dubbed Tianhe-3, is powered by Phytium’s 2000 series chips, according to Chinese state media.

To produce such chips, Phytium requires the newest design tools.

Although CARDC and other PLA entities are under U.S. sanctions, the Chinese military is still able to access U.S. semiconductor technology through companies like Phytium.

One Silicon Valley company that counts Phytium as a customer is Cadence Design Systems Inc., which gave an award to Phytium at a 2018 conference for presenting the “best paper” on how to use its software for high-performance chip applications. Another is Synopsys, headquartered eight miles from Cadence in San Jose, Calif.

“I have not in my decade in China met a chip design company that isn’t using either Synopsys or Cadence,” said Stewart Randall, a consultant in Shanghai who sells electronic design automation software to top Chinese chipmakers.

Synopsys declined to comment. Cadence did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

More loopholes

Phytium’s microprocessors are produced at gleaming factories outside Taipei by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which now makes the world’s most advanced chips, having surpassed the United States.

TSMC, the largest of several Taiwanese chipmakers, is in the unusual position of manufacturing chips “that end up being used for military purposes by both the United States and China,” said Si-fu Ou, a fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a think tank co-founded by Taiwan’s defense ministry.

The company, for instance, makes chips used in advanced American weapons, including Lockheed-Martin’s F-35 fighter jet. TSMC announced last year it would build a $12 billion factory in Arizona in response to Trump administration concerns about the security of the semiconductor supply chain.

“These private companies do business and don’t consider factors like national security,” Ou said, adding that Taiwan, as a small country, lacks the leverage and will to enact export bans. “The United States has a relatively complete set of export control measures and regulations, while Taiwan is relatively loose and has more loopholes,” Ou said.

TSMC said in an email to The Washington Post it obeys all laws and export controls.

TSMC has a “robust assessment and review process on shipments to specific entities that are subject to export control restrictions,” spokeswoman Nina Kao said. “We are not aware of a product manufactured by TSMC that was destined for military end-use as alleged in your email.”

The final stage of Phytium chip design is handled by another Taiwanese company, Alchip, which deals directly with TSMC’s factories on Phytium’s behalf.

Alchip chief financial officer Daniel Wang said Phytium signed an agreement stipulating its chips are not for military use. Phytium has told Alchip its clients are civilians, and that the 1500 and 2000 series chips are made specifically for commercial servers and personal computers, Wang said.

However, a 2018 Alchip news release notes the firm has worked with “China’s National Supercomputing Center,” which had been on Commerce’s blacklist for three years at that point for involvement in “nuclear explosive activities.”

Mark Li, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said unless Phytium is placed under sanctions, TSMC is in no position to cut it off. “It’s not TSMC’s job to be a policeman for the United States,” he said. “That’s for politicians to decide. China is the biggest semiconductor market. If you give that up when the business is legally allowed, you can’t explain that to shareholders.”

Shih reported from Taipei, Taiwan. Pei Lin Wu in Taipei contributed to this report.

Russia Prepared for Nuclear Doomsday: Revelation 8

Russia is testing a nuclear torpedo in the Arctic that has the power to trigger radioactive tsunamis off the US coast

Thomas Colson Apr 7, 2021, 8:54 AM

Russia is planning to deploy a nuclear-powered missile to the Arctic next summer that’s designed to detonate off the coastlines of enemy countries, CNN reported.

Satellite images provided this week to CNN by Maxar, a satellite company, indicated that Russia is testing weapons in the region and building significant military infrastructure in the Arctic — which is increasingly free of ice because of climate change.

CNN reported that Russia would deploy the Poseidon 2M39 missile to its Arctic region next summer. The missile has been referred to in reports as a “doomsday” device because of its devastating power.

The device — images of which first surfaced on Russian state television in 2015 — is an underwater nuclear torpedo designed to hit the ocean floor, kicking up a radioactive tsunami that could spread deadly radiation over thousands of miles of land, rendering it uninhabitable.

Russian President Vladimir Putin requested an update on a “key stage” of the tests in February from his defense minister, and more tests are expected later this year, the Times of London reported.

Russia and NATO countries with a presence in the Arctic region have been increasing their activity there in recent years as rising sea temperatures make it more accessible, Insider’s Christopher Woody reported.

Russia has the world’s longest Arctic coastline and derives about a quarter of its GDP from the region, and the Northern Sea Route is a valuable shipping corridor for Moscow.

The Pentagon on Monday said it was watching reports of Russian military activities and infrastructure build-ups in the Arctic “very closely.”

“Without getting into specific intelligence assessments, obviously we’re monitoring it very closely,” said Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby at a briefing Monday.

“Obviously we’re watching this, and, as I said before, we have national-security interests there that we know … we need to protect and defend,” Kirby said.

“And as I said, nobody’s interested in seeing the Arctic become militarized.”

The Increasing Russian Nuclear Threat

The Increasing Russian Nuclear Threat

Patty-Jane Geller

Report

April 6, 2021 3 min read Download Report

Summary

Despite the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (New START), Russia is able to increase its nuclear weapons stockpile both quantitatively and qualitatively. As Russia modernizes its nuclear forces and introduces new capabilities unconstrained by New START, the United States has just barely begun to modernize its aging legacy strategic systems. Russia is clearly seeking to gain a competitive nuclear advantage over the U.S. This is unacceptably dangerous. To ensure credible, direct, and extended nuclear deterrence against Russia, and to avoid crisis escalation to the nuclear level, the U.S. must complete its own nuclear modernization while engaging Russia diplomatically on strategic issues.

Key Takeaways

Russia is building up its nuclear forces—clearly seeking to gain a competitive and dangerous nuclear advantage over the United States.

While Russia modernizes its nuclear forces, most of America’s nuclear systems are between 40 years and 60 years old.

The United States must complete its own nuclear modernization while engaging Russia diplomatically on its nuclear forces.

The Increasing Russian Nuclear Threat Daren Bakst and Joshua SewellReviving the deeply flawed Iran nuclear deal would reward and empower a hostile dictatorship by lifting sanctions and squandering U.S. bargaining leverage. Iran never fully complied with the JCPOA and is currently in violation of it on several accounts. A much more restrictive agreement is necessary. A new agreement should include Iran’s ballistic missile program, disclosure of its past nuclear weapons efforts, and better protection for Israel and Arab allies.

The Issue

Russia relies heavily on nuclear weapons to offset its own perceived inferiority of its conventional forces in a conflict with the forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Despite economic challenges, Russia is building up its nuclear forces, and in some areas could gain an advantage over the United States. As Russia modernizes its nuclear forces and introduces new capabilities limited by existing arms controls, the United States has just barely begun to modernize its aging legacy strategic systems. Most of America’s nuclear systems are between 40 years and 60 years old.

Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START

Russia’s strategic nuclear forces are limited by the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (New START) with the United States, which the new Biden Administration extended until 2026. Unclassified sources estimate Russia’s strategic triad to consist of more than 300 silo and road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), 10 nuclear-armed submarines, and 60 to 70 strategic bombers. According to New START counting rules, Russia currently deploys nearly 1,500 warheads—though that number is difficult to confirm. In fact, because Russia’s ICBMs can carry multiple warheads per missile, Russia has an “upload capacity” that allows it to quickly surge deployed warheads beyond New START’s limits. Russia has been modernizing its nuclear triad since 1998, and President Vladimir Putin announced in December 2020 that this modernization is approximately 86 percent complete. The effort includes fielding new ICBMs, building more advanced strategic submarines, and a completed overhaul of the strategic bomber fleet.

Russia’s New “Exotic” Nuclear Delivery Systems

In addition to modernizing existing nuclear capabilities, Russia is also developing six entirely new capabilities, without breaking New START terms.

• The maneuverable Avangard Hypersonic Boost-Glide Vehicle (HGV) is carried aboard an ICBM before being loosed at its target. It is meant to evade enemy missile defense systems.

The Sarmat Heavy ICBM can reportedly carry 10 to 15 nuclear warheads, or multiple Avangard HGVs, over the North Pole or South Pole to mainland U.S. targets.

The Poseidonis a nuclear-powered, underwater drone that could create a radioactive “tsunami” to strike U.S. coastal targets.

• The Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile offers unlimited range and second-strike capability.

• The Kinzhal air-launched, dual-capable hypersonic ballistic missile is a theater-range system that is already in service.

• The Tsirkon sea-launched, dual-capable hypersonic cruise missile is a threat to both sea and land targets.

While the Avangard and Sarmat systems are now counted, but not prohibited, under New START, the other weapons are not; all six have strategic stability implications.

Unconstrained, Non-Strategic Nuclear Forces

Russia has a stockpile of at least 2,000 non-strategic (low-yield) nuclear weapons (NSWs) that are unconstrained by any treaty, outnumbering U.S. NSWs by at least 10 to one. In 2019, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) reported that Russia’s stockpile is anticipated to grow even more. Russia operates dozens of dual-capable delivery systems, including short-range ballistic missiles, depth charges, torpedoes, land mines, artillery, and mortars. This disparity is particularly concerning because Russia’s recent nuclear doctrine indicates a lower threshold for use of nuclear weapons. According to the United States’ 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, Russia “mistakenly assesses that the threat of nuclear escalation or actual first use of nuclear weapons would serve to ‘de-escalate’ a conflict on terms favorable to Russia.”

Russia’s Nuclear Enterprise

Russia’s current nuclear enterprise is able to increase its nuclear weapons stockpile both quantitatively and qualitatively. A 2020 Government Accountability Office report notes that Russia has the world’s largest volume of bomb-making material. According to a 2019 Army War College estimate, in one year, Russia can produce between 1,000 and 3,000 plutonium pits for nuclear weapons modernization. In contrast, the U.S. has not had a plutonium-pit-production capability since the Cold War. According to the DIA Director in 2019, Russia is conducting low-yield nuclear tests that will allow it to improve its weapons capabilities, including developing new earth-penetrating warheads that can strike hardened targets. Meanwhile, the United States has adhered to a zero-yield testing standard since 1992 and has not entered a new nuclear weapon into service since 1989. Russia is clearly seeking to gain a competitive nuclear advantage over the U.S. This is unacceptably dangerous. To ensure credible, direct, and extended nuclear deterrence against Russia, and to avoid crisis escalation to the nuclear level, the United States must complete its own nuclear modernization while engaging Russia diplomatically on its nuclear forces.

The Russian Nuclear Horn Prepares for War Up North

Satellite images show huge Russian military buildup in the Arctic

By Nick Paton Walsh, CNN

Updated 6:42 AM EDT, Mon April 05, 2021

(CNN) Russia is amassing unprecedented military might in the Arctic and testing its newest weapons in a region freshly ice-free due to the climate emergency, in a bid to secure its northern coast and open up a key shipping route from Asia to Europe.

Weapons experts and Western officials have expressed particular concern about one Russian ‘super-weapon,’ the Poseidon 2M39 torpedo. Development of the torpedo is moving fast with Russian President Vladimir Putin requesting an update on a “key stage” of the tests in February from his defense minister Sergei Shoigu, with further tests planned this year, according to multiple reports in state media.

This unmanned stealth torpedo is powered by a nuclear reactor and intended by Russian designers to sneak past coastal defenses — like those of the US — on the sea floor.

The device is intended to deliver a warhead of multiple megatons, according to Russian officials, causing radioactive waves that would render swathes of the target coastline uninhabitable for decades.

In November, Christopher A Ford, then assistant secretary of state for International Security and Non-Proliferation, said the Poseidon is designed to “inundate U.S. coastal cities with radioactive tsunamis.”

Experts agree that the weapon is “very real” and already coming to fruition. The head of Norwegian intelligence, Vice Admiral Nils Andreas Stensønes, told CNN that his agency has assessed the Poseidon as “part of the new type of nuclear deterrent weapons. And it is in a testing phase. But it’s a strategic system and it’s aimed at targets … and has an influence far beyond the region in which they test it currently.” Stensønes declined to give details on the torpedo’s testing progress so far.

Satellite images provided to CNN by space technology company Maxar detail a stark and continuous build-up of Russian military bases and hardware on the country’s Arctic coastline, together with underground storage facilities likely for the Poseidon and other new high-tech weapons. The Russian hardware in the High North area includes bombers and MiG31BM jets, and new radar systems close to the coast of Alaska.

The Russian build-up has been matched by NATO and US troop and equipment movements. American B-1 Lancer bombers stationed in Norway’s Ørland air base have recently completed missions in the eastern Barents Sea, for example. The US military’s stealth Seawolf submarine was acknowledged by US officials in August as being in the area.

A senior State Department official told CNN: “There’s clearly a military challenge from the Russians in the Arctic,” including their refitting of old Cold War bases and build-up of new facilities on the Kola Peninsula near the city of Murmansk. “That has implications for the United States and its allies, not least because it creates the capacity to project power up to the North Atlantic,” the official said.

View this interactive content on CNN.com

The satellite images show the slow and methodical strengthening of airfields and “trefoil” bases — with a shamrock-like design, daubed in the red, white and blue of the Russian flag — at several locations along Russia’s Arctic coast over the past five years. The bases are inside Russian territory and part of a legitimate defense of its borders and coastline. US officials have voiced concern, however, that the forces might be used to establish de facto control over areas of the Arctic that are further afield, and soon to be ice-free.

“Russia is refurbishing Soviet-era airfields and radar installations, constructing new ports and search-and-rescue centers, and building up its fleet of nuclear- and conventionally-powered icebreakers,” Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesman, told CNN.

“It is also expanding its network of air and coastal defense missile systems, thus strengthening its anti-access and area-denial capabilities over key portions of the Arctic,” he added.

Campbell also noted the recent creation of a Quick Reaction Alert force at two Arctic airfields — Rogachevo and Anadyr — and the trial of one at Nagurskoye airfield last year. Satellite imagery from March 16 shows probable MiG31BMs at Nagurskoye for what is thought to be the first time, bringing a new capability of Russian stealth air power to the far north.

High-tech weapons are also being regularly tested in the Arctic area, according to Russian officials quoted in state media and Western officials.

Campbell added that in November, Russia claimed the successful test of the ‘Tsirkon’ anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile.

The Tsirkon and the Poseidon are part of a new generation of weapons pledged by Putin in 2018 as strategic game changers in a fast-changing world.

At the time US officials scorned the new weapons as technically far-fetched and improbable, yet they appear to be nearing fruition. The Norwegian intelligence chief Stensønes told CNN the Tsirkon as a “new technology, with hypersonic speeds, which makes it hard to defend against.”

On Thursday, Russian state news agency TASS cited a source in the military industrial complex as saying there had been another successful test of the Tsirkon from the Admiral Gorshkov warship, saying all four test rockets had hit their target, and that another more advanced level of tests would begin in May or June.

The climate emergency has removed many of Russia’s natural defenses to its north, such as walls of sheet ice, at an unanticipated rate. “The melt is moving faster than scientists predicted or thought possible several years ago,” said the senior State Department official. “It’s going to be a dramatic transformation in the decades ahead in terms of physical access.”

View this interactive content on CNN.com

US officials also expressed concern at Moscow’s apparent bid to influence the “Northern Sea Route” — a shipping lane that runs from between Norway and Alaska, along Russia’s northern coast, across to the North Atlantic. The ‘NSR’ potentially halves the time it currently takes shipping containers to reach Europe from Asia via the Suez Canal.

Russia’s Rosatom state nuclear company released elaborately produced drone video this February of the ‘Christophe de Margerie’ tanker completing an eastern route across the Arctic in winter for the first time, accompanied by the ’50 Let Pobedy’ nuclear icebreaker for its journey in three of the six Arctic seas.

Campbell said Russia sought to exploit the NSR as a “major international shipping lane,” yet voiced concern at the rules Moscow was seeking to impose on vessels using the route. “Russian laws governing NSR transits exceed Russia’s authority under international law,” the Pentagon spokesman said.

“They require any vessel transiting the NSR through international waters to have a Russian pilot onboard to guide the vessel. Russia is also attempting to require foreign vessels to obtain permission before entering the NSR.”

The senior State Department official added: “The Russian assertions about the Northern Sea Route is most certainly an effort to lay down some rules of the road, get some de facto acquiescence on the part of the international community, and then claim this is the way things are supposed to work.”

View this interactive content on CNN.com

Elizabeth Buchanan, lecturer of Strategic Studies at Deakin University, Australia, said that “basic geography affords Russia the NSR which is increasingly seeing thinner ice for more of the year making it commercially viable to use as a transport artery. This might yet transform global shipping, and with it the movements of 90+% of all goods globally.”

The State Department official believes the Russians are mostly interested in exporting hydrocarbons — essential to the country’s economy — along the route, but also in the resources being uncovered by the fast melt. The flexing of their military muscles in the north — key to Moscow’s nuclear defense strategy, and also mostly on Russian coastal territory — could be a bid to impose their writ on the wider area, the official said.

“When the Russians are testing weapons, jamming GPS signals, closing off airspace or sea space for exercises, or flying bombers over the Arctic along the airspace of allies and partners, they are always trying to send a message,” the official added.

Russia insists motives are peaceful and economic

Russia’s foreign ministry declined to comment, yet Moscow has long maintained its goals in the Arctic are economic and peaceful.

A March 2020 document by Kremlin policymakers presented Russia’s key goals in an area behind 20% of its exports and 10% of its GDP. The strategy focuses on ensuring Russia’s territorial integrity and regional peace. It also expresses the need to guarantee high living standards and economic growth in the region, as well as developing a resource base and the NSR as “a globally competitive national transport corridor.”

Putin regularly extols the importance of Russia’s technological superiority in the Arctic. In November, during the unveiling of a new icebreaker in St. Petersburg, the Russian President said: “It is well-known that we have a unique icebreaker fleet that holds a leading position in the development and study of Arctic territories. We must reaffirm this superiority constantly, every day.”

Putin said of a submarine exercise last week in which three submarines surfaced at the same time in the polar ice: “The Arctic expedition … has no analogues in the Soviet and the modern history of Russia.”

Among these new weapons is the Poseidon 2M39. The plans for this torpedo were initially revealed in an apparently purposeful brandishing of a document discussing its capabilities by a Russian general in 2015.

It was subsequently partially dismissed by analysts as a ‘paper tiger’ weapon, meant to terrify with its apocalyptic destructive powers that appear to slip around current treaty requirements, but not to be successfully deployed.

A Russian Delta IV submarine photographed on top of ice near Alexandra Island on March 27, during an exercise, with a likely hole blown in the ice to its left from underwater demolition.

Yet a series of developments in the Arctic — including, according to Russian media reports, the testing of up to three Russian submarines designed to carry the stealth weapon, which has been suggested to be 20 meters long — have now led analysts to consider the project real and active.

Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti, cited a “source” on Monday saying that tests for the Belgorod submarine, especially developed to be armed with the Poseidon torpedo, would be completed in September.

Manash Pratim Boruah, a submarine expert at Jane’s Fighting Ships, said: “The reality of the weapon is clear. You can absolutely see development around the torpedo, which is happening. There is a very good probability that the Poseidon will be tested, and then there is a danger of it polluting a lot. Even without a warhead, but definitely with just a nuclear reactor inside.”

Boruah said some of the specifications for the torpedo leaked by the Russians were optimistic and doubted it could reach a speed of 100 knots (around 115 miles per hour) with a 100MW nuclear reactor. He added that at such a speed, it would probably be detected quite easily as it would create a large acoustic signature.

“Even if you tone it down from the speculation, it is still quite dangerous,” he said.

Boruah added that the construction of storage bays for the Poseidon, probably around Olenya Guba on the Kola Peninsula, were meant to be complete next year. He also expressed concerns about the Tsirkon hyper-sonic missile that Russia says it has tested twice already, which at speeds of 6 to 7 Mach would “definitely cause a lot of damage without a particularly having big warhead itself.”

Katarzyna Zysk, professor of international relations at the state-run Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, said the Poseidon was “getting quite real,” given the level of infrastructure development and testing of submarines to carry the torpedo.

“It is absolutely a project that will be used to scare, as a negotiation card in the future, perhaps in arms control talks,” Zysk said. “But in order to do so, it has to be credible. This seems to be real.”

Stensønes also raised the concern that testing such nuclear weapons could have serious environmental consequences. “We are ecologically worried. This is not only a theoretical thing: in fact, we have seen serious accidents in the last few years,” he said, referring to the testing of the Burevestnik missile which was reported to have caused a fatal nuclear accident in 2019. “The potential of a nuclear contamination is absolutely there.”

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Manash Pratim Boruah’s last name