Friday, May 27, 2005

George's New Nukes

Since I'm seeing this Haaretz article being passed around today, I thought I'd round up some further reading on the subject. The US is producing brand-spanking-new nuclear weapons for the first time since the Cold War ended.
First, a couple of fact sheets, courtesy of the Arms Control Association:

The Bush administration’s more aggressive nuclear force posture sets a dangerous precedent that some states may try to emulate and others may try to counter.

And I find the Chronicle and the Observer were there when it all began:

Reversing a decade of restraint in nuclear weapons policy, Congress agreed to provide more than $6 billion for research, expansion and upgrades in the country's nuclear capabilities.

The Independent has a few words to say about this strategy:

...only fantasy generals on the big screen use macho bombast against their fictional foes.


Blogger Management said...

The U.S. removes the nuclear brakes
By Reuven Pedatzur

Under the cloak of secrecy imparted by use of military code names, the American administration has been taking a big - and dangerous - step that will lead to the transformation of the nuclear bomb into a legitimate weapon for waging war.

Ever since the terror attack of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has gradually done away with all the nuclear brakes that characterized American policy during the Cold War. No longer are nuclear bombs considered "the weapon of last resort." No longer is the nuclear bomb the ultimate means of deterrence against nuclear powers, which the United States would never be the first to employ.

In the era of a single, ruthless superpower, whose leadership intends to shape the world according to its own forceful world view, nuclear weapons have become a attractive instrument for waging wars, even against enemies that do not possess nuclear arms.

Remember the code name "CONPLAN 8022." Last week, the Washington Post reported that this unintelligible nickname masks a military program whose implementation could drag the world into nuclear war.

CONPLAN 8022 is a series of operational plans prepared by Startcom, the U.S. Army's Strategic Command, which calls for preemptive nuclear strikes against Iran and North Korea. One of the plan's major components is the use of nuclear weapons to destroy the underground facilities where North Korea and Iran are developing their nuclear weapons. The standard ordnance deployed by the Americans is not capable of destroying these facilities.

After the war in Afghanistan, it became clear that despite the widespread use of huge conventional bombs, "bunker-busters," some of the bunkers dug by Al-Qaida remained untouched. This discovery soon led to a decision to develop nuclear weapons that would be able to penetrate and destroy the underground shelters in which the two member states of the "axis of evil" are developing weapons of mass destruction.

The explanation given by administration experts calls these "small" bombs, which would have a moderate effect on the environment. The effect of the bomb would not be discernible above ground, the radioactive fallout would be negligible, and the "collateral damage" caused to civilians would be minimal.

Accordingly, America's deterrent credibility against the "rogue states" would grow, because it is clear that the U.S. would allow itself to make use of these "small bombs" - as they would destroy the weapon sites but not cause the death of many civilians.

The war in Iraq, whose purpose was the destruction of Saddam Hussein's development facilities and stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, but which led to America's miring in the Iraqi swamp, has increased the attraction of nuclear weapons. After all, it would have been much simpler and more logical to destroy Saddam's facilities with a few "small bombs," which would not have caused any real damage to the civilian population, than to become entangled in a ground war that has resulted in 150,000 American soldiers treading water in the Iraqi swamp.

The problem with this argument is that it is hopeless. To understand this, one may analyze the effect of a nuclear attack of the sort posited by American military strategists in CONPLAN 8022. Obviously, the U.S. would not use less than five to ten "small bombs" were it to attack Iran or North Korea, since, considering the number of relevant targets in the two countries, anything less would fail to achieve the goal of deterrence and prevention. According to the plan, each bomb would have a 10-kiloton yield - about two-thirds of that of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Each detonation of a bomb a few meters underground would destroy most of the buildings on the surface to a range of two kilometers. After the explosion, there would be a need to quickly evacuate civilians from an area of 100 square kilometers, to avoid the deadly effects of the radioactive fallout; buildings, agricultural crops and livestock would be affected in an area of thousands of square kilometers, and depending on wind direction and velocity, there could be a need to evacuate more people from thousands of additional square kilometers.

None of this takes into account the political and psychological repercussions of using nuclear weapons for the first time in more than 60 years. The Bush administration regards all this as "limited collateral damage."

The nuclear policy that the Bush administration continues to formulate, including plans for a preemptive nuclear strike against states that do not possess such weapons and the development of new nuclear weapons - is a recipe for disaster. It is a policy that blurs the line between conventional and nuclear war. This blurring could undermine the relative strategic stability that has set in since the Cold War.

In addition, the Bush administration's approach contains a message that is liable to encourage Iran and North Korea to reassess the contribution such a weapon would make to their own nuclear policies, possibly providing the incentive that would accelerate such development.

Herein lies an inherent contradiction in the American approach that on the one hand acts with commendable determination to prevent the proliferation of nuclear arms, but on the other hand, contributes toward it by adopting an irresponsible nuclear policy.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Management said...

America's broken nuclear promises endanger us all

Bush has done his utmost to frustrate talks on the non-proliferation treaty

Robin Cook
Friday May 27, 2005
The Guardian

Not a day goes by without a member of team Bush lecturing us on the threat from weapons of mass destruction and assuring us of the absolute primacy they give to halting proliferation. How odd then that the review conference on the non-proliferation treaty will break up this evening, barring an 11th-hour miracle, with no agreed conclusions. And how strange that no delegation should have worked harder to frustrate agreement on what needs to be done than the representatives of George Bush.

The tragedy is that, for all its faults, the non-proliferation treaty has hitherto been the best barrier put up by the international community against the spread of nuclear weapons. With the support of all but a handful of nations, the treaty provided a robust declaration that the development of nuclear weapons is taboo. That peer-group pressure has since resulted in more countries abandoning nuclear weapons than acquiring them.

South Africa disowned and dismantled its nuclear weapons after the collapse of the apartheid regime. New states to emerge from the Soviet Union, such as Ukraine, renounced the nuclear systems they inherited on their territory. Argentina and Brazil dropped the nuclear capability they were developing after negotiating a non-nuclear pact between themselves. Even Iraq turned out to have abandoned its nuclear weapons programme, although in that particular case the success of the non-proliferation regime was more of an embarrassment to George Bush.

Previous review conferences, which come round every five years, have been used as an important opportunity to regenerate support for the treaty. Not this time. The full weight of Washington diplomacy was focused on preventing any reference in the agenda to the commitments the Clinton administration gave to the last review conference. As a result, the first two weeks of negotiation were taken up with arguing over the agenda, leaving barely one week for substantive talks. Robert McNamara, the former US defence secretary and no peacenik, has observed that if the people of the world knew "they would not tolerate what's going on in the NPT conference".

Observance of the non-proliferation treaty rested on a bargain between those states without nuclear weapons, who agreed to renounce any ambition to acquire them, and the nuclear-weapon powers, who undertook in return to proceed in good faith to disarmament. It suits the Bush administration now to present the purpose of the treaty as halting proliferation, but its original intention was the much broader ambition of a nuclear-weapon-free world. The acrimonious exchanges inside the present review conference reflect the frustration of the vast majority of states, who believe they have kept their side of the deal by not developing nuclear weapons but have seen no sign that the privileged elite with nuclear weapons have any intention of giving them up.

It was to bridge the growing gulf between the two sides that the British delegation, led by Peter Hain, at the last review conference in 2000 helped broker agreement to 13 specific steps that the nuclear-weapon powers could take towards disarming themselves. Labour scores reasonably well against those benchmarks. Britain has taken out of service all non-strategic nuclear weapons and as a result has disarmed 70% of its total nuclear explosive power. It has also halted production of weapons-grade material and placed all fissile material not actually in warheads under international safeguards. This positive progress will be comprehensively reversed if Tony Blair does proceed as threatened to authorise construction of a new weapons system to replace Trident, but until then Britain has a good story to tell.

Not that it gets heard in the negotiating chambers, where it is obscured by our close identification with the Bush administration and our willingness in the review conference to lobby for understanding of their position. Their position is simply stated: obligations under the non-proliferation treaty are mandatory on other nations and voluntary on the US. Even while the review conference was sitting, the White House asked Congress for funds to research a bunker-busting nuclear bomb, although to develop new nuclear weapons, especially ones designed not to deter but to wage war, is to travel in the opposite direction to the undertakings the US gave to the last review conference.

The rationale for the bunker-buster is revealing. Its objective is to penetrate and destroy deeply buried arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. Perversely, the current regime in Washington does not perceive its development of nuclear weapons as an obstacle to multilateral agreement on proliferation but as the unilateral means of stopping proliferation. Whatever may be said for this muscular approach to proliferation, there is for sure no prospect of negotiating an agreed text with the rest of the world legitimating it.

Any progress within the non-proliferation treaty is therefore likely to be on hold until George Bush is replaced by a president willing to return to multilateral diplomacy. This is worrying as there are other pressing problems that should not be left waiting.

One of the design flaws of the treaty dates from its negotiation in the pre-Chernobyl era of rosy optimism about nuclear energy. As a result it turned on a deal in which the nuclear powers undertook to transfer peaceful nuclear know-how in return for other nations forswearing the military applications of nuclear technology. At the time many of us warned that it was inconsistent to enshrine the spread of nuclear energy in a treaty trying to halt the spread of nuclear weapons.

It therefore is no surprise that we now have a crisis over the advanced nuclear ambitions of Iran. One of the weaknesses in the west's negotiating position is that there is nothing in the non-proliferation treaty to prohibit Iran from acquiring a declared nuclear energy programme, although it seems implausible that the country has any urgent need for one, as it practically floats on a lake of oil.

The desirable solution is for an addition to the treaty banning countries without nuclear weapons from developing a closed fuel cycle for nuclear energy, which would stop them acquiring the fissile material for bombs. But this would deepen the present asymmetry between the nuclear powers and everyone else, and is only going to be negotiable if there is some evidence that we are serious about disarmament.

If the review conference breaks up in failure to agree, I suspect there will be some in Washington celebrating tonight, perhaps not in anything as foreign as French champagne but in the Napa Valley imitation. Within their own narrow terms they will have succeeded. They will have stopped another multilateral agreement and will have escaped criticism for not fulfilling their commitments under the last one. But in the process they will have weakened the non-proliferation regime and made the world a more dangerous place. The next time they lecture us on their worries about weapons of mass destruction, they do not deserve to be taken seriously.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Management said...

April 2003
Press Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director (202) 463-8270 x107 and Christine Kucia, Research Analyst, (202) 463-8270 x103
(Go to Nuclear Bunker Busters: Technical Realities)

Since taking office, the Bush administration has increasingly emphasized and relied upon counterproliferation strategies to deal with threats from weapons of mass destruction (WMD). These threats, according to Washington, increasingly come from certain states seeking nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons capabilities or from terrorists able to procure these arms.

A central goal of the administration has been to provide the president with a broader continuum of military options and capabilities, including new kinds of conventional and nuclear options, to “dissuade, deter, and defeat” adversaries armed with or seeking WMD. Over the last two years, the administration has updated the U.S. national security strategy against WMD by declaring that nuclear weapons may be used in response to chemical or biological threats and has produced a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that asserts that new nuclear weapons capabilities are needed to defeat chemical and biological weapons targets, as well as deeply buried and hardened targets. It has initiated research on modifications of two types of existing nuclear gravity bombs, has proposed the repeal of a decade-long ban on low-yield nuclear weapons research and development, and is poised to clear away legal and political hurdles blocking the resumption of U.S. nuclear testing, which is generally considered to be necessary to proof-test a new nuclear device type. These moves run counter to long-standing U.S. national policy, accepted international norms of nonproliferation behavior, and trends in U.S. military strategy that de-emphasize nuclear weapons.

Looking at each of these developments separately provides only partial insights to the ambitious policy shift proposed by this administration. Taken together, they form a clearer picture of the Bush administration’s road map toward increased reliance on nuclear weapons.

The Bush administration’s more aggressive nuclear force posture sets a dangerous precedent that some states may try to emulate and others may try to counter. The pursuit of new U.S. nuclear-weapon capabilities would bypass important preventative constraints on the qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons that are embedded in current U.S. law and policy, as well as those encompassed in international nonproliferation agreements. New nuclear weapons intended to enhance the credibility and range of options for the use of nuclear weapons would also diminish the firewall that has separated nuclear and conventional warfare since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Coming from the United States, the world’s pre-eminent military and political power, such policies undermine nonproliferation efforts by suggesting to other states that nuclear weapons are legitimate and necessary tools that can achieve military or political objectives. Such an approach, if implemented, only increases the odds that another country or group will race to acquire—and perhaps someday use—the destructive power of these terrible weapons.

The Rationale for New Weapons

Documents released and leaked over the last several months have shed light on the Bush administration’s controversial plans for maintaining and, in some ways, expanding the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. foreign and military policy.

The NPR, a classified Pentagon assessment of U.S. nuclear forces and weapons policy—some of which was leaked in January 2002—outlines the current administration’s rationale for the development and possible testing and production of new types of nuclear weapons.

The NPR, which was mandated by Congress in 2000 and delivered in January 2002, asserts that nuclear weapons “provide credible military options to deter a wide range of threats, including WMD and large-scale conventional military force.” The NPR proposes “greater flexibility” with respect to nuclear forces, and it suggests that nuclear weapons are useful to “hold at risk a wide range of target types.” The NPR suggests that “nuclear attack options that vary in scale, scope, and purpose will complement other military capabilities.” The review calls for contingency plans for nuclear strikes against non-nuclear-weapon states or in conflicts that may begin as conventional wars.

The document also outlines plans for developing new nuclear weapons, including “improved earth penetrating weapons…and warheads that reduce collateral damage,” such as low-yield nuclear weapons. It cites the need for weapons specifically for destroying underground targets that may house WMD materials or facilities. The NPR asserts that these new weapon types could more effectively deter states and terrorists since it would be more plausible that the United States might actually use smaller, more accurate nuclear weapons rather than higher-yield nuclear warheads. The NPR also advocates steps to decrease the period of time necessary to prepare for a technically significant nuclear test explosion from the current requirement of 24-36 months.

Consistent with the NPR policy recommendations, the administration has issued policy directives that lay the groundwork for the development of new nuclear-weapon capabilities and missions.
In September 2002, President George W. Bush issued a public version of his “National Security Strategy,” which outlines security issues facing the country and how the United States plans to address threats posed by countries or groups possessing weapons of mass destruction. In this document, the administration clearly asserts its willingness to take pre-emptive action, stating, “We will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against” terrorist organizations or the countries that harbor them. The document refrains from linking pre-emptive action with nuclear weapons, however.

In December 2002, the Bush administration released its “National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction,” a companion document to the National Security Strategy. A classified version of this December strategy document, National Security Presidential Directive 17 (NSPD 17), was signed by Bush in September 2002. According to a December 11, 2002 Washington Post article, a top-secret appendix to NSPD 17 authorizes pre-emptive strikes against states or terrorist groups that are close to acquiring WMD. This executive order apparently merges the concern about these countries expressed by the administration in the NPR with the pre-emptive policy sanctioned in the September 2002 security strategy. It also reiterates a need for a “robust strike capability,” which will require the United States to develop “new capabilities to defeat WMD-related assets.”

A January 31, 2003, Washington Times article reported that the classified NSPD 17 document places even stronger emphasis on nuclear weapons than included in the unclassified version issued by the White House to the public. It highlights “the right to respond with overwhelming force—including potentially nuclear weapons” to biological or chemical weapons attacks, whereas the declassified version used the more innocuous phrasing, “including through resort to all of our options.”

Based on what has been reported about NSPD 17, it appears that Bush might consider authorizing the first use of U.S. nuclear weapons in the event that a hostile state attacks U.S. forces, allies, or territory with chemical or biological weapons or preemptively striking sites believed to store or manufacture chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

Putting Words Into Action

As the Bush administration has made adjustments to U.S. nuclear doctrine, other sectors of the government have started moving forward with plans and programs to create new conventional and nuclear weapons capabilities intended to improve current U.S. military capabilities to strike underground, hardened targets and to create nuclear warheads that “reduce collateral damage.”

Some of the research into new nuclear warheads is already underway. Consistent with the recommendation of the NPR, the administration requested and the fiscal year 2003 Defense Authorization Act includes a $46 million study by the Department of Energy on a robust nuclear earth penetrator (RNEP) that could destroy hardened and deeply buried targets. Energy Department officials have testified that the focus of the effort is on making modifications to the existing B61 and B83 warheads. Congress authorized the first $15 million installment of the three-year study for fiscal year 2003, and in February 2003, the Department of Energy requested $15 million for fiscal 2004, the second year of the project.

In addition to modifications of nuclear warheads currently in the U.S. arsenal, the administration is pursuing further research on entirely new types of nuclear warheads. The fiscal year 2004 budget request also seeks funding for the Advanced Concept Initiatives program. Pursuant to the NPR, which cites the need “to further assess…other nuclear weapons options in connection with meeting new or emerging military requirements,” the Department of Energy seeks to reinvigorate the science and development program for new nuclear-warhead concepts. The administration’s fiscal year 2004 budget requests $6 million in funding from Congress for the first year of the Energy Department program, which has been suspended since 1993.

Most significantly, however, is the administration’s February 2003 request that Congress repeal the decade-long ban on research and development leading to production of low-yield nuclear warheads. The prohibition was approved by Congress as part of the fiscal year 1994 Defense Authorization Act. Known as the Spratt-Furse law in recognition of its original sponsors, the prohibition bars the conduct of activities that could lead to the production of a nuclear weapon with a yield of five kilotons or less that had not entered into production by the end of 1993. The Spratt-Furse law is a politically, if not technically, significant barrier to the development and production of these weapons.

In its written appeal to Congress to overturn the law, the Pentagon claims that the prohibition “has negatively affected U.S. government efforts to support the national strategy to counter WMD.” Linton Brooks, acting director of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), elaborated on the Energy Department’s rationale for the legislation’s repeal at an April 8, 2003, Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Brooks claims that by requesting the repeal of the Spratt-Furse law, “We are seeking to free ourselves from intellectual prohibitions against exploring a full range of technical options.” Brooks suggested that, during the course of studying modifications on existing nuclear warheads for the RNEP, scientists might conclude that adapting a current weapon is not feasible and “be forced to say the only way you can get a nuclear earth penetrator is to do something fundamentally new.”

Yet, the claim that the Spratt-Furse ban hampers the Department of Energy’s ability to “exercise our intellectual capabilities” is highly misleading because the law specifically provides exceptions for it to pursue nuclear warhead design and cost studies that provide weapons scientists with significant room to evaluate new concepts and approaches. The law allows the Energy Department to conduct the research and development necessary to “design a testing device that has a yield of less than five kilotons; to modify an existing weapon for the purpose of addressing safety and reliability concerns; or to address proliferation concerns,” so long as it does not lead to a fully engineered, producible nuclear missile warhead or bomb system.

In an attempt to deflect concern that such research might eventually lead to the production, testing, and deployment of a new type of nuclear weapon, Brooks testified that “the Department of Defense has not identified any requirements for such weapons” and added that “we are not planning to develop any new weapons at all.”

Contrary to Brooks’ suggestion that the repeal of Spratt-Furse does not mean that the production of new types of nuclear warheads is imminent, Fred Celec, the deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear matters, recently said that the administration wants the weapon and will move forward with its development and production. If a hydrogen bomb can be successfully designed to survive a crash through hard rock or concrete and still explode, “it will ultimately get fielded,” Celec said according to an April 23, 2003, San Jose Mercury News article.

The ongoing research, combined with the possible repeal by Congress of the ban on research leading to the production of a new type of low-yield bunker-buster warhead, could easily turn the NPR’s proposal for more “usable” nuclear weapons into a reality through the development, engineering, testing, and production of a new warhead. The upcoming congressional decision on whether to repeal or retain the Spratt-Furse prohibition on low-yield nuclear weapons is a watershed moment for U.S. nonproliferation policy.

Nuclear Testing on the Horizon?

The administration’s drive to acquire new nuclear-weapon capabilities for new military missions clearly threatens the 10-year-long U.S. policy not to conduct research leading to the production of new, low-yield nuclear warheads. In addition, it could also put at risk another important barrier to the proliferation of new and more deadly types of nuclear weapons: the U.S. nuclear-test moratorium established in 1992.

Although the administration has stated repeatedly that it has no current plans to resume nuclear testing, significant modifications to existing nuclear warhead designs or the development of entirely new types of nuclear warheads would likely necessitate the renewal of nuclear explosive testing to establish confidence in the performance of the new or amended warhead designs.

The administration has already taken several steps to lower the technical hurdles to resume testing, and some officials have proposed eliminating the legal impediments to the renewal of U.S. nuclear-weapon test explosions. The NPR recommends that the Department of Energy devote additional resources to enhance nuclear test site readiness. The administration’s fiscal year 2004 budget request to Congress seeks funding to help reduce the time necessary to conduct a technically significant nuclear test explosion from the current 24-36-month requirement to 18 months over the next 3 years. The stated rationale for this shift is to sharpen weapons scientists’ skills and to guard against waiting too long to investigate possible flaws in the existing arsenal.

In October 2002, Undersecretary of Defense Edward Aldridge took matters a step further by recommending in a memorandum to the Nuclear Weapons Council that the nuclear weapons laboratories “readdress the value of a low-yield testing program…under very restricted testing conditions.” Pursuant to the Aldridge memo, members of the Stockpile Stewardship Conference planning group met on January 10, 2003, according to a document released February 14, 2003, by the independent Los Alamos Study Group. The committee created panels for an August 2003 conference that will consider the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal using science-based stockpile stewardship, discuss renewed nuclear testing, and broach the possible development of new nuclear warheads.

The purported basis for Aldridge’s recommendation to reconsider the resumption of testing is the possible value of ensuring the reliability of the arsenal. However, it is important to note that the safety and security of the stockpile has been and can be effectively maintained with the science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program, according to a July 2002 report by the National Academy of Sciences, Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The study, which included participation by three former weapons laboratory directors, noted that nuclear weapons testing was never used for certification of the stockpile, but rather for development of new nuclear warhead types. The panel concluded, “[N]o need was ever identified for a program that would periodically subject stockpile weapons to nuclear tests.” At his April 8 appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Brooks said that the NNSA does not need to conduct nuclear test explosions “at this time” to ensure the safety and reliability of the current stockpile.

Efforts to shorten the testing period, and the push to identify reasons to test the current stockpile despite scientifically sound safety and security checks, point to an administration that seeks to eliminate the technical barriers and to create a rationale to resume nuclear testing, which would help confirm new nuclear weapons designs that the administration wants to pursue. The Bush administration’s refusal to ask the Senate to reconsider approval for the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), expressed at the outset of Bush’s term, also indicates its hope to maintain the option to conduct nuclear testing.

There are signs that some factions in the Bush administration also want to eliminate the remaining legal barrier to the resumption of U.S. nuclear testing. According to commonly accepted interpretation of international law, as a signatory to the CTBT, the United States remains legally obligated not to conduct nuclear test explosions. In January 2002, senior Pentagon officials proposed to the White House—but did not get approval for—the repudiation of the U.S. signature on the CTBT.

Impracticality of Nuclear Weapons

Claims about the value of researching, developing, testing, and producing new, more “usable” nuclear weapons must also be judged against the military, political, and humanitarian realities involved in any decision by the president to order their use. In the run-up to the recent war in Iraq, Bush administration officials fielded questions from reporters about whether the United States might retaliate to possible Iraqi chemical or biological weapons use with nuclear weapons (as suggested by NSPD 17) or use nuclear weapons to strike deeply buried and hardened underground targets of significance.

Many of these questions were prompted by an article in the January 26, 2003, Los Angeles Times that reported that the Pentagon had ordered the development of a “Theater Nuclear Planning Document” outlining possible sites in Iraq for nuclear targeting, based on NSPD 17 guidelines. Sources close to the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said that underground facilities were of special consideration in the planning document, as well as “thwarting Iraq’s use of [WMD],” which could include pre-emptive action as well as retaliatory strikes.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press on January 26, 2003, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said Saddam Hussein “should anticipate that the United States will use whatever means necessary to protect us and the world from a holocaust.” When asked if those options included the use of nuclear weapons, Card responded, “I’m not going to put anything on the table or off the table.” In February 13, 2003, testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also said that past U.S. policy dictated that the United States “not foreclose the possible use of nuclear weapons if attacked,” but he added, the United States could accomplish what it needed to with conventional capabilities.

Clearly, the paramount importance of avoiding civilian casualties and collateral damage to non-military sites limited the Bush administration’s practical choices for dealing with Iraq to conventional military options. The absence of an Iraqi chemical or biological attack and the overwhelming U.S. conventional military superiority made U.S. nuclear weapons all the more irrelevant and inappropriate.

This is not new. U.S. political and military leaders have contemplated the use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield in other non-nuclear conflicts, and each time they have concluded that their use was imprudent and unnecessary. According to the memoirs of Secretary of State Colin Powell, prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, U.S. policymakers “took a look” at their nuclear weapons strike options. Powell, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote, “the results unnerved me. To do serious damage to just one armored division dispersed in the desert would require a considerable number of small tactical nuclear weapons…If I had doubts about the practicality of nukes on the field of battle, this report clinched them.”

Twenty-five years earlier, a 1966 study by the JASON group, a highly regarded technical and scientific panel that issues recommendations on U.S. foreign and defense policy, advised against employing nuclear weapons during the war in Vietnam. The study, which was made public March 9, 2003, concluded that the use of tactical nuclear weapons “would offer the U.S. no military advantage commensurate with its political cost” during the war. Moreover, the JASON report also warned of the possible proliferation consequences from the weapons’ use, concluding, “Insurgent groups everywhere in the world would take note and would try by all available means to acquire [tactical nuclear weapons] for themselves.”

Such concerns are as valid today as they have been for decades. The active pursuit of new, more “usable” nuclear weapons capabilities would increase proliferation dangers by signaling to would-be nuclear-weapon states that such weapons are necessary to deter a potential U.S. attack and by sending a green light to the world’s nuclear states that it is permissible to use them. Using or threatening to use nuclear weapons first is unnecessary given the overwhelming superiority of U.S. military capabilities today. Furthermore, U.S. use of nuclear weapons for any purpose other than to deter the use of nuclear weapons against the United States would constitute a disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force that would be widely condemned. Some congressional leaders recognize the grave risks of this approach to global nuclear nonproliferation efforts. In a February 21, 2003, letter to Bush from Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and eight others, the lawmakers warn, “Lowering the threshold for the first-use of nuclear weapons reduces incentives for other nations to adhere to the international arms-control framework, thus increasing the dangers for nuclear warfare.”

The administration’s plans to develop new nuclear strike capabilities, combined with the suggestion in NSPD 17 that nuclear weapons might be used to counter chemical or biological weapons threats and ambiguous public statements from administration officials about the possible use of nuclear weapons, appear to conflict with previous U.S. negative nuclear security assurances to non-nuclear states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

In 1978 and again in 1995, the United States announced that it would not use its nuclear force against countries without nuclear weapons unless the non-nuclear- weapon state had joined with a nuclear- weapon possessor state in an attack on the United States or its allies. On February 22, 2002, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher articulated a similar version:

The United States reaffirms that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the United States, its territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies, or on a state toward which it has a security commitment carried out, or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon state in association with a nuclear-weapon state.

Unfortunately, Boucher undercut this statement by adding that “if a weapon of mass destruction is used against the United States or its allies, we will not rule out any specific type of military response.” Given that the actual use of nuclear weapons in likely future conflicts will again prove to be impractical and inappropriate, U.S. policy-makers should reaffirm, rather than undermine, its past negative security assurances to reinforce global nonproliferation efforts.

A Better Course

Proposed changes in U.S. nuclear policy and initiatives for new nuclear weapons research and development suggest that the current administration views nuclear weapons as a mere extension of the continuum of conventional options open to the United States. In the interest of delegitimizing the role of nuclear weapons and strengthening U.S. efforts to dissuade their use by states such as Pakistan and India and to persuade other states not to acquire them, the United States should refrain from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons first. This will not guarantee that other states will forgo or curtail nuclear weapons activities, but the United States would gain substantially greater credibility in its nonproliferation efforts by setting this positive example.

In addition, the United States can and should refrain from the further development and production of new types of earth-penetrating nuclear warheads, which would produce devastating human and political consequences if used. Congress, which oversees the government’s fiscal spending, now must hold the administration accountable for its policy choices and take action to arrest further adverse trends.

Maintain the current prohibition on low-yield nuclear weapons research.

A proposal to repeal the Spratt-Furse prohibition on research and development leading to the production of new types of low-yield warheads is now before the House and Senate. Despite claims by administration officials, the current ban does allow government scientists to explore new weapons concepts, so long as they do not lead to full-scale engineering and production. Given the technical limitations, limited military utility, and enormous collateral damage of nuclear bunker-busting weapons, the ban should remain in place in its current form.

Shift nuclear bunker-buster funding to non-nuclear munitions research.

Rather than pursue new nuclear-weapon capabilities to deal with potential underground and hardened targets, research on improving the United States’ already considerable earth-penetrating conventional munitions could be explored. As STRATCOM head General James Ellis told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 8, 2003, “We see a need and an opportunity indeed to pursue advanced conventional capabilities.” Congress should transfer the $15 million requested by the administration for research of the RNEP to explore the possibilities of destroying underground, hardened targets with conventional munitions.

Reaffirm the U.S. nuclear test moratorium and focus the Stockpile Stewardship Program resources on the surveillance and maintenance activities most relevant to ensuring the reliability of the existing U.S. arsenal.

The U.S. nuclear arsenal has been and can for the indefinite future be reliably maintained through the science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program. Using data from previous nuclear tests, computer simulations, and subcritical testing, the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories can maintain an effective nuclear stockpile, making repairs and replacing aging components as needed to warheads.
The National Academy of Sciences in July 2002 said, “We judge that the United States has the technical capabilities to maintain confidence in the safety and reliability of its existing nuclear-weapon stockpile under the CTBT.” While drawing attention to necessary program enhancements in areas such as stockpile surveillance, human expertise, and remanufacturing capabilities, the panel concluded, “No need was ever identified for a program that would periodically subject stockpile weapons to nuclear tests.”

Clarify that so long as the United States has nuclear weapons, their role is limited to the deterrence of nuclear attack by other states.

Given that the actual use of nuclear weapons in likely future conflicts will again prove to be impractical and inappropriate, U.S. policymakers should reaffirm, rather than undermine, its past assurances that it will not use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear-weapon states-parties to the NPT.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Back to Normal
New Details on Administration's Nuclear Posture Review Emerge
Philipp C. Bleek

A leaked version of the Bush administration's classified nuclear posture review reportedly lists seven countries against which the United States should be prepared to use nuclear weapons and outlines a broad range of circumstances under which it could do so.

Mandated by Congress to clarify U.S. "nuclear deterrence policy and strategy…for the next 5 to 10 years," the nuclear posture review, produced by the Pentagon in consultation with the Energy Department, was publicly unveiled at a January 9 briefing, but substantial portions of the report remain classified. The full document was obtained by The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times and first reported March 9.

According to those reports, the review states that "greater flexibility" in nuclear forces and planning is needed to maintain a "credible deterrent" against adversaries "whose values and calculations of risk and loss may be very different from and more difficult to discern than those of past adversaries."

While the reports shed new light on the Bush administration's nuclear plans, the document does not appear to represent a substantive departure from Clinton administration policies on the use of nuclear weapons. Despite press reports characterizing the review as a break with policy outlined in the previous review, conducted in 1994, former Clinton administration officials said that the review appears to represent only a modest shift in emphasis.

Secretary of State Colin Powell rebutted criticism that the Bush review had lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons in March 12 testimony before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, saying, "There is no way to read that document and come to the conclusion that the United States will be more likely or will more quickly go to the use of nuclear weapons."

On March 13, President George W. Bush added, "The reason one has a nuclear arsenal is to serve as a deterrence…. We've got all options on the table because we want to make it very clear to nations that you will not threaten the United States or use weapons of mass destruction against us or our allies or friends."

Discussing "requirements for nuclear strike capabilities," the report lists North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria as "among the countries that could be involved in immediate, potential, or unexpected contingencies." Two former Clinton officials indicated that, although the 1994 nuclear posture review addressed the problem of "rogue states," it concluded that the threat they posed did not warrant significant changes in U.S. nuclear forces or policies.

The Bush review also indicates that the United States should be prepared to use nuclear weapons against China, citing "a combination of China's still developing strategic objectives and its ongoing modernization of its nuclear and non-nuclear forces."

Finally, although the review repeats Bush administration assertions that Russia is no longer an enemy, it says the United States must be prepared for nuclear contingencies with Russia and notes that if "U.S. relations with Russia significantly worsen in the future, the U.S. may need to revise its nuclear force levels and posture." Ultimately, the review concludes that nuclear conflict with Russia is "plausible" but "not expected."

The nuclear posture set forth by the 1994 review was based on Russia's large nuclear arsenal. But despite Bush administration statements that a threat from Moscow is no longer driving U.S. strategy, Russia still appears to be the key consideration in assessing U.S. nuclear forces and policies, as demonstrated by the administration's decision to maintain a large strategic arsenal and substantial reserve forces.

President Bush has said that the United States will reduce its operationally deployed forces to 1,700-2,200 strategic warheads by 2012. An informed source indicated in early March that the administration has decided that by 2012, the United States should deploy the upper limit of that range and maintain an additional 2,400 reserve strategic warheads in operational condition, all of which could be deployed within three years. The administration also intends to stockpile additional strategic warheads in non-operational condition.

The policy of maintaining substantial warhead reserves while reducing the deployed arsenal was established by the 1994 review.

Press reports indicate that the review delineates three types of situations in which nuclear weapons might be used. They could be employed "against targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack"; they could be used "in retaliation for attack with nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons"; or they could be used "in the event of surprising military developments." Three specific contingencies the review reportedly discusses are "an Iraqi attack on Israel or its neighbors or a North Korean attack on South Korea or a military confrontation [with China] over the status of Taiwan."

An official involved with the 1994 review indicated that the inclusion of such contingencies in the review is not novel, saying the 1994 review had specifically discussed nuclear contingency plans involving North Korea and also China as a result of a crisis over Taiwan. But the official also speculated that the administration appeared to be seeking to "enhance deterrence" by adopting a slightly less veiled retaliatory stance toward possible attacks by non-nuclear-weapon states.

The review also reportedly calls for the development of new types of "[nuclear] warheads that reduce collateral damage" as well as "possible modifications to existing weapons to provide additional yield flexibility." The review specifically cites the need to improve "earth-penetrating weapons," designed to threaten hardened and deeply buried targets like command-and-control and weapons storage bunkers. An existing weapon designed to threaten such targets, the air-dropped B61-11 bomb, is described in the review has having only a limited "ground-penetration capability." That weapon was developed as a result of a similar call for new capabilities in the 1994 review and deployed in late 1997. (See ACT, March 1997.)

Asked at the January 9 briefing on the posture review if the Bush administration planned to develop new nuclear weapons, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy J.D. Crouch said, "At this point, there are no recommendations in the report about developing new nuclear weapons." But Crouch subsequently qualified that statement, saying, "We are trying to look at a number of initiatives," including modifying existing nuclear weapons to give them "greater capability against…hard targets and deeply buried targets."

Using nuclear weapons against any of the five "rogue states" reportedly identified in the review would violate a longstanding U.S. pledge, termed "negative security assurances," not to use nuclear weapons against states that do not possess such weapons and are members of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). A senior official called the administration's adherence to that policy into doubt last month, but State Department spokesman Richard Boucher subsequently reiterated the policy in a February 22 briefing. (See ACT, March 2002.)

However, consistent with statements by officials from previous administrations, Boucher qualified the pledge, saying that if a weapon of mass destruction were used against the United States, "We will not rule out any specific type of military response." Still, absent an attack with a weapon of mass destruction, using nuclear weapons against any of the five states, all of which are members of the NPT, would violate the declaration.

The leaks generated little reaction from key U.S. allies but strong critiques from nations listed as potential targets by the review. "There is a feeling that the document was written during the Cold War," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said March 13. "We think this does not agree with the spirit of our relations," Ivanov said, calling on the administration to clarify its position.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said March 11, "Like many other countries, China is deeply shocked by this report" and called on the United States to explain its policies, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a key centrist figure in Iranian politics, accused the United States of intimidation, saying, "America thinks that if a military threat looms large over the heads of these seven countries, they will give up their logical demands," according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

And North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency carried a March 13 statement from a foreign ministry spokesman saying, "Now that nuclear lunatics are in office in the White House, we are compelled to examine all agreements with the U.S." Following up with a vague threat, the statement reads, "In case the U.S. plan for a nuclear attack on the DPRK turns out to be true, the DPRK will have no option but to take a substantial countermeasure against it, not bound to any DPRK-U.S. agreement," an apparent reference to the 1994 Agreed Framework, under which North Korea committed to dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

In the United States, lawmaker Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) voiced support for the policies in a March 10 television appearance, saying they would cause "renegade nations" like Iraq, Iran, and North Korea to "think twice about the willingness of the United States to take action to defend our people and our values and our allies." Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), meanwhile, said March 12 that the report represented a "profound shift…in our thinking about arms control" and suggested that it might expand the potential uses of nuclear weapons.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Management said...

A new era of nuclear weapons
Bush's buildup begins with little debate in Congress
- James Sterngold, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, December 7, 2003

Congress, with only a limited debate, has given the Bush administration a green light for the biggest revitalization of the country's nuclear weapons program since the end of the Cold War, leaving many Democrats and even some hawkish Republicans seething.

"This has been a good year," said Linton Brooks, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which develops and manages the country's nuclear weapons arsenal. "I'm pretty happy we essentially got what we wanted."

Reversing a decade of restraint in nuclear weapons policy, Congress agreed to provide more than $6 billion for research, expansion and upgrades in the country's nuclear capabilities. While Congress approved large sums to maintain the existing nuclear arsenal even during the Clinton years, this year's increases will finance multiyear programs to design a new generation of warheads as well as more sophisticated missiles, bombers and re-entry vehicles to deliver them.

"This is a fairly radical new way of thinking about things," Brooks said, adding that it amounted to "a more fundamental shift in the way we look at this than many people realize."

That the change is indeed both "radical" and "fundamental" is about the only thing critics of the administration agree with.

"It hasn't been perceived as such, but this is a nuclear revival," said Stephen Schwartz, publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Deeply disturbing to critics on both sides of the political spectrum is how little public or congressional discussion has taken place, and how little detailed information the Bush administration has provided on its strategies and plans.

"I'm totally offended by this administration," said Rep. Curt Weldon, R- Pa., a onetime White House ally on nuclear issues, and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. "I happen to think they're out of bounds on this. There's an important sea change in the world, and we have no idea what our policy is.

"It's a major national scandal in the making," Weldon said in an interview with The Chronicle last week. "I'm totally frustrated."

Yet for all their misgivings, influential Republicans like Weldon managed to impose only minuscule cuts of less than $20 million on the programs for new warhead development, leaving plans for jump-starting the U.S. nuclear arsenal and warhead production capabilities largely intact.

"We know we're getting rolled," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, a vocal opponent of the new nuclear push. "All we did was give the president a sizable victory instead of a complete victory. They got everything they wanted as far as the significant issues. It is a huge ideological victory."

"Nothing that happened in Congress stops (the Bush administration) from doing what they want to do at this point," said Robert Civiak, a nuclear physicist and former weapons analyst at the Office of Management of Budget. "The message that got across is that the country is ready for new kinds of nuclear weapons."

Nuclear-weapons opponents argue that the country has little idea about the direction it is taking with such weapons of mass destruction.

"There's no debate on this at all," said Andrew Lichterman, program director of the Oakland-based Western States Legal Foundation, a nonprofit group that favors arms reductions. "These programs are not being questioned in the political mainstream at all."

The Bush administration has argued that the new doctrine and new weapons are needed because the world has changed since the Cold War, when the United States deterred the Soviet Union from striking by developing a massive arsenal that promised complete annihilation. Now, the administration argues, there are new, regional menaces from such countries as North Korea and Iran.

To deter those threats, the administration is seeking a new stockpile of both some Cold War-era warheads and new, smaller weapons that can be used for limited attacks and for destroying caches of weapons of mass destruction, especially in buried bunkers, without causing indiscriminate destruction and loss of life. It has also proposed a policy of possible pre-emptive first use of nuclear weapons in emergencies, even against non-nuclear states.

A recent study entitled "Missiles of Empire: America's 21st Century Global Legions," by Lichterman of the Western States Legal Foundation highlights not only the administration's push for new kinds of warheads, but also the billions it is planning to spend on reducing the time it would take to launch a nuclear strike and on a new generation of missile re-entry vehicles, among other things. The re-entry vehicles would allow the military to steer warheads toward targets, even moving targets, entering the atmosphere from space.

Even GOP hawks upset

It is precisely those kinds of provocative new weapons capabilities -- at a time when the administration seeks to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction elsewhere -- that worries even hawkish Republicans.

"We have more nuclear weapons now than we know what to do with,'' said Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's energy and water subcommittee, which controls the nuclear weapons budget. "I'm concerned about our image in the world when we're telling others not to build these things, and then we push these new programs."

Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., a senior member of the Armed Services Committee who voted against funding some programs, argued in an interview, "We don't need new weapons, and in fact we cause more harm than good in our relations with other countries and in our moral position on nuclear proliferation. I think that they're almost obsolete. I'm not convinced that we have to have that capability."

The Republican lawmakers conceded that their defiance had been more symbolic than substantive. Among other things, the administration succeeded in pushing through the repeal of the law banning the development of smaller, more usable low-yield warheads, and it got approval to begin research into advanced weapons concepts for the future. Congress also provided funding for study of a new "bunker-buster" warhead.

A number of the new initiatives also bring the promise of increased spending in the future. For instance, Congress approved increasing the readiness of the Nevada Test Site, where weapons were tested underground until a ban was put in place in 1992. The NNSA has estimated it would cost as much as $83 million over three years to increase the level of readiness, and an additional $25 million to $30 million a year to sustain that level.

Congress also approved with virtually no debate $320 million for manufacturing new "pits," the plutonium cores of warheads, almost $90 million more than last year. More than $135 million was appropriated for a program to keep tritium, a radioactive gas used to boost the power of warheads, ready for weapons use and another $265 million for a broad campaign to refurbish the facilities used to produce and maintain the nuclear arsenal.

Republicans acknowledged that the few cuts they did make were achieved in the face of intense White House pressure -- and, as Brooks acknowledged, amounted to only "one-tenth of a percent of my budget." "I'm trying to send messages about priorities and what is important to the long-term future of this country," said Hobson. "We sent some messages, and the question will be whether they get them or not."

The GOP critics, all advocates of a strong defense, also admitted that they did not attack the broader array of programs on the congressional floor.

"I guess my feeling is that I would not want us to unilaterally disarm and get rid of our nuclear potential," said Hefley. "But at the same time I'm not comfortable with seeing us maintain all of the nuclear weapons arsenal. How can we in good conscience upgrade and develop new nuclear weapons?"

'An insurance policy'

Even Democrats who have been passionate in their criticisms of Bush's policies admitted that they felt they had to vote for the bulk of the programs.

Tauscher, when asked why she did not fight the billions of dollars in other budget items, such as rehabilitation of the warhead manufacturing capability and the development of the next generation of missiles and bombers, said some nuclear weaponry had to remain in the nation's defensive arsenal.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's an insurance policy," she said.

But even inside the administration, questions have been raised about the rationale for the new nuclear posture. The Pentagon, notably, is not pushing for the new warheads. A classified study conducted this summer by the Defense Science Board, which was leaked last month, stated, "Current (Department of Defense) structure provides neither clear requirements nor persuasive rationale for changing the nuclear stockpile."

John Harvey, director of the policy planning staff at the National Nuclear Security Administration, a division of the Energy Department, remarked in an interview earlier this year, "We need to tell the military what's possible, even if they haven't asked the question yet. Sometimes the services don't know the right questions to ask."

Weldon said that the best he could do was wait and wage a bigger battle next year. He said he was trying to put together a group to study the entire arsenal and examine how it might be transformed to deal with the new threats.

"The debate was on the smaller things this year," he said. "I think next year you'll see that debate widen. Next year will be different, I assure you."

The administration does not seem concerned. Asked if the lawmakers' small budget cuts or expressions of concern altered the administration's direction, Brooks of the NNSA replied, "No, it doesn't."

E-mail James Sterngold at

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Blogger Management said...

Bush Administration Bluster Exacerbates Nuclear Proliferation
May 2, 2005
Ivan Eland

As North Korea tests a short-range missile and Iran threatens to resume its enrichment of nuclear fuel, President Bush and his administration continue their counterproductive bluster against these two nations. The United States is preparing to echo its hard-line rhetoric as 180 countries meet this month for the periodic review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Yet only fantasy generals on the big screen use macho bombast against their fictional foes. The best real-life commanders try to walk quietly in the enemy’s moccasins to best predict their next move. The Bush administration spends so much time strutting and flexing before the world gallery that it fails to realize that such behavior accelerates nuclear proliferation.

Although Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are tyrannical regimes, they may have legitimate security concerns that drive their efforts to acquire so-called weapons of mass destruction (WMD). They may want these weapons to deter neighbors or even a self-righteous superpower from attacking them. One does not have to be an apologist for the abysmal human rights records of those regimes to caution against feeding into their paranoia. But dictators in small, relatively poor third world countries don’t have to be paranoid to worry about attack from an interventionist superpower. President Ronald Reagan invaded Grenada; George H.W. Bush launched an assault against Panama and removed Manuel Noriega from power; Bill Clinton bombed Serbia over the Kosovo issue; and George W. Bush invaded and occupied Iraq. And the world saw that all of those non-nuclear states got a lot less respect than the likely nuclear-armed North Korea.

Most liberals and conservatives in the United States wring their hands over the proliferation of WMD—especially nuclear arms—but rarely acknowledge that an aggressive U.S. foreign policy overseas is a major cause of the problem. For example, during the war over Kosovo in 1999, the North Koreans refused to give up their nuclear and missile programs because of stated fears that the same sort of U.S. attack could befall them over their human rights record. Any nations secretly working on nuclear weapons probably had the same reaction to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq. The perception is that nuclear arms are the only weapons powerful enough to deter a potent superpower attack.

In addition, Americans often see these “rogue” states as uniformly evil but don’t recognize the hypocrisy of their own government. During the NPT review, the United States will toughly accuse Iran of violating its treaty commitment not to seek atomic armaments by having a secret nuclear weapons program and criticize North Korea for withdrawing from the pact. Although the Iranians have lied to the international community about their nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency has not found any evidence that the program is designed to make atomic weapons. Signatories to the NPT are allowed to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes if they forgo developing nuclear arms. The United States, fearing that other nations will withdraw from the NPT, has criticized North Korea for overtly doing so, but mutes its criticism of more friendly nuclear-armed countries—Israel, India, and Pakistan—that have never signed the treaty.

Meanwhile, the United States has never had any intention of fulfilling its commitment under the NPT. In 1970, when the treaty was first signed, potential nuclear powers agreed not to seek atomic weapons in exchange for a commitment from the five original nuclear states—China, France, Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union—to eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. This commitment for disarmament was reaffirmed during the review of the treaty in 2000. Yet the Bush administration alleges that the 2000 commitment did not reflect a post-9/11 world that includes terrorism, a nuclear black market, or a volatile Middle East. In fact, this vague excuse is designed to provide rhetorical cover for the Bush administration’s active research program on new types of nuclear weapons and new uses for them (for example, weapons that are especially designed to penetrate deeply buried concrete bunkers).

The United States should scrap such research and make progress toward its commitment by genuinely and significantly reducing its excess nuclear arsenal. Also, instead of threatening Iran and North Korea, implicitly or explicitly, with military strikes that would be unlikely to eliminate their nuclear programs, the United States needs to accelerate negotiations with these nations. U.S. threats against these two nations will only accelerate other countries’ quest for atomic weapons. Conversely, negotiated settlements with Iran and North Korea, which may require non-aggression pledges by the United States, would send a positive signal to other prospective nuclear states and might at least reduce their perceived need to develop atomic weapons to deter a potential attack from the superpower.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Management said...

San Jose Mercury News March 15, 2002
Bush policy on nuclear weapons traced to Cheney after Gulf War

By Daniel Sneider

SAN JOSE, Calif. _ Revelations that the Bush administration is developing new nuclear weapons to target Iraq, North Korea and others have been greeted with alarm as a radical departure from established U.S. policy.

In reality, the Bush administration's nuclear strategy marks only the next step in the evolution of a policy that originated more than decade ago, during the previous Bush administration, and continued during the Clinton administration. Pentagon officials and nuclear planners have already put this into action, as revealed in government documents, including previously classified material made available to the San Jose Mercury News.

"What is new is that it's on the front page of the newspapers," said Jacqueline Cabasso, head of the Western States Legal Foundation, an anti-nuclear organization. The Bush policy is laid out in a classified Pentagon report called the Nuclear Posture Review, excerpts of which an anti-nuclear group revealed online Thursday. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the review, which is intended to guide the U.S. use of nuclear weapons, "puts in motion a major change in our approach to the role of nuclear offensive forces." The focus moves from deterring traditional nuclear-armed foes such as Russia toward coping with the spread of weapons of mass destruction _ nuclear, chemical and biological _ to countries such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria.

A shift in this direction began in 1990 under Vice President Dick Cheney when he was secretary of defense, and was accelerated after the Persian Gulf War. By the mid-1990s the Pentagon already was working to integrate the possible use of nuclear weapons to respond to biological or chemical attacks.

The Clinton administration issued a secret presidential directive in 1997, PDD-60, to retarget nuclear weapons toward rogue nations, experts say. The following year, as revealed in a previously classified document, the 4th U.S. Air Force Fighter Wing carried out an exercise testing its ability to withstand a North Korean chemical attack in South Korea and retaliate with nuclear weapons dropped from U.S. aircraft.

According to the excerpts, the review stresses the need to develop weapons that can burrow into and destroy buried bunkers where biological or chemical arms might be stored. It states that neither conventional weapons nor existing nuclear weapons "provide a high probability of defeat of these important targets." The document does not mention whether the United States would ever use nuclear weapons first to prevent a possible attack, a point of concern among opponents.

Bush administration officials have described this as the beginning of a policy review, denying there is a "day-to-day target list" for nuclear attack, as Secretary of State Colin Powell put it. "There is no new design out there," he told Congress earlier this week.

Some critics, however, have assailed the review as a dangerous change in U.S. nuclear doctrine.

"The NPR reflects a major shift in the military and ethical rationale for nuclear weapons, no longer defining them as devices of deterrence, but as weapons of war," said the San Francisco-based Global Security Institute.

But nuclear specialists, including some who are critical of this policy, argue that in one sense Powell is right _ this is not new.

"There is a substantial history of statements and declassified information that provides overwhelming documentation that _ declared policy or not _ a shift occurred very early on," says Hans Kirstensen, a nuclear researcher at the Bay Area-based Nautilus Institute who provided some materials to the San Jose Mercury News.

He traces the roots of this to 1990 when, with the Cold War winding down, Cheney told Congress that U.S. nuclear forces were needed not only to deter the Soviet Union but also "because there is a growing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and sophisticated weapons technology in the Third World."

During the Gulf War, the United States hinted directly to the Iraqi leadership that any use of biological or chemical weapons would trigger a U.S. nuclear response, although then President George Bush revealed later in his memoirs that he had ruled this option out. But the policy of keeping the enemy guessing _ "calculated ambiguity" _ remained intact.

"For obvious reasons, we choose not to specify in detail what responses we would make to a chemical attack," Clinton's defense secretary, William Perry, told Congress in 1996. "However, as we stated during the Gulf War, if any country were foolish enough to use chemical weapons against the United States, the response would be 'absolutely overwhelming' and 'devastating.' "

In the wake of the Gulf War the military grew increasingly concerned about programs to develop chemical and biological weapons and place them in protected underground bunkers, as the Iraqis had apparently done. During the Bush administration the U.S. Strategic Command, which controls nuclear forces, began to do "adaptive planning," allowing them to flexibly respond to emerging crises rather than rely on a fixed set of targets.

In 1993 the Clinton administration initiated the first review in an attempt to radically reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It met substantial resistance from the military and the nation's nuclear labs, and its 1994 Nuclear Posture Review ended up largely endorsing the status quo.

In a previously secret working paper from the review, the strategic command argued for the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons close to a "potential proliferator."

"An 'on-the-scene' or rapidly deployable nuclear force offers the potential of providing a more 'visible' and viable theater response than a force residing in the U.S.," the command wrote.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff codified this use of nuclear weapons in a "Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations," issued in 1995 and revised the following year. While the dissolution of the Soviet Union has reduced the possibility of a nuclear exchange, the threat from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has grown, the Pentagon warned. The document details the use of specific nuclear weapons in places such as Europe, the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula and how they can be integrated into the battle plans of regional commands.

During this same period, the nuclear labs _ Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia _ began developing new weapons that could penetrate deep into the earth. In 1993 they began a program to modify the B-61, an older bomb dropped from aircraft, for this role. The redesigned bomb entered the nuclear stockpile by 1996, when a Clinton administration defense official described it as the "weapon of choice" to take out a buried Libyan chemical weapons plant. The nuclear review, however, says that more capable nuclear weapons still must be developed.

As reported Thursday by the San Jose Mercury News, programs to design these weapons are well underway. This broad effort is detailed in a "Report to Congress on the Defeat of Hard and Deeply Buried Targets," issued in July 2001 and made public recently by a New Mexico anti-nuclear watchdog group.

The report says there are hundreds of targets with shielding equivalent to 70 to 300 feet of concrete protecting command and control facilities and possible weapons of mass destruction. Only nuclear weapons, the report says, may be able to reach such targets and destroy the biological and chemical agents stored there without dispersing them into the surrounding environment.

"Nuclear weapons have a unique ability to destroy both agent containers and (chemical and biological) agents," the report tells Congress. "Lethality is optimized if the fireball is proximate to the target." The report says that regional commands must be ready to carry out attacks on such targets on short notice.

The Bush administration's nuclear review is the product of policymakers who have been longtime advocates. Stephen Younger, who heads a key Pentagon planning agency, is a Los Alamos nuclear weapons designer who argued publicly two years ago for deploying such bunker-busters. Others now in senior positions authored a study published in January 2001 arguing for developing new weapons for this purpose.

"This is a continuum, not an abrupt break with the past," said Janne Nolan, a specialist on nuclear weapons policy and the director of the Eisenhower Institute. "The whole policy just crept along like a slow-moving car accident."


Excerpts of the Nuclear Posture Review are available at

1:06 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Our Hidden WMD Program
Why Bush is spending so much on nuclear weapons.
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Friday, April 23, 2004, at 3:41 PM PT

The budget is busted; American soldiers need more armor; they're running out of supplies. Yet the Department of Energy is spending an astonishing $6.5 billion on nuclear weapons this year, and President Bush is requesting $6.8 billion more for next year and a total of $30 billion over the following four years. This does not include his much-cherished missile-defense program, by the way. This is simply for the maintenance, modernization, development, and production of nuclear bombs and warheads.

Measured in "real dollars" (that is, adjusting for inflation), this year's spending on nuclear activities is equal to what Ronald Reagan spent at the height of the U.S.-Soviet standoff. It exceeds by over 50 percent the average annual sum ($4.2 billion) that the United States spent—again, in real dollars—throughout the four and a half decades of the Cold War.

There is no nuclear arms race going on now. The world no longer offers many suitable nuclear targets. President Bush is trying to persuade other nations—especially "rogue regimes"—to forgo their nuclear ambitions. Yet he is shoveling money to U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories as if the Soviet Union still existed and the Cold War still raged.

These are the findings of a virtually unnoticed report written by weapons analyst Christopher Paine, based on data from official budget documents, and released earlier this month by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report raises anew a question that always springs to mind after a close look at the U.S. military budget: What the hell is going on here? Specifically: Do we really need to be spending this kind of money on nuclear weapons? What role do nuclear weapons play in 21st-century military policy? How many weapons do we need, to deter what sort of attack or to hit what sorts of targets, with what level of confidence, for what strategic and tactical purposes?

These are questions that haven't been seriously addressed in this country for 30 years. It may be time for a new look.

Ten years ago, spending on nuclear activities amounted to $3.4 billion, half of today's sum. In President Clinton's last budget, it totaled $5.2 billion, still one-third less than this year's. (All figures are adjusted for inflation and expressed in 2004 dollars.) Have new threats emerged that can be handled only by a vast expansion or improvement of the U.S. nuclear arsenal? Has our nuclear stockpile deteriorated by a startling degree? There's no evidence that either is the case.

Yet Paine quotes a statement from the National Nuclear Security Administration—the quasi-independent agency of the Energy Department that's in charge of the atomic stockpile—declaring, as its goal, "to revitalize the nuclear weapons manufacturing infrastructure." Its guidance on this point is the Bush administration's Nuclear Posture Review of December 2001, which stated that U.S. strategic nuclear forces must provide "a range of options" not merely to deter but "to defeat any aggressor."

The one aspect of this reorientation that's attracted some attention is the development of a "robust nuclear earth-penetrator" (RNEP)—a warhead that can burrow deep into the earth before exploding, in order to destroy underground bunkers. The U.S. Air Force currently has some non-nuclear earth-penetrators, but they can't burrow deeply enough or explode powerfully enough to destroy some known bunkers. There's a legitimate debate over whether we would need to destroy such bunkers or whether it would be good enough to disable them—a feat that the conventional bunker-busters could accomplish. There's a broader question still over whether an American president really would, or should, be the first to fire nuclear weapons in wartime, no matter how tempting the tactical advantage.

The point here, however, is that this new nuclear weapon is fast becoming a reality.

As chronicled in a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, when Bush started the RNEP program two years ago, it was labeled as strictly a research project. Its budget was a mere $6.1 million in Fiscal Year 2003 and $7.1 million for FY 04. Now, all of a sudden, the administration has posted a five-year plan for the program amounting, from FY 2005-09, to $485 million. The FY05 budget alone earmarks $27.5 million to begin "development ground tests" on "candidate weapon designs." This isn't research; it's a real weapon in the works.

Paine's report cites other startlers that have eluded all notice outside the cognoscenti. For instance, the Energy Department is building a massive $4 billion-$6 billion proton accelerator in order to produce more tritium, the heavy hydrogen isotope that boosts the explosive yield of a nuclear weapon. (Tritium is the hydrogen that makes a hydrogen bomb.) Tritium does decay; eventually, it will have to be refurbished to ensure that, say, a 100-kiloton bomb really explodes with 100 kilotons of force. But Paine calculates that the current U.S. stockpile doesn't require any new tritium until at least 2012. If the stockpile is reduced to the level required under the terms of the most recent strategic arms treaty, none is needed until 2022.

Similar questions are raised about the Energy Department's plans to spend billions on new plutonium pits, high-energy fusion lasers, and supercomputer systems.

There is some debate within the administration over such matters, but it's a peculiar debate. For instance, some Pentagon officials favor spending $2 billion over the next five years to do a complete makeover on the W-76 warhead inside the U.S. Navy's Trident I missile—giving it an option to explode on the surface, improving its accuracy so it could blow up a blast-hardened missile silo, and so forth. The Trident I is an old missile; it's scheduled to be warehoused in the next few years. But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has advocated "modernizing" even the "reserve stockpile" of nukes. Opposing this view, many Energy Department officials want to spend less money on these "legacy" weapons and invest it instead on a new generation of smaller, more agile nukes.

The official inside debate, in other words, is whether to build new nuclear weapons that are more usable in modern warfare or whether to do that and make the old nuclear weapons more usable, too. A broader debate—over whether to go down this twisted road generally—has not yet begun.

Fred Kaplan writes the "War Stories" column for Slate. He can be reached at
Photograph of bomb in Iraq on the Slate home page from Reuters.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Bush plans new nuclear weapons

'Bunker-buster' bombs set to end 10-year research ban

Paul Harris in New York
Sunday November 30, 2003
The Observer

The United States is embarking on a multimillion-dollar expansion of its nuclear arsenal, prompting fears it may lead the world into a new arms race.

The Bush administration is pushing ahead with the development of a new generation of weapons, dubbed 'mini-nukes', that use nuclear warheads to penetrate underground bunkers.

Last week, it gave a quiet yet final go-ahead to a controversial research project into the bunker-buster. The move effectively ends a 10-year ban on research into 'low-yield' nuclear weapons. Critics fear it may lead other countries to push ahead with developing such weapons. It also comes at a highly sensitive time diplomatically, with the US lobbying countries such as Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear plans.

'The United States is spurring a new global arms race with our own development of a new generation of nuclear weapons,' said Democrat Ellen Tauscher, who led an unsuccessful bid in Congress to have the programme scrapped.

The new warheads are designed to use shockwaves to destroy deep bunkers even if the bomb does not reach them. Experience in Afghanistan and Iraq has shown army planners that bunkers are being built deeper and more securely. 'We have to be able to match our capability to our potential targets,' one White House official said.

But critics say the weapons won't work and doubt claims that the radiation will remain underground.

The US Army plans to convert two existing nuclear bombs - the B61 and B83. The B61 can be dropped by B-52 bombers or F-16 jets. The larger B83 has explosive yields of one to two megatons. Research will focus on hardening the bomb casings so they can penetrate layers of steel, rock and concrete.

Anti-nuclear campaigners say the B83's large size makes its classification as a 'mini-nuke' debatable. 'The powers that be describe them as low-yield weapons. But that is far from the case,' said Jay Coghlan, director of Nukewatch.

Critics also question the wisdom of developing such weapons and say America's willingness to deploy them will blur the distinction between nuclear war and conventional conflict. Bob Schaeffer, of the Anti-Nuclear Alliance, said: 'It is dangerous and provocative. It is like a drunk preaching temperance to everyone else at the bar, while ordering another round.'

Leading Democrats contend that the development of the bunker-buster is part of a broader re-evaluation of America's nuclear arsenal by George Bush's administration. They point to signs that nuclear weapons are being given a prominent role in the post-Cold War world, at a time when many others see them as obsolete. 'This White House has a dramatically different view of nuclear weapons compared with previous administrations,' said Tauscher.

'The administration's actions are having the opposite effect by erasing the taboo on the use of nuclear weapons. Russia has already indicated that it will develop new "tactical" weapons in response and no one doubts our enemies will follow suit.'

Since Bush announced a 'nuclear posture review' after coming to office, the administration has taken several steps to develop and modernise its nuclear arsenal to deter a wide range of threats, including chemical and biological weapons and what the review called 'surprising military developments'.

Three Tennessee Valley power stations have been selected to resume production of tritium, a substance used to increase the yield from a nuclear blast. Tritium has not been actively produced in the US for years and this is the first time civilian power plants have been scheduled for military use.

In April, the Los Alamos military laboratory in New Mexico produced the first 'plutonium pit' in America for more than a decade. Plutonium pits are triggers vital to the production of nuclear weapons and officials are pushing to get funding to build an entire new facility.

Concern also surrounds plans to cut the time needed to bring American underground nuclear testing sites back into working condition. Currently the time needed would be 24 months, but the administration has pushed for funds to reduce that to 18 months. While officials insist the US has no plans to resume nuclear testing - which would breach an international ban - critics say the enhanced preparations for a resumption are worrying.

'Why are they even talking about this now, unless something is planned? It makes no sense to us. America has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, but it did not stop 9/11,' said Schaeffer.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Feds Order Underground N-Weapons
By Dan Stober | San Jose Mercury News
March 26, 2002

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Pentagon and the Energy Department have directed the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories in Livermore, Calif., and Los Alamos, N.M., to compete for the chance to design a hydrogen bomb that could destroy targets underground.

To the dismay of arms-control proponents, the Bush administration is advocating such weapons -- which would slam into the earth at high speed and then explode underground -- as a means of attacking command bunkers or biological and chemical weapons facilities possibly buried in such places as Iraq, Iran or North Korea.

Work on preliminary designs for the weapon -- known as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator -- begins next month at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in northern California and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Scientists at both labs will propose modifying weapons rather than designing a new bomb from scratch.

That distinction plays a role in arms-control debates in the post-Cold-War era. Arms-control advocates say designing and building new weapons provokes other nations to follow suit, at a time when the fear of "rogue state" nuclear weapons is growing.

The Bush White House, like the Clinton administration before it, says it has no plans for new nuclear weapons designs. But critics charge that extensively modifying an existing weapon for a new purpose is equivalent to a new design.

"If I take my Honda into the shop and it comes out a Ferrari, that's not a modification, it's a new car," said Marylia Kelley of Livermore, who leads Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment.

She and other opponents argue that producing such weapons blurs the line between nuclear and conventional weapons, increasing the chances that nuclear weapons will be used.

Proponents maintain that nuclear weapons could reach some buried targets that could not be destroyed by conventional bombs. Energy Department officials also say the preliminary design contest will help maintain the skills of scientists at the labs, 10 years after explosive testing of weapons in Nevada came to an end.

Lawrence Livermore's candidate is the B83, a hydrogen bomb designed for the B-1 bomber. Los Alamos will work on the B61, which has already been modified 11 times, including the modification for earth penetration.

The initial design work, officially called feasibility studies, was requested by the Nuclear Weapons Council, a coordinating body of military and Energy Department officials. The three members are Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Pete Aldridge, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics; and John Gordon, the administrator of the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration.

The Air Force, which would drop the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator from its airplanes, is also involved in the studies, which are to begin in April after Congress is notified.

Lawrence Livermore officials said they could not comment on its feasibility study, the second step in the seven-step process to design and produce a nuclear weapon. Modification of the weapon would keep the nuclear explosives portion of the bomb -- known as the "physics package" -- largely intact. But the bomb's casing and interior supports would be strengthened.

The Bush administration nuclear-weapons policy, laid out in January in the Pentagon's Nuclear Posture Review, de-emphasizes strategic nuclear weapons but promotes the development of "advanced concept" battlefield weapons such as the earth penetrator.

Earth-penetrating weapons are built long and thin to smash through earth and rock at high speed. In some non-nuclear tests the weapon's exterior casing has melted from the friction. In tests to date, weapons have penetrated only a few dozen feet.

The B83 is 12 feet long and 18 inches in diameter. It was developed at Livermore in the 1980s and has the advantage of already being built to withstand impact. Its detonation is delayed to provide the plane time to clear the area; otherwise, the crew would be flying a suicide mission.

Livermore scientists have studied the B83 as a potential earth-penetrating weapon since the 1980s. Both the B83 and the B61 have a feature known as "dial-a-yield" in which the bombs' explosive power, or yield, can be adjusted. The maximum yield is more than a megaton, the equivalent of a million tons of TNT, a mountain of conventional explosives.

At high yield, the B83 would produce an explosion greater than 2 million times more powerful than the "bunker-buster" bombs that the Air Force has used against Taliban and al-Qaida caves in Afghanistan.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

1:08 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Nuclear Bunker Busters: Technical Realities

(Adapted from “A Strategic Choice: New Bunker Busters Versus Nonproliferation,” by Sidney Drell, James Goodby, Raymond Jeanloz, and Robert Peurifoy, Arms Control Today, March 2003.)

The Nuclear Posture Review, and a number of members of the defense establishment, have suggested
that the United States develop a new class of hardened, low-yield nuclear weapons, sometimes called “bunker busters.” Their concern is whether the U.S. military can destroy the growing number of hard and deeply buried facilities being built in a number of countries. Citing recent government studies, the Nuclear Posture Review states that there are more than 1,000 known or suspected strategic targets, which are used for storing weapons of mass destruction, protecting senior leaders, or executing top-echelon command and control functions. The implication is that, if their resulting collateral damage can be substantially reduced by lowering the explosive power of the warhead, nuclear weapons would be more politically palatable and therefore more “useable” for attacking deeply buried targets in tactical missions, even in or near urban settings, which can be the preferred locales for such targets.

But even a “low-yield,” one-kiloton earth penetrator would be quite devastating in a city, and against really deep targets, yields in the hundreds of kilotons would be required. The radioactive blast from a one-kiloton warhead (just 1/13 the yield of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima) detonated at a depth of 20-50 feet would eject more than 1 million cubic feet of radioactive debris from a crater about the size of ground zero at the World Trade Center—bigger than a football field. Indeed, the Hiroshima bomb was detonated at an altitude of close to 1,900 feet in order to minimize radioactive fallout by not digging any crater. A weapon intended to destroy hard, buried targets is therefore going to produce a lot of dangerous radioactive fallout. A nuclear weapon with a yield capable of destroying a target 1,000 feet underground—a yield well over 100 kilotons—would dig a much larger crater and create a substantially larger amount of radioactive debris.

In the past, the United States has developed, tested, and deployed nuclear warheads with a full range of yields, from small fractions of kilotons up to many megatons. Recently, it adapted a high-yield weapon, the B61-11 bomb, with yields that exceed a hundred kilotons, in this manner. Further improvements in their delivery—both in accuracy and earth penetration—could be achieved, but even at the low-yield end of the repertoire, there will be major collateral damage because the blast will eject radioactive debris. Burrowing a few tens of feet into the earth will increase the damaging effects of the shock, but a large proportion of the fallout will still enter the atmosphere and be spread by wind.

1:08 PM  

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