Feb 14, 2008

Hydrogen Bomb Designer Criticizes RRW Program

By Jon Fox
Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON — A frequent adviser to the U.S. government on nuclear and security issues argued yesterday that the current administration’s push for a next-generation nuclear warhead is unnecessary (see GSN, Feb. 5).

“The United States has the most flexible, the most usable, the most accurate nuclear weapons in the world,” said Richard Garwin, a physicist involved with the original design for the hydrogen bomb and longtime arms control advocate. The Pentagon would be better off sticking with the Cold War-era weapons they have now, he said, both in terms of reliability of the warheads and in terms of cost.

The Bush administration has aggressively pursued, in the face of congressional opposition, a new nuclear warhead design that Energy Department officials have argued would be more secure, more reliable, cheaper, would allow for a reduction in the U.S. stockpile of warheads and would help maintain a retinue of trained weapons designers at U.S. laboratories (see GSN, Dec. 19, 2007).

The design, dubbed the Reliable Replacement Warhead, received none of the nearly $90 million in requested funding this year. For the coming fiscal year, the president’s budget requests $10 million for the program.

Garwin, at one time a member of the JASON panel that advises the executive branch on nuclear weapon-related issues, spoke yesterday as one of the authors of a report suggesting 10 alterations in nuclear weapons policy to be made in the next presidential administration.

The suggestions are part of a slightly modified report from the Federation of American Scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists originally issued in 2001 in advance of a nuclear posture review from the Bush administration.

“We can be much more confident with the legacy warheads, that they will remain closer to the test pedigree than would the RRW that has never been tested,” Garwin said. The report suggests halting all U.S. programs for developing and deploying new nuclear weapons.

Officials have argued that the existing arsenal will slowly deteriorate despite efforts to replace minor parts as part of the Energy Department’s Stockpile Stewardship program. At some point, it may be necessary to return to explosive testing to affirm the stockpile’s effectiveness, they have argued (see GSN, Nov. 15, 2007).

To avoid the prospect of renewed nuclear testing, the Bush administration has advocated developing the new warhead to replace the older weapons. Officials have assured Congress that the new warhead would not require nuclear testing. For many in Congress a return to nuclear testing as part of the program is considered unacceptable.

Administration officials have also said the RRW would save money in the long run by reducing the maintenance costs of the current arsenal. Garwin said he has yet to see evidence that this is the case.

“Nobody has ever come up with a cost for the RRW program that has any possible benefit from the point of view of cost in part because the RRW would not be here to replace the legacy weapons for a very, very long time,” he said.

He said it could take 40 years or more before the RRW design would replace all the weapons the United States now deploys, a replacement rate of about 50 warheads a year.

“And during all that time you would have to have the ability to take care of the W-76, W-87, the W-88 and all those weapons,” Garwin said.

What had once been the primary argument for replacing the weapons, the effect of aging on plutonium, is no longer relevant in light of recent findings about the way the metal’s changes over time, he said. The Energy Department has estimated that nuclear weapons’ plutonium cores should perform as designed for 85 years, and a separate JASON’s study assessed a 100-year lifespan (see GSN, Nov. 30, 2006).

“Which is a long, long time from now, another 56 years [from now] before the weapons may decay,” Garwin said. Almost all of the problems regarding aging and the current U.S. nuclear warhead designs relate to the non-nuclear parts “that can be replaced whenever it is economically desirable.”

In terms of keeping U.S. weapons designers interested and trained, Garwin suggested having the two design laboratories compete to develop new designs but simply never make them. “If we had an RRW competition every five years or so that would keep the designers up to snuff,” he said.

The other suggestions in the report include:

— Declare the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons to be for deterrence and if necessary respond to the use of nuclear weapons by another nation;

— Reject rapid nuclear-armed missile launch options (see GSN, April 5, 2005);

— Eliminate current U.S. nuclear targeting plans with a plan tailored to individual situations;

— Unilaterally reduce U.S. deployed and reserve warheads to no more than 1,000;

— Retire all U.S. tactical, or battlefield, nuclear weapons (see GSN, Feb. 9, 2005);

— Announce a U.S. commitment to further reduce warheads on a bilateral, negotiated basis;

— Commit to no new nuclear testing and work with the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (see GSN, Sept. 18, 2007);

— Halt further deployment of a ground-based missile defense systems and drop plans for any spaced-based defenses (see GSN, Oct. 12, 2007); and

— Reaffirm a U.S. commitment to complete nuclear disarmament.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

"In terms of keeping U.S. weapons designers interested and trained, Garwin suggested having the two design laboratories compete to develop new designs but simply never make them. “If we had an RRW competition every five years or so that would keep the designers up to snuff,” he said."

What exactly, would they compete for? Pride? $? A gold medal?

Anonymous said...

A better understanding of Nuclear Weapons for the 21st Century, and their rationale are:

1) Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World, Renewing Transatlantic Partnership, by General (ret.) Klaus Naumann, General (ret.) John Shalikashvili, Field Marshal The Lord Inge, Admiral (ret.) Jacques Lanxade, General (ret.) Henk van den Breemen, 152p., 2007.

2) Strategic Weapons in the 21st Century, January 31, 2008, Washington, DC.

3) Joint Publication 3-12, Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, Final Coordination (2), 15 March 2005.

4) Nuclear Posture Review, 2001/2002.

5) A White Paper: Pursuing a New Nuclear Weapons Policy for the 21st Century, by Dr. C. Paul Robinson, March 22, 2001.

6) Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-First Century, by Dr. Stephen M. Younger, June 27, 2000.

The ill-thought idea of "Reaffirm a U.S. commitment to complete nuclear disarmament."[Garwin], and "Getting to Zero" [Nuclear weapons], from the "Reykjavik Revisited: Steps Toward A World Free Of Nuclear Weapons," October 24-25, 2007, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, that is a highly dangerous and naive path, that eventually could lead to the consequence that U.S. lose its status as a superpower, that clearly must be stopped.

Anonymous said...

““Nobody has ever come up with a cost for the RRW program that has any possible benefit from the point of view of cost in part because the RRW would not be here to replace the legacy weapons for a very, very long time,” he said.

He said it could take 40 years or more before the RRW design would replace all the weapons the United States now deploys, a replacement rate of about 50 warheads a year.

“And during all that time you would have to have the ability to take care of the W-76, W-87, the W-88 and all those weapons,” Garwin said.”

To me the above statement is a flawed argument:

From a manufacturing standpoint this means you/them/someone failed to properly size the production capacity of this NATIONAL CABABILITY.

Sizing the capacity of pit production @ 50 pits/year without building in the capacity to accommodate an unexpected need to perform a complete replacement of the pit on a major weapon program is an outright mistake or a deliberate attempt to sabotage this NATIONAL CAPABILITY.

A quick review of the past 5-6 decades of the nuclear weapons manufacturing business will clearly show that the unexpected does occur more often than not. Major retrofits involving 100’s/1000’s of weapons to correct various problems is a normal part of production planning and sizing of a production capacity/capability.

The cost to build in contingency for sprint/surge or unexpected production capacity needs is far less than trying to tack it on after a problem develops.
Hell, our Congress spills more in a year than it would take to build a decent pit production facility. Eliminating some of the “Pork” in one year is more than what’s required to do the job.

20 years to build 1000 new pits is just plain dumb.

Do we need the RRW—It seems to me that some are arguing that the existing Stockpile is reliable and “…flexible, the most usable, the most accurate nuclear weapons in the world,” but others are saying that some of our existing weapons are not as “Secure” as they need to be.

Our limited pit production capacity does not allow us to take advantage of technology that would make some weapons (such as those with HMX based HE Systems) much more secure.

To me it makes no sense to leave weapons with HMX based HE Systems in the stockpile for the next 10-20 years. These weapons present much tougher safety/security/protection issues than those with IHE and other safety features.

As long as we have nuclear weapons as part of our national defense, we need a National Capability to maintain the stockpile to the highest standards.

And no, our Pit Production Facility does not belong a LANL.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit confused. why do we need "super power status" again? We get a medal for that? I am assuming a "super power "is one that has the ability to annihilate its enemies using superior nuclear weaponry. The pitiful state of our economy has nothing to do with super power status I gather? This country is on the verge of being buried by its enemies and our superior nuclear arsenal has no role to play at all.

Anonymous said...

This country is on the verge of being buried by its enemies and our superior nuclear arsenal has no role to play at all.
=======

Banning nuclear weapons merely makes the
World safe for large scale conventional
conflict ala' WWI and WWII.

Anonymous said...

Garwin is a strong advocate of the test ban treaty. Nothing matters to him so much as reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons. He thinks that our building an RRW sends the wrong signal to others. He thinks that you can't design an RRW without testing it, and he doesn't want any testing, ergo that rules out the RRW.

The safety, security, and reliability of the stockpile evidently mean nothing to him, or at least he is ignorant of the issues. Garwin does not understand our ability to design weapons by simulation. He has no appreciation of the uncertainties. I think he would be most pleased if we did nothing and let our stockpile and capabilities disappear.

Some would say that is a good thing. I say that Garwin is not a critical thinker, and his views are dangerous to our national security.

Anonymous said...

Garwin does not understand our ability to design weapons by simulation. He has no appreciation of the uncertainties.
=================

Garwin makes the same mistake that many
do by assuming that the weapons in the
stockpile today are identical to what
was tested in every way.

Unfortunately time takes its toll on
nuclear weapons as it does on all
man-made items.

Ask yourself whether you would rather
fly on an old Boeing 727 [ which once
flew ] but has been sitting in the
airliner boneyard outside Tucson, AZ
for the last 20 years....OR

Would you rather be on the maiden flight
of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that has only
flown in computer simulation?

For me; that old 727 is NOT the same
machine that was once soaring the skies;
and I have more faith in Boeing's
ability to design a new aircraft by
computer.

The only intelligent choice is the 787.

Anonymous said...

The only intelligent choice is the 787.

The problem with your analogy is the old 727 sitting in the boneyard was not certified to fly until structural tests were done on non flying prototype aircraft. There was and is no routine where by certified aircraft are removed from service and tested to failure to re certify the fleet as is being suggested with respect to nuclear weapons (take a nuke out of the stockpile and detonate it).

The 727 in the boneyard may be perfectly safe (from a structural standpoint) and I wouldn't hesitate to fly in it provided I could see how many flight hours were on the airframe.

I guess you could say the same about the nuclear arsenal.

Anonymous said...

Why build 787s if we have 727s we aren't using and no intention of using the 787s?

Anonymous said...

Should we use up the 727's first?

Anonymous said...

All this rah rah talk about 787s would be more convincing if it were coming from folks who could build a 727 to original specifications. Since there is no hurry, why not work on that first?

Anonymous said...

The 727 in the boneyard may be perfectly safe (from a structural standpoint) and I wouldn't hesitate to fly in it provided I could see how many flight hours were on the airframe.
=============

You have structural mechanic's myopia;
you can't see beyond the structure.

There are MANY MANY other functions that
the old 727 has to perform that a test
of the airframe structure won't find.

Where do I begin? What shape are the
engines in? What's the state of the
lubricating oil? What about the rubber
seals on the bearings?

What about the hydraulic systems; the
hydraulic fluid, the seals in the
hydraulic system.....

There's LOTS and LOTS of things that
can go wrong with a 727 just due to the
fact that it is sitting there.

The fact that the 727 was once certified
either by prototype tests, or by flights
of the actual aircraft are becoming more
and more MEANINGLESS as time passes.

That's because the passage of time is
turning the old 727 into a machine that
is different than from what was tested.

As time progresses, and the components
of the 727 decay; those early tests on
virgin 727s become more and more
MEANINGLESS.

That's what is happening to nuclear
weapons as they age; and become more
and more different from the object that
underwent the test.

Anonymous said...

All this rah rah talk about 787s would be more convincing if it were coming from folks who could build a 727 to original specifications. Since there is no hurry, why not work on that first?
===================

Do you ever replace your car? Why is
that? Why aren't you still driving the
first car you purchased?

Anyone knows that sooner or later the
cost to maintain the car escalates. The
car is becoming less and less reliable;
and costs more and more to maintain.

So you replace it. Congresswoman Ellen
Tauscher (Democrat), chairperson of
the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the
House Armed Services Committee also
uses the car analogy in her article
in the journal Nonproliferation
Review
:

http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/npr/vol14/143/
143tauscher.pdf

Anonymous said...

Why build 787s if we have 727s we aren't using and no intention of using the 787s?
===========

Who says we aren't using our "727"s?

Are we using our stockpile of present
nuclear weapons? Of course we are.

Those weapons aren't exploding; but they
are, for example; going to sea with
US Navy Trident submarines.

Do you advocate sending the Tridents
to sea with weapons that don't work?

Do you advocate sending the Tridents
to sea with empty missile tubes?

Anonymous said...

Per 2/16/08 4:46 PM..."Congresswoman Ellen
Tauscher (Democrat), chairperson of
the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the
House Armed Services Committee also
uses the car analogy in her article
in the journal Nonproliferation
Review :

“The RRW is a replacement weapon, not a new weapon, as borne out by this analogy:
Our stockpile can be compared to a vintage automobile in dire need of repair. There is no need to get rid of the car because it is valuable, has served you well over the years, and can remain of benefit to you in the future. But while the car needs to be repaired, the maintenance of the car’s antiquated components, including its engine, has become very difficult and expensive.

Being a responsible car owner, you take your car to the shop. The mechanics replace the engine, but with one that is no more powerful or capable, yet more likely to start on the first try and less likely to stall while driving. They also add a new state of the art security system that prevents people from breaking into the car and either stealing the car itself or anything important you keep in the car. Finally, they work on the exhaust system to ensure that the fumes from the car have less of a negative impact on the environment.

After all of this work, when you drive the car out of the garage, do you have a new car? Of course not. But you do have a better operating, more protected, environmentally friendly, energy efficient car. This is what RRW could do for our nuclear stockpile. It should upgrade it and make it safer, but it should neither expand it nor violate the tenets of nonproliferation.”

Anonymous said...

From Secret no more":

"You're willing to build something you've never built before, using codes that have never been used before in this context, materials that have never been used before, instead of rebuilding something that has been tested and that has been built before," he said. "Don't put it in the stockpile without testing it."

Harold Agnew

Anonymous said...

"You're willing to build something you've never built before, using codes that have never been used before in this context, materials that have never been used before, instead of rebuilding something that has been tested and that has been built before," he said. "Don't put it in the stockpile without testing it."
=================

But this is NOT a fair characterization
of the RRW nor the codes used to design
it.

The new codes have been tested against
old experiments just as much as the
old codes. The new codes have been
certified as well as the old codes; if
not better.

As for materials; many are NOT available;
they aren't made anymore, or would be
environmentally damaging to produce.
Rebuilding EXACTLY to old specs may NOT
be a viable option.

The prestigious JASONS review panel
confirmed the technical approach as
being valid:

http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/docs/
newsreleases/2007/
PR_2007-10-01_NA-07-43.htm

"The JASON Defense Advisory Group, an
independent scientific panel of
academics with expertise in nuclear
physics and the nuclear weapons program,
conducted the technical review of the
RRW program. The report supported NNSA’s
scientific approach, including
activities to combine together
information from the nation’s past
underground tests, today’s current
physics understanding, and new
non-nuclear experiments in order to
certify RRW without underground
testing."

Anonymous said...

Harold Agnew was director 29 years ago. How close is he to the current state of stockpile stewardship and code validation? I have great respect for Agnew, but I don't think his opinion on this subject is worth more than that of the RRW design team.

Anonymous said...

Do you advocate sending the Tridents to sea with weapons that don't work?

Has any weapon removed from the stockpile ever failed when tested????Maybe 15 megatons instead of 20???
Say no weapon worked at all. Does the enemy know that? Do they assume that?

Take a page from Saddam's book. Doesn't matter if you got em or not, its perception that makes all the difference.

Besides, who is going to push the button? Are we to assume we are going to annihilate an entire country if some terrorist from that country detonates a nuke in this country? Or is there some threshold below the detonation of a nuke that would warrant a nuclear response? You really think so? If so then what was Bush waiting for? What sort of provocation do we need? Under what circumstances would we use a nuke?

Didn't use them in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq. Instead we squandered vast natural resources and human lives. So under what circumstances would we ever have to worry about the use of these so called "unsafe and unreliable" weapons anyway?

Anonymous said...

So under what circumstances would we ever have to worry about the use of these so called "unsafe and unreliable" weapons anyway?
===========

Korea, Vietnam... didn't warrant the use
of nukes. For the decades of the Cold War
and continuing to the present - the USA
has had nukes "pointed" at it. If any of
THOSE weapons were unleashed - a nuclear
response by the USA would be warranted.

"Unsafe" and "unreliable" are two
different concepts. An "unreliable"
nuke is one that won't detonate when
you want it to - like in a retaliation.

An "unsafe" nuke is one that detonates
when you DON'T want it to - like when
in September 1980 in Arkansas, one of
our ICBM missiles blew up in its silo.
The warhead didn't detonate because it
was safe. If it were an "unsafe" warhead
then we would be missing a big chunk
of Arkansas.

Anonymous said...

Say no weapon worked at all. Does the enemy know that? Do they assume that?
==========

So would you face off with an armed
adversary with your gun loaded with
only blanks???

After all your adversary doesn't know
that they are only blanks.

Would you be willing to send police out
on the beat armed with guns with only
blanks? After all, the bad guys won't
know that the police only have blanks
if you keep that a secret.

Anonymous said...

Take a page from Saddam's book. Doesn't matter if you got em or not, its perception that makes all the difference.
------------------------------------

Are you serious?? From Saddam's
perspective of desiring to keep his
regime in power; that gambit was an
unmitigated failure when someone called
his bluff.

Saddam's regime was "rolled up" in
short order.

Is that the fate you envision for the
USA should some nation ever challenge
the USA with nukes? The USA should just
say "Game Over" and collapse?

Anonymous said...

Korea, Vietnam... didn't warrant the use
of nukes.

no kiddin? do you know that nukes were considered to take out particularly difficult targets in Vietnam?You need to brush up on your history.

Anonymous said...

s that the fate you envision for the
USA should some nation ever challenge
the USA with nukes?

Who is it that is going to challenge us with nukes again? I forgot.

Anonymous said...

Would you be willing to send police out
on the beat armed with guns with only
blanks?

Interesting analogy. stupid also.I had no idea cops fired nuclear rounds.

Anonymous said...

Are you serious?? From Saddam's
perspective of desiring to keep his
regime in power;

You may be right. But we have pissed away billions of dollars and countless lives fucking around with Saddam and his nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.You tell me, who is the fool?

Anonymous said...

If it were an "unsafe" warhead
then we would be missing a big chunk
of Arkansas.

So you would agree we don't need RRW, right? Glad you see it my way. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I love this blog. It's like shooting fish in a barrel?

Anonymous said...

Who is it that is going to challenge us with nukes again? I forgot.
======================

As long as we have the nukes; I don't
believe anyone would be foolish enough
to challenge the USA.

However, we'd like to keep it that way.

THAT's why we keep the nukes!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting analogy. stupid also.I had no idea cops fired nuclear rounds.
=============

It's an ANALOGY!!! In an analogy; the
analogous components don't have to be
equivalent.

The ANALOG of the nuclear weapon for a
Nation, is a bullet for a police officer.

The ANALOGY doesn't require that the
bullet be nuclear - which is why it
isn't stupid at all.

Now some people who have difficulty
interpreting analogies; well, that's
another question.

Anonymous said...

If it were an "unsafe" warhead
then we would be missing a big chunk
of Arkansas.

So you would agree we don't need RRW, right? Glad you see it my way. Thank you
==========

By what "fuzzy logic" did you make THAT
conclusion?

Look at my analogy with the 727. The 727
that was once safe back in the 1960s,
may no longer be flightworthy after
years of time and the decay of its
components.

If I said that the 727 was safe to fly
back in 1965; would you then conclude
that we don't need the 787 Dreamliner
today, or in the future?

Because that's the "logic" [ using the
term loosely ] that you just displayed
above.

I believe we DO need the RRW!!

Anonymous said...

By what "fuzzy logic" did you make THAT
conclusion?

Sorry dude. That's your "fuzzy logic" not mine. You're the one hung up on the 727 analogy, not me.Your analogy doesn't work, it's that simple.

Anonymous said...

Now some people who have difficulty
interpreting analogies; well, that's
another question.

Ever witness a nuclear detonation first hand? If you had you wouldn't be making such frivolous analogies. I suppose it's a feel good thing.

Anonymous said...

I believe we DO need the RRW!!

Your nuts. sorry, the truth hurts.

Anonymous said...

THAT's why we keep the nukes!!

Ohhhhh...I see. Deep..very deep.Thank you for your reasoned insight.

Anonymous said...

As time progresses, and the components
of the 727 decay; those early tests on
virgin 727s become more and more
MEANINGLESS.


Have you any idea how old the aircraft are that would deliver your nuke? Let me know when you have the answer.

Anonymous said...

7:56 PM said "Ever witness a nuclear detonation first hand? If you had you wouldn't be making such frivolous analogies. I suppose it's a feel good thing."

Have you?? Probably not since those lucky individuals are now nearly or over seventy and unlikely to be posting on this blog. So you have no standing, either. However, if you read the histories, many of those "witnesses" felt comforted that the US could resist any enemy. Except, of course, that from within.

Anonymous said...

Sorry dude. That's your "fuzzy logic" not mine. You're the one hung up on the 727 analogy, not me.Your analogy doesn't work, it's that simple.
===========

The only thing that simple is your thinking.

The 727 analogy DOES work. Every hear
of the term "service life"? Practically
any mechanism built by man has a service
life. Your car has a service life, a
727 has a service life, and nuclear
weapons have a service life - a service
life that is finite.

We know from recent studies that the
nuclear material in the weapons may
last for decades. However, there are
OTHER components that won't last that
long. See the NNSA fact sheet:

http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/docs/factsheets/
2006/NA-06-FS-08A.pdf

Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher used an
analogy between a car and nuclear
weapons as shown earlier in this thread.

I made an analogy to a Boeing 727.

Cars, airliners, and nuclear weapons
all have limited service lives.

It's hard to believe you lack the
mental capacity to understand that.

Anonymous said...

Have you any idea how old the aircraft are that would deliver your nuke? Let me know when you have the answer.
===================

Some of those aircraft are 50+ years old.
However, just because the bomber is still
serviceable at 50+ years doesn't say
ANYTHING about the warheads!!

That's about as intelligent as saying
unrefridgerated milk has a shelf-life
as long as unrefridgerated bottled water.

Anonymous said...

Ever witness a nuclear detonation first hand? If you had you wouldn't be making such frivolous analogies.
================

Why would one need to actually witness
a nuclear detonation in order to have
an understanding of what it is?

Scientists understand lots of things that
they have never seen. Nobody has actually
seen electrons "orbiting" atoms; but we
do an excellent job of making those
invisible electrons do our bidding;
like in the computers in use here.

The analogies are to help those with
limited understanding and intellect
get a grasp on the subject at hand.

Anonymous said...

Sorry dude. That's your "fuzzy logic" not mine. You're the one hung up on the 727 analogy, not me.Your analogy doesn't work, it's that simple.
========

If you're so smart - where does the
analogy fail? EXPLAIN [ if you can ]
WHY it doesn't work.

Do you think that a Boeing 727 once
certified by Boeing as safe will remain
safe and flightworthy indefinitely if
one doesn't continually replace and
refurbish parts of the aircraft?

Why do you think nuclear weapons
would be any different? You do know
that there are parts that we don't have
the ability to refurbish or replace?

So why do you think the rules that apply
to cars, airliners, and practically
any man-made device; don't apply to
nuclear weapons?

Anonymous said...

10:07 pm: "Why do you think nuclear weapons would be any different? You do know that there are parts that we don't have the ability to refurbish or replace?"

Uh...yes. What part of the nuclear posture review didn't you get?

Anonymous said...

To eliminate uncertainty,
Must test

Anonymous said...

10:07 pm: "Why do you think nuclear weapons would be any different? You do know that there are parts that we don't have the ability to refurbish or replace?"

Uh...yes. What part of the nuclear posture review didn't you get?
=====================

Well then it's evident that you NEVER
READ the Nuclear Posture Review.

Here's an excerpt that states precisely
what I stated above that we don't have
the capability to refurbish all the
components of a weapon:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/
library/policy/dod/npr.htm

"Uranium Operations: At least seven to
eight years of effort will be required
to restore the capability to produce a
complete nuclear weapon secondary at
the Y-12 Plant in Tennessee. Qualified
processes for some material and
manufacturing steps are not currently in
place. Plans are underway to expand the
capacity and capability of the Y-12
Plant to meet the planned workload for
replacing warhead secondaries, and other
uranium components."

"Plutonium Operations: One glaring
shortfall is the inability to fabricate
and certify weapon primaries, or
so-called "pits". Work is underway to
establish an interim capability at Los
Alamos National Laboratory late in this
decade to meet current demand created by
destructive surveillance testing on the
W88 warhead. For the long term a new
modern production facility will be
needed to deal with the large-scale
replacement of components and new
production."

Now you were saying something about
how the Nuclear Posture Review didn't
support my statement above?

I think we know who is IGNORANT on
nuclear weapons issues here.

Anonymous said...

10:07 pm: "Why do you think nuclear weapons would be any different? You do know that there are parts that we don't have the ability to refurbish or replace?"

Uh...yes. What part of the nuclear posture review didn't you get?

Anonymous said...

PATB: This seems relevant:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/16/AR2008021602370.html

Anonymous said...

2/18/08 11:06 AM:
"To eliminate uncertainty,
Must test"

That is a simplistic statement. You can never eliminate uncertainty. You can only reduce it. A nuclear test gives you one data point, albeit a good one. You would need a program of testing of different weapon systems periodically in time. If that is impossible politically, then you need to do something else.

Anonymous said...

How about a Mobile Pit Facility? We can make RRWs in a 727.

Anonymous said...

PATB: This seems relevant:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20
=============

Your URL got clipped. Is this the WP
article you had in mind:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
content/article/2007/04/21/
AR2007042101000.html

"Congress Skeptical of Warhead Plan
Lawmakers and Experts Question Necessity, Implications of a
New Nuclear Weapon"

Of course Congress should be skeptical,
and the NNSA and DOE do need to
justify the RRW.

However, I believe if one looks at the
problem honestly without predetermined
mindsets; one will certainly come to
the realization that RRW offers the USA
the best plan forward for the Nation's
nuclear deterrent.

Professor Hugh Gusterson of MIT has
a good take on this writing in the
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist:

http://www.thebulletin.org/columns/
hugh-gusterson/20070326.html

"These are good arguments, but still
something important has been missing
from the debate. It is my own feeling
that, if given the choice of waving a
wand and changing all the current W76s
into RRWs, one would do so because the
RRW is a safer warhead whose design is
less likely to trigger neurotic doubts
about reliability among the men and
women in white lab coats who can bring
the test ban regime crashing down if
they tell the president that they have
lost confidence in the reliability of
the stockpile."

Professor Gusterson makes a very good
point about the scientists at LANL and
LLNL bringing the 15 year old test ban
regime "crashing down".

One of the safeguards instituted during
the Clinton Administration was that
testing would resume if the Lab
Directors and the Secretaries of Energy
and Defense felt that a weapon system
could not be certified.

Do you want to maintain the current
test ban or not??? Your choice!!!

Anonymous said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
content/article/2007/04/21/
AR2007042101000.html
=====================

Nunn and Feinstein are afraid the RRW
will trigger a new arms race. With who?

Russia?

I'm sorry - but that ship has
already sailed:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/
main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/19/
wputin119.xml

"Putin touts new nuclear weapons
against US"

"Ambitious plans to bolster the
country's nuclear arsenal — as well as
its conventional military hardware —
were well underway.

They include new missile systems,
modernised nuclear bombers and
submarines. "We have plans that are not
only great, but grandiose," he boasted."

Anonymous said...

If the Lab Directors refused to certify a weapon system, and the President then refused to test, it would be interesting to see how long it would take for those (classified) facts to become public. I suspect the majority of the public would support the President.

Anonymous said...

If the Lab Directors refused to certify a weapon system, and the President then refused to test,
==================

As I recall, that was the whole point of
"Safeguard F" - the President CAN NOT
refuse to test.

Here's a statement by US Senator Levin,
Democrat of Michigan who was then the
chairman of the Armed Services Committee:

http://www.senate.gov/~levin/newsroom/
release.cfm?id=210052

"That is because if they can't certify
the safety and reliability of our
nuclear stockpile in some future year
they have the assurance in Safeguard F,
by which we can withdraw from the
treaty if we need to conduct a nuclear
test. We have incorporated that
safeguard and, indeed, strengthened it
in the amendment to this resolution,
that we will withdraw from this treaty
and begin nuclear testing again if
necessary. We do not want our stockpile
to be unsafe or unreliable. Nobody does
-- none of us."

Senator Levin refers to the fact that
the provisions of "Safeguard F" were
incorporated as part of a Congressional
Resolution above.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the majority of the public would support the President.
=============

It's a matter of current LAW - that the
nuclear weapons have to be certified.

Anonymous said...

6:12 and 6:14 pm: Actually not true. Safeguard F has nothing to do with nuclear testing. It only states that under a CTBT (not ratified by the US) the President must "be prepared to withdraw" from the treaty if testing is seen to be needed, not that the US must actually withdraw - however a moot point since CTBT is not in effect.

Actually, since October 1992 there has been a law maintaining a nuclear test moratorium in the US - so the LAW says the US will NOT test. So, there may be a law (please provide a citation) that says the weapons must be certified, there is no law saying they must be tested, in fact the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Actually, since October 1992 there has been a law maintaining a nuclear test moratorium in the US - so the LAW says the US will NOT test.
================

WRONG!! You just flat out don't know what
you are talking about!! In late 1992,
Congess imposed an amendment to the
Defense Authorization that imposed a
6-month moratorium on testing. That
carried into the Clinton Administration
when that law expired. The Clinton
Administration CHOSE not to test, as
did the current President.

However, in 2003, Congress enacted
the Defense Authorization Act of 2003
which REQUIRES the certification -
actually called "asssessment" by DOE.

You can read about the process in this
letter from the GAO - Government
Accountability Office to Rep. Ellen
Tausher:

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07243r.pdf

Reiterating - you are WRONG that there
is a law that prevents the USA from
testing - in fact as the above GAO
letter states the Lab Directors are
required to certify that they can be
ready to test if needed.

Get your FACTS straight before you post
your uninformed blather here!!

Anonymous said...

Actually, since October 1992 there has been a law maintaining a nuclear test moratorium in the US - so the LAW says the US will NOT test.
================

Here is a section on the law you MISQUOTE;
the Hartfield-Exon-Mitchell amendment to
the 1993 Energy and Water Appropriation:

http://fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/
pu50yd.html

The Hatfield-Exon-Mitchell Amendment to
the FY 1993 Energy and Water
Appropriation Bill (Public Law 102-377)
mandated a 10 month moratorium on U.S.
nuclear testing and restricted the
purposes and numbers of any tests to be
conducted before a Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty (CTBT) is concluded. The
Hatfield Amendment mandated that only
five tests could be conducted per year, with a maximum over a four year period
being 15 tests. Further, it stipulated
that these tests could only be conducted
for the purposes of ensuring the safety
of warheads which were installed with
modern safety features, or to test the
reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons."

President Clinton has extended this
moratorium on three occasions, most
recently in January of 1995 when he
extended the moratorium until a CTBT
enters into force (on the assumption
that a CTBT is concluded by September
30, 1996).

The above envisioned that a CTBT would
be entered into by the USA; and then
President Clinton did sign the CTBT
Treaty; but when he presented it to
the US Senate for ratification, the
Senate refused.

Hence, the CTBT is not binding on the
USA; nor ANY country because it requires
the USA's signature along with 40+ other
nations. Hence the CTBT is "not yet in
force". See the United Nations Treaty
Status page for the CTBT at:

http://disarmament.un.org/
TreatyStatus.nsf/
44e6eeabc9436b78852568770078d9c0/
0655d51a30692632852568770079dda2?
OpenDocument

"Opened for signature at New York:
24 September 1996

Not yet in force"

There is NO prohibition against the
USA conducting a nuclear test. MIT's
Prof. Gusterson is correct - the Labs
could put an end to the moratorium
under the right conditions.

Anonymous said...

8:21 am said:

"There is NO prohibition against the USA conducting a nuclear test. MIT's Prof. Gusterson is correct - the Labs could put an end to the moratorium under the right conditions."

I think the argument being made was that there is no legal *requirement* to test. Lacking such a requirment, the decision to test or not would require significant political will either way on the part of the President. So it appears the scenario posed by 2/18 5:51 pm is possible. Likely? Who knows.

Anonymous said...

Here is a section on the law you MISQUOTE;
the Hartfield-Exon-Mitchell amendment to
the 1993 Energy and Water Appropriation:
----------------------------

Yes - the anti-nukes sure do have
a penchant for misquoting and
misrepresenting the tenets of
laws, treaties, and court
decisions.

In case there are any more
illiterati out there:

There is no current US law
that bans nuclear tests.

The 1994 Spratt-Furse "PLYWD"
prohibition against low-yield
nuclear weapons was repealed.
in 2003.

The CTBT is not in force; so
there is no UN treaty prohibiting
tests by the USA or any other
country.

The World Court did not make
the possession of nuclear
weapons illegal in its
1996 decision.

These idiots have to learn
to read what these documents
actually say; not what they
want them to say.

Anonymous said...

I think the argument being made was that there is no legal *requirement* to test. Lacking such a requirment,
=================

You need to read the Atomic Energy Act
of 1954 and the Defense Authorization
Act of 2003!!

Anonymous said...

11:18 am: "You need to read the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and the Defense Authorization Act of 2003!!"

I have - neither requires testing, only that 1) the President provide an annual report on whether he believes testing is required, along with any alternatives to testing, and 2) the President maintain test readiness. Of course, if you are not referring to Div. C; Title XXXI; Subtitles A&B of the NDAA for 2003, or to para 7274p of the AEA, please post your references.

Anonymous said...

"Why would one need to actually witness
a nuclear detonation in order to have
an understanding of what it is?"


Probably wouldn't be waisting time with simplistic "727" and "cops and robbers" analogies for one thing. When the destructive force of a nuclear weapon is compared to a bullet I begin to question whether or not any of you truly understand what it is you are talking about.

At least those in government understand what it is they are dealing with. If they didn't, based on what I have read here, we would be developing new weapons, testing and certainly using them. It's easy understand why the framers of the constitution put control of the military in the hands of civilians.

Anonymous said...

Probably wouldn't be waisting time with simplistic "727" and "cops and robbers" analogies for one thing. When the destructive force of a nuclear weapon is compared to a bullet I begin to question whether or not any of you truly understand what it is you are talking about.
=================

Some people just don't have the mental
capacity to understand ANALOGIES!!!

The reason for using the 727 as an
analogy is that the real issues can't
be discussed due to the fact that they
are classified.

One can't say that the "X" parts of a
nuclear weapon are turning to "green
cheese" and that the safety and/or
reliability of a nuclear weapon is in
question.

Therefore, one uses the 727 as an
analogy. One says, "See, these are
the types of things that can go wrong
with a 727 sitting in Arizona for 20
years - and that a "test" of the
aircraft - namely that it actually flew
25 years ago is pretty meaningless.

Analogously, tests of virgin nuclear
weapons done decades ago are becoming
more and more meaningless as age-related
changes to the weapons turn them into
objects that were never tested in their
present condition.

There's nothing wrong with analogizing
nuclear weapons to bullets either.

Your child's toy boat floats in the
bathtub because of Archimedes Principle.
An aircraft carrier also floats because
of Archimedes Principle.

Sure an aircraft carrier is larger than
a toy boat by a factor that probably
exceeds the factor by which the energy
of a nuclear weapon exceeds the energy
of a bullet.

However, the physical law that keeps
both afloat is EXACTLY the same.

I really have to question the intellect
of anyone that says the analogy is not
apt just because of a differential in
magnitude.

Anonymous said...

7:51 am:

"I really have to question the intellect of anyone that says the analogy is not apt just because of a differential in magnitude."

If you think "magnitude" is the only difference, then YOU are the one whose intellect is questionable. To paraphrase your argument, the physical laws that apply to bullets and to nuclear weapons are NOT "exactly the same"!
The physical forces and therefore the laws that govern them are different. BTW, bullets don't explode.

Anonymous said...

f you think "magnitude" is the only difference, then YOU are the one whose intellect is questionable. To paraphrase your argument, the physical laws that apply to bullets and to nuclear weapons are NOT "exactly the same"!
The physical forces and therefore the laws that govern them are different. BTW, bullets don't explode.
=====================

I didn't say that the magnitude was the
only difference. I said that anyone who
EXCLUDES the analogy on magnitude ALONE
is of questionable intellect.

I know bullets don't explode - but that
is immaterial to the analogy. A cop
may need to kill a felon - a bullet
does that job. A nation may have to
"kill" [ note quotes ] an adversary
nation - and that's what the nuclear
weapon does.

How the weapon does its killing is
really immaterial to the analogy.

All that counts is that they both
"kill" the respective adversary.

Anonymous said...

Give it up Mr. "=============="

No one in America gives a sh*t about US nuclear weapons anymore. Not Congress, not the public and not even our local political delegation. Even the DOD is lukewarm to them.

They'll be more than happy to leave the old things up on the shelf with an occasional dusting to keep them clean. Other than that, they just don't want to spend any more money on them. Like it or not, that's the current reality we face.