Nuclear modernization programs threaten to prolong the nuclear era

May 13, 2015, SAGE Publications

In the latest issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE, experts from the United States, Russia, and China present global perspectives on ambitious nuclear modernization programs that the world's nuclear-armed countries have begun.

In the latest edition of the Bulletin's Global Forum, Georgetown University professor Matthew Kroenig argues that:

"Failure to modernize would not contribute to disarmament - but more than that, it would be irresponsible. A crippled US nuclear force would embolden enemies, frighten allies, generate international instability, and undermine US . In other words, it would risk ruining the world that currently exists. Rather than preparing for an alternate reality, therefore, Washington needs to build the nuclear forces that it needs to deter threats to international peace and security in this reality. This means maintaining a robust nuclear posture and fully modernizing , as planned."

Eugene Miasnikov, director of the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies in Dolgoprudny, Russia, comments that:

"The real question regarding modernization is how much is enough. Which sorts of modernization would create obstacles to further cuts? Which would be neutral? ... It is up to the American people to decide on the future size of their and how much modernization is required. But it is important to bear in mind that these decisions will have profound effects on the rest of the world. These decisions might reduce international tensions, which would be conductive to further nuclear cuts. Or they might become a source of additional tension and trust."

And Lu Yin a colonel in China's People's Liberation Army and a researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies at National Defense University in Beijing, writes that:

"Eliminating does not appear feasible at this stage. Modernizations of nuclear arsenals are certain to go forward. But it's possible, and very important, to achieve a balance between and disarmament. The United States and Russia must take the lead in establishing this balance - first by de-emphasizing nuclear weapons in their national security strategies so that the practical reasons for possessing nuclear weapons can gradually disappear, and second by reducing their arsenals. This would establish trust and set a good example for other nations."

Explore further: Can we track the world's nuclear weapons?

More information: Matthew Kroenig, How best to approach nuclear modernization?: A US response: bos.sagepub.com/content/71/3/16.full.pdf+html

Eugene Miasnikov, How best to approach nuclear modernization?: A Russian response: bos.sagepub.com/content/71/3/12.full.pdf+html

Lu Yin, How best to approach nuclear modernization?: A Chinese response: bos.sagepub.com/content/71/3/8.full.pdf+html

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14 comments

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gkam
3 / 5 (4) May 13, 2015
First,we must rid ourselves of the war freaks, including those stay-at-home "patriots" who NEED killings to feel important and powerful. You know the kind, the ones who scream "Bring 'em on!" while cowering in their bunkers and Undisclosed Locations.

We cannot let these children near nuclear weapons.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (3) May 13, 2015
Anybody who works around nuclear weapons must be forced to read the horrors of Hiroshima, as told by the survivors.

Most of us do NOT really understand the extent of the horror we will unleash with these disgusting devices. It should be taught in school, and we would have no more of them.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (3) May 13, 2015
Anybody remember when in the Dubya Bush Wars a B-52 was "found" to be carrying nuclear missiles? Most folk do not understand how this could happen. Nuclear weapons are NOT stored with regular munitions, and have very special handling requirements. There is NO WAY those missiles got there accidentally. Somebody was going to try something.

It is time to take these big penises away from the macho military nerds who covet them.
Solon
5 / 5 (1) May 13, 2015
"Anybody who works around nuclear weapons must be forced to read the horrors of Hiroshima, as told by the survivors."

You might also want to look at the horrors of the firestorms in Germany and Japan, targeting mostly civilians.

antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (1) May 13, 2015
US nuclear force would embolden enemies, frighten allies...

What allies? Are there any left?
It is up to the American people to decide on the future size of their nuclear arsenal

Why do I get the feeling that the question about the size of the nuclear arsenal will not be put to 'the people'? Oh...right...because it never has before.

WillieWard
2.6 / 5 (5) May 13, 2015
Anybody who works around nuclear weapons must be forced to read the horrors of Hiroshima, as told by the survivors.
Nuclear suffers a strong prejudice from opportunistic fearmongers.
It was idealized by scientists initially as an unlimited source of energy and not as a weapon of mass destruction.

With expansion of renewables around the world, it is becoming ever clearer that nuclear power is the best option: fewer fatalities and less environmental impact per unit of energy produced than renewables. Then with newer and safer power plant designs, nuclear will be able to play its noble role of carbon-free energy source for a better world.
Shootist
2.3 / 5 (6) May 13, 2015
IF ONLY ENVIRONMENTALISTS HADN'T DELAYED THINGS, THIS CARBON-FRIENDLY NUCLEAR PLANT COULD HAVE BEEN ONLINE MUCH SOONER: TVA nuke plant, launched in 1979, nears completion in 2015. "When it's finished, it will provide enough electricity to power about 650,000 homes in the Tennessee Valley. The cost of running a nuclear plant is relatively steady, and it does not produce greenhouse gases and other air pollutants."

Think of all the coal that was burned unnecessarily because of wrongheaded opposition to nuclear power. When will the Greens apologize for the damage they've done to the planet?
gkam
3.4 / 5 (5) May 13, 2015
It looks like Willie and Shootist are ignorant of the fact this thread is not about power plants but nuclear weapons. Perhaps they should have paid attention.

eachus
5 / 5 (3) May 13, 2015
Nuclear weapons became obsolete from a military viewpoint during the first Gulf War. The US attached a GBU-15 "smart bomb" steering system to an 8 inch (inside diameter) naval gun barrel filled with explosive. Originally put together to attack some of Saddam's personal bunkers, it could easily penetrate nuclear blast shelters. You may remember the great loss of life when one of these penetrated a government fallout shelter and continued through a (military) communication facility under the fallout shelter and ended up exploding in a fuel tank added after the original construction.

The lesson is that if precision weapons can do the job, from a military point of view they are much less expensive, and a lot less messy. One (non-nuclear) missile with a bunch of precision guided crowbars can destroy all the armored vehicles (and artillery) of an armored brigade, while the same missile with a 100 kiloton warhead can destroy some of the tanks--and a lot of civilians.
Eikka
not rated yet May 18, 2015
Nuclear weapons became obsolete from a military viewpoint during the first Gulf War


They serve as strategic reserve, because in order to drop a smart bomb or a bunker buster, you first need to fly a bomber over your enemy territory.

US hasn't fought a single non-asymmetric war since WW2 where it would face a technologically equal enemy, always relying on the fact that they're using modern stealth planes against old Soviet radar and AA systems, or simply people with shoulder launched rockets. Of course you can fly around playing video game wars and lawn darts with bombs in that situation.

If they had to fight anohter nation with roughly equal capabilities, they'd lob a nuclear bomb because it's still mighty difficult if not impossible to intercept an ICBM, and it's effective in destroying your enemy's logistics by wiping out large areas of infrastructure and manufacturing facilities.

I.E they would target the civilians.
gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 18, 2015
I suggest you read the real version of the dance of nuclear technology of the Cold War in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

It all depends on the CEP of the ballistic reentry vehicle. If sufficiently good, they can be used for non-nuclear devices.
gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 18, 2015
Perhaps Eikka does not know the "old" radar types used in the Soviet Union could still see stealth aircraft because their transmitters and receivers were widely separated. Stealth works on their present system, but not the old ones so well.
gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 18, 2015
Willie gives out ones to those who understand and/or have experience in the field of protection from nuclear weapons. I think he does not know this thread regards nuclear weapons, and not his beloved GE Mark I BWRs, three of which are in complete meltdown.
eachus
not rated yet May 18, 2015
If they had to fight another nation with roughly equal capabilities, they'd lob a nuclear bomb because it's still mighty difficult if not impossible to intercept an ICBM, and it's effective in destroying your enemy's logistics by wiping out large areas of infrastructure and manufacturing facilities.

I.E they would target the civilians.


Why? Precision guided weapons (PGW) are much better at destroying unlaunched missiles. We can get into a debate about the best way to destroy missiles once launched, but any nuclear warhead will be destroyed by a nearby nuclear explosion. Given a choice between taking a hit, and doing the same to your enemy, or mutual destruction of warheads in outer space, which would you choose? Grasers (gamma-ray lasers) are a potential force multiplier.

Finally, stealth bombers and fighters are much better used to eliminate enemy radar facilities. Once you (and posssibly the enemy) have done that, now indiscriminate bombing is possible.

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