Tag Archives | Nuclear Weapons

Overplaying Its Hand, Israel Still Holds Plenty of U.S. Cards

Benjamin Netanyahu,

Benjamin Netanyahu,

More than ever, Israel is isolated from world opinion and the squishy entity known as “the international community.” The Israeli government keeps condemning the Iran nuclear deal, by any rational standard a positive step away from the threat of catastrophic war.

In the short run, the belligerent responses from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are bound to play badly in most of the U.S. media. But Netanyahu and the forces he represents have only begun to fight. They want war on Iran, and they are determined to exercise their political muscle that has long extended through most of the Washington establishment.

While it’s unlikely that such muscle can undo the initial six-month nuclear deal reached with Iran last weekend, efforts are already underway to damage and destroy the negotiations down the road. On Capitol Hill the attacks are most intense from Republicans, and some leading Democrats have also sniped at the agreement reached in Geneva.… Read the rest

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How The U.S. Air Force Nearly Nuked North Carolina

Long-serving disinfonauts may remember Disinfo Dave recounting the tale of the USAF B-52 that dropped two nuclear bombs on North Carolina for Canadian TV host Strombo (for those who never saw it, here’s Dave…).

Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser picks up the thread in his new book on nuclear weapons, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, reviewed here by Mother Jones:

On January 23, 1961, a B-52 packing a pair of Mark 39 hydrogen bombs suffered a refueling snafu and went into an uncontrolled spin over North Carolina. In the cockpit of the rapidly disintegrating bomber (only one crew member bailed out safely) was a lanyard attached to the bomb-release mechanism. Intense G-forces tugged hard at it and unleashed the nukes, which, at four megatons, were 250 times more powerful than the weapon that leveled Hiroshima. One of them “failed safe” and plummeted to the ground unarmed.

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83-Year-Old Nun Receives 20-Year Prison Sentence For Civil Disobedience At Oak Ridge Nuclear Facility

83-year-old nunA nun who peacefully protested against radioactive weapons of war has received a 20-year sentence for embarrassing the military-industrial complex. Via Nuclear News:

An 83-year-old nun who broke into a Tennessee depleted uranium storage facility in 2012, exposing a massive security hole at the nation’s only facility used to store radioactive conventional munitions, was convicted Wednesday and sentenced to a term of up to 20 years in prison.

Sister Megan Rice and two other peace activists were convicted of “invasion of a nuclear facility” in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, even though investigators admitted they did not get close to any actual nuclear material. The three activists are part of a group called “Transform Now Plowshares,” a reference to the book of Isaiah, which says, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.”

As they invaded the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, a perimeter fence was cut, several surfaces were spray-painted, banners were hung and activists read from the Bible.

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The Make-Believe Crisis in Iran

Picture: Presidential Press and Information Office (CC)

Patrick Foy writes at Counterpunch:

What if the White House were deliberately misleading America and the world about a major foreign policy issue involving war and peace, would it not be something worth investigating? What if, on top of that, the US Congress and Senate were going along with the subterfuge, remaining silent and not questioning it in the slightest? Wouldn’t that phenomenon be remarkable?

What if the mainstream news media, both television and print, were also enabling the same White House campaign of misrepresentation? Would this not be even more shocking? Should not a free press be checking the facts, asking basic questions, instead of blindly parroting a government party line which could be little more than war propaganda?

If you guessed I am describing Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, hyped at every opportunity by the Obama White House and the Congress and by the Republicans and Mitt Romney, you would be on target. The nonstop campaign of harassing and demonizing Tehran, premised upon the existential threat supposedly posed by an Iranian atomic bomb, is a determined bipartisan affair in Washington.

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Don’t Panic, But China Mingles Its Nukes with Regular Missiles

Picture: Flickr/Kate Haskell (CC)

This… erm… unsettling development comes out of the first comprehensive, non-governmental report on China’s nuclear warplans, written by John Lewis, a professor of Chinese politics at Stanford University.

via Benjamin Plackett at WIRED’s Danger Room:

It turns out that China’s been mixing its nuclear missiles in with its conventional ones at the same military bases. Not really, uh, advisable: that makes it really hard for other countries to figure out if a Chinese missile launch is just a conventional one or the beginnings of a nuclear Armageddon. But fret not — while China’s missile mingling may not be very sensible, it’s not going to cause World War III.

Writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, John Lewis warns that the intermingling could trigger a nuclear launch: once another nation watched a Chinese missile blast off, it might trigger a nuclear retaliation from a confused, panicked Russia or United States.

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America’s Nuclear Bomb Facility Shut Down After 82-Year-Old Nun Breaches Security

The task of keeping the government compound safe is handled by a private company–global security giant G4S, also known for a bungling job at the ongoing London Olympics. Via Reuters:

The U.S. government’s only facility for handling, processing and storing weapons-grade uranium has been temporarily shut after anti-nuclear activists, including an 82-year-old nun, breached security fences, government officials said on Thursday.

WSI Oak Ridge, the contractor responsible for protecting the facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is owned by the international security firm G4S, which was at the center of a dispute over security at the London Olympic Games.

Officials said the facility was shut down on Wednesday at least until next week after three activists cut through perimeter fences to reach the outer wall of a building where highly enriched uranium, a key nuclear bomb component, is stored.

Ellen Barfield, a spokeswoman for the activists who called themselves “Transform Now Plowshares,” said three were arrested and charged with vandalism and criminal trespass.

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The U.S. Government’s Top-Secret Town

Via A Continuous Lean, an entrancing glimpse of life inside a city, created as part of the Manhattan Project, with a secret purpose. Imagine if your sunny suburban daily existence served merely as a front for the real action occurring in your town:

In 1942, the government acquired 70,000 acres in Eastern Tennessee and established Oak Ridge…developed for the sole purpose of separating uranium for the Manhattan Project. The completely planned community was designed by the architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and had a population of more than 70,000 people. Due to the sensitive nature of the work at Oak Ridge, the entire town was fenced in with armed guards. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge office recently started to digitize its archival photos and share them through Flickr.

Oak_Ridge

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Defense Secretary Panetta Admits Iran Not Developing Nukes

leonRaw Story reports on the banging of the drums of war:

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta let slip on Sunday the big open secret that Washington war hawks don’t want widely known: Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.

Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Panetta admitted that despite all the rhetoric, Iran is not pursuing the ability to split atoms with weapons, saying it is instead pursuing “a nuclear capability.” That “capability” falls in line with what Iran has said for years: that it is developing nuclear energy facilities, not nuclear weapons.

“They cannot continue to do what they’re doing. Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us.”

Republicans have been beating the drums of war in recent weeks as tensions in the Iranian gulf have soared. Iran has threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil transport hub crucial to global industry, if U.S.

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Cold War USAF Considered Space-Based Atomic Warship (Video)

One of the secret projects discussed in Annie Jacobson’s new Area 51 book is Project Orion, an ambitious 1950′s-1960′s era attempt to develop a nuclear fission-propelled spacecraft capable of interplanetary travel. Like many of the Cold War aeronautics projects developed at Area 51 and related test sites, it was way ahead of its time. According to Jacobs, however, when ARPA and the USAF took over the project, they had a far more Strangelovian vision in mind:

“From high above Earth, a USS Orion could be used to launch attacks against enemy targets using nuclear missiles. Thanks to Orion’s nuclear-propulsion technology, the spaceship could make extremely fast defensive maneuvers, avoiding any Russian nuclear missiles that might come its way…For a period of time during the early 1960′s the Air Force believed Orion was going to be invincible. ‘Whoever builds Orion will control the Earth!” declared General Thomas S. Power of the Strategic Air Command.” [Jacobson, p. 305]

In this fascinating TED lecture George Dyson, son of Freeman Dyson, shares his special knowledge of the project. Not much information about Project Orion’s proposed weaponization has reached the web, but pay special attention to what he says at around 3:30-3:50…

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