Nuclear weapons proliferation

  • Twenty-year anniversary of U.S. last full-scale nuclear test

    The first U.S. nuclear test, code named Trinity, took place in southern New Mexico forty-seven years earlier, on 16 July 1945; in all, the United States conducted 1,030 nuclear tests – the last one, code-named Divider,  took place twenty years ago, on 23 September 1992

  • Two suspected 2010 North Korea nuclear “tests” probably never happened: study

    It is generally accepted that North Korea has carried out at least two nuclear test explosions, in 2006 and 2009, with the second test — thought to be in the range of about two to four kilotons — was five times more powerful than the first; this spring, a Swedish scientist sparked international concern when he said that radioactive particles detected in 2010 showed North Korea had set off at least two small nuclear blasts that year; now, a new paper says the tests likely never took place — or that if they did, they were too tiny to have any military significance

  • Obama will use tough language on Iran in today’s UN speech, but no “red lines”

    President Barack Obama, in his speech later today to the general assembly of the UN, will use harsher language to denounce Iran for its nuclear weapons program; Obama will also repeat the U.S. commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but will stop short of announcing clear red lines which, if Iran crossed them, would trigger a U.S. military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities

  • Power lines to Iran’s enrichment facilities cut, damaging centrifuges

    Iran said that power lines to two of its uranium enrichment facilities, Fordow and Natanz, have been cut by explosions, disrupting enrichment work and causing damage to centrifuges; the head of Iran’s nuclear program said that the ranks of the IAEA may have been infiltrated by “terrorists and saboteurs,” hinting that IAEA personnel may have been behind the sabotage; in the meantime, news emerged of a late-August series of tests the Syrian military conducted with tank- and aircraft-fired systems designed to deliver chemical agents; the tests were conducted in the presence of officers from Iran Revolutionary Guard

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  • Thorium to play limited role in U.K. future power supply

    Worldwide, there has for a long time been a sustained interest in the thorium fuel cycle and presently there are several major research initiatives which are either focused specifically on the thorium fuel cycle or on systems which use thorium as the fertile seed instead of U-238; the U.K. National Nuclear Laboratory examined the topic and concluded that thorium has theoretical advantages but that these benefits are often overstated; as a result, thorium fuel cycle at best has only limited relevance to the United Kingdom as a possible alternative plutonium disposition strategy and as a possible strategic option

  • China’s nuclear strategy too risky: experts

    Beijing’s nuclear missiles exist to deter a nuclear first strike on China, and are only to be used in extremis; at the same time, conventional weapons — including missiles with conventional warheads – located on formerly all-nuclear bases must be ready to strike first and hard; targeted enemies and their allies will not immediately be able to distinguish whether any missiles launched from these bases  are conventional or nuclear

  • Serious limitations make boost-phase missile interception impractical

    One of the central elements of President Reagan’s 1983 “Star Wars” ballistic missile defense initiative was boost-phase defense: boost-phase defense systems are intended to shoot down enemy missiles immediately following launch while the rocket engine is still firing; a new congressionally mandated study by the National Research Council study says that to defend against ballistic missile attacks more effectively, the United States should concentrate on defense systems that intercept enemy missiles in midcourse and stop spending money on boost-phase defense systems of any kind

  • Netanyahu cancels security cabinet meeting on Iran after leaks

    Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, scheduled a 2-day marathon meeting of Israel’s security cabinet for Tuesday and Wednesday, with an 8-hour session planned for each day; the 2-day meeting was called for a thorough and comprehensive – and probably decisive — discussion of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and what should Israel do about it; the speakers on Tuesday included the directors of Israel’s military and civilian intelligence agencies; early Wednesday, Netanyahu abruptly canceled the meeting’s second session because of leaks from Tuesday top-secret meeting session appeared in the Israeli press 

  • Israel estimates an Iranian retaliation would kill 200-300 Israeli civilians

    The operation research experts at the Israeli Ministry of Defense estimate that an Iranian retaliation for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, a retaliation in which Hezbollah would participate, would cause about 200 dead among Israeli civilians; if Syria were to join the attack on Israel, the number of dead would rise to about 300; the estimates are based on past conflicts, the efficacy of Israeli missile defense system, the number of fortified shelters available, and the generally disciplined manner in which Israeli civilians reacted to being under missile and rocket attacks  

  • Studies of nuclear weapons make a contribution to climate science

    Nuclear weapons testing may at first glance appear to have little connection with climate change research, but key cold war research laboratories and the science used to track radioactivity and model nuclear bomb blasts have today been repurposed by climate scientists

  • Iran could test-fly ICBMs capable of striking U.S. within three years: Pentagon

    A Pentagon report submitted to Congress on 29 June says Iran continues to make large strides in virtually all conventional, unconventional, and nuclear categories; the report focused most extensively on Iran’s inventory of ballistic missiles, and warned that Iran may be able to test-fly an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), capable of striking American soil, within three years’ time; Iran also continues to supply men, money, training, and even sophisticated weapons systems to some of the world’s best-known terror groups

  • Training the nuclear forensics experts of the future

    Ten percent of the U.S. experts in nuclear and radiochemistry are at or nearing retirement age, according to a recent report from the National Academies of Science; meanwhile, not enough students are being trained to take their places; undergraduate summer programs in nuclear forensics and nuclear chemistry aim to replenish the ranks

  • New book confirms Israel behind killing of Iran nuclear scientists

    A book to be published today offers details about, Israel’s campaign to take out Iranian nuclear scientists, a campaign which is part of the Israel’s broader effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; the book also says that the cyber campaign against Iran’s nuclear program was an Israeli innovation, not an American one as recently reported; it was the brainchild of Israel’s military intelligence agency (AMAN) and Unit 8-200 — Israel’s equivalent of the eavesdropping, code-breaking National Security Agency (NSA) — and endorsed by the White House at Israel’s suggestion

  • Even a limited India-Pakistan nuclear war would substantially reduce global crop yields

    Worries about nuclear winter have faded since the end of the cold war, but existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons still hold the potential for devastating global impacts; researchers have found that the climate effects of a hypothetical nuclear war between India and Pakistan would greatly reduce yields of staple crops, even in distant countries

  • Nuremberg lives: Should Iran’s leaders be charged with incitement to genocide?

    Earlier this week, at a UN forum on the global drug trade, Iran’s vice president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi delivered a speech which the New York Times described as “baldly anti-Semitic”; Rahmini charged that the Jews, among other things, are responsible for, and are in firm control of, the global drug trade, and that gynecologists are killing black babies on the orders of Jews; law professors Alan Dershowitz and Irwin Cotler argue that the openly anti-Semitic pronouncements by Iran’s leaders, and the repeated threats they make against the Jewish people, merit bringing Iran’s leaders before the International Criminal Court to face charges of incitement to genocide