Sunday, April 09, 2006

Divine Strake and earth penetrating weapons - nukes and Iran debate 

bunker buster nuke"Tyson's rationale is that she is accurately reporting the statements of James Tegnelia, director of the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which is conducting the test. There does not appear to be any obligation here to try to understand whether these statements bear any relationship to objective reality." - Global

The Nuclear Information Project (
Divine Strake: Global Strike Low-Yield Nuclear Simulation

Divine Strake is neither a bomb nor conventional. Instead, the test is a detonation of a pile of chemical explosives to simulate a "low-yield nuclear weapon ground shock" effect to "improve the warfighter’s confidence in selecting the smallest proper nuclear yield necessary to destroy underground facilities while minimizing collateral damage."

Divine Strake, moreover, is an integral part of STRATCOM's new Global Strike mission, which is otherwise said to provide mainly non-nuclear means of defeating time-critical targets. Divine Strake is the first nuclear effects simulation of this kind against underground targets since President George W. Bush in Summer 2004 directed STRATCOM to "extend Global Strike to counter all HDBTs [Hard and Deeply Buried Targets] to include both tactical and strategic adversarial targets."

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Global clarifies distortions in WaPo and other reporting [ Pentagon Clarifies Nevada Intent: Explosives Test Not 'Nuclear' By Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post April 7, 2006 ] on Divine Strake weapons test scheduled for June 2006. (bold empahsis below is mine)
Divine Strake - Initial Press Coverage
The Ann Scott Tyson of the Washington Post provided a surprisingly confusing description of the Divine Strake test. The source of the garble is the incoherent policy on nuclear weapons to defeat underground targets, which is the source of the Divine Strake test. While it has become politically inconvenient to develop improved earth penetrating nuclear warheads, the massive Divine Strake test was planned in order to evaluate the effectiveness of earth penetrating nuclear warheads. Thus it becomes politically neccessary to make silly statements denying the connection between this test and nuclear weapons. The initial Associated Press article was rather less detailed, somewhat less garbled, but still left something to be desired. And the Reuters reporting included a few puzzling points as well. The fault is not so much that of the reporters as it is with the incoherence of the governments policy.

A week after her first report, Tyson penned a followup story, "Pentagon Clarifies Nevada Intent" that further compounds her initial errors. This second story verges on the bizarre, since the primary effect seems to be to rescue her first story, with the secondary effect of continuing the hoax that Divine Strake has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. While the Defense Threat Reduction Agency has already acknowledged to others that the test is a nuclear weapons effects test, in the parallel universe created by Tyson and inhabited by Washington Post readers, manifestly silly claims are made to sustain the fiction that the test has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. Tyson's rationale is that she is accurately reporting the statements of James Tegnelia, director of the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which is conducting the test. There does not appear to be any obligation here to try to understand whether these statements bear any relationship to objective reality.

Also see:
Did the WashPost Miss Explosive Story? by Andrew Lichterman (Disarmament

Sy Hersh (New Yorker):

One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. One target is Iran’s main centrifuge plant, at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. Natanz, which is no longer under I.A.E.A. safeguards, reportedly has underground floor space to hold fifty thousand centrifuges, and laboratories and workspaces buried approximately seventy-five feet beneath the surface. ... The elimination of Natanz would be a major setback for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the conventional weapons in the American arsenal could not insure the destruction of facilities under seventy-five feet of earth and rock, especially if they are reinforced with concrete.

4 Natanz facility Iran - ariel photos


4 FAS/ Strategic Security Project blog
Non-Nuclear Test Will Simulate Nuclear Weapon Strike

MORE on Divine Strake from Arms Control Wonk:
DOE is making a gi-normous (about 0.6 kt) conventional explosion that is probably a simulation of a B 61 Mod 11 Earth Penetrating Warhead:

DTRA confirmed that Divine Strake is the same event that is described in DTRA budget documents as being a low-yield nuclear weapons shock simulation designed to allow the warfighters to fine-tune the yield of nuclear weapons in strikes against underground facilities. The Divine Strake event will detonate 700 tons of chemical explosives corresponding to a yield of 593 tons of TNT (~0.6 kt). The nuclear weapon with the lowest yield is the B61 bomb, which has four selective yields down to 0.3 kt.

4 U.S. plans for Iran “options” and the nuclear weapons debate, by Andrew Lichterman (Disarmament
Jeffrey Lewis at responded today to the Seymour Hersh article on U.S. preparations and planning for an attack on Iran. Hersh reports that a debate is raging in the government over use of nuclear weapons against certain hard to destroy targets. Lewis suggests that it is unlikely that use of nuclear weapons is under consideration, arguing that the underground facility built for Iran’s uranium enrichment operations can be destroyed with existing U.S. conventional weapons. But there remain unanswered questions, and Hersh’s report that vigorous debate regarding nuclear weapons use against Iran is going on inside the government is as important as how “practical” such use might be.

4 Jeffrey Lewis at Arms Control Wonk - We Are Not Going to Nuke Iran. Details on Natanz facility as well as conventional penetrator weapons "Current and Under Development." (as noted in Andre Lichterman's post above).

4 photo above (cropped/description added by me):
B61-11 (bunker buster) "earth penetrator" nuclear bomb. Original photo from Nuke

4 B61-11 profile and history.

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Earlier post on topic - (this page) see post below Nuke-You-Lar Strategery



Far out on the desert to the north dustspouts rose wobbling and augered the earth and some said they'd heard of pilgrims borne aloft like dervishes in those mindless coils to be dropped broken and bleeding upon the desert again and there perhaps to watch the thing that had destroyed them lurch onward like some drunken djinn and resolve itself once more into the elements from which it sprang. Out of that whirlwind no voice spoke and the pilgrim lying in his broken bones may cry out and in his anguish he may rage, but rage at what? And if the dried and blackened shell of him is found among the sands by travelers to come yet who can discover the engine of his ruin? ~ Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian

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