Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nuke-You-Lar Strategery 

4 "nuclear weapons in preemptive military strikes":
FAS Urges White House to exclude Nuclear Weapons From National Security Strategy in War on Terrorism
Thursday, March 16, 2006

The new “National Security Strategy for the United States” published yesterday by the White House strengthens the role of nuclear weapons in preemptive military strikes against terrorists and hostile states armed with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. In stronger language than used in the previous strategy from 2002, the new strategy speaks more directly about the importance of nuclear weapons and lumps them together with other military action in a preemption scenario.

"The National Security Strategy was the Bush administration's last opportunity to demonstrate that it has reduced the role of nuclear weapons after the Cold War," said Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). "Instead it has chosen to reaffirm their importance and in the most troubling way possible: preemption."

Under the headline "The Need for Action," the new National Security Strategy says: " Safe, credible, and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role. We are strengthening deterrence by developing a New Triad composed of offensive strike systems (both nuclear and improved conventional capabilities)... These capabilities will better deter some of the new threats we face, while also bolstering our security commitments to allies....If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self-defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idle by as grave dangers materialize. This is the principle and logic of preemption."

The strategy identifies Iran, North Korea, and terrorism as the three main threats to the United States and its allies. The report had harsh words for Iran at a time when the United States and its European allies have brought Iran before the U.N. Security Council to answer allegations that it is secretly developing nuclear weapons.

“The United States cannot argue that Iran should give up it nuclear ambitions while advocating an aggressive strategy for pre-emptive use of American nuclear weapons,” said Ivan Oelrich, Vice President of Strategic Security for the FAS.

The National Security Strategy forms the basis for the Pentagon's development of the National Military Strategy, which in turn is used to create the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan that assigns military forces and capabilities to the different military commands to fulfill the National Security Strategy.

4 STRATCOM / Global Strike / CONPLAN 8022
Report: Global Strike Chronology

At the end of September 2006, the Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike is scheduled to achieve Full Operational Capability (FOC). That event builds on Global Strike capabilities developed over many years to provide new offensive strike options to the President against proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.

This chronology lists the most important of the developments that led to the creation of the Pentagon's newest and most offensive strike plan. Although Global Strike is primarily a non-nuclear mission, the information collected for this chronology reveal that nuclear weapons are surprisingly prominent in both the planning and command structure for Global Strike.

The roots of the nuclear option in Global Strike go back more than a decade to the early 1990s, where military planners and policy makers gradually began to broaden the scope of U.S. nuclear strategy to incorporate missions against proliferators armed with weapons of mass destruction. Yet the nuclear counterproliferation mission was controversial because it appeared to broaden rather than reduce the role of nuclear weapons. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in September 2001 removed those constraints and led to the formulation of new guidance that has spawned a highly offensive Global Strike mission with prompt or even preemptive strike planning against imminent threats anywhere on (and under) the face of the Earth.

The operational embodiment of the Global Strike mission is CONPLAN 8022, the detailed strike plan directed against proliferation targets in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere. First operational in 2004, refinement of CONPLAN 8022 continues.

- - - - -

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."

- - - - -

4 Divine Strake, coming to a test site near you:
Article Last Updated: 04/06/2006 7:47 AM MDT
Test blast in Nevada: A nuclear rehearsal
Pentagon apparently looks for an optimal size of a 'bunker buster'
By Robert Gehrke
The Salt Lake Tribune

WASHINGTON - A powerful blast scheduled at the Nevada Test Site in June is designed to help war planners figure out the smallest nuclear weapon able to destroy underground targets. And it has caused a concern that it signals a renewed push toward tactical nuclear weapons.

The detonation, called Divine Strake, is intended to "develop a planning tool to improve the warfighter's confidence in selecting the smallest proper nuclear yield necessary to destroy underground facilities while minimizing collateral damage," according to Defense Department budget documents.

Irene Smith, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, said the document doesn't imply that Divine Strake "is a nuclear simulation." She said it will be used to assess computer programs that predict ground shaking in a major blast.

While it will not be a nuclear explosion - no nuclear or radioactive material will be used - the Divine Strake blast will be five times larger than the military's largest conventional weapon, the Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb, or MOAB, nicknamed the Mother of All Bombs. It will still be many times less powerful than the smallest weapon in the U.S. nuclear stockpile

"It seems like what they're doing is trying to use the explosive power to shake the interior into pieces, rather than sending an earth penetrator down to dig it up," said Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert with the Federation of American Scientists. "What it apparently does is envision the use of the nuke on the surface, and that is a very dirty business, because it sucks up the material and throws it into the atmosphere."

Divine Strake has some advocates concerned that the Bush administration is using the test to pursue development of low-yield, tactical nuclear weapons.

"We certainly have reason for concern," said Vanessa Pierce, a project director with Health Environment Alliance of Utah. "I think this test shows that the weapons designers are so obsessed with creating new nuclear weapons like mini-nukes that they'll do whatever it takes to get their fix."

"There really is a deep commitment on the part of this administration to creating new types of nuclear weapons," Pierce said.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has expressed concern about the mushroom cloud the test will produce, and asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for a classified briefing on Divine Strake.


The Defense Department's 2001 Nuclear Posture Review lays out a new, broader role envisioned for nuclear weapons than the part played during the Cold War.

"Non-nuclear strike capabilities may be particularly useful to limit collateral damage and conflict escalation. Nuclear weapons could be employed against targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack, (for example, deep underground bunkers or bio-weapon facilities)," the report says.

In addition, the Bush administration has pushed for funding for a nuclear bunker buster, and money to enable the Nevada Test Site to be able to test a weapon within two years if an order is given.

It has also supported the repeal of a 1994 congressional ban on the development of low-yield mini-nuclear weapons.

The ban was repealed by Congress in 2003, allowing research of low-yield nuclear weapons, but requiring specific approval by Congress before engineering or other work on mini-nukes can begin.

4 "defeating hardened and underground targets":
Group links Nevada bomb test to nuclear plans
Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS -- The Defense Department's plan to detonate 700 tons of explosives at the Nevada Test Site is intended to simulate a nuclear blast as part of Pentagon research into development of low-yield nuclear weapons, a science advisory group charged this week.

The Pentagon refused to confirm or deny the claim, made by the Federation of American Scientists, a Washington-based liberal policy group opposed to development of nuclear weapons.

But if the charge is verified, debate over the blast seems certain to shift beyond environmental effects on Nevada to international concerns over nuclear weapons proliferation.

The federation said it based its statement on a review of Pentagon budget requests since 2002 showing that the blast, scheduled for June 2, would serve as a "low-yield nuclear weapon simulation." Hans Kristensen, an analyst for the federation, said the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency has carefully ducked the issue of whether the test was nuclear-related.


Asked Tuesday about the federation's comments, agency spokesman David Rigby said, "I don't confirm them. I don't deny them. I don't discuss the quality of their information.

"This is a test to have better predictive tools to defeating hardened and underground targets," Rigby said. "It is not a precursor to a nuclear test. It is not a nuclear test."

The June blast "has been redefined over the past several years," and the goal now is to provide data on how such massive explosions and their ground shocks affect structures in different geologic situations, he said.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is scheduled to meet with Tegnelia on Thursday. Sharyn Stein, a Reid spokeswoman, said the goal of the test would be discussed.

"Nevadans have heard a lot of frightening rumors about this planned test," Reid said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to talking with Director Tegnelia and getting accurate information. I'm pleased the director is able to meet with me so quickly, and I hope we'll be able to settle any concerns about the safety of Divine Strake," referring to the test.

4 "nuclear penetrator munitions":
Washington Post, Sunday April 09, 2006
U.S. Is Studying Military Strike Options on Iran

Pentagon planners are studying how to penetrate eight-foot-deep targets and are contemplating tactical nuclear devices. The Natanz facility consists of more than two dozen buildings, including two huge underground halls built with six-foot walls and supposedly protected by two concrete roofs with sand and rocks in between, according to Edward N. Luttwak, a specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"The targeteers honestly keep coming back and saying it will require nuclear penetrator munitions to take out those tunnels," said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former CIA analyst. "Could we do it with conventional munitions? Possibly. But it's going to be very difficult to do."

Retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, an expert in targeting and war games who teaches at the National Defense University, recently gamed an Iran attack and identified 24 potential nuclear-related facilities, some below 50 feet of reinforced concrete and soil.

At a conference in Berlin, Gardiner outlined a five-day operation that would require 400 "aim points," or targets for individual weapons, at nuclear facilities, at least 75 of which would require penetrating weapons. He also presumed the Pentagon would hit two chemical production plants, medium-range ballistic missile launchers and 14 airfields with sheltered aircraft. Special Operations forces would be required, he said.

Gardiner concluded that a military attack would not work, but said he believes the United States seems to be moving inexorably toward it.

4 KOs Diarist on topic:
We are not gonna nuke Iran, by RMiller
Sat Apr 08, 2006 at 10:57:13 PM PDT

Sy Hersh thinks the Bush administration is planning to nuke Iran. While I respect his journalistic abilites, I think he got this one wrong. Here's why:

Nuclear weapons are tricky and fragile. Everything must work just so before fission/fusion takes place. This takes a bit of planning--it's not quite like grabbing a bomb off the shelf and packing it onto a jet headed for Tehran. Our government hasn't been in the nuclear test business for over ten years, and as a result, we really don't know if our weapons work as advertised. Even during the days of nuclear testing, there were several---shot Diablo in 1957, for example---that simply didn't detonate.

A plutonium core can go bad, and as a result, work improperly or not at all. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict whether a particular lot number from the stockpile has workable plutonium---unless you test a sample. That hasn't been done. Imagine dropping twenty nukes on Tehran---none of which detonate. What then?

4 KOs Diarist on topic:
Bunker Busters: They won't work but be very concerned, by dlcox1958
Sun Apr 09, 2006 at 12:59:00 AM PDT

The blinking red message at the core of Hersh's piece in the New Yorker is of course about the use of tactical nuclear weapons, specifically the ``B61-11'' bunker busters.

Hersh certainly gives no free pass to the danger of using such bombs, but suggests that the reason for going for them is this: conventional weapons won't do the trick.

As Robert W. Nelson, a PhD in theoretical physics who now works on arms control issues at the Union of Concerned Scientists, showed here and in Physics Today, it just isn't that simple. It is hard to penetrate, make sure the nukes destroy the bunker, and impossible to limit massive fallout.

Nelson's arguments were sufficiently compelling that the led to the withdrawal of funding requests for "robust nuclear earth penetrators" by the Bush administration last year. My great concern: The Bushco decision makers simply don't care about this reality!

More below the fold.

Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb? - by SEYMOUR M. HERSH (The New Yorker, April 2006)

4 additional relevant headlines = Nuclear Information Project



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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