Monthly Archives: June 2008

No Fun

This is totally unrelated to things nuclear (unless you’re into “Lynn Eden”:, but I just wanted to note that the “1,345 NorCal fires”: are no fun. If you’ve ever been to Monterey Bay, you know that the area is usually quite foggy. It’s somewhat disturbing, however, to not be able to tell whether the thing in the distance is fog or smoke.

“Lesser Included Case” Blogging

I wanted to mention that Dennis Gormley’s amazing book “Missile Contagion: Cruise Missile Proliferation and the Threat to International Security”: is out. I’ve read the manuscript several times already, but having just received my own copy of the actual book, I can’t wait to dig into it again. There will be an “official book roll-out”: on July 24 (at the Stimson Center’s quarters in DC), moderated by Janne Nolan, which I will remind about closer to the date. You should come.

In any case, I’ve been thinking that I should blog more about my favorite cruise missile — the “BrahMos”: So, stay tuned for some BrahMos mania coming your way soon. In the meantime, as a decent backgrounder, see this slightly dated “_WMD Insights_ piece”: that I wrote with an Indian colleague.

And here is the legend of the BrahMos, “as recalled by a former head of Russia’s NPO Mash”:

bq. _Dr. Kalam had been on a trip to Russia, where he had visited St. Petersburg and walked along the banks of the Neva – he later even wrote a poem about this river. He suggested that the enterprise be called BrahmNev, combining the names of the prominent Indian and Russian rivers. We pointed out that Mashinostroyenia is located in the Moscow region, so it would be more proper to take the name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers. This is how this name – BrahMos – appeared._

Andreas P on Pakistan’s Nuke Tests

I just realized that I failed to point out “this amazing post”: from Andreas about Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear test.

You need to read it all, because I can’t do it justice. This part should whet the appetite, however:

…there was in effect two bomb programmes in existence in Pakistan. KRL had exclusive control over uranium enrichment. It had also branched into the shaping of uranium metal into cores, weapon design, and delivery vehicle research, development and testing. PAEC was doing parallel work in all these areas. It also controlled the nuclear power plants (and access to the plutonium route to the bomb).

*What happened within this two organizations during the 1980s and 1990s is largely uncharted. It is likely that they started work on several designs: both domestic and imported. The KRL design was clearly acquired from China. The origins of PAEC designs are mostly unknown.*

It is quite likely that the organizations proceeded on several tracks at once, much like the Soviet Union did 40 years earlier. The first Soviet design was much more powerful and efficient than the US Manhattan Project design. But *since Fuch had leaked detailed specifications to the Soviets, Stalin and Beria thought it was prudent to proceed with constructing proven designs first. Something similar could have happened in Pakistan.*

Irrespective of which bomb design was tested in 1998, however, *PAEC held one trump-card; it owned and controlled the test site. KRL had no suitable sites of their own, and had seemingly been relegated to the back seat.*

And I am totally stealing the video he posted:

P Crail on the Nork Declaration

A guest post from my ACA successor Peter Crail:

Perhaps the biggest news in the nonproliferation world Thursday was North Korea’s delivery of its long-awaited nuclear declaration. Caveats aside, and they are big ones (yes it’s late, no it won’t detail what the North Koreans were doing with Syria or with uranium enrichment, no it won’t cover whatever weapons were made) this is the start of getting a good look at what the North Korean’s were doing with their Pu program and hopefully, shutting it down for good.

Of course, the devil is in the details. That means verification, which has become the new buzz word for all things North Korea these days.

During Secretary Rice’s North Korea “speech”: at the Heritage Foundation this month (entitled “U.S. Policy Toward Asia,” but really…it was a North Korea speech) she outlined in quite specific terms some of the expectations for what the verification process should look like:

bq. Verification should require, among other measures, on-site access to facilities and sites in North Korea. Verification should require the collection and removal of environmental and material samples, as well as forensic analysis of materials and equipment, all at North Korean sites and facilities. Verification should require access to design documents, operating and production records, reports, logbooks, and other records for all facilities associated with production and processing of all nuclear materials in North Korea. And verification should require interviews with North Koreans involved in nuclear programs. Verification will not be easy, but it is essential. And the six parties are developing a detailed verification and implementation plan incorporating these principles.

Stanford’s Sigfried Hecker has “said”: that, if Pyongyang agrees to measures like these, we should have “high degree of confidence” of how much Pu they produced.

Of course, Rice insisted several times that these verification measures would be required at “all facilities.” She is right, but the question is, will North Korea really agree to verification for anything beyond Yongbyon, at least in the near future? I suspect we will either be looking at more than the three phases envisioned, or a “phase three” with quite a few sub-phases to get to that point.

So, it’s still too early to break out the champagne bottles, but maybe a little “fireworks display”: is in order.

More on Deterrence and Nuclear Terrorism

Wade Boese pointed out “this _NYT_ story”: from last year to me. It has some details which appear relevant to “this post”: I wrote the other day.

I was going on about this statement from Hadley:

bq. the United States will hold any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor *fully accountable* for supporting or enabling terrorist efforts to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction, whether by facilitating, financing, or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts.

I also noted that

bq. there may be some question as to whether holding an entity “fully accountable” is distinct from responding with “overwhelming force.”

Well, the _NYT_ pointed out an interesting tidbit that appears to bolster my suspicions regarding the meaning of “fully accountable:”

A previously undisclosed meeting last year of President Bush’s most senior national security advisers was the highest level discussion about how to rewrite the cold war rules.


Among the subjects of the meeting last year was whether to issue a warning to all countries around the world that if a nuclear weapon was detonated on American soil and was traced back to any nation’s stockpiles, through nuclear forensics, *the United States would hold that country “fully responsible” for the consequences of the explosion. The term “fully responsible” was left deliberately vague so that it would be unclear whether the United States would respond with a retaliatory nuclear attack, or, far more likely, a nonnuclear retaliation, whether military or diplomatic.*

There it is.

No US Nukes in the UK

So says “Hans K:”:

The United States has withdrawn nuclear weapons from the RAF Lakenheath air base 70 miles northeast of London, marking the end to more than 50 years of U.S. nuclear weapons deployment to the United Kingdom since the first nuclear bombs first arrived in September 1954.

The withdrawal, which has not been officially announced but confirmed by several sources, follows the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Ramstein Air Base in Germany in 2005 and Greece in 2001. The removal of nuclear weapons from three bases in two NATO countries in less than a decade undercuts the argument for continuing deployment in other European countries.

There’s a handy chart “here.”: And _ACW_ has “more. “:

Why Aren’t You at Atomcon 2008?

Sergey Ivanov “announced today”: that now anyone can (and everyone should) invest in Russian nuclear energy. He broke the news at the first ever Atomcon, which is taking place in Moscow. What’s Atomcon? No one I’ve asked seems to know but, apparently, as “this release notes:”:

bq. Atomcon 2008 is being conducted under the aegis of Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation in the framework of Planet Dreaming project. *The forum is aimed at changing the negative public attitude to nuclear power plants and at enhancing public awareness of the prospects of nuclear power engineering for market players and ordinary people.*

The “Russian version of the Atomcon site”: is really snazzy (see “whale”:, “giraffe”:, “panther”: and “mountain goat”: … you get the idea) The “English version of the website”: (not as nice) features these words of welcome from Sergey Kiriyenko:

_Dear colleagues!_

_The world has entered an epoch of nuclear Renaissance. These are not mere words, but a new reality._


_For this reason we have decided to organize ATOMCON – 2008, an exhibition and convention that will provide nuclear industry professionals with an opportunity to demonstrate their innovation and technologies, as well as get acquainted wit the Russian initiatives in the peaceful use of nuclear energy._


_Finally, *I extend to you my wishes for good fortune in your personal life and for success in the field of nuclear power and technologies.*_

_S. Kirienko_

And since we are on “personal life”… Miss Atom 2008 “Yulia Nagaeva”: will also be attending Atomcon to “finally receive”: her hard-won trip to Italy (for 2 people). Don’t miss the action, which will be taking place until June 27th.