Monthly Archives: February 2021

E3 Letter on Iran Missiles

The E3 recently sent this letter to the UNSG. It has some material about Iran’s missile program. For example:

According to Iran’s announcements, the Zoljanah can be launched from mobile launchers. Because they minimize pre-launch detection and increase second-strike capabilities, these are typically used for the flexible deployment of ground-launched ballistic missiles, but are rather unusual in the context of satellite launch vehicle tests in an allegedly peaceful space programme.


I don’t recall reading this before. From this NYRB article by Elizabeth Kolbert:

What is often called “the first use of weapons of mass destruction” took place on April 22, 1915, near the town of Ypres, in western Belgium. Six months earlier, Germany’s hopes for a quick victory in World War I had been dashed on the banks of the Marne, and the country had enlisted some of its top scientists to break the stalemate. One of them, Fritz Haber, the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, had suggested releasing chlorine gas. Since the gas is heavier than air, Haber reasoned, it would sink when released; this would allow it to infiltrate the trenches of the French and English forces.

The Germans had signed the Hague Convention of 1899, which forbade the “use of projectiles the sole object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases.” Nevertheless, by interpreting this clause literally—the chlorine would be released not from projectiles but from canisters—the country’s military commanders managed to convince themselves that the move was permissible.

Herbert York on Hydrogen Bombs

In the same interview that I cited the other day, Herbert York also mentioned this fact about thermonuclear weapons:

The simple fact is every hydrogen bomb there is was invented by, was based on technology fully known by 1960. There hasn’t been anything in 50 years that matters. Some of the ideas from 1960 didn’t get made until 1970, but there’s nothing new. It’s a totally mature thing. The only things that are like new are like modem refrigerators are better than they were 20 years ago, they’re still the same thing. They’ve got better hinges, more space on the door…

Herbert York on Israeli Nuclear Weapons

In this interview with Alex Wellerstein, Herbert York says a bit about what the U.S. government learned about Israel’s nuclear weapons from Vanunu:

WELLERSTEIN asks whether classification caused technical difficulties. “No, well, no, I don’t think so. At least, I never thought it did. It’s always possible that if we could actually go back in time we might find something, but, because we did have very tight control of the shops, and again, I thought some of that was overdone. For example, in those days — it’s no longer true — but in those days, spherical symmetry was nearly everywhere. The primaries were always spherically symmetrical. And so anything so anything, any shell of metal that was spherical in shape, was highly classified. But of course, it’s like my discovering plutonium, this guy from Israel, from Dimona [Mordechai Vanunu], he brought out with him either the shapes or the lot of dimensions that he gave to the British and then we call got, which told us a lot, even those spheres are not classified, we learned a lot about the first Israeli bombs from just the drawings of shapes, the same thing from the Soviets. … Vanunu is still an issue, it’s amazing. And it’s a secrecy issue!”

UN Investigations in Mozambique and Azerbaijan

The Newsletter for Nominated Experts and Analytical Laboratories for the Secretary-General’s Mechanism for the Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons reminds us that

Under the current UNSGM guidelines, investigations took place in Mozambique and Azerbaijan in 1992.

Here’ are the conclusions of the Mozambique investigation:

Here‘ are the conclusions of the Azerbaijan investigation:


Via UNIDIR’s depository of MEWMDFZ documents, I found this 1958 Soviet Proposal to Create A Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons. Here’s a key excerpt:

The Near and Middle East should and can become a zone of peace, where there are no, and should not be, nuclear weapons and missiles, a zone of good neighbourliness and friendly cooperation between states. The organisers of the Baghdad bloc are trying to prevent this, as indicated during a session of the Council of the Baghdad Pact in Ankara. In connection with the above, the leadership of the Soviet Union considers it necessary to draw the attention of the governments of countries participating in the Baghdad Pact to the fact that all responsibility for such a policy and the consequences arising from it falls on the US government, as well as on the leadership of those countries participating in this bloc that follow the policy of foreign imperialists.