Monthly Archives: May 2022

1990s, Russia, and Indian Missiles

Useful excerpt from this interview with Thomas Pickering:

The second piece of that was perhaps more important and more productive and that was the bilateral contact between Gore and Chernomyrdin that had to do with dealing with a number of the harder subjects and doing it on their own One of the subjects that they were very helpful in resolving was the sale proposed by Russia to India of a third-stage space maneuvering engine for a satellite program but which would have given India the capacity to develop multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles That was resolved in part because Vice President Gore and his very distinguished assistant Leon Fuerth immediately realized that the Russians were also asking for an increased number of American space launches that we could not provide out of our own system And so we agreed to contract for those on the basis that the contract with India would not go ahead

Iran-Contra and Arms Control

I’m sure someone’s mentioned this story, but here’s an anecdote from Ambassador Jack F. Matlock about Iran-Contra , SDI, and arms control.

And let me say frankly that if we had not had the problem of what they call the Iran-Contra controversy – just after the Reykjavík meeting we were on the verge of accepting Gorbachev’s proposal that he made at Reykjavík – and if we had not lost our senior officials who backed that in the Iran-Contra dispute we very likely would have accepted Gorbachev’s proposal to keep SDI in laboratories for ten years That was my recommendation when I got back to Washington It was accepted by the national security advisor but he got caught up in the IranContra got dismissed

The interview is part of this series.

DOD on CW Use, 2022

Back in April, DOD held a briefing during which a senior official explained some details about confirming CW use.

Reporter: Wanted to see if we could maybe get some explanation on the challenges that go with confirming this kind of report in Mariupol with the chemical agents in light of the security, the challenges to get soil samples, anything else, you know, outsiders might use to try and confirm something like this.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah. I mean, well, the biggest challenge is we’re not there, you know. And we don’t know if anything was used.

But let’s say for hypothetical purposes, and I hate doing this, but let’s say it was riot control agents. So the effects are going to be felt pretty immediately, and probably not widespread, probably not going to get into the soil. And the symptoms,depending on an individual’s susceptibility, could be short-felt or it could be more long-term, we just don’t know. And we don’t have access to the hospitals that might have treated these individuals to talk to the doctors who could give a diagnosis.

I mean, there’s a host of difficulties. If it was something larger than that then, of course, you would expect to see more widespread people being hurt and being treated for it. And again, that would require you to have some dexterity in talking to medical professionals.

Or if there was, again, something even bigger you, you know, a plume for instance of a cloud or something that you could track. But those are very difficult to track when you’re not there. They’re certainly not something you can just track easily from, you know, from the air. So these are difficult things to prove even when you are more proximate, and we are not.

And so I think you can understand we want to be very careful here before making a proclamation.

That said, look, we know that the Russians have a history of using chemical agents. And they have shown a propensity in the past, and so we’re taking it seriously.

Trinity High Explosive Implosion System

If you want a primer on implosion, here’s a handy one from LANL:

This article is set during the 1944 and 1945 final push to complete Project Y—the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos—and focuses primarily on overcoming the challenge of creating and demonstrating a successful convergent explosive implosion to turn a subcritical quantity of plutonium into a critical mass. The critical mass would then efficiently yield kilotons of trinitrotoluene (TNT)-equivalent energy in about a microsecond, demonstrating the implosion atomic bomb concept. This work culminated in the Trinity atomic test near Alamogordo on July 16, 1945.

India and Uranium Supply

Here’s what DAE told the Lok Sabha this past March:

Uranium fuel requirement for the reactors which are not covered under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards is adequately met by Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), aPublic Sector Enterprise under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Time to time, projects which include capacity expansion of some of existing units as well as for establishing new projects in various parts of the country, are planned for maintaining sustained supply.

Regarding fuel supply for Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) which are under IAEA safeguards, a strategic reserve of imported natural uranium is maintained for enabling uninterrupted supply of fuel. Fuel for Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) and water-water energetic reactor (VVERs) is met from the imports from Russia