Tag Archives: nuclear warheads

Back in Fashion: Mini-Nukes from the Seas

A Polaris missile is fired from the submerged HMS Revenge off the coast of Florida in 1986. Image from wikipedia

The Pentagon has completed initial draft plans (June 2018) for several emerging low-yield sea-launched nuclear weapons…–a low-yield sea-launched nuclear cruise missile and long-range sub-launched low-yield warhead still in development… The US Navy Plans to add a nuclear weapon to Virginia-Class Attack Submarines….

There are currently over 1,000 nuclear warheads in the US arsenal that have low-yield options. A yield is considered low if it’s 20 kilotons or less,” an essay from the Federation of American Scientists states….A massively smaller 5-or-6 kt warhead on a Trident would still bring the advantage of long-range attack, yet afford smaller scope, and therefore less destructive, attack possibilities….The 130,000-pound Trident II D5 missile can travel 20,000-feet per second, according to Navy figures. The missiles cost $30 million each…

Also, the now-in-development Air Force Long-Range Stand-Off (LRSO) weapon, an air launched nuclear cruise missile, will bring additional airborne attack options – particularly when it comes to areas well-defended by advanced, high-tech air defense systems, where stealth aircraft might have more difficulty operating.  The LRSO, which could also be launched at farther stand-off ranges, is also designed for extremely high-risk areas armed with advanced air defense systems….

Excerpts from Pentagon completes draft plans for new low-yield sea-launched nuclear weapon, Fox News, June 5, 2018

The Nuclear Lobby

The report of the Center for International Policy provides a profile of the nuclear weapons lobby, noting along the way that in a constrained budgetary environment different parts of the lobby may either collaborate to promote higher nuclear weapons spending or compete for their share of a shrinking pie.

• The Pentagon and the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration are scheduled to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on nuclear weapons projects over the next decade and beyond, including $68 billion to develop and purchase a new generation of nuclear bombers; $347 billion to purchase and operate 12 new ballistic missile submarines; and billions more on new nuclear weapons facilities.

• In the 2012 election cycle, the top 14 nuclear weapons contractors gave a total of $2.9 million to key members of Congress with decision making power over nuclear weapons spending. These firms have donated $18.7 million to these same members of Congress over the course of their careers.

• More than half of the contributions cited above went to members of the four key subcommittees with jurisdiction over nuclear weapons spending – the Strategic Forces Subcommittees of the Armed Services Committees in each house and the Energy and Water Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees in each house. Total contributions by major nuclear weapons contractors to members of these four subcommittees have been over $1.6 million in the 2012 election cycle thus far, and $11.7 lifetime to these same members.

• Of the 14 nuclear weapons contractors tracked in this report, Lockheed Martin has been the biggest contributor to key members of Congress with influence over nuclear weapons spending. So far during the 2012 election cycle, Lockheed Martin has donated $535,000 to these key members; other major donors include Honeywell International, $464,582; Northrop Grumman, $464,000; and Boeing, $336,750.

• Leading advocates of high levels of nuclear weapons spending have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from major nuclear weapons contractors in the course of their careers…..

Policy Recommendations

• Reduce the ballistic missile submarine force. The ballistic missile submarine force should be reduced from 12 boats to eight, with additional warheads carried in each boat. This would save $18 billion over the next decade while sustaining the capability to deploy the number of warheads called for under the New START treaty.

• Postpone new nuclear bomber plans. Plans for a new nuclear bomber should be shelved, at a savings of $18 billion over the next decade. At a minimum, the bomber should not be made nuclear-capable.

• Cancel the Chemical and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility.  There is no circumstance under which it will be necessary to build large numbers of new plutonium “pits” or triggers for nuclear warheads. Therefore, the Chemical and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility at Los Alamos National Laboratories should be cancelled, at a savings of $5 billion over the next decade.

• Cancel building the Mixed Oxide (MOX ) facility.  Plutonium waste from nuclear warheads can be neutralized without building the multi-billion dollar MOX facility. It too should be cancelled, at a savings of at least $4.9 billion in construction costs over the next twenty years.

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The top 14 nuclear weapons contractors employ 137 lobbyists who formerly worked for key nuclear weapons decision makers. The majority of the revolving door lobbyists – 96 – worked for key members of Congress or key Congressional Committees; 26 revolving door lobbyists worked for one of the military services; and 24 revolving door lobbyists worked for the Department of Defense or the Department of Energy. Some lobbyists worked for one or more Congressional offices or agencies before leaving government, and many now work for more than one major nuclear weapons contractor.   There are 19 revolving door lobbyists working for major nuclear weapons contractors who were staffers for members of the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee – the committee that controls spending on the nuclear warhead complex.

Excerpt William D. Hartung and Christine Anderson, Bombs Versus Budgets: Inside the Nuclear Weapons Lobby, Center for International Policy, June 2012

See also Nuclear Weapons Establishment

Zero nuclear weapons?

The Public has the Right to Know who has Nuclear Weapons

Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building (pdf)

 

Israel and its Weapons: submarines launching nuclear capable missiles

Israel’s navy has taken delivery of its fourth Dolphin class submarine built by Germany’s Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, giving the Jewish state the most powerful submarine fleet in the Middle East and boosting its strategic capabilities.  The new diesel-electric boat, named the Tannin — Alligator — was handed over during a ceremony at HDW’s Kiel shipyard…The Tannin is the first of three “super-Dolphins” the Israelis will acquire from Germany.   These 1,925-ton boats will be equipped with advanced systems that greatly enhance operational capabilities, which Western sources say include a new propulsion system that makes them almost impossible to detect and a special diesel and hydrogen conversion system that allows them to produce their own fuel, thus extending range and endurance.  The Tannin is expected to be operational by mid-2013 after Israeli sea trials.

The sources say the advanced Dolphins are equipped to carry Israel-built cruise missiles with a range of some 940 miles, and nuclear warheads. This enhances Israel’s second-strike capability, to respond to a nuclear attack with its own nuclear arsenal, on the oft-stated pledge by Israel that it won’t be the first in the Middle East to use nuclear weapons.

The only target for such weapons, for now at least, would be Iran, which Israel and the United States alleges is driving to produce nuclear weapons that challenge Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region.  Israel has the capability, unmatched in the region, to deliver nuclear weapons by air — on aircraft and Jericho ballistic missiles — and sea.  By deploying Dolphins in the Arabian Sea, off southern Iran, Israel greatly extends its strategic reach and gives it the option of pre-emptive first-strike attack, using nuclear weapons if necessary.  Even if Israel is obliterated in a nuclear attack, the Dolphins could retaliate by launching missiles from the Arabian Sea.  Israel has three early model Dolphins in service, all modeled on Germany’s Type 209 submarine by HDW, a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. These were delivered in 1998-2000.  With the Tannin, and two more “super Dolphins” on order, Israel will be able to maintain at least one submarine in the Arabian Sea at all times. The fifth Dolphin is scheduled for delivery in 2014 and the sixth in 2016.  Most of the Dolphins’ integrated systems are produced by major Israeli defense companies like Tadiran, Elbit, Israel Aerospace Industries and Rada.

The naval expansion has been made possible to a large degree by Germany’s sometimes reluctant agreement to pay the lion’s share of the cost for the game-changing Dolphins.  Germany has for decades sought to accommodate Israel in atonement for the Holocaust during the Nazi era, although this has been wearing thin because of the global economic downturn.  Germany agreed recently to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s request that Berlin pay one-third of the $500 million-$700 million cost of the sixth Dolphin…

Excerpts from Israel’s submarine fleet gets 4th Dolphin, UPI.com, May 4, 2012

See also Iran, Israel and a Nuclear Free Midde East

Nuclear Ambiguity