Sunday, July 24, 2005

Misc. news links

This shouldn't surprise anyone...

Poll: Americans Say World War III Likely

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Poll results like those couldn't possibly have anything to do with events like this could they?...


Senate Debates New Nuclear Bunker-Buster Plan

By David Ruppe
Global Security Newswire (7/23/05)

WASHINGTON — U.S. senators today debated a renewed effort to block a feasibility study on developing a new earth-penetrating nuclear weapon (see GSN, July 1).

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) placed an amendment to the fiscal 2006 Defense Authorization bill that would transfer $4 million designated for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator to the D.C. National Guard for use on mass casualty event training and equipment.

Voting on that and other amendments to the bill is not expected until Tuesday at the earliest.

A similar amendment to the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill that would have redirected the money toward paying down the national debt was defeated 53-43 in June, despite support from several Republicans.

The House this year has approved no appropriations for the bunker-buster study. It did, though, authorize in its version of the authorization bill money for the Air Force to conduct a study on the weapon. Democrats say that would allow analysis only of a conventionally armed penetrator. Republicans say the authorization would allow study of the nuclear option.

The Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator study was until last year conducted by the Energy Department. Congress provided no funding for the program for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The Bush administration this year requested the $4 million to conduct a crucial field test of the weapon that would involve slamming a mock version into a large concrete block.

Kennedy said the Bush administration’s interest in funding the study shows “they do not have their priorities straight,” and that the money could better be spent on defense against conventional terrorism such as this month’s bombings of London’s mass transit system.

Pursuit of the weapon also “threatens to launch a new nuclear arms race” by undermining efforts to roll back North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and a suspected Iranian effort, he said.

“The administration would like us to develop something that we don’t need. That would endanger us by its very existence,” he said.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.), who sponsored the Defense Authorization bill, said continuation of the study does not mean the United States would necessarily build the weapon. Specific approval from Congress would be necessary for advanced development, he said.

“I assure my colleagues, I assure the American public, that Congress is monitoring each step of this program,” he said.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said the study would not fuel an arms race, noting the United States has reduced its nuclear arsenal by more than 13,000 warheads since the late 1980s.

The study “certainly does not indicate that we are in a warmongering mode,” he said.

The Bush administration disclosed last year a plan to develop, with congressional approval, the penetrator over five years for an estimated $486 million.

A National Academy of Sciences report in April concluded that a high-yield nuclear penetrator used to strike a deeply buried target could produce up to 1 million casualties if detonated near a populated area (see GSN, April 18).

Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said that in response to the program, potential adversaries would be tempted “to put that deeply buried target under a city, under a historic or religious site,” making use of the weapon improbable.


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Lockheed Expects to Test Bunker-Buster This Year

SOURCE: Global Security Newswire 7/14/05

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is expected to test four prototypes of a new U.S. bunker-buster bomb later this year, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, July 1).

Lockheed is working with U.S. Navy scientists as part of the Defense Department’s Threat Reduction Initiative. News of the tests was first reported in the British weekly New Scientist, according to AFP.

The missile is designed to create an air pocket in front of the weapon as it falls to the ground. In theory, this pocket will force the earth to the sides once the weapon reaches the surface, creating a hole for the missile to penetrate. This would allow the weapon to reach buried targets, such a WMD storage facilities

The idea of an air pocket comes from torpedoes that create gas bubbles around themselves, allowing the weapon to move faster because it is traveling through water vapor as opposed to liquid water, AFP reported.

“Lockheed Martin hopes the supercavitating missile will reach 10 times the depth of the current Air Force record holder, the huge BLU-113 bunker-buster, which can break through seven meters of concrete (22.7 feet) or 30 meters (100 feet) of earth,” AFP quotes New Scientist as saying.

A thinner casing on the conventionally armed weapon would allow it to carry more explosives than the existing version, according to AFP (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo News, July 14).


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from The Guardian, 7/21/05, letter to the editor:

The myth that the US had to drop nuclear weapons on Japan to end the second world war and thus save lives is still prevalent. Winston Churchill later asserted: "It would be a mistake to suppose that the fate of Japan was settled by the atomic bomb. Her defeat was certain before the bomb fell." The US had two main goals. One was to dominate the Far East after the war. The other was to gain advantage over the Soviet Union in the post-war settlement. This was a criminal act and a massive human catastrophe which must never be forgotten - and never repeated.

Kate Hudson
Chair, CND

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2 Comments:

Blogger Just call me T said...

Hi,

How convenient that we sit here and debate whether a 3rd world war will start. I wonder how many think that it has already. (The Gulf War being the beginning?) Does it even matter? All we do is give this fighting a new name and it is automatically something different that has started. But is it really? Can't it just be that we never stopped in the first place? One continuous war, Lebanon, Iraq (several times), Pakistan, Israel, Russia, Cuba, Japan, China, Africa, Kuwait, South Korea, North, Korea all little wars purposively not connected but yet the players are all the same. Violence begets violence, death only offers more death, and war is a fabricated story to make us believe we are doing something that ultimately will give new meaning to the world’s integrity; a reason to have hope.

Someone stop me!

We are blind and we do not even know it. We complain about the cost of food, gas, cars, you name it and war costs lives, something more precious then the silver or paper that have in our pockets. It is all so pointless. The world needs a wake up call and maybe by reading articles such as this they will see the path won’t be paved in gold, rather in the blood of our children and grandchildren. Hopefully the world takes notice before it is too late.

Wonderful piece Jay,

Soft love,
T

7/24/2005 11:23 PM  
Blogger Jay Denari said...

I didn't write it; I just posted it... but thanks.

I hope so; with a lot of recent talk re: Hiroshima's 60th, I hope we'll see more people willing to stand up and say what most already know -- that the wars have to stop. We call ourselves civilized, but are not until that happens, until we wake up to the fact that continuing to build thousands of devices designed to obliterate other human beings is not sane, be they machine guns, tanks, or H-bombs.

I think our descendants, if we wise up and manage to avoid nuclear war, will probably see the century since WW1 as being one of nearly-continuous war, just like we define a time in the Middle Ages as the "100 Years War." Hopefully, they'll see today as a turning point when we started to wake up. But if we do have a nuke war, the sick irony is that our distant descendants will probably see the last brutal century as a "golden age."

We're in a weird time right now, so much technological hope, so much primitive fear, but also a lot of "primitive" hope balanced by technological fear. The forces of fear (and in that I include both Bush II and Al Qaeda, for example) have a lot of strength and a lot of ignorance on their side, but I think they're ultimately fighting a losing battle and, on some level, they know it. The only real question is how many innocent people do they take down with them? I think the forces of sanity have the trump cards; I just hope we know how and when to play them.

7/25/2005 1:41 PM  

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