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Global nuclear weapons

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In a report published by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in its September-October 2013 issue, Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris calculate that «some 125,000 nuclear warheads have been built since 1945, about 97 percent of them by the United States and the Soviet Union and Russia».

The nine nations with nuclear weapons now possess more than 10,000 nuclear warheads in their military stockpiles, the authors estimate, with several thousand additional US and Russian retired warheads in storage, awaiting dismantlement. The nuclear stockpiles of China, as well as Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea, are minuscule in comparison with the US and Russian arsenals, but more difficult to estimate. Still, the authors believe that China’s nuclear weapons stockpile has surpassed Great Britain’s.

Although the total number of nuclear warheads in the world is decreasing because of US and Russian reductions, all the nations with nuclear weapons continue to modernize or upgrade their nuclear arsenals…

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Joe Cirincione joins Ezra Klein on MSNBC’s ‘All In with Chris Hayes’ to discuss the Obama-Putin meeting cancellation and what this means for future US-Russia nuclear negotiations. (ThePloughsharesFund, August 9, 2013)

Global Zero. A world without nuclar weapons

At the end of September 2013, those interested and worried by the nuclear threat received positive and negative news. First, the positive: the 1993 US-Russian historic nonproliferation agreement commonly known as «Megatons to Megawatts», designed to permanently eliminate excess highly enriched uranium from dismantled Soviet-era nuclear weapons (a total of 500 metric tons) by converting it into fuel for US power plants, is nearly and succesfuly completed. 

Now, just months away from the program’s 20th anniversary, the National Nuclear Security Administration on Monday announced it has monitored the conversion of more than 475 metric tons of Russian HEU – 95 percent of the targeted amount. That’s equivalent to eradicating 19,000 nuclear weapons – nearly 2,000 more than exist worldwide today – See more at: http://www.globalzero.org/blog/megatons-megawatts-has-toppled-19000-nuclear-weapons#sthash.d2m7xtkG.dpuf

Now, just months away from the program’s 20th anniversary, the National Nuclear Security Administration on Monday (Sep 23) announced it has monitored the conversion of more than 475 metric tons of Rssian HEU -95 percent of thetargeted amount. That’s equivalent to eradicating 19.000 nuclear weapons -nearly 2.000 more than exist worldwide today.

Megatons to Megawatts has been the largest and most successful nonproliferation and material disposition program in history. The cornerstone of the bilateral agreement is the HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium) Transparency Program, which requires that the conversion processes from both countries have access to each other’s uranium-processing facilities in order to oversee the conversion from start to finish. This emphasis on openness in every step of the process has been critical b for building  confidence between these former Cold War rivals, assuring both that the HEU weapons material was actually converted into LEU (Low Enriched Uranium) and then further refined into a form suitable for nuclear power… MORE

Another -not sure if positive or negative, probably both- striking story, coming from the old USSR: duty officer Stanislav Petrov -whose job was  to register apparent  enemy missile launches- decided not to report to his superiors computer readouts suggesting in the early hours of September 26, 1983 in the Soviet early-warning systems an incoming strike from the United States. Instead of that, he dismissed them as a false alarm.

Stanislav Petrov (BBCNews. Sep 26, 2013)

His decision may have saved the world

«I had all the data [to suggest there was an ongoing missile attack]. If I had sent my report up the chain of command, nobody would have said a word against it», Petrov told the BBC’s Russian Service 30 years after that overnight shift.

Mr Petrov – who retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel and now lives in a small town near Moscow – was part of a well-trained team which served at one of the Soviet Union’s early warning bases, not far from Moscow. His training was rigorous, his instructions very clear.

His job was to register any missile strikes and to report them to the Soviet military and political leadership. In the political climate of 1983, a retaliatory strike would have been almost certain.

And yet, when the moment came, he says he almost froze in place.

«The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word ‘launch’ on it», he says.

The system was telling him that the level of reliability of that alert was «highest». There could be no doubt. America had launched a missile.

«A minute later the siren went off again. The second missile was launched. Then the third, and the fourth, and the fifth. Computers changed their alerts from ‘launch’ to ‘missile strike’,» he says… MORE

As for the negative, on Sep 18 came to light that, 33 years to that day, the US had narrowly missed a nuclear holocaust on its soil. For Spaniards, who experienced in the sixties on its soil another US nuclear serious accident (popularly known as the «Palomares’ Bomb»), it was nothing new. The details, however, deserve a serious look and Eric Schlosser, the auhor who has brought the story to our attention drawing on thousands of pages of recently declassified goverment documents and interviews with scores of military personel and nuclear scientits, has done a great service to all those, American and nonAmerican, who still care for the risk nuclear weapons represent for mankind.

The so-called «Damascus Accident» involved a Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile mishap at a launch complex outside Damascus, Arkansas. During a routine maintenance procedure, a young worker accidentally dropped a nine-pound tool in the silo, piercing the missile’s skin and causing a major leak of flammable rocket fuel. Sitting on top of that Titan 2 was the most powerful thermonuclear warhead ever deployed on an American missile. The weapon was about 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. For the next nine hours, a group of airmen put themselves at grave risk to save the missile and prevent a massive explosion that would’ve caused incalculable damage. The story is detailed in Eric Schlosser’s new book, «Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety,» which explores how often the United States has come within a hair’s breadth of a domestic nuclear detonation or an accidental war.(DemocracyNow!. Published on Sep 18, 2013)

In its section, the Pulitzer Center has been following for years the main news on nuclear proliferation. At the end of September 2013, it alerted against complacency given the «still lingering -and spreading- threat of nuclear annhilation»

The number of nuclear weapon states has grown to nine from six since the end of the Cold War, with India, Pakistan and North Korea joining the club. Iran’s nuclear program is believed by some to be within months of weaponizing. Meanwhile the U.S., Russia, China and other nuclear countries are competing with each other to sell “civilian” nuclear technology to eager buyers in unstable parts of the world. India, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are among the customers.

While Russia’s shrinking nuclear arsenal is now thought to be relatively secure, the 9/11 terror attacks and revelations about the activities of the A.Q. Khan network have heightened concerns that weapons or fissile material could fall into the hands of rogue states or extremist groups. That risk has been increased by access to technologies that are enabling nuclear newcomers to create smaller, easily transportable weapons—so-called battlefield weapons—and by the worrisome rise of military doctrines that lower the threshold of actually using nuclear weapons.

Through this Gateway, Pulitzer Center journalists examine the emerging threats of the post-9/11 era, from an alarming new arms race between India and Pakistan to the role of the U.S. and Russia as suppliers and the spread of supposedly peaceful nuclear technology to some of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

Now, just months away from the program’s 20th anniversary, the National Nuclear Security Administration on Monday announced it has monitored the conversion of more than 475 metric tons of Russian HEU – 95 percent of the targeted amount. That’s equivalent to eradicating 19,000 nuclear weapons – nearly 2,000 more than exist worldwide today.
 
Megatons to Megawatts has been the largest and most successful nonproliferation and material disposition program in history. The cornerstone of the bilateral agreement is the HEU Transparency Program, which requires that the conversion processes and the flow of material be transparent to both the United States and Russia. In reality, this means that inspectors from both countries have access to each other’s uranium-processing facilities in order to oversee the conversion from start to finish. This emphasis on openness in every step of the process has been critical for building confidence between these former Cold War rivals, assuring both that the HEU weapons material was actually being converted into LEU and then further refined into a form suitable for nuclear power. 
 
Critics insist that nuclear weapons reductions and dismantlement programs are extremely expensive and divert scarce government funding from critical nuclear weapons programs. However, Megatons to Megawatts was implemented on commercial terms without any government funds. The United States established the U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC) and Russia designated the company Techsnabexport (TENEX) to act as their agents to implement this 20-year, $8 billion program at absolutely no cost to taxpayers. 

– See more at: http://www.globalzero.org/blog/megatons-megawatts-has-toppled-19000-nuclear-weapons#sthash.d2m7xtkG.dpuf

Now, just months away from the program’s 20th anniversary, the National Nuclear Security Administration on Monday announced it has monitored the conversion of more than 475 metric tons of Russian HEU – 95 percent of the targeted amount. That’s equivalent to eradicating 19,000 nuclear weapons – nearly 2,000 more than exist worldwide today.
 
Megatons to Megawatts has been the largest and most successful nonproliferation and material disposition program in history. The cornerstone of the bilateral agreement is the HEU Transparency Program, which requires that the conversion processes and the flow of material be transparent to both the United States and Russia. In reality, this means that inspectors from both countries have access to each other’s uranium-processing facilities in order to oversee the conversion from start to finish. This emphasis on openness in every step of the process has been critical for building confidence between these former Cold War rivals, assuring both that the HEU weapons material was actually being converted into LEU and then further refined into a form suitable for nuclear power. 
 
Critics insist that nuclear weapons reductions and dismantlement programs are extremely expensive and divert scarce government funding from critical nuclear weapons programs. However, Megatons to Megawatts was implemented on commercial terms without any government funds. The United States established the U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC) and Russia designated the company Techsnabexport (TENEX) to act as their agents to implement this 20-year, $8 billion program at absolutely no cost to taxpayers. 

– See more at: http://www.globalzero.org/blog/megatons-megawatts-has-toppled-19000-nuclear-weapons#sthash.d2m7xtkG.dpuf

Now, just months away from the program’s 20th anniversary, the National Nuclear Security Administration on Monday announced it has monitored the conversion of more than 475 metric tons of Russian HEU – 95 percent of the targeted amount. That’s equivalent to eradicating 19,000 nuclear weapons – nearly 2,000 more than exist worldwide today – See more at: http://www.globalzero.org/blog/megatons-megawatts-has-toppled-19000-nuclear-weapons#sthash.d2m7xtkG.dpuf

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