After the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, the directors of the nuclear weapons laboratories on both sides quickly got together to work on securing nuclear weapons and the materials they are made from. They were supported by their governments. NATO helped. The cooperation was a marvelous thing to see and to experience. I had a small part in dealing with leftover Soviet nuclear problems.
In 1998, I traveled to Estonia to help deal with a former Soviet uranium-processing plant. I’ve written up my experience. Siegfried Hecker, the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and a primary mover in the lab-to-lab cooperation, has collected the experiences of many participants in a two-volume set, Doomed to Cooperate. He has also set up a website for more information, which is where my story appears.
Check it out. The top photos are mine, of one part of the site in 1998 and in 2011.
Russia has been violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but the United States won’t say exactly what the violation is. The INF Treaty prohibits intermediate-range missiles with nuclear warheads. Back in the 1980s, both the US and Russia had such missiles aimed at each other in Europe. The problem with missiles like this is that there is no warning time whatsoever, and thus a heavy motive to strike the other party first. James Action suggests a strategy for getting the treaty back on track. Top photo from here: Soviet inspectors and their American escorts standing among dismantled Pershing II missiles in Colorado as other missile components are destroyed nearby under the INF Treaty, January 1989. Read More
Almost immediately after Robert Mueller was named as special prosecutor, Wikileaks released something about him delivering highly enriched uranium to Russia when he was FBI director. And it’s secret! Scary, right?
Dmitry Gorenburg comments on the Russian military. He recently attended the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS). He also happened to see part of a rehearsal for the May 9 military parade. He links his photos and videos of that event here.
Gorenburg kindly shares slides from MCIS and a few comments on them. Links to them follow.
A devoted corps of North Korea watchers analyzes information coming out of North Korea on its missile and nuclear tests. I sometimes chime in, but missiles are not my thing. Much of the conversation takes place on Twitter, so you can see people figuring things out in real time.
First, a summary of this latest test. It seems to have been a successful test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile that North Korea is calling the Hwasong-12. This article summarizes the early information and analysis and links to many of the people who participate in those discussions. Read More
There is a lot going on in the world beyond the United States. The problems that Donald Trump is inflicting on the country are severe, but we need to continue to be aware of the rest of the world. Read More
A tunnel collapsed in the 200 Area of Washington State’s Hanford Reservation. The 200 Area is where fuel elements from Hanford’s reactors were processed to recover the plutonium that went into American nuclear weapons. I was not aware of an underground rail system there. The system is probably in the 200 area only because the reactors are much too far away to make an underground system possible. Read More
David Albright offers an estimate of North Korea’s nuclear weapons that is not too far from mine. As he notes, any estimates have uncertainties upon uncertainties.
President Donald Trump’s bluster at North Korea has died down, but it could start up again at any time. Since North Korea’s nuclear weapons, or the threat of them, figure in the situation, we now need the best estimates possible.
Although Albright’s estimates are only slightly higher than mine, there are other considerations that I took into account implicitly. This post makes those considerations explicit. Read More