Pakistan is accelerating its nuclear weapons program

June 1, 2009 · Posted in Blogroll, Uncategorized · 1 Comment 

Wired reports that Pakistan seems to be stepping up its program for manufacturing more nuclear devices; and additionally, it is ramping up efforts to produce more efficient thermonuclear warheads.

Ramping up these nuclear facilities, ISIS notes, is “likely linked to a strategic decision to improve the destructiveness and deliverability of its nuclear arsenal.” Take, for instance, the focus on plutonium production: A plutonium fission device can be used as the “primary” (i.e., as the trigger) for a staged weapon that would set off a thermonuclear “secondary.” That’s scary enough; but equally troubling is the potential vulnerability of these nuclear sites.

An almost nuke-free world

May 31, 2009 · Posted in Blogroll, Uncategorized · 8 Comments 

no_nukesPavel Podvig asks a fairly provocative question: What if all the nuclear states gave up their warhead inventories and N.Korea was the only nuclear-armed state left?

To begin with, existing nuclear weapon states’ arsenals (and the U.S. arsenal in particular) have already failed in what many believe is one of their primary missions–dissuading countries such as North Korea from building a nuclear weapon. The key premise of the “dissuasion” theory is that if the United States maintains its large nuclear arsenal and extensive nuclear infrastructure, no country will try matching it. Yet, it never worked that way, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that it didn’t work that way with North Korea.

The question is, of course, a rhetorical experiment but one that does challenge many of the conventional wisdoms about the value of nuclear deterrence. Definitely worth a read.

STRATFOR on the N.Korean nuclear test

May 28, 2009 · Posted in Blogroll, Uncategorized · Comment 

a1393Stratfor has a very interesting editorial on the global significance (or, in their view, the lack thereof) of the recent North Korean nuclear test. Along the way it provides a broad look back at the political & geostrategic effect of nuclear weapons so far.

So through it all, the world carried on, its fundamental dynamics unchanged by the ever-present threat of nuclear war. Indeed, history has shown that once a country has acquired nuclear weapons, the weapons fail to have any real impact on the country’s regional standing or pursuit of power in the international system.

Nuclear arms are better understood as an insurance policy, one that no potential aggressor has any intention of steering afoul of. Without practical military or political use, they remain held in reserve — where in all likelihood they will remain for the foreseeable future.

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