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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our Nuclear (Dysfunctional) Family

Update Great article just up at The Atlantic on "the world's worst kept secret"--Israel's nuclear arsenal (although IDed below).   Part of yet another U.S.-Israel "deal" to avoid scrutiny and controls.

Earlier:  Every year, the venerable Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists publishes a country-by-country survey for the world's nuclear weapons stockpiles and sites.  I've been following this for over 30 years.  It always makes for fairly depressing reading, as one may assume, from the lack of media attention lately, that those stockpiles have been drastically reduced, approaching zero, in recent years.  That's hardly the case.

Their summary this week in the new report:
As of mid-2014, the authors estimate that there are approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons located at some 98 sites in 14 countries. Roughly 10,000 of these weapons are in military arsenals; the remaining weapons are retired and awaiting dismantlement. Approximately 4,000 are operationally available, and some 1,800 are on high alert and ready for use on short notice. The largest concentrations of nuclear weapons reside in Russia and the United States, which possess 93 percent of the total global inventory. The United States today stores nuclear weapons at 18 sites, including 12 sites in 11 states in the United States and another six sites in five European countries. There is considerable uncertainty about the number of Russian nuclear weapons storage sites, but the authors estimate that Russia today stores nuclear weapons permanently at 40 domestic locations. 
Of course, especially on this subject, the devil is in the details.   For example:
The United States is the only nuclear-armed state that deploys nuclear weapons in other countries [5 in Europe]. Approximately 180 non-strategic nuclear bombs are stored in underground vaults beneath 87 aircraft shelters at six bases in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey) for delivery by US and NATO fighter-bombers. 
Pakistan has a rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal of 100 to 120 warheads and an increasing portfolio of delivery systems.
Anything on Israel is always interesting because 1) they won't even admit they have long had nuclear weapons 2) from media coverage you'd think they didn't and thus would be at the mercy of Iran if the latter did gain some warheads.  So here:
Israel is a wild card because of the opacity of its nuclear weapons program. Like other nuclear-armed states, however, Israel has been modernizing its nuclear arsenal and probably also its storage facilities. Israel’s nuclear weapons are not believed to be fully operational under normal circumstances, but are estimated to include 80 to 85 warheads. 
My book on how it all began in 1945 and U.S. "cover-up" since. 

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