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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Best article yet on the direction US nuclear weapons are heading...



Trump's nuclear options: Upcoming review casts a wide net
Defense News
February 8, 2017

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/trumps-nuclear-options

Some key excerpts:

"In a Jan. 27 executive order signed at the Pentagon, Trump directed Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to “initiate a new Nuclear Posture Review [NPR] to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.”

It’s wide open language, leaving Mattis with significant leeway over how the study will be run, who will be involved, and even the timetable, all factors that are certain to affect the study's conclusions. Or, as Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, puts it: “Trump is basically turning nuclear policy over to Mattis, whether Trump realizes it or not.” 

But how much will really change? Analysts largely agree the modernization plan put forth from the Obama administration will probably remain intact -- but note it's the policies around the edges, and who gets to shape those policies, that will be key to watch. 

While many of the Obama-era plans are facing scrutiny from the new administration, nuclear experts believe that major changes to the current modernization program under Trump are unlikely. 

That’s largely because the Obama administration had set the Pentagon on an ambitious modernization course that will see almost the entire nuclear weapons complex renewed...

...Peter Huessy, a senior defense consultant with the Air Force Association, predicts a “stay the course -- plus” policy to emerge, continuing the modernization efforts of the Obama administration but looking to fill perceived near-term gaps in the nuclear posture. That potentially includes trying to speed up the procurement of the big modernization programs, as well as flowing extra funding to the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA), where the modernization of a new wave of warheads is ongoing. 

“I think NNSA and the labs need more money. I also think they have to do a better job, and it’s a continuing fight to do better with what money they have,” Huessy said, referring to experts' concerns about aging NNSA infrastructure...

...“I think you could maybe add some things into the ‘18 budget that are absolutely necessary but you’d have to do a pretty quick study, and you’d have a hard time drilling down too much because you don’t have the people in place,” Huessy said. “It has to be done carefully and explained well. I don’t know if it will be a quick and short NPR. I know there are people who think it should be. We’re going to be doing about three defense bills in the next year. So there is an emphasis on getting decisions done quickly.” 

...Huessy looks at it from a practical view. Other nuclear states already exist, and working out nonproliferation policies for the current geopolitical world is a sensible thing to do, in particular given the pressures around the Korean peninsula and the tensions between India and Pakistan. 

"Any move to undo the 2010 NPR three 'Nos' -- no new warheads, capabilities, and missions -- would not only be unnecessary, destabilizing, and financially costly, it would also be deeply divisive domestically and internationally, including among close allies," Reif said. "And it would inflame already acute and widespread fears that Trump can't be trusted with the nuclear codes."

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...the Obama administration had set the Pentagon on an ambitious modernization course that will see almost the entire nuclear weapons complex renewed."

Really? First of all, the Pentagon isn't responsible for the "entire nuclear weapons complex". Second, this quote flies in the face of the 3 "no's"; no new warheads, no new capabilities, and no new missions. Third, this is an extremely odd claim for an administration that openly professed the (sophomoric) desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Finally, these are laughable quotes given the degradation and decline pervasive throughout the entire weapons complex.

Anonymous said...

"Any move to undo the 2010 NPR three 'Nos' -- no new warheads, capabilities, and missions -- would not only be unnecessary, destabilizing, and financially costly, it would also be deeply divisive domestically and internationally, including among close allies," Reif said.

Not surprising that is what a spokesman from the Arms Control Association would say. What a lot of rubbish this article is. Must keep adversaries fully aware of exactly what our static posture is. Are these people stupid?

Anonymous said...

Only way to modernize the stockpile is to replace existing warheads with appropriate versions of the RRW. Anything else is just lying on the part of Lab Directors. My opinion.

Anonymous said...

And that would require testing.

Anonymous said...

Not if you believe in Stockpile Stewardship. We can use small-scale tests and simulations to predict everything that will happen. ICF on the NIF proved that.

Anonymous said...

you are absolutely correct! We can do anything on the NIF. I am very pleased with the agreement between simulations and experiments observed in the recent years. Good work!

Anonymous said...

Just remember, the NIC design was supposed to ignite with 1.4 MJ. Great simulations. I guess a 1 Megaton RRW would probably yield 10-15 Kilotons, enough to do some serious damage. LOL

Anonymous said...

Remember, the purpose of the program is to improve agreement of experiments with simulations. The agreement was bad at first, but it is getting better. Therefore, NIF is making progress.

Anonymous said...

Getting simulations to agree with experimental results is knobology, not science.

Anonymous said...

You need to do more reading. You can't fix the implosion if you don't know what is causing the poor performance in the first place.

Improving the agreement between simulations and experiments is the best way for NIF scientists to pinpoint what the dominant degradation mechanisms are. How is this not science?

Anonymous said...

If you tweak the simulation to match the experiment and don't understand why, or which tweak (physically) that worked, you've done no science and learned nothing. Many knobs can be turned, but not all lead to understanding, especially if more than one are turned at a time. Also, are experimental results confirmed to be repeatable every time? Nope.

Anonymous said...

They are working on a very difficult problem. Do you have any better ideas on how they should run their program?

Anonymous said...

Not being an expert, of course not. But to a layman, what not to do seems obvious. I learned Scientific Method as a High School freshman. Does the concept not sill apply?

Anonymous said...

It seems unprofessional to stick your nose in their work, calling their science "knobology", when you don't even take the time to read it

Anonymous said...

Those "knobs" give them insight into what is happening from an experiment which is inherently impossible to model

Anonymous said...

It seems unprofessional to stick your nose in their work...

February 21, 2017 at 7:25 PM

Scientists should never be questioned? Scientific fraud and fakery never happen? All scientists are honest? There are no second- and third-rate scientists whose methods and techniques might need scrutiny? Scientists are pure of motive and immune to the desires of their employers and funding sources? Quite a bubble you live in.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should read their papers before you start throwing out accusations regarding scientific fraud.

Anonymous said...

Read the post again. There were no "accusations" about anything, just questions (which you didn't bother answering). Maybe your skin is a little bit thin on this subject? I wonder why? If you think that the answer to all of the above questions is "no" you should say so. I bet you won't.

Anonymous said...

NO.

That is why we read their papers. That's why you should read the papers before spewing your crap on this website.

Anonymous said...

Really?? Your answer to each question February 22, 2017 at 2:16 PM asks is "No"???

You seriously want to claim that scientific fraud, cheating, incompetence, dishonesty, etc. NEVER HAPPEN??? HaHaHaHaHA!!!! How to single-handedly destroy credibility for all scientists! I bet your colleagues appreciate your whitewashing the entire subject for them to try to clean up. I also bet they wish you had claimed some credit on their behalf for their efforts through peer review etc., to keep their profession honest, competent and trustworthy. But it is obvious that you yourself harbor none of those values.

Anonymous said...

Look I was there at least for the first half of the NIC campaign. Managers (many who are still calling the "shots") were driving the discussion as they saw fit, belittling any who questioned the direction of the campaign. An I don't mean Ed Moses ! Few shots where repeated, and when they were, the results most of the time did not repeat. It was clear to me that the target physics side of the house did not understand the physics. Lots of stochastic variables. The scientific method was not used, and any input from simulations was 6 months late for any specific shot. It was a "crap shoot" and we failed ! The "ducks" where jumping all around. Fun times !

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