Friday, April 25, 2008

The Syrian nuclear program

The Danger Room has video describing the construction and destruction of a North Korean-designed Syrian nuclear reactor at Al Kibar. Readers should view it in its entirety. However, a number of unanswered questions suggest themselves.

First the Al Kibar reactor, unlike Iraq's Osirak, was designed to be covert from first to last. Did the IAEA at any time have any definite knowledge of Al Kibar? If it so, did the IAEA warn the United Nations about Syria's covert program? Second, if the Al Kibar was unknown to the UN, how much confidence should the world repose in is ability to detect covert nuclear weapons development?

Most importantly, what was the strategic objective of the Syrian plutonium reactor? Syria was obviously embarked upon a pure weapons program. The documentary is at pains to emphasize the facility had no conceivable industrial use. Therefore fissile material for its weapons was its ultimate reason for existence. To what end would these weapons be used? The significance of answering this question is that the Syrian strategic model would likely have been identical to the use intended by Saddam for Osirak's output -- and likely similar to that planned for Iran's nuclear weapons program.

A cursory take on Al Kibar is that it could only have hoped to produce a handful of nuclear weapons before discovery. Therefore it can be inferred that the WMD programs of Syria, Iran and Iraq's Osirak were premised upon the possession of a relatively few number of WMDs. Logic suggests then that they were constructing them as "insurance" weapons: deterrents against Western interference under whose protection they could advance their terrorist forces without hindrance. In other words, the implied doctrine of the WMD programs was that they were there to protect their terrorist strike arms.




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53 Comments:

Blogger al fin said...

Or Syria's reactor could have been "the one you see", to distract from the one's you cannot see inside Iran.

Perhaps it was a Potemkin plutonium plant, meant to buy time? The higher to heaven Syria screams, the more distracted the "talking heads" and media morons become.

Bomb them all. Let Allah provide the virgins.

4/25/2008 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

All of these secret programs suggest one thing in common: a strategic framework within which two dozen nuclear weapons is sufficient. That is what Iran, Syria and in the old days, Iraq, were working for. Assuming you had two dozen nukes, what would they be good for?

Remember that in the days of the Cold War, two dozen nukes wouldn't begin to buy you deterrence from central nuclear war. My guess is that it is to obtain partial deterrence within which to advance their traditional terrorist activity. In other words, it's the shield for the sword.

4/25/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Wretchard said:

"Remember that in the days of the Cold War, two dozen nukes wouldn't begin to buy you deterrence from central nuclear war. My guess is that it is to obtain partial deterrence within which to advance their traditional terrorist activity. In other words, it's the shield for the sword."

A nuke without a delivery mechanism is almost as useless as a ballistic missile without a warhead.

The classic example was the Nazi V-2 (A-4) ballistic missile. It could deliver a 977 kg high explosive warhead. Because the V-2 was going about Mach 3 when it impacted the ground and used a contact fuze, the warhead would burrow in before the explosive detonated. When it did detonate, the explosion simply caused a huge column of earth to jet out of the ground (no real blast wave). Typically a V-2 only destroyed a few buildings. Because each V-2 cost about 100,000 Reichmarks to manufacture, the weapon represented more economic loss for the Germans than the target country.

The North Koreans (NorKs) and the Iranians understand the fallacy of the V-2. They are developing ballistic missiles AND nuclear weapons. However the Syrians were developing only a plutonium production reactor with no infrastructure for weaponizing the plutonium or building ballistic missiles. Obviously, the Syrians were acting in collaboration for someone else. My guess is the NorKs wanted to continue their nuclear weapons development program but could not do so because they were being monitored too closely. The NorKs opted to ship their program to a nation with no prior history of nuclear weapons R&D, i.e. Syria. Syria's motivation (beyond simple financial gain) may have been to acquire complete ballistic missiles from either the Iranians, Russians or Chinese. They'd then deliver processed plutonium to the Iranians to be weaponized, i.e. made into bomb pits and housed within a reentry vehicle. Being a plutonium producer would have made Syria a "player" in the strategic weapons game.

I'm not aware of the Iranians having a plutonium program. Iran's current focus is upon uranium enrichment which they can misrepresent as a peaceful nuclear energy program. Enriched uranium can be used in a gun-type nuke. Gun-type nukes are so low tech that they do not require testing prior to military use (we did not prior test the gun type nuke used on Hiroshima). Plutonium can not be used in a gun type nuke and must be used in an implosion type weapon. Implosion weapons are techically complex and must be tested prior to use (losts of little tricks in alloying the plutonium, designing the neutron urchin and explosive lenses). The Iranians were probably funding parallel nuclear weapons R&D programs, i.e. uranium weapon R&D within Iran and plutonium weapon R&D in Syria and North Korea.

Unfortunately for the Iranians, the Israelis destroyed the Syrian reactor and fouled up this sweet arrangment.

4/25/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

I agree with Eggplant except that Iran is also using plutonium breeder reactors, so it is also clearly developing both the gun-type and implosion type nuclear devices.

The gun-type is useless for ICBMs, it simply is too big, fragile, and short-lived. Gun-type bombs need the HEU replaced after about 6-8 mos. It's quite useful for terrorism though.

And that last answers Wretchard what the nukes are good for.

As a "shield" or deterrent to protect terrorist activity it's useless, since there would be too few and the actor to be deterred, the US, too far away for the current generation of NK ICBMs to reach. Missile defense makes that even more ineffective.

However, if nukes are seen as just another "nuclear car bomb" then they make terrorist activity much more useful.

It's just as likely that Iran, Syria, and other nations see "nuclear car bombs" as an excellent way to get nations like the US to do what they want, since a deniable proxy (a terrorist group that is non-state) and assumed limits on US action (Democrats, Moveon.org, Code Pink, ANSWER, the Media, the Judiciary, etc.) would all prevent any real response to say NYC or DC getting nuked.

It's entirely rational for Iran to believe (perhaps falsely, perhaps not) that it could through proxies nuke American cities with shipping container based gun-type nukes, make demands on the US (payment of money as in the Hostage crisis, the US paid IIRC something like $28 Billion, withdrawal from the Gulf, abandoning Israel, etc.) followed up by more terrorist "nuclear car bombs."

Iran has paid no price whatsoever for it's truck bombs of the US Embassy and Marine Barracks in Beirut, Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia (killing US servicemen also), Buenos Aires, and has in fact been rewarded. Even now, it's aggression has resulted in Democrats and the Media urging negotiations without conditions as "peace in our time."

Iran can also point to Pakistan as a likely and plausible culprit. They might even be right.

This is a predictable disaster. The end of the Cold War ended Global Nuclear War but brought nuclear car bombs to the inevitable.

The only way out for the US (lacking the will to dismantle the nuclear proliferators Pakistan, China, North Korea, the EU, Canada, Russia, Iran, etc.) is to publish a list of nations that will be wiped out to the last man, woman, and child if a US or allied city is attacked by a nuclear weapon. Automatically, no discretion. Standing orders.

It would have to include: Pakistan, Iran, and other new Muslim nuclear nations. It might or might not be wise to also include North Korea, based on relations and other factors with China and their nuclear umbrella with North Korea. With the proviso that a country could be removed from the list only if inspection on demand with no limits determined complete nuclear disarmament, and the inspections are permanent.

Allowing each nation a choice: nukes and destruction even if another nation/group is responsible, or abandoning a threat to the US and getting security in return.

As part of the determination, the US should expand it's nuclear arsenal as a signaling measure.

The political likelihood of this is nil, however. Too many people are invested in the "Cold War Forever" mentality and keep thinking they're dealing with Leonid Brezhnev. Instead of Tribes With Nukes(tm). I'm sure we will see your Three Conjectures Wretchard. Tragically.

It was inevitable that something like this would happen sooner or later, once the Cold War ended and those that wanted nukes got them.

4/25/2008 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Whiskey_199 said:

"Iran is also using plutonium breeder reactors, so it is also clearly developing both the gun-type and implosion type nuclear devices."

Where are the Iranian plutonium reactors? They would need a graphite core with an open face design where it's easy to juggle the reactor rods (like the Savannah River or Soviet RBMK reactors).

Whiskey_199 also said:

"The gun-type is useless for ICBMs, it simply is too big, fragile, and short-lived. Gun-type bombs need the HEU replaced after about 6-8 mos."

I disagree. I would argue that a gun-type nuke is more robust than an implosion nuke. Also, I saw a picture of an Iranian reentry vehicle that looked like it had the right shape for a gun-type nuke. The HEU "washers" can be installed shortly before use as was the case with Little Boy. From the Iranian perspective, the beauty of a gun-type nuke mounted on a cheap-and-nasty two stage ballistic missile is technological surprise. The Iranians could take out 3-4 Israelis cities using 15 kiloton warheads without prior testing of the warhead.

The Israelis are developing a sophisticated ABM system but it has not been tested in battle. One would not expect any ABM system to work on the first try in actual combat.

4/25/2008 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger antithaca said...

Wretchard, your questions for the IAEA are good ones. However, today we only heard from them (or, its head actually) a game of "blame the messenger".

He demanded to know why his agency wasn't told about the installation.

When will this man be removed from office???

4/25/2008 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

I read that Syria has had a “nuclear program” for some time. The phosphate deposits they mine there are contaminated by Uranium, requiring the two elements to be separated before fertilizer can be produced. So, it appears that Syria has been accumulating a store of Uranium “waste” for some time now.
Therefore, it may have been far easier for North Korea to export a nuclear program to Syria than would ordinarily be the case. Add to that the fact that North Korea has been importing materials to make solid rocket motors from Syria and has been exporting Scud technology to both Syria and Iran and the plot thickens.

To me, it is curious indeed that Syria did not try to pass off the destroyed site as part of its fertilizer production program, perhaps as a repository for the waste Uranium; that would be a quite believable error that the Left would jump on - but maybe it was too close to the truth. I wonder if the IAEA even trys to account for non-nuclear uses of Uranium, or its accumulation as a by-product of other industrial processes?

Also, it would appear that the Syrians could have quite easily constructed a facility capable of making Dirty Bomb material for loading into Hezbolha rockets, which cannot hit the broad side of a barn, but could render large areas of Israel uninhabitable.

4/25/2008 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

eggplant: The Iranians could take out 3-4 Israelis cities using 15 kiloton warheads without prior testing of the warhead.

Ah, but the blowback would be with enhanced thermonuclear devices, which don't just take out the downtown cores of cities and set the houses in the central area on fire, but take out entire metropolitan areas. Just ten of these, MIRVed from one SLBM, targeted at the metro areas whose central city exceeds 500,000 people, would make the country vanish for all practical purposes.

4/25/2008 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

In these troubled times, we need a common-sense, down-to-Earth, man of the People:
Obama, '08!
---
Providing Context For Reverand Wright

In his interview with Bill Moyers, Pastor Jeremiah Wright blasted the media for failing to provide context to his much-condemned remarks.On today's show I played great portions of his sermons from April 13, 2004 and from September 16, 2001. I will post the audio here later.

Pastor Wright has a legitimate complaint that only sound bytes have been played, but until today I had no other material to work with. The pastor could help us all if he would release recordings of all of his sermons, and Moyers ought to have asked for just that.

If you are going to mount the defense of "out of context," then provide the context.Jeremiah Wright - 4-13-03 - Cut 1
- Jesus' enemies


Jeremiah Wright - 4-13-03 - Cut 2
- Military making war for peace is like raping for virginity.


Jeremiah Wright - 4-13-03 - Cut 3
- crusade and jihad are one and the same
.

4/25/2008 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Israel has no SLBM's right?
Care to enlighten us on their cruise nuke capability?

4/25/2008 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Back in the late 70’s an Israeli/South African nuclear test was conducted in the open ocean south of Africa. This was seen by U.S. satellites. The GPS birds since Navstar 8 have had Integrated Operational Nudet Detection System payloads on board which provide much more accurate info on nuclear detonations. Unlike the 70’s test, I have heard no rumors of them spotting anything similar, but if it happens we will be in a position to tell a great deal more about it than was possible when they almost snuck a test by us back then.

4/25/2008 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Israel, SLBM

4/25/2008 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I guess they do.

4/25/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

RWE: Also, it would appear that the Syrians could have quite easily constructed a facility capable of making Dirty Bomb material for loading into Hezbolha rockets, which cannot hit the broad side of a barn, but could render large areas of Israel uninhabitable.

Dirty bombs are more of a psychological danger (ie they cause panic) than they are fatal. But if Israel was the victim of a dirty attack from Hezbollah rockets, this would be the casus belli for strikes on Syria and Iran from both Israel and the USA as part of our War on Terrorizers. It would do much to throw world opinion to the Israeli side, undoing years of Muzzie attempts to gain world sympathy by putting SAM sites in school yards and inviting an attack.

4/25/2008 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Search Page for "SLBM"
To see Ms T's neighbors.

4/25/2008 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

eggplant said...
(lots of little tricks in alloying the plutonium, designing the neutron urchin and explosive lenses).
---
John Von Neuman and the lenses still blows my mind.
---
(used to watch him race Sports Cars!)

4/25/2008 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Eggplant -- IIRC the Iranians have facilities in and around Natanz that are plutonium breeder reactors.

Wikipedia (I know) states that the gun-type bombs can't be put on missiles. To bulky and fragile (likely to go off during re-entry). The US only produced 3-4 more gun-type bombs, immediately switched to plutonium implosion types.

AFAIK only South Africa produced that type of device, and they had local air superiority. All other nations that have nuclear devices including Pakistan, India, and North Korea have chosen plutonium devices despite increased technical difficulties due to it's advantage in missiles.

4/25/2008 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Davey Crockett wasn't a gun-type?

4/25/2008 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Warhead for Davy Crockett M-388 recoilless rifle projectile; 2 yields; 2 mods; very light, compact spherical implosion plutonium warhead"

4/25/2008 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Hi there"

4/25/2008 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Lots of misinformation, even by Wretchard. In the spirit of constructive criticism:

Logic suggests then that they were constructing them as "insurance" weapons: deterrents against Western interference under whose protection they could advance their terrorist forces without hindrance. In other words, the implied doctrine of the WMD programs was that they were there to protect their terrorist strike arms.

If a country with nukes becomes a major threat, the few nukes they have will only assure them greater destruction if a major nuclear power is determined to attack them or operates out of self-defense. It is analogous to cops being told a gang is robbing people in a Park, but they are armed with assault rifles and "will use them on cops if they dare go after the gang". All that does is not immunize the gang, but assure their likely demise, which would not happen if they were less of a threat and just doing strong-arm muggings. That SWAT Depts from all around converge with heavy cal sniper rifles, full-auto M-16s, armor, air and orders to "take out" anyone spotted with an assault rifle. Escalation of lethality sometimes only assures a stronger foe will have to do greater destruction.
The Neocon meme that a nation becoming a nuclear power will mean we are "powerless to stop them" from doing global terror and such, is a false one.

Whiskey 199 - Gun-type bombs need the HEU replaced after about 6-8 mos.
You don't know what you are talking about. HE U-235 is "good to go forever, almost".

eggplantThey'd then deliver processed plutonium to the Iranians to be weaponized, i.e. made into bomb pits and housed within a reentry vehicle.

Incorrect. Short range tactical missiles and MRBMs do not require a re-entry vehicle for the warhead. And they "cover" the ME region. No ICBM necessary.

eggplantImplosion weapons are techically complex and must be tested prior to use

Incorrect. Only if it is a new design from scratch. If the implosion device is a tested design, like the ones the Brits built off tested US designs, the ones Zionists bribed or stole from France, or Pakistan got from China, or the same Chinese implosion design blueprints AQ Kahn sold to several Muslim countries, no testing is necessary.

whiskey 199 - since a deniable proxy (a terrorist group that is non-state) and assumed limits on US action (Democrats, Moveon.org, Code Pink, ANSWER, the Media, the Judiciary, etc.) would all prevent any real response to say NYC or DC getting nuked.

You must be smoking crack if you think Lefties or ACLU Jewish lawyers will somehow stop massive nuclear retaliation, if Islamoids take out any major cities under NATO's sphere. Or our Asian treaty partners - Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, S Korea.

Whiskey199 - Iran is also using plutonium breeder reactors, so it is also clearly developing both the gun-type and implosion type nuclear devices."

More crack smoking. Iran has no breeder reactors. It has two light water reactors not yet run, and Russian & IAEA commitment that the reactors will run long enough to isotopically contaminate the incidental plutonium made and render it non-usable in a weapon, and that all the fuel sticks will be monitored.

Whiskey199 - "The gun-type is useless for ICBMs, it simply is too big, fragile, and short-lived

Incorrect. Some of our smaller 1950s missile-mounted nukes and artillery shell nukes were "gun-type". It is foolish to think that any aspiring nuke power magically starts with no learning curve or knowledge of the last 65 years of nuclear technology and is thus comdemned to only making a gun type weapon just like our 1st gun-type weapon with their 1st try. As silly as saying a nation's 1st missile is required to copy the V2 design and develop slowly from there and slowly learn for themselves the last 65 years of missile-making.

rwe - Back in the late 70’s an Israeli/South African nuclear test was conducted in the open ocean south of Africa

Incorrect. Persistant garbage rumor. S Africa made full disclosure - they never tested. And well before that, the US had independently concluded the "Vela Incident" was based a a problem with new detection electronics aboard a new satellite, which led to the glitch being fixed in newer monitoring satellites.

4/25/2008 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

All eleven Wright cuts in one file .
(only have to hear Grover once)

Mp3 File

4/25/2008 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Long_Bow said...

A shield? A bargaining chip?

Muslims want nuclear weapons for one reason.

To obliterate Israel.

It's really not more complex than that. After they obliterate Israel they will move on other countries.

4/25/2008 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Whiskey_199 said:

"Wikipedia (I know) states that the gun-type bombs can't be put on missiles."

I've done enough editing on Wikipedia to know that a significant amount of the technical stuff there is garbage (BTW, publishing stuff on Wikipedia is a waste of effort).

The real reason why gun-type bombs aren't used anymore is because they are very inefficient with the amount of transuranic material required compared to an implosion weapon.

An ICBM RV does experience a significant amount a deceleration. For example the Mk-6 RV used with the Titan-II experienced a peak deceleration of about 52 G for a nominal entry. That sort of deceleration was a big problem with the early V-2 rockets and Scuds, i.e. they tended to breakup during reentry. However one can design around that sort of deceleration with a gun-type nuke by properly orienting the warhead within the RV.

Again, the only real reason why the Iranians would opt for gun-type nukes is because they could use them without prior testing. Obviously they would prefer thermonuclear weapons if they could access the technology (we need to keep that from happening).

4/25/2008 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Hmm ... I know I've seen cites that argue that gun-type bombs are simply too big and fragile to fit on ICBMs.

To address Cedarford's arguments:

1. It's quite likely that both Iran or elements within Pakistan would assume there are limits, particularly if fingers can be credibly pointed at someone else. Or multiple someone elses.

The Peace Now, Withdraw at any price, Moveons, Paleocons, Ron Pauls, ANSWERs, give credible reasons for Iranians and Pakistanis to assume there would be no comeback for them nuking America, if a cutout could be used.

They didn't find any for other things. Holding our Embassy hostage. Blowing up Embassies, Marine Barracks, Air Force barracks. More than thirty years of the US doing nothing. "The Rules" constrain only the US. Not the enemy. It's not out of bounds to assume such things.

And really, if Moveon, Democrats, etc. have the WH, they would respond to nuking of America by ... apologizing. It would take several bombs in that case to galvanize things. After all, Moveon marched days after 9/11 in Manhattan against bombing Afghanistan. "Our Grief is Not a Cry for War" is what their placards said. Pat Buchanon also argued that IIRC.

Yes, sure, I trust Russia and the IAEA on the notion that Iran will not be breeding weapons-grade plutonium. Right next to Kim Jong-Il.

If anything, this incident shows that the world-wide trade and outsourcing in nuclear weapons are quite useful.

Assad, Ahmadinejad, the Mullahs, are not fools. Nor is Kim Jong-Il. They have taken the West's measure and have concluded it's quite useful to have nukes. To use them. Against the US. Deniably.

Cedarford's fantasy that West is like the LAPD is just that, a fantasy. In reality, the gangs threaten, kill policeman (Pablo Escobar killed them by the bushel). Force the Police to give up and surrender. This is what happens in most places.

It takes a terrible will to prevail over someone like Ahmadinejad, bin Laden, Zawahari, Assad. The West just doesn't have it now.

4/25/2008 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

1. What is the reason for the 7+ month delay in the public acknowledgment of the bombing of the Syrian plutonium plant?

2. For Rev. Wright: You are on tape invoking the wrath of The Almighty against your country to the apparent joy of your flock. What are the theological teaching points of that exercise?


Gotta say it again:

Slaughter now or slaughter later.
Slaughter later = slaughter more.

4/26/2008 04:51:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

3case: 1. What is the reason for the 7+ month delay in the public acknowledgment of the bombing of the Syrian plutonium plant?

Some of the pictures released were from on the site itself, which is what we call HUMINT. The agents who took them (CIA or Mossad or what-have-you) had to be rotated out of there before they were released so the Syrians couldn't say, "Hey, that's what that F'in New Guy was doing over there that one time, taking pictures!" and rub him out.

4/26/2008 04:55:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Cedarford: If a country with nukes becomes a major threat, the few nukes they have will only assure them greater destruction if a major nuclear power is determined to attack them or operates out of self-defense.

Nice theory, but no country, once it has tested a nuclear device, has been attacked by the US. This observation, plus the observation of how easily Saddam led the "intelligence" services of the West into believing he had WMDs led North Korea to fake a nuclear test in 2006 by lighting off about 400 tones of TNT in a mine laced with some partially refined fissile material.

4/26/2008 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

A book I just got on the Israeli nuclear program says that Seymour Hersh stated that unnamed Israeli officials told him that they had conducted 3 nuclear tests with South African support, one of which was spotted by Vela satellites on 1 Sep 1979.

Of course, Hersh’s credibility is hardly the best, and the U.S. decided that the South Atlantic Event was the result of meteorological conditions, but they were not South African bombs, so they had nothing to admit to in that respect.

The Phd from DC who came to see me in 1980 about launching a satellite to serve as an interim IONDS sensor still thought that Vela had spotted a nuke test. Of course, by the time our meeting was over he had less credibility with me than Hersh does now.

As for U-235 versus Pu, it is quite possible to build a bomb that uses both, thereby enabling smaller amounts of the more scarce Pu to be used as well as enabling a more efficient weapon.

For both general and specific information on nuclear weapons I highly recommend the book “U.S. Nuclear Weapons” by Hansen. It is now available for under $200, down from over $700. Has some really nice pictures of the test explosions, too.

4/26/2008 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger Manny C said...

Wretchard,

Here is another guess as to why Syria wants nuclear weapons. In summary: it had signed a mutual defense pact with Iran. Syrian use of nuclear weapons would be too dangerous for its own good. However, Iran has been supplying Shahab 3 rockets to Syria. Given the heat Iran is under re its nuclear program it decides to outsource this to a friendly neighbour, say Syria.

This theory has at least one problem: if it would be dangerous for Syria to use nuclear weapons on Israel (fallout etc), why would they agree to supply the weapons to someone else to do it instead? Also, one Syria does develop the weaponry, why would it agree to provide Iran with them? It would have a nuclear arsenal to use on Iran should Iran become demanding...

That's enough from me for now...

4/26/2008 05:28:00 AM  
Blogger El Baboso said...

Gun type warheads too fragile for ICBMs? They were used in artillery shells (W9 and W19) that experience 14-20 thousand Gs in the tube.

Egplant is correct. The economics and weight constraints of gun-type weapons suck. That's why they were abandoned by the the US, USSR, France, UK, and probably the Israelis and Indians.

Wretchard is also correct. The Syrian, Iranian, Paki, etc nukes are designed to let them project power through asymmetric means while preserving the territorial integrity of the homeland. They are not offensive. They are insurance. If some established nuclear state like the US or Israel decides that the offensive terrorist campaign deserves retaliation on the sponsor's homeland, then the mere possession of nukes ups the ante. If even one bomb or warhead gets through, the cost of retaliation might be considered too high in this post modern, post heroic age.

4/26/2008 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger Fen said...

eggplant: A nuke without a delivery mechanism is almost as useless as a ballistic missile without a warhead.

Cargo containers and oil tankers make wonderful delivery systems, esp if the nuclear fingerprint can't be traced back with 100% certainty.

Rogue States. WMD programs. Proxy attacks by supported terrorists.

Why are we using the last war [USSR] as our model?

4/26/2008 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

On the very day Israelis bombed the Syrian nuclear plant, the North Korean Minister of Mines, who happens to a senior general in the North Korean army, was visiting Iran to promote "bilateral trade". The secret Syrian nuclear program must be understood as part of the Iranian program. It is well known the Iranians paid for the Russian air defence system Syria recently installed. Likewise, the Iranians paid for the North Koreans to build a nuclear plant in Syria.

The fact that they would only produce a few weapons before discover is not pertainant. Ahmadinejad is inten on starting a nuclear war and his fanatical Shia sect believes the Mahdi will return and win the war for the faithful.

As Bernard Lewis observed: for Ahmadinejad, mutually assured destruction is not a deterent, it's an inducement.

4/26/2008 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

Iran does indeed have a plutonium enrichment programme:

"UN report says Iran has plutonium"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3259035.stm

4/26/2008 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/26/2008 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Incorrect. Persistant garbage rumor. S Africa made full disclosure - they never tested. And well before that, the US had independently concluded the "Vela Incident" was based a a problem with new detection electronics aboard a new satellite, which led to the glitch being fixed in newer monitoring satellites.

That story, of course, fits perfectly with the policy of nuclear ambiguity practiced by America's Special Friend and helped along by certain enablers in the federal government who came along around January 20, 1981, a little too late to squash the report totally. But I never thought I'd see Cedarford opt into it.

4/26/2008 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Kenneth: "UN report says Iran has plutonium"

I don't believe the slant here. That same report also says, "Iran says it is suspending its uranium enrichment with effect from Tuesday and has also announced that it will allow tougher UN inspections of its nuclear facilities." But you chose to cherry pick the article which actually says, Iran has manufactured small amounts of both plutonium and enriched uranium. Well big deal, it's a byproduct of even commercial nuclear power. U-235 produces neutrons which are absorbed by U-238 to produce Pu-239, all in the same fuel rod, which the fuel rod fairy is supposed to take away to Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

4/26/2008 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

At your service, 3case


2. For Rev. Wright: You are on tape invoking the wrath of The Almighty against your country to the apparent joy of your flock. What are the theological teaching points of that exercise?



From KGORadio.

There is a proper and an improper way to understand Rev. Wright's words. "God Damn America."

Those here would understand it as expressing a distorted hatred, etc. of our county. This is the improper manner.

The proper way, as expressed by Professor Hopkins of U. of Chicago, I think they said, is the context of Moses leading the children of Israel out of slavery towards the promised land. When they arrived at Mt. Sinai, Moses ascended the mountain alone and spoke with God. Left alone, the Israelites became distressed without their leader, and began to do all manner of bad stuff, like worshipping images and so forth. Descending, face aflame, Tablets in hand, Moses saw this, and the Golden Calf they had made, and broke the tablets and the image in the manner of "God Damn You Israelites", like Heston. And it's true, as told, all that generation died out before reaching the Land. (Moses too, but this wasn't mentioned.) This is the proper context for understanding Wright's statement.

If this seems a stretch to you, join me in calling it horsepucky.

4/26/2008 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

Teresita,

There are many reports about Iran's plutonium program. Start here and read: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rls=com.microsoft%3Aen-US&q=iran+%2Bplutonium&btnG=Search

The fact that plutonium is a byproduct of uranium fission does not explain why Iran was taking the trouble & expense of seperating the plutonium & enriching it. There is only one use for plutonium: making bombs. There are no industrial or medical purposes.

The fact that Iran has rejected offers from the US, the EU & the Russians for safe disposal of their spent fuel rods suggests the Iranians have another use in mind for the U235 and Pu created in them.

4/26/2008 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

The Bush Administration said a North Korean nuclear weapon was unacceptable, until 2006 when North Korea lit one off, and the Bush Administration promptly accepted it. They took the adminstrative hold off the $25 million dollars North Korea wanted, and resumed the "six party talks". This gives Ahmedinejad all the incentive in the world to go nuclear himself.

4/26/2008 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

kenneth: There is only one use for plutonium: making bombs. There are no industrial or medical purposes.

The United States has purchased 16.5 kg of Plutonium-238 from Russia to power satellites and spacecraft.

4/26/2008 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

El Baboso said:

"Gun type warheads too fragile for ICBMs? They were used in artillery shells (W9 and W19) that experience 14-20 thousand Gs in the tube."

I should have remembered that example. I actually picked up a display version of a nuclear artillery round during "Family Day" at Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL). I think(?) it was a W74 (it was very heavy). They also had a Fatman, a Little Boy and a Mk-4 RV on display as well. Unfortunately they don't allow cameras at LLNL during family day. At the time, I had my 8 year old son with me and would have loved a group photo of him and I doing a "Slim Pickens" on the Little Boy.

RWE said:

"For both general and specific information on nuclear weapons I highly recommend the book “U.S. Nuclear Weapons” by Hansen. It is now available for under $200, down from over $700."

Wow! It's gotten expensive. A zillion years ago, I bought my copy from Foyles in London for only 20 pounds. Maybe I should photocopy my copy and sell the original on eBay. There are other good books out there about nukes (Hansen's is one of the best). I'd list them but quite frankly I'm not interested in helping the bad guys lurking this forum in locating good reference texts.

Fen said:

"Cargo containers and oil tankers make wonderful delivery systems, esp if the nuclear fingerprint can't be traced back with 100% certainty."

My nightmare scenario is for the Islamic fascists to sneak into New York or Long Beach harbor a Tsar Bomba (google it) with a cobalt jacket. It would only take one Tsar Bomba in that configuration to wipe out a significant fraction of the US and probably knock us back to the 19th century. It's such an obvious thing for the bad guys to do that it seems unavoidable unless we take out their nukes preemptively. Unfortunately it's more likely we'll make Barack Hussein our next President. That bit of stupidity will be equivalent to building a flashing neon sign saying "Nuke Us Now! We're Easy!"

4/26/2008 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

kenneth: There is only one use for plutonium: making bombs. There are no industrial or medical purposes.

Incorrect. We face a real shortage of PU-238 which has vital uses in space exploration, electronics, rad sources in science, rad alpha detector calibration sources, satellites. and was the power source of cardiac pacemakers before surgery progressed to allow replacing long-lasting lithium, batteries.
PU-239/241 currently powers several country's nuclear power plants. It is used in the US as MOX (mixed oxide fuel) where we burn up the plutonium and remixed HEU from US and Soviet decommissioned bomb programs and spare inventory.
Even in regular nuke plants, the PU-239 and PU-241 created in the fuel amount to 40% of the energy generated in the last 20% of a fuel stick's life. But the PU-241 created more and more after 7,000 full power hours makes the isotopic mix unsuitable for bombs as the PU-241 spontanious fissions render the pit incapable of detonation, just fizzling out....

That story, of course, fits perfectly with the policy of nuclear ambiguity practiced by America's Special Friend and helped along by certain enablers in the federal government who came along around January 20, 1981, a little too late to squash the report totally. But I never thought I'd see Cedarford opt into it.

Only because a number of parties not bribed into "Special Friendship" with Zionists also confirmed that not one unique decay gamma assoacited with one bomb residue atom was detected from Malagascar to Diego Garcia to Pakistan to India to China to Australia to Oceana inc. Australia and NZ all the way over to Chile and Argentina as well as Soviet, Brit, and USA "sniffer" aircraft sent into the downwind area to investigate post-Vela. If it was just the US which is prone to co-option by AIPAC fatcats, I'd be more suspicious.

4/26/2008 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

c4
If it was just the US which is prone to co-option by AIPAC fatcats, I'd be more suspicious.

you were doing so well for a few posts...

then your back to the plan...

the JOOOS.....

4/26/2008 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"you were doing so well for a few posts..."

Was he? I never noticed anything but the same feverish hysteria out of his flophouse room, designed as usual to conceal the pathetic little dingleberries of Jew-baiting he is so neurotically compelled to grunt out. C-fudd hadn't been here for a while since he'd been chortled out for his ludicrous pot-kettle-black meme that Jooos "alienate" others when they post here.

Hey, how's that workin' for ya, C-fudd? Can you feel the loooove they have for you here at BC? Nosiree, you haven't alienated anybody bwahahahahah! And while you're at it, give us one of those patented "heart and courage" blowjobs on your savage Hezzie bunkbuddies whose main tactic is to undertake military operations from civilian areas. But at least the Arabs make up a large proportion of the engineering immigrants in the US (according to no less authoratative source than C-fudd), which must be why high-tech companies flock to Muslim ME countries and shun Israel.

4/26/2008 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

El Baboso said:

"The Syrian, Iranian, Paki, etc nukes are designed to let them project power through asymmetric means while preserving the territorial integrity of the homeland. They are not offensive. They are insurance. If some established nuclear state like the US or Israel decides that the offensive terrorist campaign deserves retaliation on the sponsor's homeland, then the mere possession of nukes ups the ante."

I believe the situation is more complicated than this. Israel and South Africa jointly developed (and tested) nuclear weapons mainly to make themselves unpalatable for invasion. Israel now has the "Sampson Option" to invoke if they face military defeat by neighboring states. During the apartheid era, white South Africa's greatest fear was the so-called "front line" states unifying under Soviet leadership and launching a coordinated military attack against South Africa (Angola and Mozambique were Soviet clients so this was a legitimate concern). The development of nuclear weapons was South Africa's insurance policy against this possibility.

India originally developed nuclear weapon technology as a response to nuclear armed China (a traditional enemy). Pakistan as Hindu India's Islamic twin felt compelled to develop nuclear weapons as a response to India having these weapons (this was an example of how the anti-proliferation process completely failed). The scenario described by El Baboso is more appropriate in describing Pakistan and India's relationship. Where this situation will breakdown is when Islamic fanatics gain control of the Pakistani government and their nuclear arsenal (hopefully Musharraf and the United States have preempted this very real possibility).

I believe Syria was acting opportunisticly and might be in it only for the money.

Iran is much more complex. What fouls up any sort of rational analysis of Iran's motivations is the religious myth of the 12th Imam and al-Taqiyya (religious sanctioned deception). One could argue that the Iranian mullahs would use nuclear weapons against Israel the moment they had the capability of wiping out a significant fraction of Israel's population. The counter argument that Israel would annihilate Iran in response maybe invalid because the Iranian leadership might feel they are protected by the supernatural force of the 12th Imam. One could argue that attacking Israel would represent the ultimate "act of faith" by the Iranian mullahs, i.e. we believe so strongly in the 12th Imam that we are prepared to gamble our nation's very existance in his coming.

Unless Israel has some trusted human intelligence sources within Iran's ruling elite (which is probable), Israel would have no choice but to assume the worst case scenario that the Iranians will attack due to fanatical religious motivation. The United States and the Europeans need to recognize this and defuse the situation before Israel is compelled to act preemptively.

4/27/2008 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Gary Rosen: C-fudd hadn't been here for a while since he'd been chortled out for his ludicrous pot-kettle-black meme that Jooos "alienate" others when they post here.

Not all Jews are Jewey Jews. Stephen Spielberg, for example, made a film about the retaliation against the Black Septembrists which painted the actions of the State of Israel as less-than-kosher. I think Cedarford just has a problem with Zionists and the Evangelical Christians who capture US foreign policy and steer it that way.

4/27/2008 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

El Baboso: The Syrian, Iranian, Paki, etc nukes are designed to let them project power through asymmetric means while preserving the territorial integrity of the homeland.

Iran sits astride a navigational bottleneck at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. Right now they dare not close the Hormuz Strait because the United States Navy polices the waterway. When Iran obtains nuclear arms they will be invulnerable to all but total warfare, so they will be able to ratchet up their threat to shipping, and correspondingly, oil prices as well. Whereas now they dare not attack any tankers steaming from the Gulf States, when they obtain nukes they will be able to target a certain percentage of them, because no one in the West will have the stomach to start a nuclear war over a few burning hulks. Certainly the United States will not do so, especially when it is clear America would face universal condemnation from Europe, China, and Japan for launching a nuclear strike to protect shipping.

Faced with this conundrum, the US may very well pull its forces out of the region someday, and concentrate on protecting oil production in Africa and the Western Hemisphere, including certain old-school actions to ensure friendly regimes operate in those nations inclined to favor US oil companies. It would then be up to Europe, China, and Japan to deal with the nuclear Iranian regime they worked so hard to protect.

4/27/2008 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"I think Cedarford just has a problem with Zionists and the Evangelical Christians who capture US foreign policy and steer it that way."

You just haven't been paying attention, Teresita. C-fudd has made countless irrelevant, off-topic cracks about "Jewish Bolsheviks" and "Jewish ACLU lawyers" here and elsewhere. When called on it, he then goes to "Jewish and Gentile ... (fill in the blank)" - in his single-digit IQ delusions he thinks he's concealing his antisemitism when he's actually advertising it. And it's one thing to say the US is too close to Israel, quite another to suck up to antisemitic Islamofascist savages like Nasrallah.

Want to know how antisemitic C-fudd is? He's *almost* as antisemitic as Jimmy Carter.

4/27/2008 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Eggplant: "I bought my copy from Foyles in London for only 20 pounds."

You wuz robbed! I paid $5.95 for mine 15 or so years ago from a great mail order place, Hamiltonbook.com

People like to say that the IAF does not have the capability to hit Iran without refueling. But they have the Jehrico missile, and while I don't know how good it's accuracy is, some U.S. space boosters have used Israeli guidance computers, so they are world class when it comes to guidance.

4/27/2008 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Eggplant said:

"I bought my copy from Foyles in London for only 20 pounds."

RWE said:

"You wuz robbed! I paid $5.95 for mine 15 or so years ago from a great mail order place, Hamiltonbook.com"

Eggplant replies:

Groan....

4/27/2008 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/02/2008 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Interestingly, Doctor Magdi Ragheb published a paper that is dated 3/15/2008 in which he examines the occurrence of Uranium in Phosphate Rocks in various locations around the globe.

(The quotes are from "Uranium Resources in Phosphate Rocks" by M. Ragheb, 3/15/2008, from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

The paper seems to focus on Uranium as a fuel, but of course, fissionable U235 is a naturally-occurring isotope mingled in all Uranium ores.

One of the major points he makes is that worldwide demand for nuclear fuel is rising steadily, and those countries with known deposits of Uranium Ores ("pitchblende" or Uranium Oxides) have long since recognized the necessity of protecting and conserving their known deposits. Australia, for instance, seems to have limited actual mining operations to only three sites, while the reserves it is known to have approximate to almost a quarter of the World's Uranium deposits.

On the opening page of his paper he mentions:

"The average uranium content in phosphate rock is low at 50-200 parts per million (ppm) or 0.005-0.020 percent. For comparison, some Canadian commercial ores have up to 15 percent in Uranium. Yet some low concentration ores are being mined. For instance, mines at Jaduguda, India have just 0.06 percent, and at Andhra Pradesh, India at 0.3 percent.

The world uranium reources in phosphate rock are estimated at 9 x 10 6 [i.e., ten to the sixth power] metric tonnes (mt) of Uranium (U). In most situations, it is left in the produced fertilizer as a radioactive contaminant necessitating health physicas and radiation protection measures for its handlers. With the appropriate extractions methods, uranium could be produced as a byproduct of the wet process phosphoric acid production process."


Then on the twelfth page, he drops this little item:

"Syrian Phosphate

There are reports that Syria has conducted significant work to examine the feasibility of exploiting phosphate rock to recover uranium.

The country is rich in phosphate sediments deposits and produces around one fifth of the phosphate rock mined in the entire Middle East.

According to statistics, in 2001, Syria mined over 2.04 million tons of phosphate. A food grade phosphoric acid micro-pilot plant is already operating at the city of Homs under IAEA safeguard provisions.
[my emphasis]


So by "back-of-the-envelope" calculations for someone handy with the conversion to metric...
2 million tons of phosphates x .02 percent (maximum amount of Uranium all isotopes)

From that result, reckon the percentage of U235 (about .7 percent, or .007)

Divide by the approximate critical mass in Kilograms to determine the approximate number of warheads the Syrians were sifting out of all that fertilizer...

Anyway, the IAEA has again demonstrated its utter worthlessness.

5/02/2008 11:00:00 PM  

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