Recent series of Indian Point shutdowns worst in years
Ernie Garcia, email@example.com
BUCHANAN — Four unplanned reactor shutdowns over a two-month period at Indian Point are the most setbacks the nuclear power plant has experienced in years.
A review of unplanned shutdowns from January 2012 to the present showed this year’s events happened within a short time frame, between May 7 and July 8, in contrast with events from other years that were more spread out, according to data released by Indian Point.
So many mishaps at the Entergy-owned plant haven’t occurred since 2009, when one of two units at the Buchanan site experienced a similar series, said plant spokesman Jerry Nappi.
Besides a May 9 transformer failure that spilled some 3,000 gallons of oil into the Hudson River, this year’s shutdowns were prompted by a May 7 steam leak, a July 8 pump motor failure and a June 15 switch yard breaker failure offsite in a Consolidated Edison substation.
If a nuclear plant has more than three unplanned shutdowns in a nine-month period, its performance indicator could be changed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which results in additional oversight. That’s what happened with Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., after four unplanned shutdowns in 2013.
So far, Entergy said there doesn’t appear to be a pattern to the Indian Point shutdowns.
“You do want to look at these events holistically to see if there is something in common, but you also look individually to see what the causes were,” Nappi said. “A plant shutdown in and of itself is not a safety issue.”
One of the four recent Buchanan shutdowns triggered a special inspection by the NRC and calls to close the nuclear plant by environmental groups and elected officials. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said in the past Indian Point should close, but his office did not respond to a request for comment about whether the recent shutdowns have prompted any state scrutiny.
The NRC is expected to release a quarterly report on Indian Point this month that will address the transformer failure and, by year’s end, is planning an inspection of the transformer and an analysis of transformer issues since 2007.
Besides its transformer-related inquiries, the other three shutdowns have not raised “any immediate safety concerns or crossed any thresholds that would result in additional NRC oversight,” agency spokesman Neil Sheehan wrote in an email.
The unplanned shutdowns at Indian Point and Pilgrim in Massachusetts were mostly preventable, said Paul Blanch, a former Indian Point employee with 45 years of nuclear power experience.
“For this to happen this frequently indicates a deeper problem,” he said. “I believe it’s management oversight in the maintenance of these plants.”
Nappi said the transformer that failed May 9 and caused a fire and oil spill into the Hudson was regularly monitored. Investigators determined the failure was due to faulty insulation.
“The transformer inspection and reviews were in accordance with our standards and industry expectations, yet there was no indication the transformer was going to fail,” Nappi said.
The NRC conducted a separate, but related special inspection into the May 9 incident that focused on a half-inch of water that collected in an electrical switchgear room floor. Inspectors determined a fire suppression system’s valve failed to close properly.
Inspectors noted in their report that Entergy knew about that problem since April 2011 and replaced the valve but didn’t discover the actual cause — a dysfunctional switch — until after the fire.
Indian Point’s Unit 3 was down 19 days May through July, with the transformer failure accounting for 16 days. The shutdowns didn’t cause the public any supply problems because New York’s grid can import electricity from other states and New York has an energy plan to maintain reliability, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The nuclear energy industry judges a power plant on how continuously it produces energy, which is called a capacity factor.
There were 100 nuclear plants in the United States in 2014, a record year in terms of efficiency. In January, the Nuclear Energy Institute announced the U.S. average capacity factor was 91.9 percent.
Indian Point has an above-average efficiency rate. The plant’s Unit 2 and 3 reactors were each online more than 99 percent of the time during their most recent two-year operating cycles. They are currently in the middle of other cycles
Day: December 7, 2022
Babylon the Great Shows New Stealth Bomber: Daniel 7
US Publicly Shows New Stealth Bomber for First Time
December 05, 2022
The United States made public its newest stealth bomber last week after years of secret development. The bomber is part of the country’s answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China.
The B-21 Raider is the first new American bomber aircraft in more than 30 years. Almost every part of the program is classified – meaning kept secret from the public.
At last week’s Friday evening event at the Air Force’s Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, the public got its first view of the Raider. The tightly controlled ceremony started with a flyover of the three bombers still in service: the B-52 Stratofortress, the B-1 Lancer and the B-2 Spirit. Then, large doors slowly opened, and the B-21 was partially taken out of a building.
“This isn’t just another airplane,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “It’s the embodiment of America’s determination to defend the republic that we all love.”
Embodiment means that something is a perfect example of a quality or idea.
The bomber is part of the U.S. efforts to modernize its nuclear abilities, which also include silo-launched nuclear ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles.
The efforts come at a time of fast Chinese military modernization.
China could have 1,500 nuclear weapons by 2035. And the U.S. defense department said recently in its yearly China report that China’s gains in cyber warfare, space capabilities and other areas present the most serious “challenge to U.S. national security and the free and open international system.”
Kathy Warden is the chief executive of Northrop Grumman, which is building the Raider. She said the Raider looks like the B-2, but once you get inside, the similarities stop.
“The way it operates” is very complex “compared to the B-2, because the technology has evolved so much in terms of the computing capability ….” Warden said. Other changes include the use of advanced materials to make the bomber harder to detect.
“Even the most sophisticated air defense systems will struggle to detect a B-21 in the sky,” Warden added. “You’ll hear it, but you really won’t see it.”
Six B-21 Raiders are in production. The Air Force plans to build 100 that can carry either nuclear weapons or normal bombs. The plane can also be deployed with or without a human crew.
Both the U.S. Air Force and Northrop also point to the Raider’s relatively quick development. The bomber went from contract award to public appearance in seven years. Other new fighter and ship programs have taken over 10 or 20 years.
The cost of the bombers is unknown. The Air Force previously put the price for a buy of 100 aircraft at an average cost of $550 million each in 2010 dollars. That amount represents around $753 million today. Still, it is unclear how many bombers will be built.
“We will soon fly this aircraft, test it, and then move it into production. And we will build the bomber force in numbers suited to the strategic environment ahead,” Austin said.
The Raider will not make its first flight until 2023. However, using advanced computing, Warden said, Northrop Grumman has been testing the Raider’s performance using a digital copy of the one that was shown to the public.
Dan Grazier is an expert at the Project on Government Oversight. He warned, “It’s easy to say that the B-21 is still on schedule before it actually flies. Because it’s only when one of these programs goes into the actual testing phase when real problems are discovered.”
I’m John Russell.
Tara Copp reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
stealth – adj. used to describe military aircraft that are designed so that they cannot be easily seen by radar
silo – n. an underground structure that is used for storing and firing a missile
challenge – n. an invitation to compete in a game, fight, etc.; an attempt to defeat someone in a competition
contract – n. a legal agreement between people, companies, etc.
strategic — adj. of or relating to a general plan that is created to achieve a goal in war, politics, etc., usually over a long period of tim
flight — n. a journey on an airplane
schedule — n. a plan of things that will be done and the times when they will be done
phase – n. a part or step in a process : one part in a series of related events or actions
Iran Nukes are Alive: Daniel 8
Iran may be able to build ‘crude’ nukes within six months – report
A new think tank report details how to deter Tehran from making the move to build a few crudely made nuclear weapons.
Published: DECEMBER 5, 2022 15:47
An explosion is seen behind a soldier during a joint exercise called the ‘Great Prophet 17’,in the southwest of Iran, in this picture obtained on December 22, 2021.
(photo credit: IRGC/WANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A new think tank report obtained by The Jerusalem Post warns of the possibility of Iran launching an accelerated effort to achieve a few “crude” nuclear weapons in six months.
According to Monday’s report by Institute for Science and International Security president David Albright, even though top Israeli officials recently told the Post that the Islamic Republic’s weapons group was two years away from being able to deliver a nuclear warhead via a ballistic missile, there could be a much more pressing threat.
In popular discussions, this option is often referred to as a “dirty” or “suitcase nuclear bomb,” but the truth is much more complex, although still quite threatening.
What is a “dirty” nuclear bomb?
The extra nuance is that no nuclear device, no matter how small, really fits into a suitcase or could be carried around by a single person.
An explosion is seen during an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ground forces military drill in the Aras area, East Azerbaijan province, Iran, October 19, 2022. (credit: IRGC/WANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Experts concerned about an improvised or crude nuclear bomb tend to discuss it being delivered by a vehicle, such as a truck. The explosive power of such a nuclear weapon would be much less than a full-fledged weapon delivered on a ballistic missile, but it could still be devastating.
By avoiding having to solve all of the challenges associated with measuring, miniaturizing and detonating a nuclear warhead via a ballistic missile, a smaller number of tasks could be solved in about six months.
Most of these would relate to bringing together the myriad components needed to build an actual bomb, some of which the ayatollahs have concealed in various locations across Iran dating back to 2003. Crossing at least a crude nuclear-device threshold could also involve performing an underground test to make sure the device would not be a dud.
Nuclear bomb explosion (credit: PUBLIC DOMAIN)
One goal of Albright’s latest report is to inhibit or deter Iran from making a final decision to build nuclear weapons, taking into account how far along the program already is.
According to International Atomic Energy Agency reports, Iran already possesses a mix of 60% and 20% enriched uranium sufficient to build around four nuclear bombs within a period of several months – if it moves forward in a “crash course” rapid manner.
A nuclear time-crunch
The report first dissected how Tehran would most likely go about accelerating the process to finish building a nuclear device.
Although some analysts present Iran’s choice as binary – go after a full-fledged nuclear missile, which takes two years, or drop that effort and pursue just an accelerated “crude” device approach – Albright said the ayatollahs could easily move forward on parallel tracks at the same time.
According to the report, “A frequently propagated red herring is that Iran’s leadership has not decided to build nuclear weapons, [and that] it does not have a nuclear weapons program – as if only a directive to build them or the act of building them qualifies. However, for a country like Iran, a simplistic binary model does not suffice.
“Similarly, this type of categorization did not apply to Taiwan in the 1980s, when it had a program of being ready to build nuclear weapons in short order, if requested by the regime’s leadership. Taiwan had not made a decision to actually build nuclear weapons, nor had it shown any intention to build them, but it wanted to be ready to do so quickly in case a Chinese invasion was imminent,” the report said.
In that case, the US showed the resolve to take dramatic and secret steps to not only shut the program down, but insisted that Taiwan dismantle much of its associated infrastructure, including a research reactor, a secret plutonium separation plant and an extensive secret nuclear-weapons simulation and high-explosives testing program.
Anti-nuclear activists hold up placards and wave flags during a protest in Taipei, Taiwan March 9, 2013.The Chinese characters on the placard reads, ”To stop the fourth nuclear power plant project. Reject dangerous nuclear power.” (credit: REUTERS/TIMOTHY SIM)
Further, as a lesson regarding Iran, the report said, “Taiwan had given the unfinished secret plutonium separation project a civilian cover story, and the research reactor was under International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. Nonetheless, the US government was determined to block Taiwan’s pathway to a nuclear weapon once and for all.”
Likewise, the report said Iran currently “does not appear to have a program focused on the actual building of nuclear weapons. But it does appear to have a program to be prepared to make nuclear weapons and to do so in short order based on covert and overt activities and facilities.”
Nuclear weapons on demand
In essence, the report warned: “Rather than a traditional nuclear weapons program, Iran threatens the region and the world with a program ready to produce nuclear weapons ‘on demand.’”
“This type of program serves the Iranian regime’s interests,” Albright wrote. “While Iran increasingly is viewed as a nuclear power, it has so far been able to avoid harsh international and regional penalties… Given its existing capabilities, this approach also permits Iran to minimize the need for secret nuclear weapon development activities, which if discovered, could catalyze more dangerous threats against the regime.”
Next, the report gave concrete recommendations to dissuade the Islamic Republic from deciding to pursue a nuclear device of any kind beyond any progress already made.
Albright discussed increased intelligence collection being able to detect any new decisions, as well as various political pressures, including diplomatic threats to snap back global sanctions to pull Iran in line.
Crucially, however, the report also said: “Iran needs to be made fully aware that building nuclear weapons will require drastic and serious actions by the international community, including military action.
“The threat of military force weakened after the negotiation of the JCPOA in 2015. Iran grew to perceive the United States as reluctant to use force and Israel as fearful and unable to launch an effective attack,” the report said, using the abbreviation for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal.
“This tendency is being reversed, but not quickly enough,” the report said. “The Western powers should get serious about offensive military options to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities if Iran moves to build nuclear weapons, diverts nuclear material, or withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
More specifically, Albright emphasized, “A useful first step is President [Joe] Biden’s declaration that military force could be used as a last resort to stop Iran building nuclear weapons; the United States and Israel’s recent drill simulating a strike on Iran is also important.”
Moreover, he said, “US military cooperation with Israel should continue to be bolstered, ensuring Israel can decisively strike Iran’s nuclear sites on short notice if there are signs Iran is moving to build nuclear weapons, including the ability of delivering a second strike if Iran reconstitutes those activities.”
Who is the Antichrist? Part 1: Beginnings
Who is Muqtada al-Sadr? Part 1: Beginnings
The controversial Shia cleric and militia leader has long been at the heart of Iraq’s political intrigue.
In a nutshell
- The enigmatic Iraqi cleric has long been at the center of Iraqi politics
- His private militias shaped years of conflict in the country
- The American withdrawal set the stage for confrontation with Iran
Nearly a year after Iraq’s last parliamentary election, the country’s political system remains frozen in crisis. The man who seemed to emerge as kingmaker after last October’s vote – Muqtada al-Sadr – proved unable to secure a coalition government, while thousands of his followers took to the streets, storming the halls of government.
This failure of the Shia cleric, who announced his retirement from politics for at least the fourth time, is casting a shadow on his chances of shaping events to come.
Muqtada al-Sadr was born in Najaf, Iraq, on August 4, 1974, to a prominent Shia clerical family with roots in Lebanon’s Jabal Amil region. The fourth and youngest son of Ayatollah Muhammad Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, he was considered the least intellectual of his brothers, but he was a good organizer and his father trusted him with the daily management of some of his madrassas.
Mr. Sadr’s political career is marked by several major turning points. Notwithstanding his repeated resignations, his emotional decision-making and his ideological contradictions, throughout the years he has stuck to two principles: that Iraq must have self-rule, and that he must be a central player in his country’s politics.
A father’s death
In April 1980, Saddam Hussein executed his father’s cousins, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr and his sister, a scholar. The death of the former – the most senior cleric yet killed by the regime – shocked the extended al-Sadr family and the Shia community.
Muqtada al-Sadr’s father, Muhammad Sadiq, a religious scholar of rising influence, decided to keep a low profile. In the late 1980s, he even began to collaborate with the regime of Saddam Hussein, though quietly enough to avoid controversy in Shia society. The Iraqi dictator allowed him to establish some institutions and preach Islam to the Shia tribes and in Saddam City – the sprawling shantytown in northeast Baghdad, which in 2003 was renamed in his memory.
His father was a proud Arab and Iraqi, leading to competition with Shia Iran.
In 1998, Saddam allowed the elder al-Sadr to begin holding communal Friday prayers, a practice not seen in Shia areas for some time. He did this at his Friday mosque services in Kufa, near Najaf, sermons that attracted tens of thousands of young Shia eager to hear some anti-Baath preaching. Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr carefully straddled the line between obeying and criticizing the regime – never explicitly crossing it, but attacking all the other Iraqi ayatollahs for their passivity and fear of Saddam. This generated a bitter rivalry with their leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Critically, in the fall of 1999, he declared himself Wali Amr al-Muslimin, the one responsible for all the world’s Muslims. This implied that the true leader of the Iranians and the Shia world was not Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but the elder al-Sadr.
Mr. Khamenei was incensed – as this was a title reserved in Iran only for him and his predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini – and closed all the offices in Iran belonging to Muqtada’s father. In December 1999, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr was gunned down in his car on the outskirts of Najaf. Muqtada’s two elder brothers, both highly respected religious scholars, died in the same hail of bullets.
A ready martyr
Most blamed the assassination on Saddam, but it would have been a serious mistake on his part to murder the senior al-Sadr. The religious leader had served the regime’s purposes well by preventing mass clashes with Shia Iraqis. He had also offended other Najaf clerics whom Saddam reviled and, most helpfully, humiliated and drew the ire of Saddam’s archenemy, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei. The latter, on the other hand, had very good reason to eliminate such a formidable competitor – a fact that cannot have escaped Muqtada’s attention.
The death of his father and brothers represented the first turning point in Muqtada’s adult life. Thereafter, he frequently appeared wearing white shrouds and declared himself ready to become a martyr. His father’s slain cousin, Baqir al-Sadr, also acted similarly before his arrest and execution. But Muqtada al-Sadr is far from genuinely seeking martyrdom; he has taken risks, but has always left himself a way out.
From his father, he inherited a few central political principles to which he still adheres. One is enmity toward the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel, which his father called “the ill-fated trinity.” These days, Mr. Sadr’s intense ire is reserved exclusively for Israel.
Another central pillar is his father’s attachment to Shia history and eschatology (like the expected Return of the Mahdi) and to Islamic law, though without embracing fanatical bigotry. Therefore, while Muqtada has found it easy to allow the killing of Sunnis for no other reason than their being Sunnis, he can also easily befriend Sunni Arabs and Kurds when necessary.
Finally, his father was a proud Arab and Iraqi, leading to competition with Shia Iran. When politically expedient, Muqtada collaborated with the Iranian Quds Force, and even stayed in Iran; now he is confronting the regime.
Facts & figures
Muqtada al-Sadr’s Iraq
From his father’s death until 2003, Mr. Sadr kept a very low profile. He accepted Saddam’s financial support because turning it down would have gotten him killed. Still, if he actually served Saddam, he did so very quietly. He kept supporting his father’s flock, the poorest Shia, with social help and religious guidance through a network of low-level clerics.
Muqtada al-Sadr is not charismatic in the usual sense; he derives his charisma from the people’s admiration for his father, an admiration that he has nurtured. For his ardent supporters, who risk their lives for him, the son of a martyred saint is also a saint. To great effect, he continues to remind them that he, too, may soon become a martyr. But while they admire him, Mr. Sadr treats his followers like a capricious nanny, threatening to disown them if they do not immediately abide by his orders.
The American enemy
The U.S. occupation of Iraq was Muqtada al-Sadr’s second turning point. Soon afterward, he sprang from his quiet activities into a political and military frenzy.
Why? First, fighting U.S. forces was a fulfillment of his father’s legacy. Second, it portrayed him as a heroic Iraqi and Muslim patriot, increasing his popularity. Finally, he understood that the Americans are not the British of old, and certainly not Saddam. They might have the ability to kill him, but, thanks to their political values, they would not.
Mr. Sadr established his private army, Jaysh al-Mahdi, named after the Shia Redeemer, the Vanished Twelfth Imam, who is expected to rise and lead the faithful to a final battle at the end of times. (In 2014, he changed the group’s name to Saraya al-Salam, the “Peace Companies.”) His fighters came from the same elements his father nurtured, and he ordered them to kill American soldiers – often providing them with Captagon pills, a potent psychostimulant to send them into battle in a frenzy.
The American occupation of Iraq was Muqtada al-Sadr’s second turning point.
Iran was very helpful in providing weapons and improvised explosive devices. This led to myriad confrontations between his Mahdi militia and American soldiers, with many casualties on both sides. Mr. Sadr’s forces also fought against supporters of his late father’s enemies, the four grand ayatollahs of Najaf, led by Ayatollah al-Sistani.
Soon after the Americans occupied Najaf, his militia murdered the pro-American Ayatollah Abdul-Majid al-Khoei, son of the late chief ayatollah. When the holy Shia Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra was blown up in 2006, Mr. Sadr likely saw it as a personal attack against him, as his militia’s namesake imam vanished in Samarra in the ninth century. His Mahdi Army became the cutting edge of fighting the Sunnis.
In August 2004, Muqtada al-Sadr occupied the Holy Shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, among the most sacred Shia sites. He was besieged by the U.S. Marines, but his life was saved by his late father’s nemesis, Ayatollah al-Sistani. They met at the latter’s home, and Mr. Sadr agreed to order his fighters to lay down their weapons and leave Najaf.
The meeting changed him – the third turning point in his life, after his father’s violent death and the U.S. invasion. Mr. Sadr seems to have been in quest for a spiritual father, and found him in Ayatollah al-Sistani.
While his official religious “source of emulation” (muqallad) was Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Kadhim Husayni al-Haeri, Mr. Sistani became his true guide. Because this clashed with his father’s legacy, and because he needed to provide his wild supporters with a target, he still disobeyed Mr. Sistani’s call not to fight the Americans. Yet he has never again attacked the ayatollah or his supporters and, after the U.S. evacuation from Iraq in 2011, never antagonized him politically. Often, he has even acted as if they were perfectly in sync.
In 2007, feeling the heat from the U.S. “surge,” Mr. Sadr escaped to Iran, where he studied for four years in Qom. The following year, with the Mahdi Army growing dominant in the Iraq city of Basra, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sent in troops to subdue them, with massive American and British assistance.
It was a humiliation that Muqtada al-Sadr could never forgive, although he decided to serve his revenge cold. While he criticized Mr. Maliki for failing to demand an immediate exit of U.S. forces, he still supported him for the premiership after the elections of 2010.
The withdrawal of U.S. forces in December 2011 was the next turning point. With no Americans left to fight, Mr. Sadr returned to Iraq and launched his long-term campaign against Mr. Maliki – and, less conspicuously, against Iran.
In 2012, he would split the parliamentary Shia camp for the first time, joining forces with Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party. And by 2014, he would help replace Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister with Haidar al-Abadi.
Within a few more years, Muqtada al-Sadr’s campaign against Tehran would break out into the open, setting the stage for political crisis.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2, on Muqtada al-Sadr’s confrontation with Iran.
Pentagon Sounds The Alarm On The Chinese Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7
Pentagon Sounds The Alarm On China’s Nuclear Build-Out
Daily Caller News Foundation December 4, 2022
The Department of Defense (DOD) confirmed China’s “ambitious” acceleration of its nuclear program in a report Tuesday, but experts disagree whether the development presents a growing threat to the U.S. as the Pentagon struggles to update and expand its own aging arsenal.
China’s current nuclear stockpile has exceeded 400 warheads is on track to reach 1,500 warheads by 2035, signaling a push from Beijing to achieve nuclear superiority over the U.S., the Department of Defense (DOD) warned in an annual report on China’s military and security threat to the U.S. released Tuesday.
The United States’ nuclear arsenal has grown older in the meantime and smaller relative to those of its peer adversaries, leaving experts wondering how much change is needed to dissuade China from further aggression, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Beijing is already racing, and the only thing worse than engaging in an arms race is losing one,” Bradley Bowman, director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the DCNF.
China “probably” intends to construct new warheads and missiles that “at least equal the effectiveness, reliability” and resilience of those belonging to the U.S., the report stated. However, China denies taking part in an arms race, instead accusing the U.S. of boosting the “China threat” narrative as a convenient excuse for enhancing its nuclear arsenal and pursuing global military dominance, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Satellite imagery from 2021, depicting 300 missile silos under construction in north-central China that could potentially house nuclear weapons, suggested otherwise, according to researchers from the Federation of American Scientists. Earlier that year, Beijing surprised Washington when it apparently conducted a successful test of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile.
China’s accumulation of nuclear power in recent years represents a “dramatic acceleration” from the mid-2000s, a senior military official told Politico.
However, the United States’ firm rejection of a “no first use” policy and commitment to protect allies under its nuclear umbrella could frighten China into supersizing its own arsenal, Lyle Goldstein, director of the Asia Engagement program at Defense Priorities, told the DCNF
“China is doing a response to what we are doing,” he said.
Washington has recently begun to upgrade the technology on existing nuclear weapons; while the Pentagon positioned the U.S. nuclear force to manage only a Russian threat in the 20th century, it has changed little since, experts told the DCNF.
“We are decidedly behind,” in both quantity and diversity of nuclear capabilities, Tom DiNanno, a Hudson Institute fellow and former arms control official in the State Department, told the DCNF. “Our nuclear force has not been not been modernized, problem one,” while China and Russia have both modernized theirs, he added.
The U.S. has agreed to limit nuclear buildup under the stipulations of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia; the U.S. currently owns roughly 5,500 warheads, of which 1600 are deployed and 1,700 are retired.
To combat the perceived threat from China, the U.S. not only needs newer weaponry, but more nuclear weapons with a variety of characteristics to support an array of deterrence purposes, Patty-Jane Geller, a researcher at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, told the DCNF.
“We have the number of nuclear weapons to deter only Russia as a large nuclear threat,” Geller said. “Now that China is second, we won’t have enough to maintain strong nuclear deterrence.”
“Our focus is both undersized and has qualitative issues. We have no hypersonic capability,” DiNanno said.
For example, long-range missiles deployed in the 1970’s are still deployed, even though the Pentagon intended them to last just 10 years, The Associated Press reported.
The Biden administration also plans to retire the United States’ most powerful nuclear weapon, the B83 gravity bomb, over unsustainable operations and maintenance costs, but has not stated how it plans to replace the bomb with an equivalent capability that access well-protected targets, Geller said, a sentiment echoed by Republican congress members.
“In order to convince an adversary it’s not a good idea to launch a nuclear weapon, we want to threaten what they value” — their nuclear weapons — “and we also want to be able to limit damage in a nuclear war,” Geller continued. Should America’s adversaries achieve nuclear superiority, “it would allow them to take greater risk in their aggression.”
Some experts questioned whether China’s buildup matters at all. China has long surpassed a threshold of nuclear weapons needed to “credibly threaten to destroy dozens of American cities,” Goldstein told the DCNF, so any increase in the number of weapons China holds in absolute terms is “irrelevant.”
China has abandoned its historically minimalist strategy, which advocated holding the smallest possible number of nuclear weapons to ensure China’s national security, in favor of an “ambitious” nuclear buildup regime, the defense official said, according to Politico.
The U.S. should focus on quality over quantity, he argued, while attempting the difficult task of getting China to agree to arms control measures, thus avoiding a costly arms race.
While China has pledged never to launch a first nuclear strike, it has demanded nuclear parity with peer countries who hope to welcome China into an international arms control system, The Washington Post reported. China’s hesitance to agree to nonproliferation terms could further upset the global balance of power and provide China with an enhanced array of options for “deterrence signaling,” exercises of power meant to contain U.S. action, the defense official said.
“The more proliferation there is, the more concerning it is — the more deeply destabilizing to the region it is,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen Pat Ryder said in a statement Tuesday.
China could mimic Russia’s fielding of nuclear weapons over Ukraine in a Taiwan contingency, frightening the U.S. into stifling support for a key ally, Geller explained to the DCNF.
However, if the U.S. were to scale back its commitments, a scenario where China and the U.S. have trained tactical warheads on one another could be avoided, Goldstein said.
“The pace and opaque nature of Beijing’s ‘strategic breakout,’ combined with its refusal to engage in substantive nuclear arms talks with the United States, risk miscalculation and force the Pentagon to assume the worst,” Bowman told the DCNF.
The Iranian Nuclear Horn Defies the IAEA: Daniel 8
An Iranian flag in Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant during an official ceremony to kick-start works on a second reactor at the facility, in Bushehr, Iran, on Nov. 10, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
Iran Building New Nuclear Plant Amid UN Concerns Over Nuclear Program
By Aldgra Fredly
December 5, 2022 Updated: December 5, 2022
Iran has begun building a 300-megawatt nuclear power plant in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, which is expected to cost about $2 billion, the country’s atomic energy agency stated on Dec. 3.
Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the new power plant is being built in the Darkhovin district of Khuzestan using a pressurized water reactor fueled with 4 percent uranium.
Eslami said the nuclear reactor will be built by Iranian companies over the course of eight years.
“The construction of this power is an old program that was stopped for years due to the bad faith of foreigners who abandoned the work, and today the first part of its operation, including the preparation of the land for the construction of the site and the main building of the power plant, began,” he told reporters.
The power plant in Darkhovin was initially assigned to a French company in 1979, but the contract was scrapped after the Islamic Revolution. China agreed to build two reactors at the site in 1992, but it eventually dropped out due to sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran in 1995.
Prior to Eslami’s remarks, U.N. nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) raised concerns over the lack of explanation by the Iranian government about Uranium traces found at three undeclared sites.
“We don’t seem to be seeing eye-to-eye with Iran over their obligations to the IAEA,” Rafael Grossi, head of the IAEA, told reporters in Rome on Dec. 3.
Grossi said talks to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, have also stalled. The agreement calls for Iran to dismantle much of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
“At the moment it does not seem to have the momentum it needs to [get] back to life,” he said.
“Iran informed us they were tripling, not doubling, tripling their capacity to enrich uranium at 60 percent, which is very close to military level, which is 90 percent,” he said.
“This is not banal. This is something that has consequences. It gives them an inventory of nuclear material for which it cannot be excluded … that there might be another use. We need to go. We need to verify.”
Iran has denied seeking nuclear weapons and claimed that its nuclear technology is solely for civil purposes. However, Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers only allowed for 3.67 percent uranium enrichment.
Kamal Kharrazi, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, boasted in July that Iran has the “technical means to produce a nuclear bomb, but there has been no decision by Iran to build one.”
In September, an IAEA report showed that Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 60 percent had grown enough that, if enriched further, could produce a nuclear bomb.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
Ukraine Strikes the Russian Nuclear Horn
Ukraine destroys two Russian nuclear bombers in airport bombings
One of the bombed airports contained a training center for military aircraft and tanks. At the second airport, two Tu-95 nuclear bombers were hit by a drone.
Published: DECEMBER 5, 2022 13:03
A Russian Tu-95MS strategic bomber and an Ilyushin Il-78 aerial refueling tanker fly over the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow on May 7, 2021
(photo credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)
Two explosions carried out by Ukraine hit two military airports in the country, reportedly destroying two Russian nuclear bombers and causing three deaths and six injuries, media reports claimed on Monday. According to estimates, the explosions were caused by tankers loaded with gasoline.
One of the bombed airports contained a training center for military aircraft and tanks. At the second airport, two Tu-95 nuclear bombers were hit by a drone. In addition, military officials in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine said that nine people were killed after the Ukrainian army shelled the city of Alchevsk.