Nuclear Weapons

Beyond Nuclear advocates for the elimination of all nuclear weapons and argues that removing them can only make us safer, not more vulnerable. The expansion of commercial nuclear power across the globe only increases the chance that more nuclear weapons will be built and is counterproductive to disarmament. We also cover nuclear weapons issues on our international site, Beyond Nuclear International.



Karl Grossman: "Avoiding Nuclear Destruction: By the Skin of Our Teeth"

Karl Grossman, compliments of Nuclear board member Karl Grossman has posted an article at the Huffington Post, "Avoiding Nuclear Destruction: By the Skin of Our Teeth." Karl, as chief investigative reporter for WVVH-TV in New York, toured long-closed Nike and BOMARC nuclear-tipped missile bases on Long Island. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the missile batteries were designed to obliterate Soviet nuclear bomber squadrons approaching New York City. Other U.S. cities were similarly "defended" by such missile bases. The problem was, the detonation of 10 kiloton BOMARC missiles, or up to 30 kiloton Nike missiles, would have rained down massive amounts of radioactive fallout on the cities below that they were supposedly defending! By way of comparison, the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was 13 kilotons. Karl's thirty minute television report is posted at YouTube.


North and South Korea exchange fire along disputed border

Nuclear-armed North Korea, and heavily conventionally-armed South Korea, have exchanged fire in one of the sharpest escalations of military violence since the end of the Korean War over 50 years ago. This comes just days after it was revealed that North Korea may have a fully operational, advanced uranium enrichment facility, capable -- as with any uranium enrichment facility in any country -- of enriching uranium to weapons-grade. And just days before that, it was revealed that North Korea is building a new atomic reactor, capable -- as with any reactor in any country -- of generating plutonium that can be extracted via reprocessing for weapons use. In fact, North Korea reprocessed irradiated nuclear fuel from a research reactor to extract the plutonium used in its 2006 and 2009 nuclear weapons test explosions, as well as to fabricate the handful of atomic bombs it is assumed to now possess.


Large-scale, advanced uranium enrichment facility revealed in North Korea

Photo of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.David Sanger and William Broad have reported in the New York Times that the Kim Jong Il regime in North Korea may have -- within just the past year -- built a uranium enrichment facility with thousands of cascades that is already operating. This is in addition to the recent revelation that North Korea is also building a new atomic reactor. The reactor could provide additional plutonium for North Korea's atomic weapons arsenal via reprocessing, while the uranium enrichment facility could concentrate Uranium-235 to weapons-grade, and even provide the material needed to fabricate hydrogen bombs -- orders of magnitude more destructive than the dozen or so atomic bombs suspected in North Korea's current nuclear arsenal. As the New York Times mentions, the Abdul Q. Khan nuclear weapons black market likely provided North Korea essential know how and materials needed to master uranium enrichment; however, Khan did not do this alone, but with the full backing of the military and even government of Pakistan, as well as the complicity of multiple U.S. administration's "looking the other way" in order to stay on good terms with Pakistan.


Satellite photos appear to reveal that North Korea is building new atomic reactor

Satellite photos published by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) appear to show that North Korea is building a new atomic reactor. While the North Korean regime may claim the small (25 to 30 megawatt-electric) experimental atomic reactor is for "peaceful" electricity generation, questions are swirling as to whether the enriched uranium needed to fuel the reactor will enable North Korea the ability to master enriching uranium to weapons-grade. Another potential risk is that North Korea could extract plutonium from the new reactor's irradiated nuclear fuel, providing another pathway to -- and plutonium supply for -- atomic weaponry. It was this reprocessing path that North Korea took -- extracting plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel at a research reactor -- to test fire its first two nuclear weapons, in 2006 and 2009. As with the Iranian and North Korean regimes, any government could divert its nuclear power activities -- via enrichment or reprocessing -- into nuclear weapons development.




START ratification in jeopardy in Senate

Minority Whip, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is attempting to block ratification of the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) after an agreement on the treaty was signed by the President Obama and Dimitry Medvedev in April.  Kyl claims there is not enough time during the current lame duck session of Congress, but skeptics point out that delaying the vote until the new Senate is seated gives the Republicans six more seats than currently which could boost Kyl's real agenda to garner billions more for nuclear weapons production as a "quid pro quo" for START ratification. Is Kyl playing politics? Or even jeopardizing national security as many experts in the field have stated, according to a document from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation? The fact that START ratification is a top priority for the Obama administration - which is continuing to push for a vote despite Kyl's opposition - is considered another strong motivation for Republicans to block or dilute the effort.  According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Obama administration has already cow-towed to some of Kyl's demands, revising its 10-year budget for nuclear weapons with an increase in spending of "$4.1 billion over the next 5 years, over and above the more than $80 billion that the Obama administration already pledged for nuclear weapons (not including delivery vehicles) over the next ten years." START would shrink the U.S. and Russian arsenals of strategic warheads, and revive on-the-ground inspections that ceased when a previous treaty expired nearly a year ago.