Watch The Sky–It May Rain Atomic Bombs

By Baher Kamal | Human Wrongs Watch

There are no weather forecasts for that, so you must do it by yourself. Just watch the sky every time you can as it might rain atomic bombs. It is not about any fiction tall– a technical problem, a new virus or a hiker attack, could order drones (unmanned aircrafts) to empty their full-of-nuclear-weapons’ stomach on your head.

Armed Predator drone firing Hellfire missile | Wikimedia Commons

Here you are the story. Apparently not content with being the most powerful war machine on earth, the U.S. almighty military reportedly needs now an additional huge amount of money to “modernise” its weapons of mass destruction (WMD), specifically nuclear weapons.

According to fresh reports from Washington on mid June, the U.S military would be putting pressure on the Congress to allocate some 750 billion dollars overone decade for such purpose.

Out of this figure, this U.S. taxpayers money would be spent over on maintaining  the military nuclear arsenals (54 billions a year, 540 billion in ten years), and producing more ‘efficient’ nuclear weapons of mass destruction, new submarines and missiles… and new drones carrying atomic heads ready to kill any time by remote control. 

In spite of killing hundreds of civilians in so-called ‘collateral damage’, the military role of unmanned aircraft systems is growing at unprecedented rates.

Rapid advances in technology are enabling more and more capability to be placed on smaller airframes which is spurring a large increase in the number of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems being deployed on the battlefield.

Their role has expanded to areas including electronic attack, strike missions, suppression and/or destruction of ‘enemy’ air defence, network node or communications relay, combat search and rescue, and derivations of these operations.

It has been also reported that when President Barack Obama’s administration announced in December 2009 the deployment of 30,000 new troops in Afghanistan, there was already a reported increase of attacks by pilotless Predator drones against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas.

According to the New America Foundation, armed drone strikes had dramatically increased under President Obama – even before his deployment decision.

More Remote Killing Machines On Pakistan

Following the model intensively used in Afghanistan, which caused the death of hundreds of civilians participating in social or family gatherings, wedding parties and funerals, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been conducting unmanned drone strikes in the north-western tribal region of Pakistan.

The objective is to ‘clean-up’ the area from every ‘suspect’ Taliban or Al Qaeda militant.

The remote killing machines are currently used also on Yemen, according to U.S. military sources. Maybe also in Libya…. unofficially, of course.

Obama’s Sweet Words

Three months after one of his great goodwill speeches, in Prague April 2010, in which he promised to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, U.S. President Barack Obama signed with his Russian colleague Dmitry Medvedev, on July 6 in Moscow, an understanding aimed to reduce part of their stockpiles of nuclear weapons within seven years.

Tears of joy must flooded the faces of most pacifists and good faith people on Earth. No wonder. The U.S. and Russian presidential promises came in moments in which North Korea was challenging once more all the presidents and kings of this planet, with the launch of new missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The Moscow understanding, which includes intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched missiles and bombers, replaces the 1991 Start I (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which expired in December last year.

Seven Big, Un-Answered Questions

According to the U.S.-Russia understanding, within seven years after this treaty comes into force (in the first quarter of 2011), the limits for strategic delivery systems should be within the range of 500-1,100 units each against current 1,600 units each, and for warheads linked to them within the range of 1,500-1,675 units each from current 1,700-2,200 units each.

But on the other hand, and even when not all figures have been disclosed and therefore not verifiable, the START I limits the United States and Russia to 6,000 accountable strategic warheads each.

Anyway, pleasant as all this may sound, the U.S.-Russian goal of reducing a part of their nuclear weapons raises several unanswered questions, such as:

1-Which nuclear strategic systems and warheads will they eliminate? The old fashion, nearly obsolete ones, those that are to be phased out anyway, like the ones being reduced under START I?

2-How many nuclear weapons will remain? Naive mathematical calculations would say that, seven years after a new treaty entered into force, each of the two big nuclear powers would have an average of 3,000 nuclear weapons. But such an exercise also sounds too naive. The actual number of nuclear weapons is likely to be much higher.

3-How many times the remaining nuclear stockpiles are able to destroy the whole world? Ten times? Twenty? A hundred times? One thousand times?

4-What do the U.S. and Russia intend to do with those nuclear weapons they say they will eliminate? Dismantle them? And then, where will they dump the nuclear materials and highly dangerous nuclear waste? In remote lands? Siberia? Alaska? In Third World countries as part of free trade agreements? Or maybe in Somalia?

5-What to do with the other nuclear powers — Britain, France, and China that are formal members of the nuclear club, India, Pakistan and Israel that are its unofficial members? Add to that North Korea and the so much spoken about but not at all verified or documented Iranian nuclear programme for military purposes.

6-What about new known and unknown collisions of nuclear vessels, like the one which took place on the night of Feb 3, 2009, between British and French submarines, at a location neither nation disclosed, which was described by military experts in London and Paris as a one-in-a-million occurrence? Does the U.S.-Russia understanding make the world a safer place at all?

7-Shall the big powers stop acting as nuclear power ambulant vendors, rushing to all countries, especially in the Middle East and the Arab Peninsula in particular, with their best offers of nuclear reactors? Shall Germany, which is non-nuclear military power but hosts U.S. nuclear weapons on its lands, stop producing and selling Dolphin submarines, equipable with nuclear heads, to countries like Israel which is reported to have up to 200 nuclear weapons?

And related to the latest: is it now all about attacking a maybe nuclear Iran, only? Shall such long-awaited, heavily insisted-on and much spoken-about attack on Iran liberate the Middle East from the threat of nuclear weapons which are posed by a small but powerful nuclear country?

Nuclear Powers ‘Leaner But Meaner’

Eight states—the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel—possess more than 20 500 nuclear weapons, a drop of more than 200o since 2009. More than 5000 of these nuclear weapons are deployed and ready for use, including nearly 2000 that are kept in a state of high operational alert.

This what the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on June 7, in its Yearbook 2011.

After calling nuclear powers ‘leaner but meaner’, SIPRI recalls that modest cuts in U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces were agreed in April 2010 under the New START treaty, ‘but both countries currently are either deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced programmes to do so, and appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals for the indefinite future’.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan continue to develop new ballistic and cruise missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons. They are also expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for military purposes, the international research institute underlines, SIPRI adds.

‘It’s a stretch to say that the New START cuts agreed by the USA and Russia are a genuine step towards nuclear disarmament when their planning for nuclear forces is done on a time scale that encompasses decades and when nuclear modernisation is a major priority of their defence policies,’ says SIPRI Senior Researcher Shannon Kile.

World Nuclear Forces, 2011–Too Many Nuclear Weapons

According to SIPRI Yearbook 2011, these are the current nuclear powers and their huge arsenal of this kind of weapons of mass destruction:

Country     Deployed warheads*    Other warheads   Total 2011    Total 2010

USA                    2150                                  6350                    8500              9600

Russia                2427                                 8570                  11000             12000

UK                        160                                       65                         225                 225

France                  290                                     10                         300                 300

China                   200                                  240                         240

India                      80-100                            80-110                   60-80

Pakistan                90-110                            90-110                     70-90

Israel                     80                                     80                             80

Total 5027

*“Deployed” means warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces.

States of Immediate Proliferation ‘Concern”

Iran: No known weapons or sufficient fissile material stockpiles to build weapons.

North Korea: Has separated enough plutonium for up to 12 nuclear warheads.

Syria: U.S. officials sometimes name Syria as covertly seeking nuclear weapons.

States That Had Nukes Or Nukes Programmes

Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine inherited nuclear weapons following the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, but returned them to Russia and joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states. South Africa secretly developed and dismantled a small number of nuclear warheads and also joined the NPT in 1991.

Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but (it) was forced to verifiably dismantle it under the supervision of UN inspectors.

Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan also shelved nuclear weapons programs.

(*) Excerpts from a report published by Arms Control

Association: http://www.armscontrol.org


People’s Decade for Nuclear Abolition

For A World Free of Nuclear Weapons

Copyright © 2011 Human Wrongs Watch

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