July 25, 2008

A error in Ken Burns' War

I finally had a chance to watch Ken Burns' epic War. As I was watching the 6th and final DVD, the narrator stated that after the dropping of Fat Man on Nagasaki that "America had no more such bombs, and would be unable to produce any for several months"

What?! I knew that was incorrect. I could not recall the actual delay. I thought it was about 1- 2 weeks at worst, but months?

So, asked Stan Norris, author of Racing for the Bomb, if he could recall when the third bomb would be ready. He replied

On August 10 General Groves informed General Marshall that a bomb would be ready for delivery on the first suitable weather after 17 or 18 August (See Racing, p. 424)


There were other bombs being prepared beyond that third one, if the need should arise.

It was disappointing to hear this error. I wonder what other errors might have slipped into the film.

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Iran won't cooperate with U.N. on inquiry into nuclear program

Iran signaled yesterday that it will no longer cooperate with U.N. experts probing for signs of clandestine nuclear weapons work, confirming the investigation is at a dead end a year after it began.

Iran, which is obligated as a signer of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty not to develop nuclear arms, raised suspicions about its intentions when it admitted in 2002 that it had run a secret nuclear program for nearly two decades in violation of its commitment.

The Tehran regime insists it halted such work and is now only trying to produce fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity. It agreed on a "work plan" with the Vienna-based IAEA a year ago for U.N. inspectors to look into allegations that Iran is still doing weapons work.

Britain, one of those suspicious of Iran's nuclear activities, was critical.

"work plan" with the Vienna-based IAEA a year ago for U.N. inspectors to look into allegations that Iran is still doingWe are concerned by reports that Iran is refusing to cooperate with the IAEA on allegations over nuclear weapons,"work plan" with the Vienna-based IAEA a year ago for U.N. inspectors to look into allegations that Iran is still doing the British Foreign Office said in a statement. "work plan" with the Vienna-based IAEA a year ago for U.N. inspectors to look into allegations that Iran is still doingThe IAEA has raised serious concerns over Iran's activities with a possible military dimension. If Iran is serious about restoring international confidence in its intentions, it must address these issues."work plan" with the Vienna-based IAEA a year ago for U.N. inspectors to look into allegations that Iran is still doing

The IAEA asked in vain for explanations from Iran, and its last report in May said Iran might be withholding information on whether it tried to make nuclear arms. [via Union Tribune]

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Nap time in the silo?

Three hree ballistic missile crew members fell asleep while holding classified launch code devices. The incident occurred at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. Minot is home to 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (range 6,000+ miles) and a wing of B-52H bombers armed with gravity bombs, air-launched cruise missiles and stealth advanced cruise missiles.

An investigation by military and National Security Agency experts into the latest incident found that the missile launch codes were outdated and remained secure at all times.

Air Force Colonel Dewey Ford, a spokesman at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said: "This was just a procedural violation that we investigated. We determined that there was no compromise." US officials said the three officers were behind locked doors and had the old code components, large classified devices that allow the crew to communicate with the missiles, with them.

He said the Minot-based crew had code devices that were no longer usable because new codes had been installed in the missiles.

But the lapse on July 12 was serious enough to prompt an investigation by the 91st Missile Wing, in conjunction with codes experts at the 20th Air Force, US Strategic Command and the National Security Agency. [via The Independent]

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North Korea Pledges to Meet Obligations Under Nuclear Agreement

North Korea pledged to honor its commitments under a deal that will end its nuclear weapons program and demanded that the other five countries involved in the agreement do the same.

North Korea agreed in February 2007 to disable its nuclear programs in return for normal diplomatic ties with the U.S. and Japan and economic aid equivalent to 1 million metric tons of heavy fuel oil. Kim Jong Il's regime, which conducted a nuclear test in October 2006, complained last month about the slow pace of energy assistance.

As part of the new agreement, North Korea will complete by October the disabling of its five-megawatt reactor and fuel reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, which was used to produce weapons-grade plutonium. At the same time, the remaining members of the forum will complete delivery of the heavy fuel oil.

North Korea has said that while it has disabled 80 percent of its Yongbyon plant, only 40 percent of the promised energy aid has been delivered. Japan has refused to provide fuel oil before the resolution of the case of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea during the 1970s and 1980s. [via Bloomberg.com]

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Office of Technology Assessment Archive

The Federation of American Scientists have just updated their archive of OTA reports.

The OTA reports about nuclear weapons are here.

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July 08, 2008

Russian lawmakers OK US weapons dismantling deal

Russian lawmakers approved a deal to allow United States to provide financial aid to assist in dismantling its nuclear, chemical, and other weapons. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said the U.S. aid under that agreement has totaled more than $2 billion and Russia expects to receive another $1 billion through 2013 to help dismantle its aging arsenals.

The 1992 agreement was signed at a time when the cash-strapped Russian government desperately needed foreign aid to safely store and dispose of huge Soviet-era arsenals of nuclear and chemical weapons.

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