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Current Nuclear Weapons Development

Josh_TN

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Wow, Russian hypocrisy knows no bounds. As much as I disagree with the current administration on most issues, I'm glad the decision was made to go forward with B-61 mod 12 and deploy W76 mod 2.
 

bobbymike

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bobbymike

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Friday nuke news




 

Josh_TN

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New START will depend on the presidential election. Trump has made it clear he will withdraw; Biden has stated he would stay in it. The Russians seem willing to stay in the treaty if the US does. It seems rather pointless to withdraw from it when the US has no new delivery systems available for manufacture. There seems to be little reason to leave unless the Chinese very suddenly increase their production of warheads and delivery systems, or a new US ICBM/SLBM/nuclear capable bomber is in production that potentially exceeds the allowed launchers. By 2026 there may be B-21 production at least, and China might have significantly increased its stockpile, at which point a deployment of additional MIRVs to the existing launchers might be called for. ICBM/SLBM production seems like more of a 2030 timeframe.
 
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fredymac

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I wonder if Britain/US would have stayed in the Washington Naval Treaty if they had been fully aware of the cheating going on. Of course, for Britain/US, there would have been domestic supporters on both sides of the stay/leave divide right up to when the shooting started.
 

Josh_TN

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I wonder if Britain/US would have stayed in the Washington Naval Treaty if they had been fully aware of the cheating going on. Of course, for Britain/US, there would have been domestic supporters on both sides of the stay/leave divide right up to when the shooting started.
I wonder if they would have been more inclined to stay in the treaty if they had no ability to produce any warships until 1941?
 

quellish

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I thought it was the foam that holds the "physics package" in position inside the bomb casing?
or it’s something that helps a watermelon turn a cylinder into a softball. Boom.
 

fredymac

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I wonder if they would have been more inclined to stay in the treaty if they had no ability to produce any warships until 1941?
Why? Does staying restrain the cheating or encourage the cheater? Are you going to threaten to leave if the cheating doesn't stop and then when it doesn't you still stay? Leaving at least forces you to be honest with reality.
 

Josh_TN

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I wonder if they would have been more inclined to stay in the treaty if they had no ability to produce any warships until 1941?
Why? Does staying restrain the cheating or encourage the cheater? Are you going to threaten to leave if the cheating doesn't stop and then when it doesn't you still stay? Leaving at least forces you to be honest with reality.
unless I felt the treaty was counter to my interests from the beginning, I’d probably want some kind of evidence that it was being broken before I left it, particularly if I had no ability to effectively respond.
 

fredymac

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unless I felt the treaty was counter to my interests from the beginning, I’d probably want some kind of evidence that it was being broken before I left it, particularly if I had no ability to effectively respond.
A treaty can be acceptable as written as long as both sides adhere to it. When one side cheats, it becomes an asymmetric advantage if the other side does nothing. Intelligence data is presented before congressional committees and someone biased in favor of treaties will be able to see if cheating is real.

Responding means you intend to counter which means you intend to violate the treaty. The proper way to do that is announce your reasons, follow the termination process, and do what is needed.

The worst course is to tolerate cheating. The cheater will easily presume you consent. The longer you wait, the more you get into the "can't respond" mentality.
 

In_A_Dream

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I believe the world is at a point now where New START is no longer feasible. China is extensively modernizing and building up its military for the purposes of asserting itself across the globe. There's no telling how many warheads or launchers they are storing underground in their vast tunnel complexes to use as leverage in the event anything heats up. They hide behind their "No First Use" policy as a reason to not be a signatory to any nuclear arms control treaties and there's no way to confirm the true amount of warhead or delivery systems they have in the country. And unfortunately for the CCP, their credibility is shot and their actions are speaking louder than their words.

The United States must remain vigilant, it's no surprise Biden would want to stick with it, China's been backing Washington politicians since the 90s.
 

Josh_TN

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Long term, New START will be unworkable since the Chinese pretty clearly won't abide by any treaty. They see themselves as the up and coming power and will accept nothing but parity with the US, and that only as a stepping stone to replacing it has the global power. This is also one of the motivators for leaving the INF and I fully support that; the INF treat was both being violated by the Russians and left a huge opportunity for the Chinese.

In the near term however I've not heard any report that they have increased their strategic stockpile from the 300-400 that they are credited with, and presumably drastically scaling their ICBM fleet upwards to deploy ~1500 warheads like the US or Russia would be somewhat time consuming and somewhat noticeable. Also they solely rely on land based ICBMs for their deterrent, and I don't believe they have any effective early warning system yet. So I don't consider them a US/Russia level player and they won't be for years. As far as I know no one, not even the Trump administration, has accused the Russians of violating New START. The US for its part could rapidly re MIRV, more than doubling its warhead count. However it could not significantly increase its number of launchers - about the only non deployed launchers that could be reinstated are 50 MM3 silos and less than 20 B-52s. No new missiles, submarines, or bombers are in production. So it seems to me the US can afford to remain in the treaty until 2026 when the B-21 enters production, because leaving it doesn't really accomplish much other than giving the Russians a free hand. Worst case scenario, I believe that there is wording such that if the strategic situation changes either party can leave the treaty with three months notice, and the wording is vague enough that practically anything could be used as justification.

Until new launch platforms are in production, leaving the treaty doesn't seem to have much benefit and it would force the US to re-certify existing warheads to re MIRV when that money could be better used for future delivery programs like LRSO/Columbia/B-21. I think five more years of the treaty is useful; I think post 2026 remaining in the treaty is pointless.
 

Josh_TN

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Switching gears, is the W88 refurbishment going to include the 'smart fuse' that was added to the W76 mod1? If so, that would make that weapon truly terrifying against fixed burried targets.
 

bobbymike

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Switching gears, is the W88 refurbishment going to include the 'smart fuse' that was added to the W76 mod1? If so, that would make that weapon truly terrifying against fixed burried targets.
Don’t remember where I read it, it might have been from the ACA website, that all refurbished and new warheads (W93) will get the smart fuse.
 

Grey Havoc

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Despite the title, it seems in reality to be a Hail Mary Pass by those arms control advocates still left in any position of authority under the current administration, centered mostly around the State Department. Quite a few people are looking at the destruction of their rice bowls and gravy trains. The Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance for example is in all probability on the chopping block next year. Hence this manoeuver.
 

bobbymike

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Desertfox

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Don't forget that New START isn't just about restricting numbers, it also has a important verification part to it, the provides important intelligence and insight into Russian strategic systems. That part of the treaty is a lot more valuable to the US at the moment as Russia is introducing a large number of new systems, while all Russia gets to see is the same Minutemen and Tridents they are already quite familiar with.

Also cheating is not easy, you have to spend extra effort into covering up the cheating, which increase time and money spent. So if you can't ramp up your own production to match the cheating nation, its best to remain in a treaty as it will still provide substantial hurdles to the other side.
 

fredymac

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Cheating is easy if you can say:

No, you can't go there.

No, you can't see that.

No, you can't do that.

I haven't seen any details on the nature and methods of the cheating reported to Congress. But if US inspectors can't visit anywhere they want, or externally examine any specific weapon or facility they suspect, or bring any test equipment they need, then cheating would be easy.
 

Grey Havoc

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In other words, the current arrangements have not been fit for purpose for a long time, if ever.
 

Desertfox

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Cheating is easy if you can say:

No, you can't go there.

No, you can't see that.

No, you can't do that.

I haven't seen any details on the nature and methods of the cheating reported to Congress. But if US inspectors can't visit anywhere they want, or externally examine any specific weapon or facility they suspect, or bring any test equipment they need, then cheating would be easy.
New START has very specific requirements allowing inspections. And remember inspections are not the only way to spot cheating, there are plenty of other intelligence gathering methods and there are things you can't hide, such as flight tests and large scale deployments.
 

Josh_TN

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More to the point, I know of no one in the current administration who has stated the Russians have cheated, much less provided any evidence. Where as it was fairly clear the INF treat was being violated (and more over no longer was suitable due to lack of Chinese involvement). Since there isn't any US nuclear weapon in production and there won't be any delivery platform in production until the B-21, again, I fail to see what leaving the treaty does at this time. It still inconveniences the Russians even if you assume they are cheating.
 

In_A_Dream

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More to the point, I know of no one in the current administration who has stated the Russians have cheated, much less provided any evidence. Where as it was fairly clear the INF treat was being violated (and more over no longer was suitable due to lack of Chinese involvement). Since there isn't any US nuclear weapon in production and there won't be any delivery platform in production until the B-21, again, I fail to see what leaving the treaty does at this time. It still inconveniences the Russians even if you assume they are cheating.
Posturing.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 

fredymac

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New START has very specific requirements allowing inspections. And remember inspections are not the only way to spot cheating, there are plenty of other intelligence gathering methods and there are things you can't hide, such as flight tests and large scale deployments.

The Open Skies treaties seem to contain similar "very specific requirements" but here too we have complaints:

-Russian flights over the US appear to be for non military infrastructure targetting purposes and make unsafe low passes over DC
-US flights over Russia are being geographically restricted (direct contravention of treaty)


The issues with the START treaty may be more in the area of asymmetric negative impact to the US. We will see.

Finally, Russia has an economic limit on what it can do. It may proceed on a vast range of new weapons which will cause problems for the US. But it will also create the same effect it did last time they went down that road. And right now, the oil based underpinning of their economy isn't in good shape nor will it ever be fully restored as the US is now self reliant through fracking. Russia may need to prove this to themselves before they are willing to negotiate openly.
 

Trident

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Cheating is easy if you can say:

No, you can't go there.

No, you can't see that.

No, you can't do that.

I haven't seen any details on the nature and methods of the cheating reported to Congress. But if US inspectors can't visit anywhere they want, or externally examine any specific weapon or facility they suspect, or bring any test equipment they need, then cheating would be easy.
Proof?

The Open Skies treaties seem to contain similar "very specific requirements" but here too we have complaints:
Virtually all of which are totally risible at best and completely fabricated at worst. Much as it pains me to say, you CAN make a case for ditching INF, but Open Skies is a totally different ball game.

-Russian flights over the US appear to be for non military infrastructure targetting purposes and make unsafe low passes over DC
Well, even if it was designed with military installations in mind, nothing in the treaty expressly forbids that, actually - Open Skies is just that, open. Its purpose is verification and you can construct an argument where you wish to verify the absence of military infrastructure from some location. Furthermore, it's frankly silly to assume Russia would depend on Open Skies flights for such data when before the existence of that treaty and with worse EO satellites at their disposal than today they were able to come up with this:


At any rate, (non-US) Western air force personnel involved with conducting Open Skies flights have stated that in their experience, the Russians aren't looking at anything the US and its allies don't also photograph when they fly over Russia. All this would be easier to argue if the US, like other Western Open Skies signatories, published the details of Russian flights (even Russia has released US overflight tracks in the past). One might surmise that the failure to do so is an attempt to protect the narratives you're espousing - it's certainly difficult to think of a respectable reason.

As for unsafe low passes, if that is true a whole raft of USAF officers needs to be court-martialed! Open Skies missions are required to submit their flight plan in advance for approval (so US servicemen would have signed off on those low passes) and when it takes place, representatives of the country overflown ride along onboard (so again US servicemen would have failed to intervene and stop this dangerous behaviour). Last but not least, the treaty prescribes fixed altitudes during photography (the lowest is about 400m, IIRC).

-US flights over Russia are being geographically restricted (direct contravention of treaty)
It's not as simple as all that. There are basically two areas where restrictions are in place, Kaliningrad and sections of the border region with Georgia where the renegade territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are located.

The latter case is a problem outside the scope of Open Skies, as it is a direct consequence of Russia's recognition of these entities as sovereign states, making a 10km strip along their border with Russia off limits per the treaty, because they are not signatories. Now, Russian recognition was a moronic tit-for-tat response to Kosovo, but that's beside the point - Open Skies is simply neither the instrument nor the venue to resolve that particular conflict, it's an entirely unrelated issue that should not be conflated. In any case, the loss of observable land area is minuscule, two strips of approximately 150 and 70km long by 10km wide (in other words, less than one quarter the size of Big Island in total).

Kaliningrad is a bit different, as overflights continue to be allowed - the last US mission over this region took place in March this year, AFAIK. Here the contention is that the restriction of 500km on the length of the ground track, which was instituted after a Polish Open Skies flight disrupted civilian air traffic for hours with a willfully long and convoluted path, violates the treaty. It probably does, but has anybody who proposes to leave Open Skies on that score taken the time to break out a map and note the size (or rather, lack thereof) of Kaliningrad?! Within a 500km track it is possible to traverse the exclave three to four times and hence still cover the vast majority of its territory in a single flight. Which CANNOT be said about the reciprocal track length restrictions the US imposed for Russian overflights of Alaska, BTW. Was the 500km limit a Russian overreaction to a petty Polish provocation? Arguably so, but it leaves the spirit of the treaty largely intact, UNLIKE the US reprisal - so who's talking?
 
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bobbymike

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