Friday, March 02, 2007

THE NUKALER CLUB: MEMBERS ONLY

The small article on page A-11 of The Oregonian today is about an announcement by the U.S. Energy Department for a new contract to develop a new Hydrogen Bomb, intended to replace the aging warheads now in the U.S. arsenal. With all the media attention, prompted by White House press releases and statements, about the impending doom represented by North Korea and Iran developing nukaler weapons, we are left in a fog of ignorance about our own nukaler capabilities.

What does this small article tell us? Mainly it's about the competition between the three U.S. national weapons laboratories, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia, for the lead position on this contract. The contract value is "secret," but experts say it is worth billions or tens of billions of dollars. We need this new H-bomb because the old ones are, well, old and maybe unreliable; however, "critics" say that the existing stockpile is reliable and can be safely maintained for decades.

I've always had problems with the nuclear nations (the Nukaler Club) telling everyone else that they can't become members because, well, nukes are bad. It's OK for the club members to have nukes, and I guess to also build new ones, but any other nation that moves in that direction is being evil.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not proposing that any and every nation should have nukes; quite the opposite, I don't think any nation should have nukes - they're bad. We've certainly gotten beyond the idea of nuclear deterrence within the Nukaler Club - it's inconceivable that any of the Club members would use nukes against another member because of the realities of nuclear warfare. And nukes aren't very useful against terrorist cells.

Imagine, if you can, being a North Korean or an Iranian. You've been named by an American President part of the "Axis of Evil" and one of the three countries in that Axis has been invaded, occupied, and basically destroyed by the American cowboy President. He's rattled his swords in your direction, moved warships into your neighborhood, used veiled threats of military action against you. So maybe your only defense, so you think, is the threat of nuclear deterrence - that just might be logical thinking. And, oh yeah, by the way, the US is also developing a new H-bomb.

The above is not to condone the actions of North Korea and Iran, and the actions of those countries are certainly much more complicated than this simplistic imagining. But why is it OK for a few nations to have The Bomb and tell everyone else they can't because it's too dangerous?

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