Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Sidestepping Tactical Nuclear Weapons Limits With Strategic Bombs

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the comes-in-five-flavors dept.

The Military 138

Lasrick writes "Benjamin Loehrke describes the rather odd definitions of what is a 'tactical' nuclear weapon and what isn't. 'There is enough ambiguity surrounding the capabilities of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons to render the term "tactical" all but useless for arms control purposes. As the United States and Russia pursue new arms control treaties, they should drop the tactical distinction and limit the total number of all nuclear weapons — strategic, tactical, or other.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

How does SDI work? (4, Funny)

partofme (2643183) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052497)

From my Civilization 2 days I remember how SDI defenses were able to completely destroy any incoming nukes. How does it work and is it that good in real life?

Re:How does SDI work? (4, Insightful)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052565)

The basic idea is: you use satellites detect the nozzle flame of ICBM:s as they launch, then use other satellites to destroy their fuel tanks or payloads with lasers.

The only difference between Civ2 and real life is that in Civ2 it works.

Re:How does SDI work? (0)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053105)

"Our Words are Backed with NUCLEAR WEAPONS!!"

Re:How does SDI work? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054977)

I don't know how SDI works, but I know the sound that it makes, "pew pew pew"

Re:How does SDI work? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052567)

The idea was to make a virtual shield over your country, able to identify and shoot down any incoming missiles. The shield consisted of all kinds of vaporware technologies -- space-based x-ray lasers and the like. But also ABMs. The CCCP was very worried about the ABMs. They probably weren't so worried about the orbital lasers because they had plenty of Russian scientists smart enough to advise the leaders that there was no way the USA could do anything like that any time soon.

(In the 70's the Russians looked at our rockets and said "Oh shit, they've got rockets powerful enough to carry men to the moon and back." In the 80s and from then on, they've looked at our rockets and laughed.)

Re:How does SDI work? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055825)

Unfortunately SDI is completely ineffective against long range cruise missiles flying nap of the earth. So far the only effective defence has been treaties and agreements limiting number and range (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTCR). Of course if you start separating the components, engines, fuel tank, warhead and target guidance you can fiddle the numbers any way you want. A detached nuclear warhead is just a warhead not a particular kind of warhead. Detached extremely extended fuel tanks do not even need to be counted. Unattached cruise missile engines are of course just jet engines. Guidance systems are just a bunch of electronics.

So very long range stealth cruise missiles (subsonic for range to supersonic final target zone), don't even get counted until they are assembled, which could take as little as fifteen minutes per missile if designed that way. Of course designing that way also provides significant cost reduction, those motors could be used on reusable drones, military and civilian use.

Re:How does SDI work? (5, Funny)

bkmoore (1910118) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052829)

....How does it work and is it that good in real life?

SDI works like a condom. It blocks incoming nukes. It might provide protection, or it might not. It may prevent unwanted wars or it may not. The only sure way is abstinence. But what's a loose nuke among friends anyway?

Re:How does SDI work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052851)

Keptin, we have prematurely set them up the bomb.

ABORT! ABORT!

Re:How does SDI work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052941)

But what's a loose nuke among friends anyway?

I read that as But what's a loose nookie among friends anyway? Your mission is accomplished.

Re:How does SDI work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053143)

The most important question is of course. Will any of this be able to make money for Halliburton ?

Re:How does SDI work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053041)

No. At best, it could be described as "experimental". And most of the experiments are very expensive failures.

SDI relies on irony... (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054175)

Take rockets and advanced materials and social collaboration by engineers that could make the solar system rich through billions of self-replicating space habitats supporting trillions of human lives, and instead waste it all fighting over oil fields and on posturing about whose socioeconomic system is a little less broken given twenty-first century facts like advanced automation making most of the paid jobs go away...

If we want to get ride of nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052505)

We need to develop a more dangerous technology. Something like a singularity bomb. Sure, it'll wipe out everything in the portion of the galaxy, but no new nukes!

Just like women. (0, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052551)

Every "rule" has at least one hole you can use...

Re:Just like women. (0)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052585)

Every "rule" has at least one hole you can use...

There was a Jean Claude Sartre film in which there wasn't.

We ARE limiting the number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052595)

The US and Russia are limiting the number of nukes. They do it by working to prevent "axis of evil" (that's a convenient term, isn't it) type countries from getting lots of nukes. Anyone who thinks that doesn't help to keep the total number of nukes down is fooling themselves.

Nuclear weapons are blase (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052613)

Wait until we have tactical laser platforms or mass driver launchers in orbit. Now that is some kind of weapons of mass-destruction I can get down with.

Re:Nuclear weapons are blase (5, Interesting)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052789)

We will have neither of those

Mass drivers. Too expensive to get that much mass into orbit and no matter how fast you throw your projectile, it can only penetrate so far underground, as limited by physics.

Tactical lasers: Effectively banned as they are all too easily used, intentionally or unintentionally, as blinding weapons.

Also stupid easy to destroy such systems. Launch a missile straight up in a sub-orbital intercept trajectory. Payload is aluminum spheres that is released into a fan pattern once the missile has cleared the upper atmosphere. Any Nation that has SCUDs or similar could develop such a system. A SCUD-C has a max altitude of about 124 miles at the max range of 340 miles with a 1300lb warhead. Both system you propose would be in low earth orbit, 500 miles tops. If you shot straight up and reduced the payload weight I see no reason why a SCUD-C could not launch a payload of aluminum spheres 500 miles up. Once up there, the satellites own kinetic energy will destroy it when it hits one or more of the spheres, which relative to the satellite are not moving.

Such a system has the benefit of not creating space junk, as the spheres will simply fall back and burn up in the atmosphere. The only serious technical difficulty is targeting. The targeted satellites may have maneuver capability, but if it only has a short window of warning it will take a significant amount of fuel to maneuver out of the way of such a cloud. Running the satellite out of thruster fuel will be just as effective as destroying it.

Re:Nuclear weapons are blase (3, Insightful)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053199)

Orbital strikes are the way to go. Launch a steel based rod metal projectile insulated using the heat shield materials that came out of old shuttle project. Add the maneuvering control system currently used with drones and thrusters for course changes and there you are. Massive destruction without having to worry about any radioactive fall out. People have criticized the US stoppage on the shuttle but they never mention the US already has a craft capable of reaching orbit, maneuvering, and landing back on earth. So far it has being a total military project but it has been in development for over 10 years using information collected from the shuttle program. The maneuverability to intercept and destroy any other countries military satellites if needed would also be devastating to those countries who rely on them.

Re:Nuclear weapons are blase (2)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053955)

Launch a steel based rod metal projectile insulated using the heat shield materials that came out of old shuttle project.

Do you even have the most basic understanding of how much that would cost? Here is a white paper with the details

Price Per Pound to orbit (pdf)
http://www.futron.com/upload/wysiwyg/Resources/Whitepapers/Space_Transportation_Costs_Trends_0902.pdf [futron.com]

So you want to launch a one ton rod into orbit? Just the cost of a launching that would be about $8 million, assuming a $4,000 per pound launch cost. Add onto that several million just to build it in the first place. You won't be able to afford to deploy these in enough numbers to make any difference. A LGM-30 Minuteman III ICBM with a 3 warhead MIRV is only about $7 million.

Massive destruction without having to worry about any radioactive fall out.

You haven't done the math on this, have you?
A 2,000 pound rod traveling at Mach 10 has a kenetic energy equal to..........1.2 tons of TNT. Congratulations, you've spent $10+ million to do what two $800,000 cruise missiles can do.

People have criticized the US stoppage on the shuttle

Not me, the shuttle was a total boondoggle. One-time use rockets/capsules have proven to be the more economical method.

The maneuverability to intercept and destroy any other countries military satellites if needed would also be devastating to those countries who rely on them.

The country that most describes is the US. No other country is as heavily reliant on satellites. Note that China supposedly has an operational anti-satellite laser, which I find to be completely believable as the tech has been feasible for quite some time.

I have pointed out elsewhere that any country that has rocket tech of SCUD-C level or better could build a "shotgun" type anti-satellite weapon for LEO satellites, the main difficulty being targeting.

Re:Nuclear weapons are blase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054721)

Our nuclear weapons program is pretty expensive (and unreliable), it might be cheaper and lower maintenance to put rods up, or even "build and industry which pays for itself the American way" with space cowboys riding steel rods to hell made from tethered asteroids... for fun... to be honest I don't see 7 mil as allot... its cheaper then building new planes and avionics.

I think the real reason it doesn't happen is if we weaponized space in such an obvious, simple, and reliable way, it would create a shitfest down on earth amongst the havenots.

Re:Nuclear weapons are blase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40055075)

Our nuclear weapons program is pretty expensive (and unreliable), it might be cheaper and lower maintenance to put rods up, or even "build and industry which pays for itself the American way" with space cowboys riding steel rods to hell made from tethered asteroids... for fun... to be honest I don't see 7 mil as allot... its cheaper then building new planes and avionics.

I think the real reason it doesn't happen is if we weaponized space in such an obvious, simple, and reliable way, it would create a shitfest down on earth amongst the havenots.

But the havenots havent got shit; so, how do they have a shitfest?

Re:Nuclear weapons are blase (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054785)

I never mentioned a 1 ton rod. That would be massive overkill. It's the velocity of the projectile not the projectile weight that dictates the level of destruction.

Shooting down a military satellite from the ground that uses high orbits is really not feasible right now. Maybe a rail gun could do it but it is still in the developmental stage. The Chinese and US satellite shoot down demonstrations both targeted satellites in very low orbits. And exactly how do you know what China or any other countries military assests and capabilities are? They usually don't post that information to the general public. Some people seem to assume they know a countries true military capabilities from what they read on the Internet, rumours, or other public sources. The US usually sucks at keeping military secrets but the F-117 program secrecy worked and surprised quite a few countries during the first Iraqi war. Iraq's air defense system was the best you could buy and they primarily used Russian systems that were rendered practically useless. As of right now the US military technology leads the field and they have had plenty of experience actually using these weapon systems in a real time situations which is the best way of detecting problems and improving the technology. Isreal is in the same boat. Simulations are fine for initial development, testing, and training but you only know a systems true capabilities when it is used in a real time environment.

And the Shuttle project wasn't really a boon doggle it was a platform used to test certain technologies. Look at the X-37 programs and see how they benefited from the data collected from the Shuttle project.

Same as conventional weapons (4, Interesting)

Dupple (1016592) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052627)

During similar talks over conventional weapons, a certain number of Russian Army Tanks were transferred to the Russian Navy, thus making them exempt from the treaty.

This is the best link I can find. Scroll down to the 'Cold War' section.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Infantry_(Russia) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Same as conventional weapons (1)

Dupple (1016592) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052643)

I should point out that the 'Naval' tanks were eventually included in the treaty. That wasn't clear from my post

Re:Same as conventional weapons (1)

pesho (843750) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053023)

That would have been very clever if US marines were completely devoid of armor. Which is not the case so what exactly is your point?

Re:Same as conventional weapons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054473)

Dupple either failed to make his point or indicated that subterfuge and ambiguous language will be dealt with positively

Re:Same as conventional weapons (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053057)

Yes, I wonder how long it takes for North Korea to start calling its nuclear program a "tactical nuclear weapons program" and that they will "preemptively defend themselves from the American Empire" and launch an operation called "operation freedom" that will "liberate" their countrymen down south.

Re:Same as conventional weapons (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054329)

"Yes, I wonder how long it takes for North Korea to start calling its nuclear program a "tactical nuclear weapons program""

That would be a total nonsense. Everybody knows that "tactical nuclear weapons" are those launched from Germany, aimed at a target in Germany.

Sure, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052647)

I'd rather live in a world of tactical nuclear weapons than strategic nuclear weapons. If we can reduce the latter even while increasing the former, it's still a net win.

Re:Sure, but... (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053053)

TFA's thesis is that there simply isn't a dividing line between 'tactical' and 'strategic' that makes your sentence meaningful.

Given the mixture of forward bases and in-air refueling that the nuclear powers certainly aren't going to give up(even if their intentions are purely conventional, being able to B-52 bits of the middle east is just too convenient) delivering a 'tactical' warhead(or 10) right down a 'strategic' target's chimney is a matter of little more than swapping some hardpoints, and the upper edge of the dial-a-yield ranges for 'tactical' devices are well into the realm of 'would ruin a population center's day' territory.

There are, certainly, some unambiguously 'strategic' weapons, of the 'bloody huge thermonuclear warhead on an ICBM' school and there are (a dwindling number of) oddball low-yield artillery shells, demolition charges, and other oddities from the heyday of nuclear optimism(for sheer weirdness, I'm fond of the 'Davy Crockett' system. Essentially a 'technical' as much beloved by ragged 3rd world armies; but with nuclear warheads...); but much of the active hardware falls into the awkward middle ground where, in order to be powerful enough to be worth the trouble of being nuclear, it could certainly bestrategic if asked, and purely because of what people expect from contemporary delivery sytems, even for boring chemical explosives, 'strategic' delivery capabilities are widespread.

Re:Sure, but... (2)

Elldallan (901501) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053251)

Then you probably have little to no idea of what a tactical nuclear weapon actually is. Strategical nuclear weapons is generally considered to be an nuclear weapon with a yield greater than roughly 100kT(a tactical nuclear weapon thus is anything below 100kT).The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 13kT and the on that hit Nagasaki was estimated at 21kT so the only nuclear weapons ever deployed in war falls well within the tactical envelope and many of the MIRV warheads straddle the boundary and the majority of ballistic missiles use MIRV'ed warheads because they are so much harder to intercept effectively.

The distinction between strategical and tactical nukes becomes pretty moot at this point.
And considering that for example the B61 bomb has a variable yield anywhere between 0,3 and 340kT the definition of what is a tactical and what is a strategical nuke ceases to matter completely.

Personally I don't really care much whether it's a single multi-megaton nuke or several 100kT MIRVed nukes that kills, I'll be just as dead either way.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055407)

Tactical nukes make nuclear war practical. Be careful what you wish for.

Same same (2)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052693)

Is a tactical armageddon better than a strategic armageddon ?

Re:Same same (2)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052871)

short term, yes. Long term, no.

Re:Same same (2)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053895)

To bad we live in a short term world.
It's probably just a matter of time before we see some of these nucrackers in action.
Actually it is funny how the world is changing in to a short term paradigm more and more every day.

Re:Same same (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055421)

Small tac nuke wars aren't necessarily "armageddon."

The equivalent of a small nuclear war was detonated above ground in the US, and again in the Pacific.

Here's a fun exercise.

Print a paper map of Iran and of Israel, grab a thumb tack for every atmospheric nuclear test, and "get to sticking".

They could largely exterminate each other without doing much collateral damage. Yes, really.

Is "tactical nuclear weapon" a bad word now? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052701)

From TFA:

In any case, as a bonus for ratifying a single-limit treaty, the United States and Russia would be one step closer to retiring the term "tactical nuclear weapon," allowing this confused Cold War anachronism to drift into irrelevance.

This makes no sense to me. Tactical nuclear weapons would continue to exist, and would continue to be referred to as such. Plus, it's not obvious at all why they are any more anachronistic than strategic weapons, or why this guy seems more comfortable with the idea of weapons meant to be dropped on cities and kill vast numbers of civilians than ones intended to be deployed on a battlefield, with a much higher ratio of combatant to civilian casualties?

Re:Is "tactical nuclear weapon" a bad word now? (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052997)

During the Cold War, there was a bitter German joke to the effect of, "Tactical nuclear weapon: any nuclear weapon intended to be detonated over German territory." IOW, it's a euphemism, and "tactical" nukes are, in practice, unlikely to be any less murderous than "strategic" ones.

Re:Is "tactical nuclear weapon" a bad word now? (5, Informative)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053169)

Pretty much that. I grew up close to the Czech border in Germany. Wasn't that much of a fun place in the 80s. Our history teacher was military reserve - he used to tell the occasional story about how they nuked our hometown during the last training exercise. Roads were prepared with access shafts to place explosives to destroy the infrastructure, should the Soviets decide to move, lots of fun stuff like that.

Re:Is "tactical nuclear weapon" a bad word now? (4, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053403)

Notice the mention of a 50-kiloton threshold for being "tactical", when bombs in the 15-20 kiloton range had strategic effects in 1945.

Re:Is "tactical nuclear weapon" a bad word now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053605)

But when NATO or CCCP would have been setting off nukes in DE, at least the population is aware there's a war on, hopefully meaning some of them are in secure places, and there's massive enemy forces present. Strategic nukes are intended to bomb whole, unprepared cities as the first sign of war (or of war having escalated to the point of threatening them, if it arises from a conventional war), to take out a few high-ranking officers, their command networks, and any unlaunched nukes.

Yes, civilians die either way, but one has a much lower ratio of collateral damage. And if he just regarded them as equally bad, I could see. But he seems to feel tactical nukes are worse by some emotional trigger I can't understand.

Re:Is "tactical nuclear weapon" a bad word now? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054671)

Tac nukes are in fact much smaller, and were detonated in atmospheric testing which _proved_ limited nuclear war to be quite practical.

This wasn't done for shits and giggles. Testing validated NBC protective gear (which was also tested in chambers with live nerve agent and still is), armored fighting vehicle filtration and ventilation systems, shelters and bunker systems, etc, etc.

I have trouble seeing the point (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052753)

Why do we care about limits on this stuff, in terms of numbers? I can totally understand saying "Let's get rid of these things, period, they are too dangerous." However I can also understand why that'll never happen. So then why do we care how many the US or Russia have given that the answer is "more than is needed" in both cases? It isn't like having "only" say 1,000 nuclear weapons in the US instead of 5,000 would really mean anything.

Is all just seems rather silly. If someone has a viable strategy for real global nuclear disarmament, I'm all ears. However this push to try and limit the numbers the US and Russia has seems like feel-good security theater. They'll agree to it because they know it makes no difference to their actual fighting capabilities. They can destroy a couple hundred nukes as a symbolic thing, probably the ones the computer simulations show are failing anyhow, and it changes nothing.

This is just silliness.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (0)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052869)

Why do we care about limits on this stuff, in terms of numbers? I can totally understand saying "Let's get rid of these things, period, they are too dangerous."

Statistically.... every weapon is a risk. The number of weapons stolen and placed in the wrong hands required to cause massive loss of life: ONE. The number of insane technicians required to detonate a unit they're supposed to be maintaining or dismantling: ONE.

The number of weapons required to malfunction to cause serious problems: ONE. Even if it's a 0.0000000000000000000000000000000001% probability; the more weapons you have in more places, the more likely something goes wrong.

Each weapon requires maintenance which costs money -- they don't last forever,

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (5, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053049)

The number of weapons required to malfunction to cause serious problems: ONE. Even if it's a 0.0000000000000000000000000000000001% probability; the more weapons you have in more places, the more likely something goes wrong.

With you until you said that. Nuclear weapons are not stored in an armed state, and they aren't designed to keep a critical mass in such a configuration that it could turn into an uncontrolled fission. The absolute 100% worst case scenario possible would be that the non-nuclear part of the payload (which is used to mash the nuclear components together and trigger a critical mass detonation) could go off prematurely, but as the weapon is not stored in an armed state, that would not trigger a nuclear detonation (in the un-armed state, the physical position of the nuclear fuel is such that it would be blown away from each other, not towards, in the event that the explosive went off accidentally). It would, essentially, be a dirty bomb whose effective area would be contained to the storage facility in which it went off... dirty bombs are most effective when they're used outside where the local weather can carry the nuclear contaminants. Even that is not very likely, because the type of explosives they're using in modern weapons are extremely difficult to set off accidentally. (check youtube for a video of somebody cooking their lunch with burning c4... that stuff does not accidentally explode).

A *far* more likely scenario than anything you suggest would actually be some nuclear fuel "going missing". The problem with stealing a bomb is that somebody will notice it pretty much immediately. They're big, and difficult to transport. While you could fit one in an 18-wheeler, you'd have a hard time sneaking that truck into a military facility without being noticed. On the other hand, the nuclear fuel is significantly smaller and easier to transport. In theory, somebody could take the nuclear fuel from a weapon while working on it, and sneak it out in a briefcase. I would be extremely surprised if anybody ever managed to successfully do that, because my understanding is that they film people when working on nuclear weapons, and that nobody's ever left alone with a bomb.

You're right, it only takes one, but there are safeguards in place that provide an extremely small chance that any of the situations you suggest could ever happen. I would prefer nuclear disarmament too, but given that it's never going to happen, I'm comfortable with the safeguards in place. The engineers who designed these things are not morons, and designed them to fail safe (or at least, as safe as you can get with several kilograms of nuclear fuel involved).

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (5, Interesting)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053271)

Not to mention that even IF you steal one, good luck arming one. Nukes that are on active standby are heavily guarded and the detonators require pass codes to arm. Talked with someone whose duty was to guard nukes and his orders were, "ONE warning, if you do not get IMMEDIATE compliance, shoot to disable. If you can't shoot to disable, shoot anyway." People working on the weapons accidentally breaking procedure did happen on occasion, where they have to tell everyone to stop everything until the guards can sort everything out. Obviously everyone immediately complies because they know what the guards orders are and know if they get shot it's their own fault. Not unreasonable given what they are working on.

You can't just rip out the pass-coded detonator and wire all the blasting caps on the explosives together, to get the explosive "lens" in an implosion type weapon requires some blasting caps go off before others to take the core super-critical.If that timing is off all you get is a dirty bomb

Weapons that are not on active standby have vital parts removed including, when possible, the nuclear core.

This is done not only for safety, it prevents a saboteur from detonating a warhead. Worrying about a nuke accidentally going off is like me worrying about my car accidentally starting and driving over a little kid while I sit here in my house. Sure my car could accidentally catch fire, the horn could accidentally go off, but for the engine to accidentally start, the transmission accidentally shift into reverse, and the parking brake to accidentally disengage is an event so improbable that it is not worth considering.

They also don't store nukes in downtown New York, even though sometimes I think they should.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054065)

You can't just rip out the pass-coded detonator and wire all the blasting caps on the explosives together, to get the explosive "lens" in an implosion type weapon requires some blasting caps go off before others to take the core super-critical.If that timing is off all you get is a dirty bomb

No, I certainly could not, but I am sure there are people that exist who would be able to defeat the pass-code protection or reset the code to a known quantity, or reverse-engineer the detonator and engineer their own, given a sufficient amount of time. There is also someone out there responsible for doing the manual work required to SET that passcode, and I wouldn't be too surprised if all units used the same passcode, and it was something simple like 000000.

Accidentally entering the passcode might not be too likely... but did you consider the possibility that a faulty electrical component in the unit's electronics or software results in it arming the device when it's not supposed to be armed, or acts as if a passcode has been entered and starts a countdown when no human has instructed it to arm or detonate?

This is done not only for safety, it prevents a saboteur from detonating a warhead. Worrying about a nuke accidentally going off is like me worrying about my car accidentally starting and driving over a little kid while I sit here in my house.

It's conceivable a short circuit and software bug in your computer-controlled ignition system could result in your engine starting.

If your parking break wasn't working for some reason, not in use, or controlled by a drive-by-wire system which also failed, it's possible your car would then lurch forward running over someone.

As small as the probability is, it's still far from zero, it's still a potential concern. Even if a car DOES do that, it's not that big a risk. And only a person standing directly ahead of the car is really at risk.

An accidental nuke detonation is a MUCH larger catastrophe.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054453)

but did you consider the possibility that a faulty electrical component in the unit's electronics or software results in it arming the device when it's not supposed to be armed, or acts as if a passcode has been entered and starts a countdown when no human has instructed it to arm or detonate?

Probably no more than you have considered that your ATM will malfunction and randomly allow a PIN of 1111 to access your bank account, even without your ATM card.

I mean, if you want to doubt in the capability for reliable electronic authentication, why stop at warheads? Bad news for you, a large part of the world we live in relies on electronic authentication. Social security, loans, credit, payroll, taxes, communication....

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054841)

It happens more often than you think. There's even been stores on slashdot about some company misconfiguring their caching servers and leting a bunch of people access the last user's data. You would hope the military keeps better controls on things like that, but they're still just humans too.

Not that I'm ever worried about a nuke accendentially going off. I'm more concerned with tripping on a shoe lace and breaking my wrist.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054541)

No, I certainly could not, but I am sure there are people that exist who would be able to defeat the pass-code protection or reset the code to a known quantity, or reverse-engineer the detonator and engineer their own, given a sufficient amount of time.

if you have that level of engineering expertise, just skip the whole "steal nuke" part and build your own with stolen enriched Plutonium.

Accidentally entering the passcode might not be too likely... but did you consider the possibility that a faulty electrical component in the unit's electronics or software results in it arming the device when it's not supposed to be armed, or acts as if a passcode has been entered and starts a countdown when no human has instructed it to arm or detonate?

Yes that was considered all the way back in 1945, which is why nukes back then had multiple interlocks to prevent such a thing. For example. Here is the firing sequence of a "Little Boy" nuke:

Several mechanical timer switches closed 15 seconds after the bomb was dropped. ( don't have an exact number of how many there were.) These timers cut-off the barometric switches, capacitor bank, and radar switches.

At 7,000' the barometric switches closed. I believe that there were a total of 4 barometric fuses, at least two had to activate to arm the third stage. When those fuses closed they, charged the capacitors that would set off the powder charge in the gun tube. They also turned on the radar fuses.

At 1,800' the radar switches closed. There were 4 radar fuses, at least two had to activate to detonate the device. When they do, the stored energy in the capacitors set off the charge and detonated the device.

Now, point out to me where the possibility exists that a faulty electrical component in the unit's electronics could detonate the bomb?

Doesn't matter if a barometric fuse is faulty, the timers and radar fuses stop it. In addition to the need for a second barometric fuse to fail in the correct way as well to complete the circuit.

If a single timer fails you either activate a barometric sensor, arm the capacitor bank, or a radar fuse, neither of which can detonate the bomb on its own.

If a radar fuse is defective, that can't detonate the bomb either. They aren't even powered on until the timers and barometric fuses close their relays and two radar fuses need to close before the bomb can detonate.

You don't have enough monkeys and typewriters to make your scenario anywhere realistic.

It's conceivable a short circuit and software bug in your computer-controlled ignition system could result in your engine starting.

Not really. The starter switch in the ignition key switch, on my car at least, has separate wires going to power the ignition, fuel pump, and the starter solenoid. You would HAVE to have all 3 fail in the correct way at the same time to start the car. Doesn't matter how buggy the software in the computer is, without the starter motor and the fuel pump, the car isn't going anywhere

As small as the probability is, it's still far from zero, it's still a potential concern. Even if a car DOES do that, it's not that big a risk. And only a person standing directly ahead of the car is really at risk.

Hey now, you forgot about the transmission failing and going into gear. This would have to happen after the engine started, as the car physically can't start while in gear.>

While you are correct that it is not zero probability, it is close enough to be considered zero.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055135)

You can't just rip out the pass-coded detonator and wire all the blasting caps on the explosives together

Indeed. Bypassing a PAL [Permissive Action Link] [wikipedia.org] should be, as one weapons designer graphically put it, about as complex as performing a tonsillectomy while entering the patient from the wrong end."

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053671)

Uh huh. And what about a certain two countries in the Middle East who have (and are getting) that capability?

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054383)

"The problem with stealing a bomb is that somebody will notice it pretty much immediately. They're big, and difficult to transport. While you could fit one in an 18-wheeler..."

Well, let's see what wikipedia has to say about the W62, the 170 kilotons warhead of which the Minuteman loads three: "The exact dimensions of the W62 are classified, but it fits within the Mark-12 reentry vehicle which is 22 inches in diameter and 72 inches long".

Kind of ridiculously tiny 18-wheeler, I should say.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

pngai (561529) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054739)

And wikipedia says: The W80 is physically quite small, the "physics package" itself is about the size of a conventional Mk.81 250 pounds (110 kg) bomb, 11.8 inches (30 cm) in diameter and 31.4 inches (80 cm) long, and only slightly heavier at about 290 pounds (130 kg).

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (5, Interesting)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053007)

The purpose of having so many is relatively simple: Modern SOP in regards to nuclear war is "Retaliation after Ride-out". "Launch on Warning" is simply impractical given the short time between the launch of a first strike and the warhead reaching its target. Therefore a country thinking about defense will have to work on the assumption of a large portion of its nuclear weapons being destroyed in the first strike, even after extensive hardening of the launching platforms. Depending on who you ask, the military assumes a worst case scenario where between 90-95% of its strategic nuclear weapons will be destroyed/damaged in a first strike. So if you have 5,000 strategic nukes, ICBM, SLBM, bomber launched cruise missiles, that means that after ride-out you should expect to have only 250 to 500 weapons operationally available with which to immediately retaliate against the aggressor nation.

Then also remember that you don't want to use all your working weapons against the first aggressor nation, there are other nations that may take advantage of the strike to attack you, so you need to hold back some weapons in reserve in case you need to use them against other aggressor nations.

Going from 5,000 to 1,000, assuming 90-95% losses in a first strike, means you now only have between 50 to 100 warheads with which to retaliate with. When you look at it that way,you can understand why having 10,000 nukes is not seen as excessive by many in the military. They don't see us having 10,000 nukes. They see us having 500-1000 nukes after a first strike. less in fact when you consider that many will be offline for maintenance. Figure retaining half for continued deterrence and then you only have a max of 250-500 nukes to immediately retaliate with.

Of course then there is the fact that nuclear disarmament would probably make large scale war MORE likely. With nukes you do not need a large standing army for national defense. (For national OFFENSE, what the US is doing today, you do.) Without them you have to expend vast resources maintaining a conventional military for purely defensive purposes. Seriously, why DIDN'T the Soviet Union just steamroll until they got to Gibraltar? They could have done so with conventional forces largely at any time during the Cold War. Because they knew full well that such an action would result in nuclear retaliation.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054361)

Well I think the military disagrees with that now days, particularly when you see some of the things they've changed like bringing seafarer offline, moving NORAD out of Cheyenne Mountain and so on. Could well be because the only country with massive first strike capability was the USSR and these days we aren't worried about Russia doing that, never mind that we found out what a sorry state most of their weapons are in.

However none of that is relevant to my point of why are these people pushing for partial disarmament? This isn't Russia trying to trick the US in to less nukes, it is an anti nuclear weapons group saying "Well how about a little less?" My point was a little less is stupid. You either get rid of all of them globally (which of course won't happen) or you don't bother. Even if you eliminate a few a nuclear holocaust would still be perfectly possible.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055121)

True, though I wonder if it is not partially because of increased technology that we simply don't need NORAD in a mountain anymore. With better and better communications tech even after a first strike retaliation will still take place.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

Iskender (1040286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054373)

Of course then there is the fact that nuclear disarmament would probably make large scale war MORE likely. With nukes you do not need a large standing army for national defense. (For national OFFENSE, what the US is doing today, you do.) Without them you have to expend vast resources maintaining a conventional military for purely defensive purposes. Seriously, why DIDN'T the Soviet Union just steamroll until they got to Gibraltar? They could have done so with conventional forces largely at any time during the Cold War. Because they knew full well that such an action would result in nuclear retaliation.

The little bit of political science I've read contradicts this, although I admit it's so little that I can't dig up any sources on short notice.

But the basic thing is this: if you have a lot of nukes you tend to build up a huge army precisely so that you'll never have to use them. You know nukes probably mean mutually assured destruction, so you never go "oh no problem, I'll just lean on the nukes".

Now, even though I live in Western Europe I think it's not that important: the Soviet Union was the only superpower to defend its home turf in Europe. It had a huge army. The US also had a huge army, but it didn't have its capital in Europe. The fact remains that both nuclear armed to the teeth superpowers also had strong conventional arms.

Also a quick check with unreliable sources gives
350,000 US troops in Europe in 1980. Add different national armies to this and the fact that the defender tends to be in a better position and the certain Soviet victory starts looking a lot less certain. Not to mention that 350 000 troops mostly standing guard far away from home hardly sounds like defence is cheap.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055109)

But the basic thing is this: if you have a lot of nukes you tend to build up a huge army precisely so that you'll never have to use them. You know nukes probably mean mutually assured destruction, so you never go "oh no problem, I'll just lean on the nukes" Now, even though I live in Western Europe I think it's not that important: the Soviet Union was the only superpower to defend its home turf in Europe. It had a huge army. The US also had a huge army, but it didn't have its capital in Europe. The fact remains that both nuclear armed to the teeth superpowers also had strong conventional arms.
.

As opposed to building up a huge army because you don't have them?

No, the reason the Soviets had large conventional force was to keep satellite nations and their own civilian population in line

The US also did have large conventional forces because it was operating under the flawed premise of perpetual "Limited War" in the third world and desire to police the world. That theory will hopefully be shot in the head and burred for good after the last few we've been in

350,000 US troops in Europe in 1980. Add different national armies to this and the fact that the defender tends to be in a better position and the certain Soviet victory starts looking a lot less certain. Not to mention that 350 000 troops mostly standing guard far away from home hardly sounds like defence is cheap.

The Soviets outnumbered NATO 3-to-1 in tanks, which at the time were technically comparable to western tanks, and had over 50% more aircraft. They also had more troops, more APCs, more SAMs, etc. A war would have been costly, but eventually the Soviets could have very well taken Europe.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053009)

If it doesn't matter whether there are 1000 or 5000, then I say chop it down to 1000, because once you have disassembled them that's 4000 weapons you don't have to pay to maintain and keep secure.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053103)

If nothing else, it's a cost-saving measure. Politically, you aren't allowed to use your nukes, or even test them much anymore; but that doesn't make them any cheaper to maintain, stockpile, keep ready for use, etc. A shiny, bilateral, humanitarian, oh-so-noble, strategic arms reduction treaty serves as a pleasantly face-saving way for both the US and Russia to say 'fuck it, this shit isn't worth the money'.

Nobody wants to be the first to blink; but being a 'responsible' nuclear power is actually pretty lame. You aren't allowed to do crazy tinpot dictator stuff, and your large conventional forces deter smaller competitors even without nukes; but you still have to pay upkeep, fret about loose cannons sneaking off with a warhead when you aren't looking, and so forth.

I'd wager that none of the nuclear powers would want to get rid of all their toys; but that the US and Russia are delighted to have been able to free up some of the cash spent on the ludicrious overkill buildup levels of the cold war and divert that to other uses...

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053323)

Far more money would be saved by downsizing ones conventional forces, we don't need them for defense. Strong Nuclear Triad, reasonably sized navy, small ground forces for small scale events. That's all you really need for defense.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053659)

Far more money would be saved by downsizing ones conventional forces, we don't need them for defense. Strong Nuclear Triad, reasonably sized navy, small ground forces for small scale events. That's all you really need for defense.

Then when a million or so North Koreans steamroll into South Korea, the only possible response would be nuclear war, right on the doorstep of two large nuclear super powers: Russia and China.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054025)

South Korea would wipe the floor with North Korea and you know it. North Korea does not have the materiel for a war with the South. SK spends over 10 times more than NK on defense. On paper it looks evenly matched with number of tanks and planes, but most NK equipment is obsolete and poorly maintained. NK does not have the logistics to steamroll anywhere, nor do they have an effective delivery system for their nukes.

If anyone used a nuke first it would be the North. China and Russia are going to be upset at NK, not anyone who retaliates with nukes against NK. Only reason nobody has invaded NK is because nobody wants it. No modern infrastructure, no resources, a largely illiterate population.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055533)

More importantly, essentially all South Koreans under the age of 40 have the ability to stop a zerg rush encoded into their brainstems through sheer practice...

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053179)

The usefulness of a weapon in preventing wars is directly proportional to the odds of it killing politicians. I mean its all fun and games sending off the flower of a country's youth to perish on some distant battlefield while you sit there sipping bourbon, and if worst comes to worst you can usually come to some sort of gentleman's agreement with your counterpart, but with nukes the supply of fine spirits gets rapidly curtailed along with oh, everything else.

Therefore the more self interested a politician is, the less likely they are to actually use serious weapons of mass destruction. Thus given the temperment of politicians everywhere, we should arm every country that's not a complete asylum with nukes, in order to secure world peace.

Yeah I'm a little jaded.

Re:I have trouble seeing the point (1)

debrisslider (442639) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053927)

Because the upkeep/maintenance costs for thousands of nuclear weapons is really expensive even today. A huge portion of the Department of Energy budget is devoted to nuclear weapons. So the fewer we have, the less money we spend, no? But the majority of nuclear weapons are for counterforce purposes - destroying military installations and other nuclear weapons. So a unilateral disarmament down to a fifth of the previous arsenal places the U.S. or Russia at an unacceptable risk for a decapitating first strike - regardless of how likely that actually is, you can't roll the dice with MAD. Both sides must have equivalent armament to assure MAD - you don't want to upset the strategic balance because even if you aren't realistically going to be attacked, a much greater nuclear arsenal still generates a lot of diplomatic soft power and you'll have the threat hanging over your head. I sure hope you don't make libertarian/tea-party posts elsewhere, because the cost difference between 1000 and 5000 is huge and both countries would dearly love to clear up some budgetary room at zero cost to their military's effectiveness. 1000 IS as effective as 5000 if both sides are at that level (and in the event of a nuclear war, 2000 exploded bombs results in much less fallout than 10000 - fallout is awful in either case, but you may as well have a whole lot less of it) and we're long past the one-upsmanship of the mid-period Cold War. Again, the majority of nuclear missiles are targeted at the other side's nuclear capabilities - it would take fewer than 1000 to decimate the civilian government, population, and infrastructure. We have no need to drive Russia into bankruptcy - indeed, Russian financial trouble is actually more likely to cause a nuclear incident, as weapons are stolen and engineering talent set free to be hired by other organizations and countries.

Viable strategy for transcending arms races (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054237)

"If someone has a viable strategy for real global nuclear disarmament, I'm all ears."

http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]

A real, non-hipster, way (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054423)

This guy thinks he's discovered some magic thought experiment that let you think everything away. No, not really. The problem is that there are hostile, sometimes crazy, nations that have nuclear weapons. There are other nations that are kinda bullies (like China) that have nuclear weapons too. So if the US, England, France, and let's say Russia too get rid of all their nuclear weapons, then all that happens is those nations have leverage to push them around.

Right now, China's nuclear arsenal is defensive only and that's all it can be. They tried to use it offensively, they'd risk total nuclear annihilation. However if nuclear weapons went away from the other nations, it would be feasible. China decides to invade Russia and don't say "that would never happen" realize a small border conflict, with fatalities, happened in 1969, and a larger one happened in 1929. So they decide to invade to take land, which they quite want and need. Russia responds with conventional weapons and is doing well in the fight but China threatens them off: Leave us alone or we'll nuke a few cities. What is Russia to do?

Or worse yet, you take North Korea. Again, right now there's an understanding that if they nuked SK or Japan, it would mean nuclear annihilation for them and crazy though their leaders may be, they don't want to die or become rules of the glass parking lot. However with the US nuclear threat gone? Maybe they decide to go for it, nuke the major military installations in SK and Japan, and invade. What do they care? The life of their citizens doesn't matter to them and they aren't getting nuked back.

That's why I say there's no viable strategy. Doesn't matter what you could talk the US and Russia in to, they aren't the only ones who have nuclear weapons and there are likely to be more nations in the future, not less. If you think you can "irony" North Korea or China or Israel or Pakistan in to giving up their weapons, good luck with that, however until that happens, don't bother trying with the US or Russia.

Bad strategy (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052785)

Since War Games we know that the only winning move is not to play

Re:Bad strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052861)

Strategic arms reduction: the only winning move is not to play.

WE KEEPS AAAALLLLLL THE NUKES! IN YOUR FACE, RUSSKIE!

(You know this is about arms reduction negotiations, not about nuclear war, yes?)

Re:Bad strategy (2)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052875)

Since War Games we know that the only winning move is not to play

Wrong, unless you include the rest of the correct notion. The only winning move is not to play, and to make sure that nobody else will or can, either. For those against whom a deterrent is appropriate, the "won't" part is fine. For those who are crazy or willing to sell the weapons to people who are, the "can't" part is more important.

Re:Bad strategy (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053311)

For those who are crazy or willing to sell the weapons to people who are, the "can't" part is more important.

Except for the historical fact is that nobody is that crazy.

The Soviet Union wouldn't give China nukes, nor would they even give them assistance in developing their own.
China/Soviet Union sent large amounts of supplies to North Vietnam, never even considered giving them a nuke.
North Korea will sell it's missile tech, but no evidence of even them being crazy enough to sell a nuke.
Iran wouldn't give a nuke to the insurgents either. (For the simple fact that the insurgents would use it against the Iranians.)

Sure some counties may hand out conventional weapons like candy to their favorite proxys, but nukes are a different breed. Conventional weapons are like letting your friend sleep over at your house. Nukes are like putting their name on the deed. A country can always stop shipments of conventional weapons if they don't like what they are doing with them before things out of hand. Not so with nukes.

Re:Bad strategy (1)

wer32r (2556798) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053441)

You forgot to add: For now...

Re:Bad strategy (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053681)

Please elaborate. I don't see the game changing all that much. If China, who had no problem with human wave attacks and killing tens of millions in its botched social programs, wouldn't give North Vietnam a Nuke then the same factors are at play with Iran, Pakistan, etc.

If you disagree please tell me why so I can address it.

Re:Bad strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053025)

Since War Games we know that the only winning move is not to play

There was a little problem with that. it's quite possible to win tic-tac-toe....but it requires to things, you must strike first, and you must force the opponents first move to be where you want it. it's always bothered me.

Re:Bad strategy (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054735)

Since War Games we know that the only winning move is not to play

There was a little problem with that. it's quite possible to win tic-tac-toe....but it requires to things, you must strike first, and you must force the opponents first move to be where you want it. it's always bothered me.

And how do you force the opponents first move to be where you want it? You cover the tictactoe board with your hand leaving only one place open?

I always wondered about aircraft carriers (1)

dragisha (788) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052845)

Why they are exempt from various quota talks?

Until I read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Challenge_2002 [wikipedia.org]

So.. Where were we? Importance of arsenals?

Re:I always wondered about aircraft carriers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052951)

Only the US and its allies can build aircraft carriers. The US isn't interested in weakening itself.

Nobody has leverage.

Re:I always wondered about aircraft carriers (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053137)

Why they are exempt from various quota talks?

Everyone knows that in a real war a carrier fleet is just a target-rich environment. Carriers are great for bombing third-world nations who can't shoot back, but not much use against modern missiles and submarines.

Re:I always wondered about aircraft carriers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40055849)

In a real war a carrier battle group is going to be busy ass raping any enemy platform that has the slightest possibility of harming it. They're not just going to be cruising around waiting for someone to attack them. They're going to be blowing shit up wholesale and sending enemy ships and subs to Davy Jones' Locker.

The Backyard Bomb (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052957)

Are you sure that just limiting the number is enough?

I am reminded of Edward Teller's backyard weapon: a bomb so powerful that it needed not being delivered physically on its intended target. Its yield was so high that it could have been simply detonated in the garden behind Edward Teller's home.

A backyard bomb would only count as one.

Re:The Backyard Bomb (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053349)

Yes, but the point is to destroy your enemy, not yourself.

Strategic, tactical, or . . . personal . . . ? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052981)

How small can you make a nuclear weapon critter anyway? Could individual soldiers carry something like a personal nuclear weapon? And would that make sense in a combat situation?

Of course, what terrorist folks would like to do with these is another matter.

Have any micro nukes been produced? Or would we even know if they had been?

Re:Strategic, tactical, or . . . personal . . . ? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053083)

How small can you make a nuclear weapon critter anyway? Could individual soldiers carry something like a personal nuclear weapon? And would that make sense in a combat situation?

If we accept the possibility of the Russian 'suitcase nukes', around 100lbs. The US W54 warhead was around 51lbs for the bare warhead. Wiki info here [wikipedia.org]

Re:Strategic, tactical, or . . . personal . . . ? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053111)

Yes, micro nukes have been produced. Small enough to be shot with a recoilless rifle: Let me present the M388/Davy Crockett [wikipedia.org] . Here [youtube.com] is the relevant video. Whoever would want to fire a nuke, however small the yield, with a launcher limited to a 4000 m range is beyond be, though.

Kinda like a nuclear hand grenade. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053315)

What's the point?

Re:Kinda like a nuclear hand grenade. (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053351)

What's the point?

The point is, that by most likely sacrificing a launch team of three soldiers, you evaporate a tank column. Don't look at me, I did not invent that shit...

Re:Strategic, tactical, or . . . personal . . . ? (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054229)

Whoever would want to fire a nuke, however small the yield, with a launcher limited to a 4000 m range is beyond be, though.

Says you, conveniently ignoring every suicide bomber in the known universe.

What the hell is other? (1)

madhi19 (1972884) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053117)

The last line of the post leave me perplexes. "strategic, tactical, or other". What the hell does "other" mean in that context? Are we talking railgun shooting nukes on top of bipedal tanks or maybe orbital bomb that look and behave like satellites. Or Super Doomsday Nuke capable of seeding the whole atmosphere with cobalt-60.

Re:What the hell is other? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053327)

"Other" is a catch-all term, to avoid being perceived as excluding some, if anyone reading it considers there to be more categories.

It's not the damage, its the word (2)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053639)

They could bomb the crap out of a city with 10 megatons of dynamite, nobody will give a crap. It'll be the second news item right after the important breaking news on who Snooki is dating.

Did anybody care when Dresden was bombed and tens of thousands of humans died? We don't hear anyone saying we mustn't have a repeat of Dresden. Noo .. it's we mustn't use nuclear weapons.

Mankind has a psychosis over radiation .. I'm telling you .. forget strategic nuke or midget nukes ... the issue is that its nuclear. It's radioactive.

A nuclear weapon stockpile is no longer a deterrence to war. Conventional armies still are. If someone tries to invade the US, conventional weapons can stop it much better and easier than nukes can. The most powerful nuclear weapon ever made has only a 50% kill ratio in a 15 mile radius .. you cannot scale much higher easily because the earth's curvature will prevent the blast from reaching far .. and if you detonate it high in the sky the blast pressure reduces pi-squared with distance-- so 15 miles is a reasonable upper limit ..and that's assuming it's in a city where the debris is a danger. OK, then what about using multiple nukes at the same time? It won't be wise ... due to fallout ..-> the radiation can gather into a cloud system and rain down on an allied location or worse if we are unlucky it may even get caught in a weather pattern that brings it here. When the US tested one of the first thermonuclear weapons in Bikini Atoll, Japanese fishermen on aboard the Daigo Fukuryu Maru died from the fallout that happened hours later .. they were 100 miles from the atoll. They got more radiation than if they were just 15 miles away. There is a map of the US and thyroid contamination due to fallout from the Nevada test sites at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_fallout_exposure.png [wikipedia.org] You can see that Montana, which is a thousand miles from Nevada got most of the radioactive effect --- meanwhile people in Nevada itself and its neighbor California got much less radiation exposure.

If anyone anywhere uses a nuke, even a tiny tiny nuke and in self defense .. it will still GUARANTEE a new nuclear arms race. Rather than having a stockpile of nukes that can be compromised by a terrorist or psychopathic group of individuals -- it's better to have a very strong conventional army and a small well protected nuclear stockpile. Best of all deterrents though .. is diplomacy .. good foreign policy, being reasonable, not interfering except for extremes, and not bearing hatreds.

Re:It's not the damage, its the word (1)

debrisslider (442639) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053951)

I suggest doing some research about Dresden, many historians and ex-military feel that it was not justified, and an act of pointless brutality to the extent that some wish to call it a war crime.

Re:It's not the damage, its the word (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054263)

not interfering except for extremes

Judging by recent behaviour, the US of A (amongst others) is happy to interfere even if the only EXTREME is the extremely fabricated "evidence".

Re:It's not the damage, its the word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054661)

If someone tries to invade the US, then the US can unleash nukes all over their home country and vital supply routes. An army isn't much good without the industrial backbone to support it.

Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054463)

These terms, Strategic and Tactical, stem from an era and psychology that has long passed into history.

In those days, Strategic, referred to an action initated by the President of the United States of America to erradicate a 'certain' enemy whereas, Tactical, referred to an action by a field commander to erradiacte a 'certain' enemy.

The 'difference' is in the 'scale of death'.

An action ordered by the President (USA) in this regard would be to erradicate the entire populas of ... France ... per say, whereas the action undertaken by a field commander in this regard would be to erradicate the populas of a city ... Berlin ... per say.

In our Modern Age of Immiment Terror, the President of the United States of America can, and has, ordered the attack on and erradication of the entire populas of US cities, New York and Washington D.C., as in the 'so-called' 9/11 events. In these 'events' personnel of Saudi Arabia and Egypt (their 'Security Forces' allied with the US President, not the US Government) were under contract of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government, i.e. the President of the United States of America, George Walker Bush, at that time.

After ordering the erradicaiton of the populas' of New York and Washington D.C., President George Walker Bush underwent surgery, brain surgery, to render him unknowing of the actions he initiated on 'his own people', in the aforementioned cities. This explains his 'erradic' and 'seemingly drunken' and 'forgetfull' behavior during the terms of his presidency.

However, President Barak Obama, has not 'enjoyed' brain surgery.

His actions, inheriting the 'Maximum Security State' that the United States of America fell into, are his by his own thoughtful actions day and night and codified by this 'secret' executive orders, which we are so 'fond'.

For us, the citizens of the United States of America, the real and clear and present danger is alive in the form of the thing calling itself 'Barak Obama'. That neccessitates action.

Action(s) it(they) will be(become).

LoL

US Russian and Chinese nukes aren't the problem. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054649)

The have ensured a remarkably peaceful era and continue to do so.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?