A feature news story by the globally distributed Associated Press (AP) service only begins to touch on a deeper story of nuclear proliferation. Strategic Demands takes a few salient lines from the AP update on US nukes and reminds our readers of what we are now calling a “Nuclear Arms Race 3.0”
In an ultra-sterile room at a secure factory in Kansas City, U.S. government technicians refurbish the nation’s nuclear warheads. The job is exacting: Each warhead has thousands of springs, gears and copper contacts that must work in conjunction to set off a nuclear explosion.
Eight hundred miles (about 1,300 kilometers) away in New Mexico, workers in a steel-walled vault have an equally delicate task. Wearing radiation monitors, safety goggles and seven layers of gloves, they practice shaping new warhead plutonium cores — by hand…
The Associated Press was granted rare access to key parts of the highly classified nuclear supply chain and got to watch technicians and engineers tackle the difficult job of maintaining an aging nuclear arsenal. Those workers are about to get a lot busier. The U.S. will spend more than $750 billion over the next 10 years replacing almost every component of its nuclear defenses, including new stealth bombers, submarines and ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles in the country’s most ambitious nuclear weapons effort since the Manhattan Project.
“What we want to do is preserve our way of life without fighting major wars,” said Marvin Adams, director of weapons programs for the Department of Energy. “Nothing in our toolbox really works to deter aggressors unless we have that foundation of the nuclear deterrent.”
“They are going to have extreme difficulty meeting these deadlines,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a non-partisan group focused on nuclear and conventional weapons control. “And the costs are going to go up.”
He cautioned that the sweeping upgrades could also have the undesired effect of pushing Russia and China to improve and expand their arsenals.
StratDem: The Associated Press mention of Daryl Kimball’s ‘caution’, speaking of an arms race, is far exceeded by the reality of a new nuclear arms race. Since the announcement of US nuclear arms modernization, proliferating nuclear weapons budgeting, designing, next-gen delivery systems, and threats have become year-in, year-out. The Trump presidency featured numerable, memorable nuclear threats.
Since the US announced over a decade ago the expansion of US nuclear weapons capabilities, this “modernization” of the US nuclear weapons complex has driven a predictable Russian and Chinese nuclear weapons response. Escalation of US/Russia/China nuclear tensions are now full-blown with a collapse of arms control agreements, and a spiral of threats, geopolitics, an ‘Asia pivot’, war in Ukraine, global sanctions, and profound new nuclear dangers…
Let’s look at how this recent decade+ was ‘rephrased’ last month at the United Nations against a backdrop of nuclear realities —
UN chief warns that rise in global distrust and improvements in nukes are`recipe for annihilation’
August 31, 2023
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An alarming rise in global distrust and division coupled with efforts by countries to improve the accuracy and destructive power of nuclear weapons is “a recipe for annihilation,” the United Nations chief warned…
WHERE IT BEGINS
The core of every nuclear warhead is a hollow, globe-shaped plutonium pit made by engineers at the Energy Department’s lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico, birthplace of the atom bomb…
Bob Webster, deputy director of weapons at Los Alamos, said scientists have relied on computer models to determine how well such old pits might work, but “everything we’re doing is extrapolating,” he said.
That uncertainty has pushed the department to restart pit production. The U.S. no longer produces man-made plutonium. Instead, old plutonium is essentially refurbished into new pits.
This task takes place inside PF-4, a highly classified building at Los Alamos that’s surrounded by layers of armed guards, heavy steel doors and radiation monitors. Inside, workers handle the plutonium inside steel glove boxes, which allow them to clean and process the plutonium without being exposed to deadly radiation.
In the final production steps, a lone employee in the vault takes the almost-completed pit into both of her gloved hands and shapes it into its final form.
“Things have to fit a certain way, and everything is by touch, by feel,” said the Los Alamos employee, who the AP has agreed not to name because she is one of only a handful of people in the U.S., and the only female, who performs this sensitive task.
“Stewards of the Apocalypse” — Atomic “Nuclear Priests”
Revisiting the birthplaces of “the Bomb”, now remaking the plutonium pits (triggers) in a ‘sacrosanct’, life-threatening US nuclear arms race.