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U.S. NUCLEAR WEAPONRY STOCKPILE ISSUES John S. Foster, Jr. 2005 IFPA-Fletcher Conference 15 December 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "U.S. NUCLEAR WEAPONRY STOCKPILE ISSUES John S. Foster, Jr. 2005 IFPA-Fletcher Conference 15 December 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 U.S. NUCLEAR WEAPONRY STOCKPILE ISSUES John S. Foster, Jr IFPA-Fletcher Conference 15 December 2005

2 PRESENT-DAY STOCKPILE Purposes –Assure – provide ‘umbrella’ for Allies –Dissuade – would-be nuclear proliferators –Deter –WMD-armed adversaries –Defeat – any adversary, any conflict (NPR; QDR) Aims –Inhibit proliferation –Reduce stockpiles, to Moscow Agreement levels Reduces worst-cases risks –Limit collateral damage –Respond convincingly to differing objectives of all potential adversaries Differing in time, place, circumstance, adversary,…

3 STOCKPILE STATUS I. First, the Good News –Decade of stockpile stewardship has provided critical information on materials, weapons functioning New tools (being) developed-&-exercised to better explore weapons-pertinent areas (e.g., NIF, Zx machines) Maintained cadres of weapons-cognizant personnel –Defects found in stockpile have been found, fixed Some through surveillance, analysis and laboratory tests Some by nuclear tests (prior to 1992 test-cessation) –Serves a stark reminder that reliabilities may not be 100% –Consequence: We can say that the current stockpile is safe and reliable “…to the best of our knowledge-&-belief”

4 STOCKPILE STATUS II. Three major areas of concern First, of immediate concern, warheads are old – many past their design lifetimes ∙Refurbishment is necessary –Life Extension Programs underway −INFRASTRUCTURE has deteriorated seriously –No manufacturing capability for ‘pits’ for the past 13 years, or until after 2021? –Only major power ever unable to serial-produce the weaponry at the foundation of its military security –Now urgent to ‘turn around’ this situation »E.g., unsafe weaponry dismantlement must be performed −LEPs without testing introduce changes of ultimately- unknown consequences ∙Reductions in reliability may result – And ‘common mode’ flaws may creep in, unrecognized as such ∙If we should discover such a failure, the Reliable Replacement Warhead could be helpful – crucial point in its favor – Simpler support infrastructures may well suffice – Generically different’ design hedge against LEPs’ failure modes

5 STOCKPILE STATUS III. Three major areas of concern, continued Second, looking ahead, the “enduring stockpile” is ‘tuned’ to deter all-out Soviet attack Still credible to deter all-out near-peer attack But high-yield, ‘dirty’ (high fission-fraction) explosives –Major ‘collateral damage,’ e.g., blast/heat/fallout on ‘innocent bystanders’ –As well as fallout on Allies – and on US forces-abroad US deterrence posture lacks credibility against rogues –If used, only disproportionate force-levels available, costs-incurred,… Third, stockpile architecture can be seen as failing expectations of the… …values-set of the American people –“Just war” tenets flouted? Geneva Convention breached? …Allies: “…you would destroy the village in order to save it?” …International community –Force-levels employed, potential collateral damages incurred wouldn’t correspond to early 21 st century notions and measures of “military necessity”

6 STOCKPILE ARCHITECTURAL GOALS I. Hold-at-risk leadership elites of potential adversaries –Directly-&-immediately: No place for decision-makers to hide! ‘Hostage’ populations – arguably unable to control ‘leaders’ Pursue them underground – as deeply as necessary –They’re currently at meters – and will go deeper Challenge is to defeat deep underground bunkers with strictly-minimized collateral damage –Must develop better penetration-&-emplacement concepts For both advanced conventional and advanced nuclear means For a few meters’ penetration-depth,10 kT might be required –If we could emplace at half-depth to target, 1 kT might readily suffice »Would not crater at all (i.e., if >100 meters’ depth) Penetration/emplacement technologies not extensively explored –NAS Study Report – Yes, physics won’t permit B-61 to ‘free-fly’ deeper

7 STOCKPILE ARCHITECTURAL GOALS II. Collateral damage suppression –Have gained greatly improved delivery accuracy against most all target-types, in most operational circumstances Precision, Effects-Based Targeting – revolution in air-to-ground effectiveness –Extend it to nuclear ordnance ‘Robust’ precision-targeting enables at least 10X yield-reductions –We know how to ‘clean up’ nuclear explosives drastically: we’ve done it! Two dozen successful ‘Plowshare’ tests extensively proved capabilities Can decrease total weapon fission yields to less than 0.5 kT –From levels of 10s to 100s of kT: X reductions over extant devices –Largely obviating “fallout” and associated collateral damage –And deep emplacement well before detonation further minimizes radiation, blast, heat: all appear only underground Potentially can entirely contain the explosion NAS Study didn’t consider deep emplacement technology-set

8 STOCKPILE ARCHITECTURAL GOALS III. Respond to the threats posed by ‘modern EMP’ –Originating from low-yield warheads of novel characteristics, bursting in space over target regions of thousands to millions of km 2 area ‘Found’ by EMP Commission: extended studies of foreign EMP activities ≤10 kT, detonated at dozens to hundreds of km altitude “Different in kind, not in degree” from Cold War EMP –Possession of small numbers of such weapons by an adversary could provide a unique deterrent –EMP usage widely discussed by two (near-)peer potential adversaries E.g., Russian-American parliamentary delegation exchange in May 1999; use against U.S. C 3 I capabilities E.g., ChiComs, in context of the 7 th Fleet’s possible defense of Taiwan Primary U.S. response must be ‘hardening’ –Mission-essential aspects of (select) U.S. military forces –National survival-essential civilian infrastructures, e.g., electrical grid Essential ‘backup’ response is deterrence-in-kind –EMP threatens electronics/electrical systems – not human life directly –All extant U.S. deterrents thus are innately disproportionate –U.S. has >2 dozen pertinent nuclear test results to support weaponization

9 NECESSARY ADVANCES I. Deter attacks against the U.S. and its military –E.g., effectively eliminate ‘technological surprise’ prospects Renewed commitment of Intelligence Capabilities to comprehensively understand-&-anticipate key foreign developments Vigorous ad hoc DoD, DoE programs Enhance the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent against the full set of potential adversaries that present themselves –Credibility to friends-&-Allies crucial to dissuade them from going nuclear Challenge: high-reliability modernized weaponry without a necessity for nuclear testing –Compliance with “military necessity” aspects of international laws-of-war As well as “just means” aspects of the moral premises of “just war” E.g., learn how to credibly threaten enemy political elites “in worst case” without threatening their populations

10 NECESSARY ADVANCES II. Broaden the capabilities of the stockpile –Currently deters only near-peers –Lacks credibility to deter new adversaries Focus on holding-at-risk leadership elites, deterring (novel) attacks “High yield, dirty” stockpile weaponry lacks credibility to adversaries –Stockpile can’t be confidently maintained for much longer Extensively-decayed infrastructure –Even time-urgent weapon dismantlements are behind-schedule –Nuclear weaponry can’t be realistically abandoned No credible alternatives for ‘offensive’ or ‘defensive’ deterrence And none are upcoming –Basic fixes are mandatory – and are now quite urgent

11 NECESSARY ADVANCES III. DoD must engage Congress and the American people to build a consensus for rational, essential actions –Intelligence must credibly-&-competently inform debate –Key Allies must give “informed consent” re fundamentals –Military Services, DTRA, NNSA surely will “do their part” –But DoD – i.e., OSD, JCS and STRATCOM – must “lead out” Actions –Timely development of essential weaponry E.g., RRW, deep penetration/emplacement means, reduced collateral damage systems With supporting examination of political and military policy, strategy, tactics and requirements –Creation of supporting infrastructure for current weaponry

12 NECESSARY ADVANCES IV. “America is sleepwalking through history, armed with nuclear weapons.” John Hamre, Washington Post, ─ Yes, that is the “far field” perception ─“Close in” those responsible in DOE and DOE are struggling to develop a national consensus on needed nuclear capabilities It’s now in the National interest to anticipate-in-advance the “wake-up calls” “We have been warned”


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