A just-released and about-to-be-published scientific report, authored by two respected Los Alamos nuclear experts, raises serious questions about the reliability and performance of U.S. nuclear weapons!
This is important. In today’s nuclear weapons era, America’s existence depends on our nuclear weapons stockpile. The instant readiness of these weapons for launch by our deployed submarines, bombers, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the absolute, unquestioned ability of the weapons themselves to perform meticulously to their certified military characteristics, are our nation’s only guarantee of survival.
This is what the Cold War was all about, avoiding global thermonuclear war. For 46 years, the Soviet Union and the United States each had tens of thousands of high-yield nuclear weapons poised for instant launch. If there had been any hint of incipient U.S. weapons failure, our nation would have ceased to exist. Our Strategic Air Command used to say that their mission was to ensure that the Kremlin’s daily morning meeting ended with the leader saying “Not today, Comrades.”
Nuclear weapons testing was our most important Cold War activity. It saved our lives and our nation’s life. To ensure weapons reliability and performance America conducted over a thousand nuclear tests – one or more a month for a half-century. Since 1963, these were underground tests, to avoid spread of radioactive contamination.
But as soon as that war ended, a 1992 Presidential Moratorium prohibited underground nuclear testing. Since then we’ve relied on computer simulations. To ensure that our weapons stockpile remains reliable and effective, we require the three nuclear lab directors and the commander of the Strategic Command to certify this to the president each year.
Unfortunately, test resumption has proved just too hard, politically, to bring about; and – contrary to all reasonable standards of wisdom – that moratorium still exists today! The United States has not conducted a single nuclear weapons test in a quarter-century. Nor have we designed and built any new nuclear weapons. Every nuclear weapon in our stockpile is years beyond the end of its design life. To make matters worse, there are virtually no scientists left at our nuclear weapons labs who have ever designed and tested a nuke. It’s essentially a lost art.
Aggravating the situation gravely is the fact that our adversaries, particularly Russia, China, and North Korea, have increased and improved their nuclear arsenals greatly, are acting aggressively, and are making nuclear threats.
Now, suddenly, a highly responsible, scientifically sound report appears which seriously questions whether the computer codes used in assessing nuclear performance have the capability to accurately evaluate decades-old weapons which have undergone unknown aging changes.