Month: October 2012

The myth of strategic stability

The myth of strategic stability

Strategic stability is one of those ideas that seem to enjoy almost unqualified support among nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states, nuclear disarmament advocates and skeptics, as well as nuclear abolitionists and nuclear hawks. And it is probably because of this universal support that the pursuit of strategic stability became the single most serious obstacle on the way toward nuclear disarmament.

On the brink of the abyss in the Urals

On the brink of the abyss in the Urals

The escalation of the crisis in relations between the United States and Soviet Union in October 1962 had a most direct impact on the lives of the staff officers for the Kirov rocket corps, named after the city nearest its bases in the Ural Mountains. On October 23, I received orders to go to one of the two divisions of our corps in which intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) of the 8K64 type — SS-7 in American terminology — had recently been put on combat duty.

Romney strikes out on nukes

Romney strikes out on nukes

Last month, I profiled President Barack Obama’s record on nuclear threat reduction during his first term. I concluded that, while the president has taken impressive initial steps to reduce nuclear stockpiles, secure vulnerable nuclear materials, and retard the spread of nuclear weapons, key elements of his ambitious agenda remain unfinished.

50 years ago: The Cuban Missile Crisis and its underappreciated hero

50 years ago: The Cuban Missile Crisis and its underappreciated hero

On October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy shocked the world by announcing the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba and by imposing a blockade on missile-carrying ships moving toward the island. With the superpower navies about to collide, many experts feared an escalation to nuclear war. Though historians have credited American resolve for Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's decision to stop his ships and withdraw his missiles, resolution of the crisis was actually far more complex.

UK nuclear veterans timed out?

UK nuclear veterans timed out?

Sixty years ago, on October 3, 1952, Britain became an atomic power. More than 22,000 UK servicemen and a handful of women participated in British nuclear tests in the 1950s. There were another 10,000 or so participants who hailed from Commonwealth countries, especially Australia, which was home to the first three test sites, the Monte Bello Islands off the country’s northwest coast, Emu Field on the mainland in South Australia, and the thinly populated Maralinga area of South Australia.

Security at Y-12 nun too good

Security at Y-12 nun too good

In the early hours of July 28, Megan Rice, the now-famous 82-year-old nun and activist, and her accomplices — Greg Boertje-Obed, a 57-year-old housepainter and veteran, and Michael Walli, a 63-year-old gardener — broke into the Fort Knox of nuclear facilities: the Y-12 National Security Complex, which houses 300 to 400 metric tons of bomb-grade uranium. The three activists knew they were risking their lives by breaking into the facility; the guards at Y-12 are sanctioned to use deadly force on trespassers.