This book gathers together the articles I published in USA Today Magazine. They cover a large variety of topics and the book contains a commentary, sometimes giving history and technical details that could not be included at the time.
The US has a historic opportunity to enhance crisis stability by phasing out the aging land-based ICBMs. Published in The Defense Post. Here is a link to the article:
THIS ARTICLE EXPLAINS WHY U.S. LAND-BASED MINUTEMAN III INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILES CAN BE ELIMINATED SO AS TO ENHANCE NUCLEAR CRISIS STABILITY WITHOUT COMPROMISING DETERRENCE.
ARTICLE IN USA TODAY MAGAZINE:
This book addresses the incentives to develop nuclear weapons, what it takes to do so, and some of the technical aspects of nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It uses the North Korean program as an example. It also addresses the associated policy issues.
To read the front matter through Chapter 1, click on the link below.
If the US and Japan could make it clear to China that the consequence of inaction would be a nuclear armed Japan that might be an adequate incentive.
USA TODAY MAGAZINE (September 2017)
The 8 August 2016 lead editorial of the New York Times made a financial argument against modernization of the nuclear arsenal — including the land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. They then noted that former Defense Secretary William Perry had argued that land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles are no longer needed. Concluding that, “the time has come to think seriously about whether that leg of the traditional air-sea-land triad should be gradually retired”. Only one letter was published on 15 August that partly addressed the real problem associated with this leg of the triad. Here is the letter I wrote that addresses the issue:
To the Editor:
William Perry, as you report in your editorial of 8 August, is correct that land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles are no longer needed. What was not said is that their mere existence increases the probability of accidental war. As former defense secretary Perry well knows, these missiles are not survivable under nuclear attack. Historically, and no doubt currently, the lack of survivability drives national policy to a launch-on-warning posture. What this means is that when satellite and radar systems both indicate a massive ballistic missile attack, the President is given barely enough time to make a couple of phone calls before he must make the decision to launch the missiles or lose them. It has happened in the past that both satellite and radar systems have falsely indicated a nuclear attack. The nation went to the highest defense readiness condition but luckily the indication of an attack was found to be a false alert before the President was called.
At one time land-based ballistic missiles had a greater accuracy than survivable sea-based systems, but this hasn’t been the case for many years. The country would be well served by taking this opportunity to unilaterally eliminate them.
(with S. Fred Singer)
Many people believe that wind and solar energy are essential for replacing nonrenewable fossil fuels. They also believe that wind and solar are unique in providing energy that’s carbon-free and inexhaustible. A closer look shows that such beliefs are based on illusions and wishful thinking.
Op-Ed in The Bridge: Linking Engineering and Society (Winter 2015)
Published quarterly by the National Academy of Engineering
In the December 2013 issue of Physics Today David Kramer tells us—in an article titled A nuclear bomb worth more than its weight in gold?—that “some critics of the B-61 life extension program question whether the program is necessary.” And, “Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) questioned why the B-83, a newer bomb that officials acknowledge won’t need a life extension for at least 10 years, shouldn’t replace the B-61”. Strangely enough the article omits the principal reason why the administration may think the B-61 is worth more than its weight in gold.
The article appears in Physics & Society 6 Feb 2014. The link is:
The MS with better quality figures and equations is available here: P&S-EPW-nid
Recently, Sir Menzies Campbell wrote in the Financial Times that British nuclear doctrine should be redrawn in ways that might no longer require the Trident submarines that are currently the basis of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. It was maintained that doing so would require abolishing the so called “Moscow criterion” that presumably drove force level requirements.
This “Nuclear Question” was the subject of the lead editorial of the Financial Times on May 19th. In response, I submitted the following letter that was published in the 22 May 2012 edition:
“Weakening Britain’s nuclear deterrent could come at a cost
Your 19 May editorial Nuclear Question lays the appropriate ground rules for the debate on the future of Britain’s deterrent: ‘First, Britain must not scrap its nuclear arsenal’, and most importantly, it ‘should only do so in multilateral negotiation with other powers. Second, it must stick to a sea-launched deterrent’ But the issue of the ‘Moscow criterion’ is a bit of a red herring.
During the cold war, Soviet ‘sophisticated air defenses’ had no capability against warheads delivered by ballistic missile and were not a factor in U.S. targeting. I doubt that this has changed. The defense-offense balance would, however, dramatically shift if Britain eliminated its ballistic missile deterrent and relied instead on cruise missiles carried on conventional attack submarines to replace the Trident system. A deterrent based on cruise missiles could well require higher force levels to compensate for their vulnerability. Using cruise missiles, because of their range limitations, could also require the attack submarines carrying them to operate in areas where they would be more vulnerable. And last, but not least–and this alone should rule out their use–there is the confusion that would be introduced by any cruise missile launch: is the missile carrying a nuclear or conventional warhead? Bad idea.
While four Trident submarines would still be required for operational reasons (yes, one should always be at sea), the real issue is how many missiles must each submarine carry and how many warheads need be on each missile. In the end, maintaining the Trident missile system may well be Britain’s most cost effective deterrent for the future.”
By A. DeVolpi, G.E. Marsh, T.A. Postol, and G.S. Stanford.
Born Secret looks at the widely publicized Progressive magazine case and the U.S. governmentâ€™s then unprecedented attempt to prevent publication of an H-bomb design culled by a journalist from unclassified materials. The book, originally published by Pergamon Press in 1981, has long been out of print and the authors have decided to make it available to the general public and those having an interest in the Atomic Energy Act and the First Amendment. After the court proceedings ended, the authors also donated a copy of the complete unclassified in camera file to the University of Chicago Libraries.
The file is a PDF of approximately 300MB. To download, click here.
The following 6.5 MB file has been reformatted and corrected. Born Secret-Reformated with corrections-updates