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Nukes and the S-300's Importance
Folks, the rest of the year is going to be a little hectic for me, and into January, so updates for this link will be sporadic. For now a few tidbits gleaned from my many sources.
In a press release from this week, scientists feel that current models for predicting the dispersal of radioactive fallout following the detonation of a nuclear weapon are too simplistic.
“Existing models – which predict a ‘cone-shaped area of fallout’ based on wind speed and direction – fail to address the ways in which wind moves around buildings, which could affect the level of contamination for specific locations, according to an American Institute of Physics press release. The pattern of fallout can also be affected significantly by where the detonation occurs and the temperature of the radioactive cloud itself.”
There are an estimated 23,360 nuclear weapons stockpiled in 14 nations, two nonproliferation experts said in a separate report.
Actually, this is a good trivia question. Nine nations are known or widely assumed to possess nuclear weapons – China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. OK, you’d get those. But you might be surprised at what other five nations host nukes – Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands. I know I wouldn’t have gotten Belgium and the Netherlands, myself.
“Russia is believed to hold roughly 13,000 nuclear weapons, of which 4,850 are on active or operational status. ‘The status of the other 8,150 warheads is unclear. Some portion may be in reserve with the balance retired and awaiting dismantlement,’ Robert Norris and Hans Kristensen stated in the November/December edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.”
The U.S. has 9,400 nuclear weapons, with 2,700 on operational status.
Back in the 1980s, the United States deployed nukes at 75 locations in Germany. Today the figure is down to one there. “U.S. weapons are stored at a total of 21 locations in 13 states and five European countries.”
Russia once had nukes in 500 different locations across the former Soviet Union. Today it’s 48, with weapons having been removed from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
France is thought to have 300 nuclear warheads; Britain 180. Both nations have been reducing their numbers, but China, India and Pakistan have been increasing their own arsenals; China holds an estimated 240, India is between 60 and 80, and Pakistan between 70 and 90. Storage sites are particularly difficult to pinpoint when it comes to India and Pakistan.
Israel, incidentally, is thought to have between 80 and 100 nuclear weapons. There is no accurate figure for North Korea.
Nabi Abdullaev of Defense News had the following thoughts on Israel, Iran and Russia’s failure thus far to deliver the S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran.
“Israeli leaders have long considered a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, suspecting Iran of secretly pursuing a military nuclear program. At a meeting with (Prime Minister) Netanyahu in Washington on May 18, Obama set a timetable for Iran, saying he expects to know by the end of 2009 whether Tehran makes a ‘good-faith effort to resolve differences.
“As clocks tick, Israel is moving to build closer ties with Russia, including using Israeli arms export policies. In April, the Russian Defense Ministry, in an unprecedented move, signed a contract to buy several military drones from an Israel Aerospace Industries company….
“Russia, with its S-300 contract, holds a trigger to a possible big war in the Middle East, said Vladimir Sazhin, an Iran analyst with the Institute of Oriental Studies, a think tank here.
“ ‘I would give it a 100 percent possibility that Israel would strike Iran at the news of the S-300 delivery,’ he said, adding that the suspension of the delivery does not necessarily mean that Israel would not strike in the future.
“He added that the Russian government’s latest moves, such as announcing the freeze on the S-300 contract and (President) Medvedev’s public acknowledgement of the possibility of sanctions, demonstrate that the Kremlin’s patience with Iran’s attempts to slow U.N.-led negotiations is running short.”
[All of these nations are contributing 1,000 or more troops, except for Denmark at around 700. The U.S. force is currently about 68,000 and President Obama is expected to increase it to 100,000 or so in total.]