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U.S. NUCLEAR WEAPONRY STOCKPILE ISSUES. John S. Foster, Jr. 2005 IFPA-Fletcher Conference 15 December 2005. PRESENT-DAY STOCKPILE. Purposes Assure – provide ‘umbrella’ for Allies Dissuade – would-be nuclear proliferators Deter –WMD-armed adversaries

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u s nuclear weaponry stockpile issues

U.S. NUCLEAR WEAPONRY STOCKPILE ISSUES

John S. Foster, Jr.

2005 IFPA-Fletcher Conference

15 December 2005

present day stockpile

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,…

stockpile status i

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”

stockpile status ii

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

stockpile status iii

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 21st century notions and measures of “military necessity”

stockpile architectural goals i

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 100-150+ meters – and will go deeper

Challenge is to defeat deep underground bunkers with strictly-minimized collateral damage

Must develop better penetration-&-emplacement concepts

For bothadvanced 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

stockpile architectural goals ii

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: 100-1000X 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

stockpile architectural goals iii

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 km2 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. C3I capabilities

E.g., ChiComs, in context of the 7th 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

necessary advances i

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

necessary advances ii

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

necessary advances iii

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

necessary advances iv

NECESSARY ADVANCES IV.

“America is sleepwalking through history, armed with nuclear weapons.”

John Hamre, Washington Post, 5-02-05

─ 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”