WASHINGTON (AP) — The foundation of America’s nuclear arsenal is fractured, and the government has no clear plan to repair it.
It’s not clear that the government recognizes the full scope of the problem, which has wormed its way to the core of the nuclear weapons business without disturbing bureaucracies fixated on defending their own turf. Nor has it aroused the public, which may think nuclear weapons are relics of the past, if it thinks about them at all.
This is not mainly about the safety of today’s weapons, although the Air Force’s nuclear missile corps has suffered failures in discipline, training, morale and leadership over the past two years. Just last week the Air Force fired nuclear commanders at two of its three missile bases for misconduct and disciplined a third commander.
Rather, this is about a broader problem: The erosion of the government’s ability to manage and sustain its nuclear “enterprise,” the intricate network of machines, brains and organizations that enables America to call itself a nuclear superpower.
What have been slipping are certain key building blocks — technical expertise, modern facilities and executive oversight on the civilian side, and discipline, morale and accountability on the military side. Continue reading
Saddam Hussein gave orders to his subordinates to launch missiles with chemical warheads at Israel should he start to lose power during the First Gulf War, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Friday, citing tapes from the late Iraqi president’s archives.
According to the report, Hussein dispersed missiles armed with chemical weapons at bases across the country and gave orders to have them launched at the Jewish state should his regime collapse or he be cut off from his general staff. The list of strategic Israeli targets was drawn up and included, curiously, Haifa’s leading high-tech university, The Technion.
A professor from the university recounted in the report that a Jordanian official who visited the school told him that Saddam insisted the Technion be added to the list of strategic targets because a teacher at the school had spoken ill of him. Continue reading
WASHINGTON — The hundreds of nuclear missiles that have stood war-ready for decades in underground silos along remote stretches of America, silent and unseen, packed with almost unimaginable destructive power, are a force in distress, if not in decline.
They are still a fearsome superpower symbol, primed to unleash nuclear hell on a moment’s notice at any hour of any day, capable of obliterating people and places halfway around the globe if a president so orders.
But the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, is dwindling, their future defense role is in doubt, and missteps and leadership lapses documented by The Associated Press this year have raised questions about how the force is managed. Continue reading