2. All states, including those in NATO, shall sign, ratify, and within 10 years comply with the TPNW.

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Rapporteur: Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan

Attainment of this Platform plank will require expanded and sustained civil society activism, as well as significant support from activist governments. An early goal supportive of this Platform plank is multiple ratifications of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by non-nuclear weapon and non-NATO states. Once the Treaty comes into legal force, non-nuclear NATO states will be under additional pressure to reject the alliance’s nuclear umbrella.

Current Status

Fifty to 100 nuclear weapons, which would be less than one percent of the nuclear weapons in the world’s currently known arsenal, if used in a regional armed conflict, would cause an environmental catastrophe, massive immediate and long term death, and radically change existence, such as through global famine, for the survivors and civilization.(1)

The threat of use of nuclear weapons is assessed by, among many others, a core group of nuclear scientists who publish the annually updated Doomsday Clock, which, as its creators note, “has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons.”(2) As of 2018, the clock stood at two minutes to midnight, the most dangerous measure since 1953.

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Is there a risk of a similar incident in the American context? I have heard several alarming reports, such as the fact that the production of intermediate missile materials – such as an aerogel foam used within the warhead itself – have fallen out of general production. One such material is “fogbank” which was manufactured in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The material is so classified that finding manufacturing instructions and records have been a significant challenge for the industry, as pre-existing materials age out and need replacing. Many of the original researchers have died and/or retired from the field. Furthermore – research out of Lawrence-Livermore Laboratories – indicate that many of the original yield calculations (determining how large of an explosion a warhead makes) are off by as much as 30%. Another alarming report came out of Arkansas in 1980 when a wrench was dropped in a silo during maintenance – puncturing the fuel component of a nuclear warhead – almost causing a critical incident (explosion) which would have irradiated surrounding environments. These are slightly different than RTGs – but the risk of an explosion due to aging materials, accidents or errors, or miscalculations is an alarming thought.

(Could This Have Happened if Russia Had Adopted the Ban Treaty? Give us your thoughts.)

Russia Says New Weapon Blew Up in Nuclear Accident Last Week

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-12/russian-says-small-nuclear-reactor-blew-up-in-deadly-accident
By Jake Rudnitsky and Stepan Kravchenko
August 12, 2019

Blast last week at missile test caused brief radiation spike

The failed missile test that ended in an explosion killing five atomic scientists last week on Russia’s White Sea involved a small nuclear power source, according to a top official at the institute where they worked.

The men “tragically died while testing a new special device,” Alexei Likhachev, the chief executive officer of state nuclear monopoly Rosatom, said at their funeral Monday in Sarov, a high-security city devoted to atomic research less than 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow where the institute is based.

The part of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center that employed them is developing small-scale power sources that use “radioactive materials, including fissile and radioisotope materials” for the Defense Ministry and civilian uses, Vyacheslav Soloviev, scientific director of the institute, said in a video shown by local TV.

“We’re analyzing the whole chain of events to assess both the scale of the accident and to understand its causes,” he said.

The blast occurred Aug. 8 during a test of a missile engine that used “isotope power sources” on an offshore platform in the Arkhangelsk region, close to the Arctic Circle, Rosatom said over the weekend. The Defense Ministry initially reported two were killed in the accident, which it said involved testing of a liquid-fueled missile engine. The ministry didn’t mention the nuclear element.

Radiation Spike

It caused a brief spike in radiation in the nearby port city of Severodvinsk, according to a statement on the local administration’s website that was later removed. A Sarov institute official on the video posted Sunday said radiation levels jumped to double normal levels for less than an hour and no lasting contamination was detected. The Russian military said radiation levels were normal but disclosed few details about the incident.

News of the explosion set off in nearby cities and towns a run on iodine, a form of which is believed to help prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radiation. Norway said it had stepped up radiation monitoring after the incident but hadn’t detected anything abnormal. On Monday, Norway’s Nuclear Safety and Environmental Protection department said its local and European monitors hadn’t shown any increase in radiation levels.
U.S. President Donald Trump said the U.S. “is learning much from the failed missile explosion in Russia” and added that “we have similar, though more advanced, technology,” without giving more details.

Southerly winds and the large distance between the border and the explosion make it unlikely that Finland will detect any radiation, Pia Vesterbacka, director at Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, said by phone Monday. The authority hasn’t checked its air filters since the incident but expects to have results this week, she added.

“If it had been a really serious accident, we would have seen more radiation further afield,” said Pavel Podvig, senior research fellow at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament in Geneva.

A spokeswoman for the Sarov institute couldn’t immediately be reached.

New Weapons

Russian media have speculated that the weapon being tested was the SSC-X-9 Skyfall, known in Russia as the Burevestnik, a nuclear-powered cruise missile that President Vladimir Putin introduced to the world in a brief animated segment during his state-of-the-nation address last year.

Sergei Kiriyenko, the former head of Rosatom and Putin’s first deputy chief of staff attended the Sarov funerals and said the Russian president decided to posthumously award the men a high state honor.

The blast was the latest in a series of deadly accidents that have damaged the Russian military’s reputation. Massive explosions earlier last week at a Siberian military depot killed one and injured 13, as well as forcing the evacuation of 16,500 people from their homes. In July, 14 sailors died in a fire aboard a nuclear-powered submarine in the Barents Sea in an incident on which officials initially refused to comment. A top naval official later said the men gave their lives preventing a “planetary catastrophe.”

Russia’s worst post-Soviet naval disaster also occurred in the Barents Sea, when 118 crew died on the Kursk nuclear submarine that sank after an explosion in August 2000.

— With assistance by Kati Pohjanpalo, Mikael Holter, and Justin Sink
(Updates with Trump’s comments in eighth paragraph.)

I read someplace that the US had experimented with using a nuclear reactor to power missiles many years ago but had given up the idea as impractical or maybe they even said too risky. Does anyone know any facts about that? Or is it classified information?

Hi Howard – The project is called Project Pluto – which used a ramjet missile design. The missile had an unshielded reactor which super-heated air to generate thrust. The missile could spend months flying relatively low to the ground – causing huge swaths of irradiated land – as well as sounds loud enough to injure and seriously maim animals and humans that it flew over. From my understanding, it used to additionally have the potential for multiple warheads to be affixed to the ramjet itself. Molson Coors – the alcoholic brewing company – provided important ceramic insulation and other components during the development of this missile class. The longest test for the motor was under 5 minutes (Nevada area, I think) – due to the severe damage it caused – and concerns that it would break loose from its tether and be set loose on Western North America.

I posted some articles and comments around this class of missiles in Plank One section of this website.

U.S.-based experts suspect Russia blast involved nuclear-powered missile
By Jonathan Landay . Reuters, Aug 8
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-blast-usa/u-s-based-experts-suspect-russia-blast-involved-nuclear-powered-missile-idUSKCN1UZ2H5

Nuclear Eurofighters? Germany Asked Pentagon to Certify Them to Carry Nukes

A good idea?

by Dario Leone (see link below)

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/nuclear-eurofighters-germany-asked-pentagon-certify-them-carry-nukes-70296?

This is alarming when you consider that Spain was almost irradiated when a plan carrying nuclear warheads crashed off the cost in 1966.

With thanks to John Hallam. Note: Published on Abolition list in April.

Russia nuclear warning: Satan 2 missile that can destroy size of ENGLAND close to launch

By WILL STEWART IN MOSCOW
PUBLISHED: 09:23, Mon, Apr 15, 2019 | UPDATED: 09:33, Mon, Apr 15, 2019

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1114363/russia-news-Satan-2-missile-world-war-3-hypersonic-ballistic-missile-USA 1 5April 2019

Vladimir Putin is warning the West that the biggest beast in his fearsome military arsenal – known as Satan-2 – is close to deployment. Other deadly new-generation weapons – the Kinzhal hypersonic missile and the Peresvet laser system – have been put on “combat duty” already, he claimed.

The final tests involving the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile have been a success (Image: -)

“The final tests involving the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile have been a success,” he said, according to the Kremlin’s official translation.

The Sarmat – known in the West as Satan-2 – is seen as Russia’s most powerful nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile.

Initial Russian news reports of Putin’s words at a promotion and awards ceremony for senior officers translated him as saying final tests of the missile were “proceeding successfully”.

This is reflected by Putin’s words on video.

But the Kremlin’s own translation strengthened his claim to say the final tests “have been a success”.

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The “invincible” hypersonic weapon was shown earlier on video emerging from an underground silo at Plesetsk spaceport – pausing as if hovering above the ground and then speeding to its target in a cloud of white smoke.

Moscow says Satan-2 can evade the United States’ defence shield and is capable of destroying an area the size of England and Wales — or Texas.

Russia is planning for the RS-28 to enter service by the start of the next decade as a part of its ongoing push to modernize its nuclear arsenal.

Putin was quoted as saying: “Large-scale and consistent the work has been in recent years to develop the army and the navy in a comprehensive manner and to saturate line units with advanced military equipment.

“For example, the Avangard missile system with a boost glide vehicle – our hypersonic intercontinental system – will considerably enhance the power of the Strategic Missile Forces….

“As you may know, the Kinzhal hypersonic system and the Peresvet laser system have been put on alert duty.”

He boasted: “The Navy’s new surface ships and nuclear submarines will be armed with advanced types of weapons, including the Zircon hypersonic missile, which has no parallels in the world in terms of range and speed.”

Russia is known to be poised to carry out tests on the 6,000 mph Zircon – or Tsirkon – with the Mach 8 missile identified recently by Moscow’s state-controlled TV as being President Putin’s weapon of choice to wipe out American cities in the event of nuclear war.

Mr Putin said: “It is these modern powerful precision weapons that are determining and will determine in the future the image of Russia’s Armed Forces.

“For this reason, the requirements to personnel training and the quality and intensity of combat drills are becoming even stricter.

“What we need is a real fusion of Russian martial traditions and the most up-to-date, advanced knowledge, technology and skills in using these to a good effect.”

The hypersonic Kinzhal travels at ten times the speed of sound and has been tested in southern Russia.

It is launched from a high-altitude MiG-31 fighter jet and can be fitted with nuclear or conventional weapons.

It has an effective range of 1,250 miles.

Some 350 training missions are known to have been conducted by the military unit tasked with testing the Kinzhal.

The Peresvet “combat laser system” has a cannon-like device which is believed to be a highly sophisticated jamming weapon.

The aim is to ‘blind’ the optical electronic equipment of enemy vehicles with a laser beam, it is claimed.

The Avangard – Russia’s hypersonic intercontinental missile system – is said to be capable to withstand high temperatures near a potential target.

It will “seriously boost” the capability of Russian military rocket forces, said Mr Putin.

After earlier Mr Putin boasts about the Sarmat, Western experts expressed scepticism on how close Moscow was to operational use. But US officials have sounded a growing alarm about the potential threat from hypersonic weapons – those that can travel at five times the speed of sound or more.

Russia says the new missile can carry a payload of up to 15 warheads and it was planned to enter service at the start of the next decade to modernise Moscow’s nuclear arsenal.