Picture/Poem Icon March 2001:              
suggested link

While no one
was looking

A new report from the March/April
issue of the Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists

"...how the United States should renew
its supply of tritium, the radioactive
isotope [...] needed to turn an A-bomb
into an H-bomb."

About the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

from A Brief History of the Bulletin

"The ASC began publishing the Bulletin in December 1945, after informal
discussions in the cafeteria at Stineway's Drugstore on 57th Street. "The
American people," said the Bulletin's first editorial, must work "unceasingly for
the establishment of international control of atomic weapons, as a first step toward
permanent peace."

Although based in Chicago, from the first the Bulletin was international in
outlook. For five decades it has supported international cooperation to settle
a host of seemingly intractable issues between sovereign nations and challenged
the notion that nations could best achieve national security by building more
and bigger weapons. To dramatize the particular peril posed by nuclear weapons,
the Bulletin devised the Doomsday Clock, the universal symbol
of the nuclear age.

[...] May 1946, Einstein, one of the Bulletin's godfathers, wrote in an early
Bulletin fund-raising letter: "The unleashed power of the atom has changed
everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled

The goal of the Bulletin is to render that famous quote obsolete. The Bulletin's
mission has been—and continues to be—education in the broadest sense. It is
committed to influencing the way people think about war-and-peace issues by
presenting the kind of thoughtful and accurate reporting and analyses that are
seldom found elsewhere."

Recommended links to reports in the Bulletin:

While no one was looking

"The U.S. government said it would
never use commercial reactors to produce
weapon material. Guess what? "

By Kenneth Bergeron

"In the waning weeks of 1998, lights burned late into the night
around the Mall in Washington, D.C. At the east end, congres-
sional staffs were preparing to impeach President Bill Clinton.
To the north, at the White House, Clinton and his closest advisers
were crafting his defense. But to the south of the Mall, in the
gargantuan Forrestal Building, high-level officials grappled with
a far different problem, related not to presidential misbehavior but
to U.S. policy on nuclear arms and nuclear proliferation. Leading
the deliberations was Secretary Bill Richardson, just four months
into the job, but already deeply mired in the controversies and
scandals of the most beleaguered of federal agencies, the
Energy Department.

One of the policy issues Richardson was contemplating in December
was how the United States should renew its supply of tritium, the
radioactive isotope of hydrogen needed to turn an A-bomb into an
H-bomb. What to do about the tritium supply was a subject that
had occupied every secretary of Energy since 1988, when the last
tritium-producing nuclear reactor at the Savannah River Site in South
Carolina, deemed unsafe, was shut down."

National Security on the Internet
January/February 2001
Vol. 57, No. 1, p. 74-75

"For researchers working in national security, nuclear weapons, and
arms control, the Internet is an electronic embarrassment of riches.
The Web surpasses all other media as a source for materials from
government agencies, academics, non-governmental organizations,
special interest groups, corporations, and the news media. Government,
military, and educational domains account for an estimated 12-15 percent
of Internet content (some 300-400 million "pages").

The Internet is also the leading source for so-called "gray" literature,
which includes academic studies, position papers, reports by public
policy institutes, government proceedings, and dissertations. Before
the Web, this type of material rarely circulated outside the world of
wonks, academics, and inside-the-Beltway policy-makers.

Yet information on the Internet is not comprehensive. Nor is it selective.
Most online material has not been published by academics or deemed
important by the news media. As a result, what is on line can be a mystery,
which often makes it as difficult to retrieve quality material now as in
the golden days before the Web.

It is common knowledge that the Internet emerged from a Pentagon network
built to survive nuclear war. Other, less well-recognized precursors were
the proprietary information networks that provided up-to-the-second feeds
on the status of the stock and commodity markets. Using desktop "black box"
systems, a financial manager could click on a ticker to obtain more and more
detailed information. When the first graphical browser emerged in late 1994,
hyperlinking was brought to the desktop of Internet users, and the World
Wide Web has now grown to include more than two billion pages, with
content doubling in the past year alone. Add to this the tens of billions of
database records now appended to the Web and you get some idea of the
difficulty of cataloguing and finding material on the Web was born.

Further complicating matters is the Web's financial legacy, which has helped
create a culture that favors immediacy and views all material as perishable.
The Web has yet to develop any convention of permanence: Resources get
posted ad hoc, sites go off line, and pages are moved around internally
within a site."

Other links to more detailed reports in the Bulletin:

U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2001
March/April 2001
Vol. 57, No. 2, p. 77-79

"Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). A four-part program
to upgrade Minuteman missiles continues: First, missile-alert facilities were
updated with Rapid Execution and Combat Targeting consoles. Second, the
ongoing Guidance Replacement Program will extend the life of the guidance
system beyond the year 2020 and improve Minuteman III accuracy to near
that of the current MX--a circular error probable of 100 meters. The new
guidance set achieved initial operational capability in August 2000, when
the first 10 sets installed on missiles at Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB)
surpassed the on-alert requirement of 720 hours. This program, scheduled
to be completed by 2008, will cost $1.3 billion. [...]"

Nuclear Weapons Abroad
November/December 1999
Vol. 55, No. 6, pp. 26-35

"Between 1945 and 1977, the United States based thousands
of nuclear weapons abroad. The weapons' hosts did not always
know they were there."

[Photo] Northern Italy, July 1957: Members of the 510th Rocket Battalion
stand at attention in front of their "Honest John" missile while they wait
for review by the president of Italy. (US ARMY PHOTO)

Given the enormous attention paid to nuclear weapons, it may come as
a surprise to most people that until now we have had only fragmentary
information about where, when, and under what circumstances the
United States deployed nuclear bombs overseas."

Weapon System Photographs [remarkable b/w photos from the Brookings Institute] 
(1) Honest John & Corporal
(2) Davy Crockett
(3) Atomic Demolition Munitions
(4) Talos
(5) 155mm artillery shell

Picture/Poem Link Archive 2001
| back to Picture/Poems: Central Display |

| Map | TOC: I-IV | TOC: V-VIII | Image Index | Index | Text OnlyDownload | Newsletter | About P/P | About Cliff Crego |

(III.11.2001) Comments to crego@picture-poems.com