Headlined on 6/20/08:Pentagon: Over 1000 Nuclear Weapon Parts Missing?
by Rob Kall Page 1 of 2 page(s)
reddit_title='Pentagon: Over 1000 Nuclear Weapon Parts Missing?'
digg_title='Pentagon: Over 1000 Nuclear Weapon Parts Missing?';
digg_bodytext='Many people have raised the spectre of nuclear WMDs being sourced from nefarious sources-- from errant former Soviet states, from N. Korea, Iran or Pakistan. It may be that to those fears must be added the threat that American nuclear weapon technology may be circulating in the black market as well.';
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Many people have raised the specter of nuclear WMDs being sourced from nefarious sources-- from errant former Soviet states, from N. Korea, Iran or Pakistan> It may be that to those fears must be added the threat that American nuclear weapon technology may be circulating in the black market as well. Recently, the Air Force has faced serious lapses in Nuclear weapons security. A bomber carried six nuclear bombs across the US without anyone in charge knowing about it, and nuclear nose cones were unintentionally shipped to Taiwan without anyone discovering the error for 18 months.
Recently, Defense secretary Robert Gates fired the civilian and military heads of the Air Force as a result of an investigation by Admiral Kirkland Donald into the above incidents and the general state of Nuclear weapon technology inventory security. Donald concluded that both of the above incidents had, according to the Financial Times, "'common origin' which was 'the gradual erosion of nuclear standards and a lack of effective oversight by air force leadership'."Apparently, according to a closed, classified briefing the Pentagon made to congress, the nuclear security problem is much worse.Yesterday, the Financial Times ran an article, by Demetri Sevastopulo headlined, "US N-weapons parts missing, Pentagon says."On Wednesday,the senate Armed Services committee received a closed, classified briefing from the Pentagon that discussed the problems the Airforce is having managing its nuclear weapons inventory. seeking further information, I contacted the office of the majority committee chair. A staffer for Senate Armed Services Committee majority chair, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) responded to my inquiry, "The briefing was classified so we cannot comment on the substance of the briefing. As indicated in the hearing notice, Admiral Kirkland Donald was the briefer. He briefed his report on the nosecone shipment to Taiwan incident. The report was conducted at the request of Secretary Gates. The committee takes the security of nuclear weapons very seriously."The FINANCIAL TIMES article reported, that as the result of an investigation into why missile nose cones were inappropriately shipped to Taiwan,
"According to previously undisclosed details obtained by the FT, the investigation also concluded that the air force could not account for many sensitive components previously included in its nuclear inventory.One official said the number of missing components was more than 1,000. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking at Nellis Air Force Base, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported, said "the problem has been mounting "for at least a decade. Some say longer.""The FT article cited Darryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association think tank, in Washington D.C., as commenting on the report of the missing technology as
"'very significant and extremely troubling' because it meant the US could not establish the positive control referred to by Mr Gates.'It raises a serious question about where else these unaccounted for warhead related parts may have gone,' said Mr Kimball. "I would not be surprised if the recent Taiwan incident is not the only one.'"I spoke to Mr. Kimball at length about the report, which he commented on,
The cause of these incidents goes back to the lax culture that has developed within certain parts of the Air Force about the handling of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons related components. What's particularly disturbing to me this morning... (after learning of the Financial Times report) is that the pentagon's mistaken shipment of the fuses to Taiwan fairly recently may not be the only example of sensitive warhead or missile related parts or components winding up in the wrong place. The fact that the pentagon does not have positive control, that is, full accounting of the whereabouts of these items, I think it's deeply disturbing because it doesn't necessarily mean that these parts are in the wrong hands, but at the very least suggests that the system as it has been run for the last several years makes that a possibility. It also makes it possible for someone inside the airforce who is handling these components to potentially manipulate the system for personal gain. People in the Air Force are good people but they are also human beings. The system of accounting is clearly broken and it has got to be fixed. Gates is to be commended for holding those at the top responsible, but much more is going to have to be done to address the severe shortcomings.The other thing I should point out is that no matter hard the airforce tries or how good the Air force is, when you have a nuclear weapons arsenal that consists of about 10,000 nuclear warheads, and tens of thousands of more parts related to these warheads and their delivery systems, there is an inherent risk that they are going to be lost or missing and potentially in the wrong place. We need to recognize that there is always going to be an inherent risk of this sort of thing happening so long as we have this bloated nuclear weapons arsenal that we have today twenty years after the cold war ended. I mentioned Mullen's comment on culture of over ten years and Kimball responded,
This doesn't happen overnight. Part of the problem is that nuclear weapons are, from a military and professional standpoint, not that attractive or useful or career enhancing. In other words, today's miltary is not focused on being prepared to fight an all out nuclear war with the Soviets.
Rob Kall is executive editor and publisher of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, inventor . He is a frequent Speaker on Politics, Impeachment, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero's journey, Positive Psychology, Stress, Biofeedback and a wide range of subjects. He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates. He recently retired as organizer of several conferences, including StoryCon, the Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story and The Winter Brain Meeting on neurofeedback, biofeedback, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology. See more of his articles here and, older ones, here. The framed magazine cover, with the word "IDEAS" spelled out in lightbulbs, is based on an article Rob wrote for Writers Digest, telling the magazine's quarter million readers how to come up with and pitch article ideas. To learn more about me and OpEdNews.com, check out this article.and there are Rob's quotes, here. To Watch me on youtube, having a lively conversation with John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click here Now, wouldn't you like to see me on the political news shows, representing progressives. If so, tell your favorite shows to bring me on and refer them to this youtube videoMy radio show, The Rob Kall Show, runs 9-10 PM EST Wednesday evenings, on AM 1360, WNJC and is archived on www.whiterosesociety.org Or listen to it streaming, live at either www.wnjc1360.com or here. A few declarations. -While I'm registered as a Democrat, I consider myself to be a dynamic critic of the Democratic party, just as, well, not quite as much, but almost as much as I am a critic of republicans. -My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.