Bombs and rockets

Gwynne Dyer makes some good points about glacier/snowpack, river flow, and geopolitical stability in this video, at 39 minutes 18 seconds:

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Nevertheless, the exact nature of launch authorization procedures is ambiguous. Several sources refer to a system of two separate codes—one civilian and the other military—amounting to a “dual key” system. However, several authoritative accounts mention a three-man rule. In particular, the code to arm a weapon can only be inserted in the presence of three […]

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Western sources claim that China had provided Pakistan with fissile material in exchange for centrifuge technology assistance. Zia-ul-Haq hoped to exploit the close relationship with the Chinese further in order to protect Pakistan from potential preventative attacks… [T]he impact of Israeli attack on Osirak and the crash of the centrifuges in 1981 forced Zia-ul- Haq […]

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[U]ranium enrichment is the process that separates U-235 from U-238 in order to increase the proportion of the former isotope. Separation is measured by the kilogram separative work unit (SWU), representing the amount of uranium processed and the degree to which it is enriched. The gas centrifuge exploits the mass difference between these two isotopes […]

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In another attempt to dissuade Pakistan from its nuclear path, Kissinger visited Pakistan in August 1976. At the same time, U.S. elections were sparking debates, and Democrat Jimmy Carter’s agenda specifically targeted Kissinger and his relaxed response to India’s nuclear test. As Dennis Kux writes, “Kissinger and Ford were under pressure to demonstrate that they […]

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The prerequisite for any state embarking on a nuclear weapons program is a complex base of material and people with a diverse set of skills and experience. A 1968 UN study estimates that a full-fledged nuclear weapons program requires some five hundred scientists and thirteen hundred engineers—physicists, chemists, and metallurgists; civil, military, mechanical, and electrical […]

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Today, there are three important strategic beliefs [in Pakistan] regarding nuclear weapons that were largely absent when [Zulfiqar Ali] Bhutto took power in 1971 but have since become dominant in Pakistani strategic thought. First, nuclear weapons are the only guarantee of Pakistan’s national survival in the face of both an inveterately hostile India that cannot […]

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The fact that oil money helped develop the power of the muwahhidun in Arabia after 1930 and made possible the resurgence of Islamic political movements in the 1970s has often been noted. But it is equally important to understand that, by the same token, it was an Islamic movement that made possible the profits of […]

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A surprising oversight in Timothy Mitchell’s generally-insightful Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil is how he gives relatively little consideration to static versus mobile forms of fossil fuel consumption. He strongly emphasizes the production and transportation logistics of coal versus oil, but gives little consideration to special needs for fuels with high […]

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The technical term “supergrade” has had a pair of distinctly American meanings: (a) A supergrade was the civilian equivalent of an Army general (b) Supergrade is industry parlance for plutonium alloy bearing an exceptionally high fraction of Pu-239 (>95%), leaving a very low amount of Pu-240 which is a gamma emitter in addition to being […]

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